MATCHBOX 1:72 WELLINGTON Mk.X

 

Reviewer: Jason Sou  (jsou@comnorth.com.au)

This large twin-engined bomber, used by the Royal Air Force from 1938 to 1953, was never quite as famous or glamorous as it’s four-engined partners, the Lancaster and Halifax, but the Wimpey (after Popeye’s friend J. Wellington Wimpey) saw service in many versions with RAF Bomber , Training, and Coastal Commands. 11461 Wellingtons of all versions had been built by the time the last one rolled off the production line in October 1945. The aircraft’s geodetic construction was devised by Dr. Barnes Wallis (of Dambuster and ‘bouncing bomb’ fame) and allowed heavy loads to be carried by a light but immensely strong airframe. Many Wellingtons returned from bombing missions and regained their bases after sustaining damage that would have destroyed many other types of aircraft. The earlier single-engined Wellesley, also a subject of a Matchbox kit, was the first aircraft to employ this structure which consisted of fabric over a diagonal latticework of alloy members or frames.

This kit is one of three available Wellingtons in this scale; the others being the Airfix Mk III and the Frog/Novo Mk Ic. The Matchbox kit allows the modeller to produce either the Mk X bomber version or the maritime patrol Mk XIV. The Coastal Command version is distinguishable by it’s quite different nose, underfuselage radome, and pre-dominantly white colour scheme. I chose to build the bomber Mk X for this review, although I have another unbuilt "Wimpey" which I intend to complete as a Mk XIV one day.

The kit consists of 72 well moulded pieces on 3 sprue trees with no flash evident. As usual with Matchbox kits, pieces are supplied in 2 or 3 colours – black, green and earth brown in this kit. Accuracy is acceptable with the exception of the tailfin and rudder, tailplane and smallish astrodome ( I used the kit parts), and I think the Geodetic construction is well represented. A multi-position stand is also provided and this is an item that most manufacturers have deleted from their kits in the past decade or so.At a guess, I would think that around 90% of them would have ended up in bins – did you ever use a stand for any of your completed models?

Construction starts with the very basic cockpit area where 2 seats, 1 control column (?), floor, and 2 pilot figures are supplied. This area could be improved by adding more realistic seats and an instrument panel as the glazed canopy is fairly large. Three large glazed and framed windows grace each fuselage side while simplified 2 gun Fraser-Nash nose and 4 gun tail turrets, which I found acceptable, adorn the bomber version. No provision is made for the bomb bay to be opened either, and if you desire to have this on your Mk X a lot of work will need to be done. The immediate nose area consists of several pieces due to the fact that the Coastal Command Mk XIV has a different nose. Thus, a small amount of filler will be required in this area. The wings fitted well to the fuselage with no filler being needed, and no problem was encountered with the engine nacelles or undercarriage. Wheel wells are lacking in detail which is a common failing of most twin-engined WW2 aircraft kits. The numerous transparencies are clear and not overly thick so I feel that they are acceptable for the majority of modellers to use.

Instructions consist of a large sheet with 10 construction stages well described in the usual Matchbox style, another two sections with brief technical details and history, a mini-paint plan, and details of Humbrol and Airfix colours to use. These colours used in conjunction with the colour artwork on back of box are accurate and adequate. A conversion chart will be necessary for those not familiar with RAF WW2 aircraft and colours, as the Humbrol Authentic and Airfix ranges are no longer available- the year 1975 is printed on the side of the box.. For the bomber version, HB1 is Humbrol 30 Dark Green, HB2 is Humbrol 29 Dark Earth, and Night (Black) is Humbrol 33. I imagine the later Revell re-issues of this Matchbox original would recommend the Revell line of enamels in the painting guide.

Decals allow modellers to represent a BMk X of 428 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force flying out of Yorkshire with RAF Bomber Command in 1943, a BMk X of 300 (Polish) Squadron based at Lincolnshire in 1943, or a Mk XIV of 179 Squadron Coastal Command at Gibraltar also in 1943. Two fin flashes, 2 type B roundels, 3 sets of red squadron codes and serials + fuselage roundels , 2 Polish red and white square symbols, and 2 Ghost badges for the Canadian aircraft are supplied on the decal sheet. The decals in my kit were not usable as they were 24 years old and the effects of the humid North Qld tropical weather had taken it’s toll. I found suitable replacements from my spare decals box.

This Matchbox kit is good value for money and reasonably accurate. It is also quite simple to build so I can recommend this kit to all modellers of any skill level.

 

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