by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundThe Bristol Buckmaster served in the important, if rather unglamorous role as an RAF twin-engined advanced trainer from the immediate post-war period through to the mid 1950s. Developed from the Buckingham medium bomber, it used the same wing combined with a newly designed fuselage that dispensed with the gun turrets, and added dual controls. 112 Buckmasters was built, many converted from unfinished Buckingham's on the production line.
The kitValom's Buckmaster arrives in an attractive and solid box, with the sprues and accessories bagged separately. The kit shares sprues with the earlier Brigand and Buckingham kits, resulting in a number of unused parts such as rockets and rails for the spares box. It comprises:
108 x grey styrene parts (27 are spare)
3 x clear styrene parts
21 x etched brass parts, plus printed film
2 x resin parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The first thing that strikes you when you examine the parts is just how good the surface finish is, among the best I've ever seen on a short-run kit. The main components feature crisply engraved panel lines and such fine embossed rivets, they would put many a mainstream kit to shame. I found no sign of flash or sink marks in the sample kit, and ejector pins have been kept out of harm's way. Sprue attachments are quite small and will clean up easily.
Test fitObviously this isn't going to assemble with the precision of a mainstream kit. There are no locating pins, but the fuselage halves are good and straight and everything lines up neatly. The wings could do with the trailing edges thinning somewhat, but the halves match up well and the butt-joint at the roots is a good fit. You may want to add a spar, but in this small scale there'll be no significant strain on the joint. The nacelles seem a good match for the contours of the wing, but the horizontal tail is bit of a slack fit and will benefit from a bit of filler to blend it into the rear fuselage.
A few detailsThe cockpit is quite nicely fitted out for this scale, with a floor and rear bulkhead and separate side consoles forming the basic "office". Into this fit a pair of seats with etched harnesses, control columns and a choice of etched or styrene rudder pedals, etched throttle levers and, the highlight of the show, a very nice etched control panel with a film backing for the instruments. The overall interior colour is given as green, but I wonder whether black might not be more likely for a post-war aircraft.
The undercarriage bays have separate inserts with a bit of structural detail, which should look fine inside the nacelles. The main legs themselves are built up from several pieces due to moulding limitations. With no positive locators on the parts, you'll need to take extra care to ensure solid joints. The wheels look very good, with crisp hubs and a delicate tread pattern on the tyres.
The Centaurus engines are real beauties, cast in resin with excellent detail on the cylinders and crankcase. There's even a little detail for the accessories pack at the rear, but this will be hidden inside the cowlings. As for the cowls themselves, the cooling gills are arguably rather heavily scribed, but once again there's lovely subtle rivet detail.
The propellers are moulded with separate blades, and you'll need to drill out the locating holes in the hubs. It'll be a good idea to make a simple jig to ensure the angle and pitch of each blade is consistent.
The transparencies are good quality. The canopy is nice and thin with well-defined framing, and separate wingtip lamp covers are provided.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is neatly printed as an A-5 booklet with construction broken down into 23 stages. The illustrations are simple and quite clear, but do watch out for the odd occasion when the numbers down tally with the sprue chart (e.g. the nacelles). Suggested colours are keyed to most details, and matches are provided for Humbrol, Agama, Model Master, Gunze Sangyo and FS equivalents, so you should have no trouble finding suitable paints wherever you're based.
Decals are included for two colour schemes:
1. s/n RP237 sporting a 2-tone silver and white finish separated by a blue cheat line.
2. s/n RP190, OB-Z, No. 45 Sqn., finished in overall silver with yellow fuselage and wing bands.
One point to note is that the illustration of Scheme #1 shows small fuselage windows that aren't present in the kit.
The decals look excellent quality. The sample sheet is printed in perfect register, and the items are thin and glossy with a crystal clear carrier film.
ConclusionValom's Buckmaster is a high quality limited run kit. It's not suitable for beginners, but experienced modellers should find it an enjoyable build. If you're looking for something a bit "different" that fills an import gap in the ranks of a 1:72 post-war RAF collection this could be just the ticket.
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