Welcome to the Workbench.
A 92 Squadron blue two-seater was an obvious choice for the long-nosed "T.7" but as far as I could tell this scheme has never been included on any aftermarket sheet, even the treasure trove that is the Fantasy Printshop triple-volume set. There has always been the distant hope of the Blue Diamonds choice that was on the Matchbox kit, and that came to me by courtesy of Pete Long, who I met many years ago when he was more widely known in modelling circles as the mastermind behind Toad Resins, many of which crossed my workbench in various shades of RLMfarben - if not Echt Deutch - and almost certainly appeared thereafter on the review pages of SAM. One of the problems with the Blue Diamonds was the precise shade of blue, not one commonly used in the RAF, and not only modellers found it difficult; I remember when the West Drayton Lightning F.2 gate guardian was repainted it took some while to agree the correct shade. I don't like mixing, which shows up one of my technical falures, and being an acrylic addict I tried several before settling on Tamiya's X-4 Blue. It appears slightly darker than I remember, but it's very close to the colour photos in the Derry/Robinson Hunter books. This tandem T.7 marks at least a pause in my Kingston - or pehaps Squires Gate - production line, though it might stutter back to life nearer Telford (I still want to add a hooked 764 NAS aircraft). You will have guessed that I've really enjoyed it so far...12.9.19
The Longnose line continues
Just about all of my modelling since Easter - yes I know it's really the assembly of plastic kits but bear with, bear with - has concerned the projected long-nose Hunter variants, with Cap'n Freightdog having brought out the resin conversion for the trainer version, to which he has recently added follow-ons for the night fighter and for a pair of naval two-seaters, one with a "Harley" light in its nose and one to follow with a Blue Vixen radar. In a hurry to get two more done for SMW my carefully garned stash of Revell FGA.9s had virtually evaporated I took advantage of a stand at Telford that was offering them at just ave the "normal" price to make off with half a dozen very early, and about two weeks ago Colin thoughtfully let me know that the Hobbycraft chain were featuring their sale at £10 each. Their shelf in the garage is according slightly more laden with one kept close to the workbench for emergencies; I got slightly twitchy in September that if/when more noses arrived I wouldn't able to accomodate them, but my blood pressure in now stabilised and when my mojo surfaces slowly from its hibernation I shall be able to rescusitate the line without much agitated thought.
One of my many early Hunter memories was of a group of Hunters at Farnborough with varius trial modifications, and for some reason I always remember XF 310 wth a pair of rarher elegantly shaped wing tip tanks, and the rumour was that they were being tested for a night fighter mark; I had hoped that Freightdog might have included a pair with this conversion, though in fact they produced unwanted turbulence and would not have gone in to service. The box of Freightdog bits does include two 37 round rocket pods, but because I was strapped for time I didn't fit them (they should be worn on the outer pylons, and Firestreaks were an alternative). For me one of the attraction of an NF Hunter conversion was the chance to use the markings of some more of the squadrons that had disbanded at the end of the 'fifties and were much less known that those whose unitd had survived through the Cold War. The higher one of this pair has inherited the 253 colours from a Venom NF squadron at Waterbeach, and the lower those of 256 based ar Wahn as part of 2 TAF. Because it's based close to the IGF, this is a later mark with an afterburner and a greater wing sweep to get there faster! There were a very few Hunters based in Germany with PRU blue undersurfaces, but I thought this should be one of them.
Among the items I brought back fromn Telford were another pair of conversions, another nightfighter and a trainer with a Harley light in the nose as worn by the T8s and GA.11s of the FRADU at Yeovilton, both with substantial areas of dayglo orange. The RAF aircraft followed in the footsteps of the Meteor NF.14s that trained navigators at 2 ANS at Thorney Island wearing bright patches ovet its camouflage; my original plan, fired by a reprint of Model Art dayglo decal, was to finish it in silver, but (a) I couldn't find a Meteor with the unit markings in that scheme and (b) I mislaid the decal sheets within ten days of getting home, a well-know faculty of mine. The second was a reminder of my days with IAT in the 'seventies when Derek Morter led an aerobatic team of old bold ex-service Hunter pilots sponsored by Arctic Light, a not entirely palatable "light" beer; the team gave us good display though at a time when Hunter teams were becoming uncommon and I remember them with a smile. The pennant markings of 2 ANS came from a carefully preserved Modeldecal set - as so often I'm indebted to Dick Ward - and the "Blue Herons" from Fantasy Printshop's third Hunter set, which was also the source of the serials.
My slight pause has been long enough to take a breath or two, but not to qualify as a sabbatical; that comes about now. I have been able to fill the post-Telford gap with my last tandem-seated Hunter for the time-being, and as promised it's in EDSG and white; as you can see it's a Blue Vixen-equipped T.18 L belonging to 1831 Naval Air Squadron based in the Manchester area in 1976, the one that appeared in the type's 25th anniversary line-up at the Greenham Common IAT that year (I know because I was there, my first year as SATCO!). The quote on the cover page comes from a comment made at a mock funeral that was held for one of the RNVR squandrons when they were all disbanded in 1957, following the notorious defence White Paper when the RAFVR fighter squadrons were also disbanded; "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, if the gin don't get you the Admiralty must!" The decals were many years ago included on a Modeldecal set, destined for a Stretton-based Attacker, but these come from a recently issued Kits At War set. Dick Ward's also included a bonedome for the greyhound which was I think only added to that on the Boss's aircraft.
I think this particular forward fuselage is due to be released by Cap'n Freightdog in the spring, and the pack will also include an arrester hook and a pair of unguided rocket packs to be worn on the outer pylons; these may appear on 830 before the display season starts, but were like so much else the victim of time and tinsel! I've had a great deal of enjoyment from working on the somewhat extended batch of conversions on the excellent of the Revell F.6 and FGA.9, and an occasionally protracted hunt to ensure that the stash was topped up; this was greatly assisted by the stallholder at Telford who got my SMW off to a good start, and by Hobbycraft's pre-Christmas sale to which I was directed by Colin Strachan, and I still have enough of my gleanings on a dedicated separate shelf in my garage.
There have been mixed reactions when I've taken them, in increasing numbers, to show at What If? SIG displays; there has been particular attention paid to the green/yellow "West Freugh" aircraft, and I suspect that the others look much like the regular single seaters whose schemes I've appropriated, and the onlooker may have to be a fully-paid up member of the Sir Sydney Camm Appreciation Society to recognize immediately that none of them are "real" Hunters. I enjoy the effect of them en masse, and I plan to have some at least at Old Warden and Peterborough early in the season, and maybe Cosford. And I plan a little quiet meditation on what I might add to them one day, when I've regressed to 1957 and completed XF317/U in 1/48th. If Humbrol finally come through that's Plan A for 2020.....
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