It’s been awhile hasn’t it. Since spring break it’s been one thing after another-deadlines for both the yearbook and the newspaper, nationals in L.A., by annual evaluation, lots going on. At home it’s been yardwork and birthdays, my nightly fight with insomnia, some awesome records, a little bit of reading.
I’ve been able to paint, but not as much as I’d hoped. I finished a unit of goblins for Dragon Rampant and a unit of Tlaxcalan infantry for Quetazcoatl Rampant (I’ll share more about these another time.) But mostly I’ve been trying to figure out how to finish off my last few bits for Enfilade. Those bits are some Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers and my last couple of hydroplanes.
Doesn’t sound like a lot, right? In theory you’d be correct. But since you think so, you obviously haven’t tried to assemble any 1/300 scale biplane bombers and paint them.
Let’s just start at the beginning. Fairey and Blackburn made something on the order of 2,300 Swordfish planes. They weren’t just a one-off, small production run. That’s nearly 1,000 more Swordfish than Me 262’s. They served throughout the war. In 1945 there were nine squadrons still in service, chiefly in an anti-submarine role.
But we chiefly remember the quaint, fragile looking bomber as the torpedo bombers that sank the Italian fleet at Taranto, that damaged the Bismarck and allowed the British navy to close in and administer the coup de grace.
You would think that such an important plane was worthy of a first-rate miniature right? Let’s just say I’m still waiting.
I ordered some miniatures from ROS/Heroics back in December, waited my four weeks for them to arrive and tried to assemble them. Let’s just say these planes had more tiny parts than you can count, all of them repellant to CA glue. I tried one of the six models, put them away and figured I’d drag them out another time.
I figured I’d been granted a miracle when Dave told me MSD miniatures made a Swordfish model. They are the same company that started out with the Luft 46 planes some time ago. I ordered them from Noble Knight Games, got them quickly enough, and last week started breaking them out of their blister packs. Each plane was supposed to have eight parts, but unfortunately several of them were missing important stuff like wing struts.
So I had ten 1/300 scale Swordfish miniatures, none of which seemed like they could be assembled. That’s about $60 worth of small pewter pieces.
On Thursday I finally rolled up my sleeves and tried to figure out what I could do. I had two MSD planes with struts, so I started working on those planes first. Of course the struts didn’t fit well, and caused the wings to not receive all their support and sit higher than they should, but heck, at least I got them to go together. The other two planes I assembled by cutting four struts per plane from brass wire, about the same size and I allowed them to dry sufficiently to provide support for the top wing. Bingo, after some patience waiting for things to dry, I had biplanes. All I had left to do was add the landing gear, which, assembled out of the box, has the wheels twisted at bizarre angles. Perhaps nobody will notice.
This encouraged me to try the ROS planes again. I’ve chucked the soft lead struts supplied the by the manufacturer and gone strictly to brass. They don’t really fit right, but the upper wing is designed to rest on the nose of the fuselage anyway, so no biggie. The landing gear are absolutely terrible-a very small one strut affair that are inaccurate. So far I’ve got one set assembled, though I have all six planes set up with two wings.
Bottom line? I have no freakin’ idea if these look much like Swordfish or not. Perhaps those who play our Channel Dash game will be kind enough not to ask. Dave has a couple of these he’s working on, and I know he’s having just as much fun as I am. I’ve started painting the MSD planes. I’m probably a day or so away from being in the same place with the ROS planes. I’ll have photos of the finished planes. I’m happy just to apply some paint and decals to these guys and call it good.