Beaufort Mk. I
The Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber was developed for the RAF in 1938 using the experience gained from the Blenheim light bomber. Seeing service from 1940 with RAF Coastal Command, the type saw action across the World’s oceans, but most notably in the Channel and Mediterranean, as a torpedo bomber, conventional bomber and mine layer, until replaced in frontline service by the derivative Beaufighter from 1942. At least 1,180 were built in the UK and Australia.
This is the first time a conventional IM kit of the Beaufort has been produced in 1/48 and that it comes from the remarkably resilient Ukrainian ICM firm is especially noteworthy – that they can produce and distribute new kits when their country is under threat of destruction is quite amazing!
The kit is contained in a standard ICM white box with separate top slip cover with an action painting of a Beaufort delivering a torpedo in action. The 250-plus parts are moulded in medium grey, quite soft plastic; there are eight runners, plus one clear runner and a bonus runner with a torpedo and trolley – more on that later. Construction is in the most part very simple for such a large and potentially complex model. The interior contains nice but not outstanding detail for the four crew compartments and upper fuselage turret – the level of detail is perhaps on a par with Airfix and Hasegawa but not up to modern Tamiya and Kinetic kits, for example. While this might not be a handicap in some areas of the model, the large greenhouse of glazing in the nose area makes the lack of detail very conspicuous, so I bought a set of Kits World 3D cockpit decals to flesh out this prominent area – these are very visible through ICM’s excellent clear parts and – to my mind – well worth the extra money. I am sure that aftermarket resin cockpits will also be available for this kit to add even more if the modeler desires.
Fit throughout the build was excellent and I had no issues getting everything together, with only a few exceptions. The engine cowling parts are an awkward fit to each other and the cowl flaps - and be sure you have the correct parts for the correct sides…
The 14-cylinder, two-row Bristol Taurus engines are very nicely detailed and it’s a shame they are enclosed in typical Bristol close-cowled fashion! Adding the exhausts was a trifle fiddly – there are two pipes for each of the front row cylinders – but ICM provide the modeler with a couple of spares in case of loss – remarkably, I didn’t need them. Wonders will never cease. Each engine is therefore made up of 21 parts including the propeller. Painted very dark grey with steel dry-brushing and a black wash, they look very effective.
Another area of concern was the three-part nose glazing that need some persuasion to stay in alignment, else nasty steps will appear. As a modeler, it often feels as if evolution should provide us with a third hand, or prehensile tail, and this was one of those occasions… All clear parts were given a Future bath to prevent fogging, but I did opt to attach them with Revell Contact Clear to give me some leeway when fitting them. The bond isn’t too strong, but I don’t plan on lifting the model by the canopy…
The undercarriage is delicate, intricate and fiddly, which isn’t helped by the awkward runner connection points that almost invite you to break the fragile struts and links. Much care is required here.
Flaps are included in the ‘down’ position, but I generally don’t display RAF aircraft with flaps down, so I had to remove the clunky hinges to glue them in the raised position. All the other control surfaces are separate and poseable if desired.
The turret is a nice construct, with good detail including some very nice machine guns; ICM include a lot of extras of these to go in the spares box!
Once the airframe was basically complete, it was time to add paint and decals. Markings are provided for four different Mk.I airframes in five schemes:
- L4449, presumably late 1939
- L4449 OA-H, No. 22 Squadron, North Coates, Lincolnshire, summer 1940
- L4516 OA-W, No. 22 Squadron, North Coates, Lincolnshire, December 1940
- N1016 OA-X, No. 22 Squadron, RAF St.Eval, April 1941
- L9878 MW-R, No. 217 Squadron, RAF St.Eval, Autumn 1941
With this kit, I also received an ICM acrylic paint set for RAF WWII Bombers; this consists of six 12ml paint pots with five colours, 1054 Chocolate; 1069 Extra Dark Green; 1037 Dark Grey; 1032 Blue Grey; 1027 Gun Metal and 2002 Varnish Satin. According to the illustration on the back of the box, these are supposed to represent RAF Dark Earth; RAF Dark Green; exhaust staining; RAF Sky; metal areas and varnish respectively. However, the Chocolate, Extra Dark Green and Blue Grey are not at all good matches for those colours. Testing on a scrap model shows that they do brush paint very well, but I did not use any of them on this model, preferring my more accurate ModelMaster and Polly Scale paints.
ICM’s instruction booklet included a set of templates for the modeler to cut their own clear parts masks. There are 47 different templates included for the extensive glazing across the nose and turret, as well as other windows. To use, simply stick kabuki-type tape over the template and cut using a new knife blade, then apply to the appropriate spot on the model. I found that most of the masks were slightly oversized and ended up simply using my standard method of placing a piece of tape over the canopy and carefully cutting to the plastic’s framework. It’s a worthy idea though and if done better could save the modeler time and/or money.
For this model, I chose to replicate the fifth of ICM’s options, the 217 Sqn machine. The correct colour scheme for this aircraft is the modified Temperate Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey over Black – Dark Slate Grey is a very green colour, so ICM’s assumption that it is Dark Green is understandable if erroneous. After painting, it was time to add the decals.
ICM’s decals are very well printed – they are very thin, so care does need to be taken when moving from the backing paper to the model and they don’t like to be moved around. The colours are bright – perhaps too bright – and nicely opaque.
Once the decals were added and a Dullcoat finish applied, light weathering was added via a dark brown wash, light oil staining and some patchy paint wear and tear with dull aluminium applied with a small piece of sponge. To finish the build, all the appropriate pointy and dangly bits were attached.
An added bonus with this boxing of the kit is an RAF-type torpedo and torpedo trolley, which opens up some nice diorama possibilities – many period photos of Beauforts are staged shots at airfields with ground crew fussing with the torpedo, so it would be easy to replicate this in model form. The parts are all contained on one additional frame; the torpedo comprises nine parts, including an optional wooden stabilizing tail, while the trolley is a rather fiddly 20 parts; however, once built, the little trolley is a terrific little model in its own right. The torpedo can be posed either on the trolley or in the model’s bomb bay. All it needs is a groundcrew figure or two (not included unfortunately – I used a pair of Eduard figures for my photos).
To conclude, I really enjoyed this build. Despite the large parts count, the kit is relatively simple to construct. Detail is good, though a little sparse inside the very visible cabin. Accuracy-wise, looking at photos, the only small issue I could find was that the oil coolers in the wing leading edges are a little large in diameter; this aside, detail, shapes and dimensions look to be very good indeed. The addition of the torpedo is a lovely bonus with diorama potential, something ICM seem to be good at appreciating! I didn’t find the paints to be of much use for this build, though they will take their place in my paint-rack for other applications.
My sincerest thanks to ICM for providing the review sample – stay safe, guys!