Airfix 1/72 Bristol Beaufighter Mk.IC
Prede di Guerra
by Raul Wright


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The Japanese called the Bristol Beaufighter "Whispering Death". It was one of the most powerful and versatile combat aeroplanes the British built during the Second World War. The aeroplane was used as a night fighter, a fighter-bomber, a torpedo-carrier, a ground-attack aeroplane, and an anti-shipping aircraft. From 1940 and until the end of the war, the "Beau" performed brilliantly in these various roles on all fronts. By September 1945 a total of 5,562 aeroplanes had been built in a variety of models, and many aeroplanes were kept in front-line service with the R.A.F. until 1950. The last of them were reassigned as target-tugs and remained in service for another decade.

The project was begun late in 1938 with the aim of producing a twin-engine fighter that was heavily armed, fast, and capable of long-range flights. The Beaufighter took over the tail-plane, the wings, and the rear part of the fuselage of the Bristol Beaufort. The forward part of the aircraft was wholly redesigned, and new engines installed: two 1,425 hp Bristol Hercules radials, 14-cylinder engines. The prototype first took to the air on July 17, 1939, but the Air Ministry had already placed a first order for 300 aeroplanes by that date. The first production model was the Mk. IF, and delivery of this aircraft to Fighter Command Squadrons began in September 1940. The Beaufighter was fast, well-armed, and it had sufficient reserve power to compensate for the radar installations and the XXs. The 450 aircraft built in this model were used chiefly by night-fighter units based in Great Britain. Radial engines - two 1,650 hp Hercules - provided the power for the chief later production model, the Mk. VI. A total of 1,832 aircraft were built in two variants, one for Fighter Command, the Mk. VIF; and one for Coastal Command, the Mk. VIXC. The Beaufighter's versatility was demonstrated once again. Rockets and torpedoes now became part of this aircraft's armament, and the fast twin-engine aeroplane was also used against shipping. The first operational missions of the torpedo and ground-attack Beaufighters took place in the spring of 1943, and these aeroplanes continued in service for the duration of hostilities.

The final production model, the Mk. X, was used almost exclusively in these roles. In 1943 night fighting missions had nearly all been assigned to the de Havilland Mosquito, and the Beaufighter Mk. X (2,205 of which were built) was assigned to Coastal Command. These aeroplanes represented the final development of the original fuselage. This model was powered by two 1,770 hp Hercules XVII engines, and armament included all the weapons that had been used in earlier models. Rockets, bombs, or a torpedo could be carried. This armament, and the aeroplane's speed, made the Beaufighter a serious threat to shipping, especially to submarines. In March 1945, five German submarines were sunk in two days by Coastal Command Beaufighters.

T4887 was built by the Fairey Aviation Co. Ltd. and belonged to the 5th production batch. On a transfer flight from Gibraltar to Malta the plane became lost and landed at Magnisi-Augusta airfield nearby Siracusa (Sicily), on January 6, 1942. This was due to a malfunction of the Valletta radio-beacon whose transmissions were intercepted by spot radio at Portopalo, thus disorienting its pilot Fltn Sgt Jones who was promptly captured together with his crewman. Once captured T4887 was quickly transferred to Guidonia where Italian markings were applied; the white cross of Savoy, a white fuselage band and wing fasces with British markings likely over-painted with Verde Oliva Scuro 2. The aircraft was assigned the serial number MM.4887 in keeping with its R.A.F. registration. The aircraft wore an overall camo scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray FS.36118 with under surfaces in Sky Type "S" FS.34504, the engine exhaust rings were bronze. The spinners were matt black, while another notable characteristic of the plane was the apparent and significant flaking of paint on the forward fuselage and nose of the aircraft. After a lengthy evaluation, the plane was sent to the Commando Intercettori Leone (235a Squadriglia), however during takeoff the plane crashed killing its pilot Tn. Norace Zelda.









Construction

This is the Airfix 1/72 Beaufighter TF X, to which it can be converted to a MK 1C by a simple conversion of the horizontal tail surfaces at 90 degress. Unfortunately the Airfix kit is quite poor in its interiors, so I had to add this detail. I also added a dinghy made of epoxy putty, the weapons were scratch-built as well as the ammunition boxes. The plane was finished in the classic Dark Sea Gray and Extra Dark Sea Gray for the upper surfaces and Sky for the undersides, typical of FAA machines. Weathering was done using an airbrush as well as the requisite dry brushing.


Technical Data

Aircraft: Bristol Beaufighter Mk. IF
Manufacturer: Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1940
Engine: Two Bristol Hercules XI, 14-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,400 hp each
Wingspan: 57 ft 10 in (17.63 m)
Length: 41 ft 4 in (12.50 m)
Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.83 m)
Weight: 21,000 Ib (9,500 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 321 mph (516 km/h) at 15,800 ft (4,800 m)
Ceiling: 26,500 ft (8,000 m)
Range: 1,170 miles (1,890 km)
Armament: 4 x 20 mm canons; 6 machine guns
Crew: 2

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October, 2017
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