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Friday, 30 July 2010

Airfix George Washington

Airfix's 1980 Series 2, 54 mm kit of George Washington astride his horse.

George Washington was born in Virginia in 1732. His early career was spent as a surveyor. In 1752 he was appointed Adjutant General in the Virginia militia and in 1754 rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He took part in several actions against the French Canadians and in 1755 was promoted to Colonel and made Commander of all the Virginian forces.

In 1758 he was made a Brigadier General and elected to the Virginia Provincial Legislature. In 1759 he married a wealthy widow, Martha Custis and retired from the military to become a planter.

Initially he grew tobacco which was exported back to Great Britain but later diversified into other crops such as wheat which could be sold locally in America.

Up until 1767 Washington concentrated on his business activities rather than politics. Several new taxes and Acts of parliament had been imposed on the Americans by the British which were widely unpopular and lead to growing resistance and unrest.

In May 1769, Washington introduced a proposal which called for a Virginian boycott of British goods until these Acts were repealed. Parliament did repealed the Townshend Acts in 1770 and the crisis abated for a while.

In 1774 the British passed further new Acts of parliament which Washington regarded as "an invasion of our rights and privileges". In July 1774, he chaired the meeting at which the "Fairfax Resolves" were adopted, which called for, the convening of a Continental Congress.

In August 1774, Washington attended the First Virginia Convention and was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.

In April 1775, fighting commenced between the Americans and the British.

With his long military experience, charisma and leadership skills Washington was the natural choice to become Commander in Chief of the newly formed Continental Army.

He assumed command at Cambridge, Massachusetts in July 1775. The Continental Army was short of supplies including powder for their guns. The Americans had an ally in France, long at war with Britain.

The war ebbed and flowed over the next few years with the Americans winning some battles and the British others.

In 1777 France entered the war on the side of the Americans after years of tacit support. The tide turned in favour of the Americans and in 1781, a French naval victory enabled the British Army to be trapped in Virginia. The British surrendered at Yorktown on 17th October 1781 and this marked the end of major hostilities.

In September 1783 Great Britain finally recognised the independence of the United States and the Continental Army was disbanded. On 23rd December 1783, Washington resigned his commission as Commander in Chief.

Despite his apparent lack of interest in politics, Washington attended the Constitutional Convention in the Summer of 1787, and was unanimously elected president of the Convention.

In 1789 Washington was elected first President of the United State of America. He was re-elected in 1792 once more with one hundred per cent of the electoral votes.

Washington retired from the presidency in March 1797, having declined to run for a third term, and returned to his farm in Virginia.

On 4th July 1798, Washington was commissioned by the new President John Adams as Commander in Chief of any armies to be raised for a prospective war against their former ally France.

Since the end of the war with the British, the French had been trying increasingly to interfere in domestic American politics. The Americans had already made peace with the British and were trading openly and very successfully with them once again.

Washington died from pneumonia on the evening of December 14, 1799, at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia aged 67.

He was interred in a tomb on his estate on 18th December 1799.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay. For details of the auction, please see here.

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Airfix Ford 5-AT Trimotor

A 1993 vintage Airfix Ford 5-AT Trimotor kit in 1/72 scale.

This kit is part of the Classic Airliners range issued by Airfix in the early 1990's.

The Ford Trimotor, nicknamed the "Tin Goose" first flew on the 11th June 1926. It eventually saw service with over one hundred airlines worldwide as well as with the US and foreign military forces.

A total of 199 aircraft were completed by the time production ceased in 1933.

Although designed mainly for passenger use, the Trimotor was used by some airlines for cargo transport -the seats in the fuselage could easily be removed.

Of a revolutionary design when it first appeared, the Trimotor was rapidly superseded by more modern aircraft such as the Douglas DC2 and Ford decided to concentrate on vehicle production.

Despite this change of focus, Ford did build B-24 Liberator bombers on a huge scale during World War II (under licence form Consolidated).

Trimotors continued in service with smaller airlines and cargo operators until the 1960's.

An example of this kit is currently for sale on Ebay. You can view the auction details here.

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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Airfix Handley Page Hampden

This Airfix Handley Page Hampden kit in 1/72 scale is another example of the "map top box design" introduced in the 1980's.

The aircraft depicted is a Hampden B Mk 1 which served with 49 Squadron RAF based at Scampton.

The Hampden first flew on 21st June 1936 and entered production soon after. 49 Squadron received it's first Hampdens in September 1938.

At the start of World War II the Hampden, together with the Whitley and the Wellington formed the backbone of Bomber Command and took part in the first night bombing raid on Berlin and the first thousand bomber raid on Cologne (Koeln).

The Hampden was nicknamed the the "Flying Suitcase" or "Tadpole" by it's crews.

Early in the War, on daylight sorties, Hampdens suffered heavily at the hands of German fighters so they were soon switched predominantly to night operations remaining in service with Bomber Command until late 1942.

A total of 1,430 Hampdens were built: 500 by Handley Page, 770 by English Electric and 160 by the Canadian Associated Aircraft Consortium.

In 1943 Hampdens were used by Coastal Command as long range torpedo bombers and for maritime reconnaissance. No 455 Squadron RAAF operated aircraft from bases in the Soviet Union on Arctic convoy protection duty. Their aircraft were later transferred to the Soviet Naval Aviation.

Apart from the RAF, RAAF and Soviet Navy, Hampdens also saw service with the RCAF and RNZAF.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay here.

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Airfix Westland Whirlwind Mk 1

An Airfix Westland Whirlwind Mk 1 kit in 1/72 scale which dates back to 1987. This is another example of the "map top box" design introduced by Airfix in the mid 80's.

The aircraft depicted above served with 137 Squadron Royal Air Force in 1942.

The first prototype Westland Whirlwind flew on 11th October 1938. Following numerous modifications to the prototype, Westland received an initial production order for 200 aircraft in January 1939.

The Whirlwind was powered by two Rolls Royce Peregrine engines giving it a top speed of over 360 mph, in line with the single engine fighters of the day. However, the aircraft only had a combat operating range of less than 300 miles which made it largely unsuitable as a bomber escort fighter.

Unfortunately the Peregrine engines were not particularly reliable and Rolls Royce reduced production in favour of the Merlin. As a result, the supply of Peregrine engines to Westland was greatly hampered, with the first ones only being delivered in January 1940.

The Whirlwind, armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons in the nose, packed a lot of firepower but was found to be more suitable in a ground attack role than for use as a fighter with the introduction of more suitable aircraft such as the Spitfire.

Continued delivery problems with the Peregrine engines, lead to the end of Whirlwind production in January 1942, after the completion of just 112 front line aircraft.

Initially 25 Squadron Royal Air Force took delivery of three Whirlwinds in May 1940. These aircraft were transferred to 263 Squadron Royal Air Force based in Grangemouth, Scotland in mid June 1940.

The Squadron became fully operational in December 1940 and was transferred to Exeter where it undertook convoy patrol duties as well as providing bomber escort missions.

137 Squadron Royal Air Force was equipped with Whirlwinds from September 1941 until June 1943.

In mid 1942, both 263 and 137 Squadrons' Whirlwinds were fitted with racks to carry two 250 lb or 500 lb bombs and redesignated Whirlwind IA. The aircraft were very successfully employed in cross Channel ground attack missions against targets such as airfields, railways, bridges and shipping in enemy occupied France and the Low Countries.

The last Whirlwind mission to be flown by 137 Squadron occurred on 21 June 1943 when five aircraft attacked the German airfield at Poix. In December 1943, 263 Squadron, converted to the Hawker Typhoon.

Although the Whirlwind was held in great affection by it's pilots, sadly none of the original aircraft have survived to this day, most having been scrapped during the latter stages or the War.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay. Please check out the auction here.

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