1/700 HMS Jupiter FH1163
When the mighty German Tiger I entered service during the Autumn of 1942, it was the most advanced tank in the world and one designed specifically to dominate the battlefield. Capable of destroying anything the Allies had in service, the Tiger possessed a stand-off advantage where it could ‘kill without being killed’, picking off enemy tanks before they could even think about returning fire. Unfortunately for the Wehrmacht, the awesome potential of the Tiger was never fully realised, as it was over engineered, extremely complex and expensive to produce, ensuring that there were never enough Tigers on the battlefield at any one time. Between 1942 and 1944, only 1,347 Tiger 1s were manufactured and whilst it was undoubtedly one of the finest tanks ever produced, it could not hold back the ever increasing numbers of Allied armour. Highlighting this numerical disparity, American factories were able to produce over 49,000 Sherman Tanks during WWII.
A celebrated panzer ace with reputedly around 135 tank victories to his name, Michael Wittman combined his undoubted tactical skill with the awesome power of the mighty Tiger I tank to devastating effect on the battlefields of Europe. Perhaps his most famous action was the ambush of elements of the British 7th Armoured Division at Villers-Bocage on 13th June 1944, when during the space of a frenetic 15 minutes of combat, he destroyed 14 tanks and at least the same number of armoured personnel carriers. Unfortunately for Wittmann and the rest of Schwere Panzer Abteilung 101, the Allies were now flooding Normandy with troops and armour and his undoubted skills would be required in multiple locations at the same time. Wherever he found himself in combat, he would usually be at a significant numerical disadvantage.
On the morning of 8th August 1944, the Germans were coming to terms with strategic losses as a result of a massive Allied offensive ‘Operation Totalize’ in and around the Caen area. With his Tiger concealed in a wood, Wittmann was attempting to assess the situation and plan where best to direct a counterattack. Knowing he would be facing much greater numbers of Allied armour, he still had great faith in the fighting qualities of the Tiger I and backed himself to better any armoured unit who dared to oppose him. The Germans were still coming to terms with news of the combat introduction of a powerful new Allied tank, the Sherman Firefly, however, reports were that they were in very short supply and were being deployed sparingly.
On that fateful day, Wittmann was unable to use his own assigned Tiger I (Turret number 205), so he and his crew were using the machine belonging to Battalion Commander Heinz von Westerhagen, a machine which had the turret number 007 and one which would soon be forever linked with Germany’s most famous panzer ace. The plan was to attack and destroy Allied units occupying high ground near the town of Cintheaux, south of Caen, claiming the position for themselves and holding it until support units could arrive. Wittmann led a force of 4 Tigers across the perilous Normandy countryside, concealing their progress from air attack wherever possible. As they passed an orchard on the way to their objective, near the town of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil, the battle group were completely unaware that their progress was being watched and that they were heading into a planned armoured killing zone.
Amongst the Allied tanks concealed in the orchard was a single Sherman Firefly, with its crew including a young gunner who was gaining a reputation as being something of a crack shot. Waiting until the Tigers were at relatively close range, the Firefly opened fire at the last Tiger, getting off two quick rounds before the enemy tank could react, knocking it out. Withdrawing to take up a new firing position and to avoid being fired upon by the remaining Tigers, the Sherman next targeted a Tiger displaying the turret number 007, letting off a round before they themselves could be fired upon. The round penetrated the hull of the German tank, setting off an explosive chain reaction which ignited its stored ammunition with such force that it blew the turret off the tank.
Clearly, the explosion would have instantly killed the Tiger’s crew, including Germany’s famous Tiger ‘Ace’ Michael Wittmann, although this was unknown at the time. Even the mighty Tiger tank could not hold back the overwhelming armoured superiority enjoyed by Allied armoured units in the wake of the D-Day landings.
Expected: Autumn 2020
In the 134th edition of Workbench, we looked at an exciting pair of new tooling projects which pitted the talents of two of our most recent product design recruits with two of the Second World War’s most famous armoured fighting vehicles. We are delighted to now be in a position to quickly provide an update on both projects, but with something of a difference – once again looking at each project in turn, we will see how each kit has been developed with an unusual twist, presenting the modeller with a simple, or more complex build option. With the benefit of yet another selection of exclusive images for your viewing pleasure, we can now take a first look at the model part frames themselves, marvel at the beautiful box artwork produced for each model and review the two scheme options which will accompany the release of both kits.
As his third new tooling project since joining Airfix as a product designer, Tom had already built up a wealth of experience by the time he embarked on his Sherman Firefly VC project and was determined that he was going to do this iconic tank justice. Based on the ubiquitous American M4A(4) hull, the Firefly was a British attempt to ‘up gun’ the Sherman, making it much more capable when facing the heavy German armour it would be facing during the battles for Normandy, whilst using existing gun and ammunition technology. Redesigning the tank’s turret to reposition the radio gear, the Firefly equipped the Sherman with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun, turning it through 90 degrees so that it could be loaded from the side. Although the tank retained the relatively weak armour protection of the Sherman series, the new gun was at least capable of taking on and destroying the feared German Tiger and Panther tanks which were roaming the battlefields of Europe.
An exclusive first look at the part frames produced by the new 1/72nd scale Sherman Firefly VC tooling, clearly showing how this highly detailed new kit will have two options when it comes to modelling the tracks and running gear
As one of the most capable Allied tanks of the Second World War, Tom was determined to make this new kit a much loved addition to the Airfix armour range and embraced the opportunity to innovate with his design. When looking at the part frame image above, we can certainly see that he managed to achieve his aim on both counts. As well as incorporating plenty of detail into the kit and replicating the iconic turret shape of the Sherman Firefly, Tom has also managed to incorporate two track options into his design. For those looking for an easier build, the new kit includes a single running gear option where the wheels, bogies and track come as a single unit, locating in to the same position on the hull as the alternative option. This second option is the more usual kit representation of tank running gear, where the bogies wheels and tracks all come as separate parts and require construction by the modeller. The tank tracks are also a break away from the rubberised parts from years past and will allow for a much more accurate representation of these distinctive, and in real life extremely heavy items – it was always difficult to get the rubber tracks to sit correctly.
At the same time as Tom was perfecting his Sherman masterpiece, his colleague across the Airfix design office was tackling arguably the most famous tank in the history of warfare. Having only recently joined the company, Paramjit was handed the iconic German Tiger I as his first Airfix new tooling project, something which must have been a daunting undertaking for him. As iconic to military vehicles as the Spitfire is to aircraft, the Tiger may be quite an angular, almost box like design, but it is so familiar to so many people that there is absolutely no margin for error.
With the same ‘be innovative’ design brief as Tom was handed, Paramjit thought long and hard before actually making a start on his first Airfix project, already knowing from his own extensive modelling experience that he wanted to try something a little different with the kit’s track representation. He designed a system which allowed the sprocket and road wheel assembly to be constructed separately from the hull and joined together as a completed unit later in the build. This definitely helps when it comes to painting the model, whilst at the same time improving the overall appearance of the finished model. In addition to this, innovative plastic track sections are not only a significant improvement from earlier tank model designs, but also allow the correct ‘track sink’ to be represented.
Expected: Autumn 2020
Expected: Autumn 2020
Scheme A – Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc, 307th Fighter Squadron, Twelfth Air Force, USAAF, La Sénia, Algeria, November/December 1942
Scheme B – Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc, No.2 Squadron, South African Air Force, Gioia del Colle, Italy, October 1943
For many modellers, the sight of the magnificent box artwork which graces the packaging of our latest model releases has become almost as iconic as the model kits themselves and looking at the exclusive Beaufighter artwork reveal above, it is not difficult to see why. In many cases, the appeal of this artwork is the only encouragement we need in selecting our next build project and it certainly acts as inspiration throughout the process. Effectively bringing to life the stories and poor quality black and white pictures we all find in our reference books, modellers know that if we manage to make our models look something like the image on the front of the box, we will have another successful build under our belts.
The subject of this latest artwork reveal is one of the most successful twin engined strike aircraft of the Second World War and one which would excel in the role of long range maritime strike fighter, the magnificent Bristol Beaufighter. It is strange to think that an aircraft which possesses such WWII pedigree and is so familiar with aviation enthusiasts actually started its development as a private venture, with Britain’s Air Ministry not seeing a need for such an aircraft. The concept of a ‘Heavy Fighter’ was not seen as a priority for the Royal Air Force as the clouds of war gathered at the end of the 1930s, with the production of Spitfires and Hurricanes being their most pressing priority. Thankfully, designers at the Bristol Aeroplane Company had a little more foresight and pressed ahead with the development of a heavy fighter variant of the Beaufort torpedo bomber already in production for the RAF.
The prototype Beaufighter started life as a partially built Beaufort fuselage, which was taken straight from the production line, with the intention being that the new aircraft would utilise many of the same components produced for this existing design. As it was, it soon became apparent that the fuselage would have to be completely re-designed for the new fighter, something which inevitably caused delays – thankfully, these delays also brought about a change of heart in British military thinking. With war in Europe now looking increasingly certain, the Air Ministry placed an order for the new Beaufighter even before the prototype aircraft had flown, a decision which was fully vindicated in the years which followed.
Although the first Beaufighter’s would actually enter Royal Air Force service in the late summer of 1940, perhaps the most famous variant of this aircraft and certainly the most familiar to enthusiasts was the TF Mk.X, the final major production variant of this magnificent aeroplane. Armed with a combination of rockets, cannon and often an air launched torpedo, the Beaufighters TF Mk.X strike fighters of Coastal Command took a heavy toll of Axis shipping from the summer of 1943. Operating in large formations and developing aggressive tactics which proved so effective, that enemy shipping movements were restricted to night sailings only, as they hoped to avoid the attentions of the RAF’s Beaufighters.
An aircraft type which has always been popular with Airfix modellers, the current Beaufighter tooling was introduced back in 2015 and has proved to be a stunning success. With this latest release from the tooling due to arrive later this year and in celebration of the spectacular box artwork featured above, let’s take a closer look at the two scheme options which will be included with the kit.
The interesting marketing slogan displayed above could easily be attributed to our rugged Quickbuild series of models, but is actually associated with the subject of this next feature, the purposeful Ford Ranger Raptor. A range of vehicles which began as a series of successful compact pickup trucks, the Raptor is as its name suggests, a little more ‘exciting’ than your average pickup truck and one which people of a more adventurous nature may be hoping to own.
A quick look through the promotional material supporting the current range of Ford Ranger vehicles leaves you in absolutely no doubt that this muscular vehicle is targeted at multiple market opportunities. Clearly, businesses which require the lugging of heavy loads, often in off-road conditions, will be the main target for Ford here, whether that be as a hard-working agricultural vehicle with endless applications, or as a go-anywhere mode of transport for people working in more rural locations. Having said that, once cleaned up, this stylish pick-up would certainly not look out of place in any city centre, as it takes its driver to their latest business meeting, with its stylish exterior matched by interior fittings which make this as luxurious as any executive car.
And then there is the Raptor – all of that and so much more! A top of the range vehicle, the Raptor is a real head-turner and one which you could imagine being driven by ‘cool people’, or those wishing to appear so. Owning a Raptor is a real statement of style and adventurous nature, people who don’t necessarily like to conform, or have interests which may be a little more active than most – even if you are not a rock climber or former SAS soldier, if you own a Raptor, people will think you might be. The ultimate incarnation of the Ford Ranger line, the Raptor is aimed at those who are looking to combine the ability to take their lives ‘off the beaten track’, without having to compromise on either luxury or performance.
Even though our new Quickbuild Ford Raptor will look fantastic when fully constructed, it has been designed to be built, taken apart and built time and time again
With the ability to go where other forms of transport wouldn’t dream of venturing, the Raptor has been designed to perform in these challenging environments and is described as a street legal derivative of an off-road competition vehicle – how could you not want one of those? Even though it possesses all the credentials to be an off-road winner, it is surly on our normal roads where this vehicle will find its strongest sales support, as it is the very embodiment of a ‘don’t mess with me’ vehicle. With its stunning good looks and purposeful styling, you would expect to see footballers, athletes and aspiring boxers behind the wheel of a Raptor, because just like them, this beast has been bred to perform.
Everything described above could easily translate into how the unique attributes of the Quickbuild model range plays a slightly different, yet no less important role in the overall Airfix product range (ok, we might struggle with the footballer and boxer bit). A robust and rugged range of model kits, a Quickbuild model has to go together in a logical, relatively simple manner, using a brick type construction, without the need for glue, but once completed, has to produce a faithful representation of the vehicle, aircraft or tank on which it is based. Quite a tall order for our product designers, in many cases, a Quickbuild project can be more challenging for them than a ‘traditional’ Airfix kit.
Although hardly featuring in Workbench prior to this year, 2020 has seen our Quickbuild range come under the spotlight on several previous occasions, as we have taken readers on the development journey of a new kit from initial design, right through to release. As the new Quickbuild Ford F-150 Raptor has already been released, we don’t intend to cover the same development ground as we have already done with projects such as the Jaguar I-PACE and F-35 Lightning II, but as this is such a distinctive addition to the range, we certainly wanted to give it some blog airtime.
Having had the opportunity to speak to several of our designers who have Quickbuild experience on their CV’s, we now know that designing a Quickbuild kit can in most cases, actually be more challenging and time consuming that working on a ‘traditional’ Airfix kit. With a very specific set of design criteria to adhere to and with these products intended for a particular target market, these kits have to build into an attractive display model, but have the ability to be taken apart and built all over again, time after time – everything about a Quickbuild has to be tough.
Series: WW I Military Miniatures
Box size: 386x240x60
HIGHLY DETAILED PLASTIC MODEL KIT.
BOX CONTAINS MODEL OF ARMORED CAR WITH FULL INTERIOR
DRIVER COMPARTMENT AND INTERIOR OF TURRETS ACCURATELY REPRESENTED.
HIGHLY DETAILED ENGINE
ALL HATCHES CAN BE ASSEMBLED IN OPEN OR CLOSED POSITION.
CLEAR PLASTIC PARTS INCLUDED
7 MARKING OPTIONS
PE PARTS ARE INCLUDED
FYI – many design changes were made in 1933, such as new engine ( different engine cowling ), new propeller, increased fin, structural changes in the wing. So that is not Dora wings ( 1932 modifications) re-boxing. Compare related Plastic frames for evidence.