R.A.F. Victor K.2 Tanker
The Handley Page Victor was conceived as a nuclear bomber in the late 1950s. It was the third and last of the “V Bombers”, following the Valiant and Vulcan. As the Royal Navy took over the nuclear deterrent mission with submarines, the V Bombers became aircraft without missions. The Valiant had already been reconfigured as an airborne tanker, but when the airframes became worn out, the Victor bombers became the tanker force.
In 1982 the Victor K.2 tankers participated in one of the most complicated missions ever conceived. Operation Black Buck used 11 Victor K.2s and a single Vulcan B.2 to deliver a bomb load from Ascension Island to Port Stanley Airport in the Falklands, a distance of 3900 miles.
The next, and last big deployment of the Victor K.2 was the 1991 (First) Gulf War, The RAF called their participation Operation Granby. This was the operation to force Iraq out of Kuwait
Decal and Painting Options
There are two possible color schemes, Operation Black Buck or Operation Granby.
The Black Buck Victor is XL163, which was one of the tankers used in the missions. It has the dark sea grey and green upper side with the light sea grey underside. This scheme is shown on the box back.
The Granby Victors are all from 55 Squadron. They all participated in the Gulf War. They were SM717, “Lucky Lou”, XH672, “Maid Marian”, and XL164, “Saucy Sal”. The schemes for these planes are shown on a separate large sheet. I’m including a scan of the nose/tail sections for your viewing pleasure.
I decided early on that I was going to do a Gulf War Victor, mainly because until I was doing the research for this review I missed the Black Buck Victor. I’ll have to get another Victor K.2 and do that one too.
There was one feature of this kit which showed thought and originality, although it did require a little dexterity to make it work well. The sprues don’t just some in to the fuselage parts from the outer skin, but instead bend around and come in to the mating surfaces. This allows the modeler to cut the sprue fairly cleanly, without leaving an unsightly cut spot right on the fuselage top or bottom. When the sprue is cut off, it can be sanded down with a medium to fine sanding stick until it leaves a smooth mating surface, without an unsightly gouge or bump where the sprue came in. VERY good engineering!!
I first assembled and detailed the cockpit interior. Well, as much detail as you usually get in 1/144. In this case, I painted the seat cushions. I also made decals for the panel and console. I didn’t put the air brakes deployed, as the aircraft aren’t seen this way very often. I put 7.5 grams of weight in the nose. The picture below shows a nickel (5 grams) and a penny (2.5 grams) in behind the cockpit.
Then with the cockpit and nose gear well in position, I put the fuselage halves together. Fit was pretty good, except for one spot on the upper spine where I got over enthusiastic removing the sprue connector. A small application of Mr. Surfacer 500 took care of this. I also installed the closed air brakes at this step. I installed the bottom of the fuselage, including the refueling point to pretty much finish the fuselage.
I assembled the horizontal tail, but left it off until after painting and decals.
The wing assemblies are the most complex part of the build. There are intake ducts which end in jet engine fronts and closed off exhausts at the back of the wings. There are also two intake ducts on the bottom of each wing. Everything fits very nicely, and the locating pins put the intakes in exactly the right place. I was very happy with the fit.
I assembled the underwing tanks and refueling stations, but didn’t put them on until final assembly.
I attached the wing assemblies to the fuselage, and I was ready to paint.
While I was looking for some history on the Gulf War Victors, I came across an interesting fact in a couple of discussion forums. It seems that the Victor K.2s were all painted desert pink (30279) well after they returned to England. During the war they were left in the same scheme they wore pre-war, Hemp (30450). I have included a photo of the Victor I built, “Maid Marian” from 1991, before it was repainted pink. So the instruction profiles are correct for the aircraft, but the time frame isn’t.
So I painted the underside with light grey and the top Hemp, replacing the desert pink in the painting instructions. In this way I did a Gulf War Victor.
Because there were only two colors, it was fairly easy to mask the underside and then paint the uppers. It was also nice that the horizontal stabilizer was still separate.
I applied a gloss coat of Future, and I was ready for the markings.
The quality of the decals in this kit is very good. I had almost no problems with these decals, except for a couple of the very tiny ones, which were hard to manage because the surface tension of the water made the decal and backing paper hard to catch. All of the decals came off the backing paper cleanly, they moved around without folding or tearing, and I was quite happy with the results, especially the underwing set.
I always do painting and decals before I put on the small and fragile parts, because I have a history of breaking things while I’m concentrating on putting on decals.
I assembled the landing gear. While the glue was setting up, I installed the underwing fuel tanks and refueling stations. I then put the stabilizer on the top of the tail, and installed the canopy. The canopy didn’t want to fit really well. This was the only part on the whole thing that didn’t fit marvelously. Go figure.
I installed the landing gear and the gear doors. The front strut on the main gear is difficult to insert and get into the locating hole, as the strut goes far into the wing, and it’s difficult to get it aligned. Once I got that strut in, the main strut fit just fine.
I finished with the refueling probe that mounts over the canopy and the “towel bar” antenna on the back of the fuselage.
And the project was finished.
Highly recommended. The fit of this kit is jaw-dropping good. The decals are marvelous. Once I got through the paint conundrum, I was happy with how the final product looks.
Many thanks to Dragon USA and Great Wall for the super kit, and to IPMS USA for the learning moments about Gulf War colors.