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Converting Tamiya's 1/48 scale Beau
Beaufighter Mk.Ic (RAAF)

 

by John Valo

Introduction

This model started off as the Tamiya Beaufighter Mk.VI, which I backdated to a Mk.I version with the assistance of the KMC resin cockpit and tailplane upgrade set.

The subject is a 30 Squadron aircraft operating in New Guinea, circa early 1943. The inspiration for the unique camouflage scheme was a photo in Kookaburra Technical Publications' 'RAAF Camouflage and Markings 1939-45, Volume 1'. On page 63, there is a photograph of two 30 Squadron Beaus flying tight formation over New Guinea. Both 'P' and 'Q' are decidedly (and modeling-wise, temptingly) 'clapped out', showing extreme weathering and rather non-standard color demarcations and insignias.

Too good to pass up...


Modifications, Painting and Markings

Comparing the aircraft in the photograph to various line drawings and other information, I made a list of the salient features of this particular Beau. Obvious were the flat tailplanes, observation blister without gun provision, D/F blister, dual wingtip lights, short exhausts and short carburetor intakes; all of which, to the best of my deduction made it a Bristol-built Mk.Ic. A cross-check with known serial numbers put this aircraft somewhere between A-19-1 and A-19-72, give or take. As far as I could ascertain, this aircraft would have carried a delivery scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green over Sky, with Type A underwing roundels, Type A1 fuselage roundels and Type B roundels on the upper wings. Judging from the insignia on the aircraft in the photograph, it appeared a fair match proportionally, with the Red areas of the insignia overpainted either in White (roundels) or Dark Green (leading edge of fin flash), this in addition to the probability of the Yellow ring of the fuselage insignia also being overpainted in Green.



The camouflage was what interested me most, as the lighter areas of the paint showed the typical pattern of light and dark areas (Dark Earth and Dark Green, only very faded) as well as a much darker area covering the nose of the the aircraft and extending back along the waistline in a jagged demarcation. This particular tone also extended to the wings and nacelles, ending roughly around the upperwing roundels. A tell-tale clue was the panel on the upper port wing (I believe the dinghy stowage) which was decidedly lighter in tone (faded Dark Earth/Dark Green), which emphasised the depth of the darker color. Also, immediately beneath the trailing edge of the wing root, there is a sharply rounded blob of underside color which is quite bright (Sky). Knowing that at this point in time Foliage Green was already being used as a camouflage color, and that by nature Aussies never do anything 'by the book' (sorry Brett and all...), my interpretation was a sweeping overpaint of Foliage Green done at a field or depot level.

The Tamiya Beaufighter is a masterpiece of engineering, and a joy to build. As I became more involved in the building of the model, I decided to utilize my references and add numerous scratchbuilt interior details which are now lost to the naked eye.

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger pictures:

In addition to the KMC cockpit and tailplanes, I added the Hawkeye Designs smooth-tread resin tire/wheel set. I scratchbuilt the landing lights on the port leading edge using a technique I have adopted for most of my British aircraft models. The lights were made from two styrene discs painted Silver, to which I applied a decal of the typical 'three-prong-swirly-lamp-holder' which was printed to size with my laser printer on decal paper. A blob of epoxy each and a vacuformed cover finished the job.

 

 

I used the kit cockpit canopy and hatch, and vacuformed the D/F blister and observer's hatch, each being detailed with various bits of strip and rod styrene. I also added exhaust pipes from the cylinders to the collector ring with bits of flexible wire.

The model was painted with PollyScale acrylics, and the roundels were masked and painted, suitably faded on the upper surfaces. I scavenged the codes from an Aeromaster sheet, and arbitrarily assigned the serial of A-19-16, an early Mk.Ic. According to my references, this machine was delivered in June 1942 and salvaged in 1946. I picked a lucky plane, I guess.


Conclusion

I generally don't try to be a revisionist historian, but it sure is fun to go out on a limb occasionally.

 

The Tamiya kit is a solid, relaxing build, and I think it looks the part with its, shall we say, non-standard camouflage.

John C. Valo
 

More Pictures

Click the thumbnails below to view larger pictures:

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Photographs and Text Copyright 2005 by John Valo