Big British Bombers
Short Stirling B.I – Handley Page Halifax B.I – Avro Vucan B.2
Let’s keep looking at big bombers this week, since we looked at American bombers last week and French bombers the week before. The biggest bombers have been the strategic bombers, aircraft designed to fly long distances carrying heavy loads to reach behind front lines to attack an enemy’s industria and military strength and civilian heartlands. Among the most famous of strategic bombers is the Avro Lancaster of World War 2, but Britain produced other big bombers too, so let’s look at them, two from World War 2 and one from the Cold War era.
Short Stirling B.1 in 1/144 by Anigrand
This aircraft was the first four engined heavy strategic bomber to enter service with Britain’s Royal Air Force. Development began in 1936, the prototype made its first flight in May 1939 and they began entering service in 1940. They were liked by their pilots and had relatively good performance but the design specification that limited their wingspan to 100 feet meant they did not have good high altitude performance. They had a relatively short history as a strategic bomber and were replaced in front line service by Halifax and Lancaster bombers by 1943 but remained useful in other roles such as glider tug and transport aircraft for the rest of World War 2.
This model was made using the Anigrand 1/144 resin kit and is the only kit of the Stirling in this scale. I didn’t find it very difficult to make and can recommend it if you want to have a Stirling to place alongside other big aircraft in this scale. In the larger 1/72 kits there are two options, the old Airfix kit first published in 1966, since released unchanged in many new boxings, and a more modern Italeri kit published as the Mk.IV in 2014 and as the Mk.III in 2022. A review of the Airfix kit in Modeling Madness says that this model is okay if you know how to fix warped parts and like putting and sanding while the review of the Italeri kit on the Cybermodeler website gives it a big thumbs up.
Handley Page Halifax B.I in 1/144 by Anigrand
This aircraft, like the Avro Lancaster, was originally planned to be a twin engined medium bomber but the failure of its proposed engines led to it being redesigned as a four engined heavy bomber. The prototype first flew in October 1939, they began entering service in November 1940 and over 6,000 were manufactured. Although Bomber Command preferred the Lancaster later versions of the Halifax continued to fly in the strategic bomber role until the end of the war, and also saw other service as troop and paratroop carriers and freighters.
This model was made from the Anigrand kit. It is the B.I version with the Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the nose turret and triangular tail and is easy enough to assemble if you take care with all the tiny little pieces. There is also said to be an Air Speed kit of the B.III version but I can find out nothing about it. In the bigger 1/72 scale there is the Matchbox Halifax B.I which was first published in 1979 and later taken over by Revell and the much older Airfix B.III which was first published in 1961 and most recently released in 2014. Since the B.I and B.III are quite different in many ways it is handy to have both kits available, but neither of them is a kit you’d really want to make these days. There is a good review of the Airfix kit in the Modeling Madness website. There is an equally good review of the Matchbox/Revell kit on the Hyperscale website/
Avro Vulcan B.2 in 1/72 by Anigrand
This aircraft is one of three British four jet engined strategic V-Bombers developed after World War for the Royal Air Force. The Vulcan was the most sophisticated of the three and entered service in in September 1956 as the B.1, and as the improved B.2 version from around 1960. They had the ability to deliver atomic bombs to targets in the Soviet Union, initially at high altitude and later flying at low altitudes to avoid enemy detection. They could also carry conventional weapons and were used in long range air raids during the Falkland War in 1982.
This model was made using the Anigrand 1/144 resin kit. It was the only kit available when I made it but since then there have been two injection mounded plastic kits published, the Great Wall kit first published in 2012 and Trumpeter kit published in 2018. Of less interest is a Welsh Models vacform kit published in the mists of time and a Wolfpack multi media kit published in 2009. Of all these the Great Wall and Trumpeter kits are probably preferable and easier to locate. In-box reviews of both kits are good with Hyperscale reviewing the Trumpeter kit as generally good with some problems with details for the various versions and Fine Scale Modeler reports some problems with the decals of the Great Wall kit. In 1/72 sxale there is only one kit that you want to look at, the new 2021 released Airfix kit which is, by all accounts, excellent. You can see what’s in the box in a post of Britmodeller. The build review on Gary’s Stuff on You tube shows you how it goes together and summarizes that it is not a simple build, but is worth the work.