1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

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1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby ericg » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:42 pm

After last weekends Model expo in Melbourne, I thought I would start fresh on something to clear the palate and get a project on the go for one of the categories of the comp for next year. 

I have been chasing one of these kits for a fair while and when the opportunity came up to purchase one new at the show from Aeroworks at a very good price I took it. The kit does tick a few of my usual boxes; RAAF aircraft, Esoteric subject and resin kit. This will sit nicely in my RAAF collection, right next to my Demon from the same company which served along side it in the mid 30's.

Firstly, a bit of history about the aircraft. It was famous for being the type in which Douglas Bader lost his legs in a crash during aerobatics during his early RAF service. In RAAF service, it existed in very small numbers and I have reproduced a brief history from the ADF serials site here:

From 1921 the RAAF possessed three obsolete Sopwith Pups and two equally obsolete SE5a aircraft for use in the single seat fighter role. In 1928 a decision was made to replace those aircraft with a modern front line single seat fighter and the aircraft selected was the Bristol Bulldog Mk.II fitted with the 450 hp Jupiter VII radial engine. Six Mk.II Bulldogs were ordered on 17 June 1929 at a cost of 3,750 pounds each and two additional machines were ordered later that year with all eight aircraft being delivered to Melbourne on 14Mar30. From their introduction into RAAF service until 1935 the Bulldogs were considered almost sacrosanct and a pilot had to be of Instructor rating before being allowed to fly one. However, toward the end of the aircraft’s life the novelty had worn off and other pilots were permitted to fly the aircraft.

Apart from fighter training the Bulldog’s spent a large amount of time training for and performing demonstrations around Australia and in cooperation with the Army and Navy during their annual exercises.  Another activity was introduced when the Victorian Meteorological Department asked for daily flights to record weather data. These flights were carried in all weather extremes and from 1930 to 1939 the flights were conducted on approximately 333 days of each year with only one serious accident, a truly amazing feat.

 For a high performance aircraft most pilots reported that it was a delight to fly, very precise and forgiving and extremely easy to land. During its service career there were only two fatal crashes and they were both from pilot error: one where the pilot dived into the water doing gunnery practice and the other when the pilot misjudged his height when doing low level aerobatics. The only oddity the aircraft exhibited was during spin recovery but once pilots mastered this eccentricity the aircraft proved a delight in the air.

 Part of the training regime in the period 1930-5 included several annual long distance navigation exercises from Point Cook to Adelaide 1930, -31 and, Adelaide and Perth 1932, -33, -35. These exercises were quite a feat for the day as the aircraft had to be refueled every two hours and had no navigation equipment. Pilots were trained to perform minor maintenance and it is a reflection of the Bulldog’s reliability that only three failures caused forced landings in an era when forced landings were almost a daily occurrence for many aircraft.

 By the start of WWII only three aircraft remained in RAAF service. Two had been destroyed in crashes and three had been reduced to components, the last three were all converted to Instructional Training Aids in 1940 and finally scrapped sometime during the war years. Sadly no Bulldog airframes remain extant in Australia, a fate all too common for aircraft of that era.

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Onto the kit:

The nicely presented Silverwings box. It allows two options to do the aircraft in RAF service, so I will have to come up with my own serials to depict it as a RAAF aircraft. The schemes are very similiar, although the RAAF examples were fairly boring, devoid of the bright squadron markings.

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Upon opening the box, the modeller is confronted with bags of loose resin parts, decal sheets and the large instruction manual which is a bit too big to fit in the box for my liking.

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It all looks a bit confusing to begin with. None of the parts are numbered and some interpretation of the instructions are required to work out which part is which although all of the parts are grouped in bags in sequence, so engine parts in one, cockpit parts in another etc.

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Lets start on the build. Please excuse the different coloured work spaces.... a sure sign that I am looking after the kids and squeezing a bit of build time in on the kitchen bench while the wife is out!

The large casting block on the inside rear of the fuselage with the other side removed. I did this with cutters and scraped it flat with a blade. I guess this might have been why the fuselage wasn't taped together like Silverwings normally do.

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These kits are quite intricate, especially when they are of metal framed cockpits. 

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I tack everything together on one side first without cleaning any of the seam lines off. I use thick superglue to do this.

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I then glue the other side on, one join at a time and then am left with a fairly strong structure. I drill each corner and insert thin brass rod to allow for me to bend it as required to correct some warping.

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Once happy, I give the frame a coat of primer. This allows me to identify the many seams present in the frame. The good thing about this method is that I now have a strong frame that I can sand and scrape to remove the seems without much fear of it breaking.

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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby AndrewDoppel » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:02 pm

I was reading not so long ago that the Bulldogs used to fly across the bay from Point Cook to Somers on the Mornington Peninsula on training flights before returning to PCK. This is when there used to be a RAAF airfield there. If I can find the book at my Mother-in-Law's I can tell you what aircraft numbers they were. From memory I think there is a park there now where the airfield used to be.
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby ericg » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:53 pm

Thanks Andrew, let me know.

i assembled the instrument panel. This is supposed to have an acetate sheet with the instruments printed on it sandwiched between the photo etch and resin, but I will use Airscale decals for the instruments.

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The instructions call for an all over slate grey interior, but I decided to paint the metal surfaces grey and the fabric surfaces a light tan colour with wood stringers. Virtually none of the fabric area is going to be visible anyway.

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The interior metal framing has been painted with my own custom mix of very dark grey. I usually would use MRP tyre rubber for this, but our one and only Australian distributor of this paint is being annoyingly slack in keeping stocks of it at the moment, so I had to invent my own. As I am quite fond of using SMS paints, I mixed in some white to the SMS Camo Black to make the dark grey and have now called it a Tyre black! A contrast of the new colour to its base colour of Camo black can be seen by the ammo container next to it. The good thing about this is that the required black colouring of the metal fittings and frames in the cockpit can be separated a bit to give them a bit of contrast between them instead of all being painted black.

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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby thommo » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:19 am

This will be an interesting build
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby qfa_tsv » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:38 am

Interesting choice, along for the ride
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby surfsup » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:40 pm

Watching along with interest Eric.....Cheers mark
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby ericg » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:21 am

Thanks for the replies guys.

I had to do some fairly unsavoury things to the tube frame to get it to fit inside the fuselage but got it closed up in the end. Once this was complete, I have turned my attention to getting everything lined up and strengthened. A lot of these resin kits require extra work in this area. I have suffered the heartbreak of watching the wings of a very expensive and time consuming resin kit slowly droop over time and as a result am now super wary of these types of kits and take measures to prevent it from happening.

I drilled a hole in the horizontal stabilisers and inserted brass rod. As can be seen, the part is thin enough that light easily passes through it. Visible is the rod and also two lighter holes that I have drilled which I will insert rod into that run across the fuselage to the opposite side stabiliser.

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I then drilled a hole through the fuselage to allow insertion of a brass rod into each lower wing x 2. This is in addition to the rod that is inside each wing already, done during manufacture of the kit. Due to to the reasonably rough nature of the kit, this will allow me to ‘pre bend’ the rod to get the dihedral right and will take the guess work out of it come time to glue the wings onto the fuselage.

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The tail was next. The kit parts have small pins on them that match up to corresponding holes. I find with resin kits that these are far too easy to break and for that reason, have also strengthened this part. I filled the original location of the holes in the kit due to them not matching up properly. I then drilled a hole in the tail and inserted a small brass rod, sharpened at one end that allowed me to press the part against the fuselage. This leaves the impression of the rod on the part and allows it to be drilled out in the precise location. The rod can then be removed and replaced with a longer one, making the overall assembly much stronger. You can see the sharpened rod and the small divot that it left.

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Next up was the engine. There is no positive way of locating the engine in the cowling in the kit. Due to complex way in which the cowling fits over the engine, I needed a way in which to be able to test fit the engine repeatedly and always have it located in the same position. I also like to have the props of my kits be able to be removable for transport and to be able to suffer the occasional ‘test flick’ from kids and sadly adults that should know better at the shows that I frequent. I needed to devise a method of solving a few problems at once.

I glued a large diameter brass tube into the firewall, as close as I could get to the centre. This part of the kit is a little messy due to the way in which it has been manufactured.

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I then drilled out the engine to accept a medium sized diameter of brass tube.

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I then cut off the resin shaft on the propeller and drilled and glued into it a small diameter brass tube. This fits into the tube located in the engine, which fits into the tube located in the firewall.

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Problem solved. Strong and aligned.

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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby Probie » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:54 pm

Very nice.
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby surfsup » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:05 pm

Really nice work so far Eric....Cheers Mark
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Re: 1/32 Silverwings RAAF Bristol Bulldog

Postby TonyR » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:07 am

Watching with interest, was looking at getting the Demon kit so will follow this before I decide
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