TALLBOY - LANCASTER - HALIFAX
Posted by Matty on January 31, 2010, 14:53:56
Edited by board administrator December 31, 2017, 8:23:33
-- Originally Posted 1/31/2010 -- |
This story began, as my projects often do, with an incredible picture:
Click on Image for FULL-RESAnd one, big-a** bomb - the British "TallBoy" - one of which took the huge, half-moon bite out of the shoreline, above, at Swinemunde on 4/16/45, helping stove in the aft plating of DKM Lutzow (ex-Deutschland), sinking her by the stern, as shown here just afterwards. A direct hit by this five-ton-plus (12,000 lb) bomb would most likely have blasted the pocket battleship clean in two.
Note, further ashore within the marsh, another TallBoy crater (nominally about 100 feet across, when dropped from 20,000 feet) is ringed by a swath of ground-heave, extending to almost double the effective diameter - as originally intended to destroy any and all building foundation(s) within the radius. Note also additional circular features of the vegetation/landscape - some apparently partially reworked into cultivation or drainage ponds - in the aftermath of previous TallBoy impacts.
Introduced in mid-1944 by Barnes Wallis, following the success of his dam-busting, roughly 4-ton (8.600 lb) "Rotary Water-Bomb", the TallBoy took precedence as the largest bomb ever made, up to that time:
Click on Image to Enlarge Reputedly able to penetrate up to 16 feet of concrete - with fusing delayed up to 11 seconds, as needed - it was used against "the ultimate" in hardened targets - the U-boat pens - among other terrestrial and naval targets throughout the rest of the European War, during which a total of 854 were dropped.
Of all these missions, by far the most illustrious (IMHO) - accounting for 77 TallBoys or almost a tenth of the above total - were flown against DKM Tirpitz, the "Lone Queen of the North", in the fjords of Norway. Three missions, beginning 9/15/44, ultimately would leave her devastated, capsized and sunk on 11/12/44. However from the very first, a single, direct TallBoy hit on her bow had rendered Tirpitz completely unseaworthy and - though unknown to the British at the time - irreparable at any of the facilities still accessible to her, thus taking Tirpitz out of the war for good.
The Tirpitz TallBoy attacks, like the earlier "Dam-Buster" raids, were delivered by improved-performance Lancaster "Specials" of 617- and 9 Squadrons, as I have been learning in bits and pieces. In the process, I had long concluded these aircraft must have been upgraded Lancaster MkIIs:
Click on Image to Enlarge The assumption seemed (and still seems, to me) quite logical, as MkIIs (left) were fitted with Hercules radial engines which provided greater power - at least, at altitudes up to 20,000 feet - than contemporary Merlins of the MkI Lancasters. Accordingly, MkIIs were also the first production Lancs to include as standard the additionally-bulged bomb-bay doors (also visible at left) - specifically intended, as I understand it, to accommodate the TallBoy bomb, as shown at right. (A wealth of detail is visible in the pic at left, whose full-resolution original I have also uploaded, FYI.)
In fact, it appears that all the 9- and 617-squadron TallBoy-carrying aircraft were only ever Merlin-fitted MkIs and -IIIs (the latter having improved, more powerful versions of the Merlin). Nevertheless, "the damage" had already been done: I was inspired to build a Hercules-fitted, TallBoy-toting Lancaster!
My available stash presented an additional complication, but also a potential solution, as well:
Click on Image to Enlarge Or actually, two solutions. At left, the classic Revell 1/72 Lancaster mold of course depicts Merlin engines - however my Airfix 1/72 Halifax MkIII, at right, could provide Hercules engines, as well as the mounts/fairings to accommodate them - particularly since I also wanted to replace the Halifax' engines, to depict a different version of it which I really preferred to build, as well:
The Halifax GR-MkII - navalized version of the MkII Halifax - was apparently the first of the really improved Halifaxes to be used by Coastal Command, starting in 1943. And you can see where this is going: this version took Merlins, thus presenting the opportunity to "kill two birds" with this engine-swap. Note the above Halifax' Merlins have much-enlarged chin scoops than on the above Revell (earlier Merlin) engines - but this modification would also have been required to depict any of the Lancaster Specials - and will be easily added, in any case.
Meanwhile, contours of the Revell and Airfix wings were found to be so close that all their engine mounts/nacelles can be swapped - almost perfectly - interchangeably between the two! (In fact, both wings overall are so similar - except for wingtips and cosmetic/panel details - that they could be swapped in toto, though I still judged it preferrable to switch just the engines.)
The above was the great news. The not-so-great news was that the depictions of the Hercules engines in this Airfix kit just suck - wholly lacking in detail, with lousy propeller mountings, dog-crap exhausts - lousy in every respect. So much so that I undertook to completely rework one, into a really decent upgrade:
Click on Image to Enlarge Consisting of ELEVEN(!) parts - but enabling the creation of not only a very nice Hercules engine, but of practically any 14-cylinder radial engine, with any of 3 sizes/styles of spinner, as well as internally-secured, turning prop shaft. To achieve the the latter, I made effective exploitation of some spare engine parts (gray), curiously included but clearly not intended for use in the Academy 1/72 Ventura kit. Depicting an earlier engine than (the 18-cylinder types) mounted by the Ventura, in fact they appear to have been once-perfect moldings now deliberately "spiked" in the Academy kit - with details softened and clearances plugged - necessitating fairly involved salvage to restore them to proper function, which of course I did.
I also scribed in the oil-cooler flaps, visible above. And, specifically for the Hercules engines, I included my best example of the "barbed" exhaust (bottom-left) - temporarily lifted from my finished Beaufighter and as good or better than anything I could scratchbuild - as well as an additional cowling lip (top-left), to help depict the layered/sheathed rim of the Hercules cowling.
The intent of course being to mold all the above parts, for (practically) unlimited casting in resin - to make engines which, I can guarantee you, will just sing - particularly as compared to the original Airfix shite!
The above work, plus very careful detachment of the Revell Lancaster's outboard engine nacelles (not shown), which had been molded into the wing, served to set both of these builds off and running!