Lockheed Ventura Conversion
Number 459 Squadron RAAF, MTO, December 1943
Red Roo Models,1/72 scale
Mark J. Davies
Xtradecal's 1/32 Fw 190 Stab Decals will be available online from Squadron.com
The Lockheed Ventura is perhaps a slightly overlooked subject in modelling terms, despite its fairly widespread use during WW2. There have been only three kits that I am aware of in the “One True Scale”; a vac-form by Rareplanes, and injected kits by Frog and Academy/Minicraft. The Frog kit has been re-boxed by several Eastern European and Russian companies, and is frequently cited as having been the basis for the Academy/Minicraft kit; which itself is now 30 years old.
The Academy/Minicraft kit is a reasonable and generally simple kit, with basic cockpit and gun turret detail. Across the boxings offered are versions with the bulbous Boulton Paul or lower profile Martin turrets, and glazed or solid gun noses.
Red Roo Model’s conversion set is intended for the Academy/Minicraft kit, and is seemingly very unit specific. However, it potentially has very wide application to most Venturas as about half of the components focus on providing the kit with improved cockpit and Martin gun turret detail. It is the desert air-filter ducting and flame arresting exhaust parts that are focused on converting the kit to represent a Mediterranean Theatre of Operations (MTO) aircraft.
The Conversion Set
The conversion is focussed on aircraft of 459 Squadron (RAAF) operating within the MTO. They flew from six main bases and ten detachment locations spanning a 1,000 miles, undertaking operations from The Bay of Sirte (Benghazi), to the Levant (Lebanon & Palestine) and on down to Southern Arabia.
The first thing that strikes you after opening the sturdy top-opening box is Red Roo’s typically thorough and informative instructions. In fact, they are in my experience virtually unrivalled in this regard. They consist of eight colour printed pages providing a parts map, an overview of the Ventura and 459 Squadron followed by detailed written instruction on applying the conversion set to the kit. These are accompanied by drawings and detail images.
There is a quite lengthy section discussing aircraft colour schemes, supported by a multi-view coloured camouflage and markings guide. These include very helpful detail images of the antenna wire arrangements and rigging. Detailed advice on decal application is also provided, along with references consulted and acknowledgement of contributing researchers.
The crisply cast resin parts come supplied in a heat-sealed polythene pouch, and should prove easy to remove and clean up from casting blocks. The style of resin and packaging suggests to me that the parts have been cast by CMR Moulding & Casting in the Czech Republic. (The upper part of pilot’s seat back in my sample had snapped off in transit, but being a clean break, typical of resin, it will prove very easy to fix.)
The two cast brass radio altimeter antennae and plastic sheets come in their own zip-lock plastic bag, as does the sheet of clearly printed decals with codes and serials for two aircraft.
As already mentioned, it is the desert filter ducting and flame-damping exhausts that are specific to 459 Squadron Venturas, and it these parts of the conversion that require minor but careful surgery to the kit parts. In case you were wondering, the 0.10” plastic sheet serves to brace the kit cowlings during surgery and provides the floor of the intake ducting.
The resin cockpit details and Martin gun-turret base can be used to enhance any Ventura model and simply replace kit components.
This is a thorough and well-researched package that enables an interesting MTO Ventura to be built; and one that enhances the internal details of the base kit.
Considering the quantity and good quality of the parts, the inclusion of decals, thorough instructions and the sturdy packaging, the asking price for this conversion set seems to me to be an absolute bargain. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to Red Roo Models for the review sample
Red Roo Models products are available online from their website
Review Text Copyright © 2017 by Brad Fallen
This Page Created on 25 October, 2017
25 October, 2017
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