Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV

Published: May 20th, 2018     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Brian R . Baker, IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1/72
Company: Airfix
Price: $24.99
Product / Stock #: A04061

History

The original Blenheim bomber evolved from a Bristol light transport development, probably the first aircraft specifically designed as a high-speed executive transport. Labeled the Model 142 "Britain First", the airplane was displayed at the 1935 Hendon display. RAF leaders immediately saw its potential as a light bomber, and after protracted development, it emerged as the Model 142M, a mid-wing, three place twin-engine bomber with a crew of 3. Only two machine guns were installed, and a total of 986 Mk. I's was produced before it was replaced by the Mk. IV model, of which 2703 were built.

Blenheim Mk. 1's replaced Hawker Harts at first and became the standard RAF light bomber. Some were modified as fighters, designated Mk. IF, and these were used, especially as night fighters, until replacement by Beaufighters and Mosquitoes. The Mk. IV featured a longer nose with more room for the navigator and bombardier, and a fighter version of this type was also produced, with four: .30 caliber machines guns in a housing under the bomb bay position.

Although the Blenheim was used in relatively large numbers, it was highly vulnerable to enemy fighters, and they were replaced by better performing types as soon as possible. When operating over Europe, they absolutely had to have a fighter escort, and even then, losses were high. Blenheim Mk. IV's were especially active in the Middle East and the Far East. By the end of the war, they had been replaced by more modern equipment.

References

There is a large amount of information available on all versions of the Blenheim. Online, many sites provide basic information. Profile Publications did an excellent series on both major variants, and Squadron's "In Action" series, No. 88, provides much data and material on the type. Other sources, such as some of the "Bombers of World War II" books, have useful information.

Instructions

The kit includes 12 pages of material, including page 1, which contains some basic historical background, pages 2-10, which have step-by-step instructional drawings, and two pages showing the basic color schemes of the two aircraft for which decals are provided. These include Blenheim Mk. IV, Groupe de Bombardment 1 (Lorraine), Armee de l'Aire, North Africa, 1941 (in desert camouflage), and Blenheim Mk. IV, No. 107 Sqdn., RAF Leuchars, Scotland, March 1941 (in European colors).

The instructions seem to provide anything a modeler could ask for, but two things are missing that really should have been included. One is a sprue diagram. There are 158 parts to this kit, and it would have been helpful to have a diagram of the parts, especially since some of the parts are for the Mk. 1 kit, and are not used for this model. Secondly, there is no real color guide for the interior colors. Most of us know that most RAF aircraft used RAF Interior Green for cockpit interiors and internal priming, but some of the other colors are guesswork. Some of this information is hinted at on the box cover as Humbrol colors, but for those of us who don't have access to these, we must improvise. Colors like #56 (silver), #62 (leather), #78 (Interior Green), and 85 (Bronze or gunmetal grey) should have been identified.

The Kit

The kit is based on the earlier Airfix Blenheim Mk. IF kit that came out a couple of years ago. The main airframe, as it was on the real airplane, differs mainly in the nose section, which shows the longer Mk. IV/Mk. V configuration. The engines, landing gear, and bomb bay are basically the same. Even part of the Mk. I nose is included, although not the clear glass portions. Tropical filters are also included as an option.

The kit is molded in light grey styrene and exhibits the new Airfix standard of surface detail and accurate shapes. Just previous to beginning this kit, I built one of the original Airfix Mk. IV issues and the differences were profound. Not that you couldn't do a good model from the earlier kit, but the new one is much better in all respects. There is very little flash, and the parts all fit together extremely well. Surface detail is recessed, and there are no boilerplate rivets to remove. The main airframe unit fits together nicely, but I had some trouble with the cockpit assembly, which is a separate unit. This needs to be assembled completely, glass and all, and then the whole thing is supposed to fit onto the forward part of the fuselage. It almost does, but some putty is required to get everything right. The top portion of the canopy was warped upwards and required clamping down to get it to fit. After assembly, the canopy glass should be masked off for painting.

One decision I had to make was whether to position the flaps "up" or "down". As a pilot, I was always taught to retract the flaps immediately upon landing, and looking on any airport ramp or in any book with pictures of many types of aircraft, I've noticed that just about all of the photos of airplanes equipped with flaps show them in the raised position unless (1) the airplanes are taking off or landing (they are always retracted in cruise) or (2) they are either taxying or have endured some kind of a crash landing or mishap. They are rarely parked with the flaps down, as it is too easy for someone to walk into them, causing major damage, or they could be damaged by high winds, which can arise suddenly. Therefore, the flaps on most models should probably, for realism, be in the "up" position. However, this is up to the modeler, and most people viewing models are probably not aware of the above facts anyway, so it probably really doesn't matter in the long run. But I digress.

Assembly

The kit goes together very easily. I saw only one flaw in one of the wingtips, which required a shot of putty, not a serious situation. The cockpit parts, (seat, instrument panel, etc.) did not fit too well, but I finally got them in position without inventing too many new obscene words. The nose assembly fit is a bit marginal, but I got it into position OK. I would suggest masking off all of the glass areas as soon as these are attached to the main airframe, with the exception of the rear turret. I masked this separately and added it after the major painting was done. The horizontal tailplanes are rather weakly attached to the rear fuselage with small tabs, so be careful here that they stay lined up. The wings' dihedral angles are good since the wing assembly is basically in one piece. Joints are pretty smooth, and not much putty is required, although I used some on the fuselage.

Decals

The decals accompanying this kit are some of the best I've seen. They can be applied without trimming, and this speeds things up a lot. The instructions are very clear on decal positions, and they dry quickly. It would have been helpful if the producers of the kit would have included paper masks to cover up the clear glass areas, as some producers are doing because doing it with masking tape is very time-consuming.

Painting and Finishing

Painting the model is easy if you follow the color guides. I used Model Master RAF Dark Green and Dark Earth above, and Flat Black for the undersides and the one topside section that required it. It looks "terribly British", and this is the whole point.

Recommendations

This kit is far and away superior to the earlier Blenheim IV by Airfix, and the kit is certainly worth getting. Thanks to IPMS and Airfix for the review sample.

  • Sprues from Blenheim kit
    Sprues from Blenheim kit
  • Sprues from Blenheim kit
    Sprues from Blenheim kit
  • Sprues from Blenheim kit
    Sprues from Blenheim kit
  • Sprues from Blenheim kit
    Sprues from Blenheim kit
  • Decals from Blenheim kit
    Decals from Blenheim kit
  • Sample assembly instructions
    Sample assembly instructions
  • Free French paint scheme
    Free French paint scheme
  • RAF paint scheme
    RAF paint scheme
  • Green house assembly
    Green house assembly
  • Underside
    Underside
  • Finished model
    Finished model
  • Finished model
    Finished model
  • Finished model
    Finished model
  • Finished model
    Finished model
  • Finished model
    Finished model