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James B Robinson
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Early memories – a 1/48 Tamiya Spitfire Mk II and a 1/48 Hasegawa P-47D Razorback Thunderbolt

January 29, 2020 · in Aviation · 14 · 1.7K

Not having dabbled in any serious modelling in over 40 years, I had decided to start this long lost Hobby again. Beginning with where it all began for me, my Father and the first two models I ever worked on. I don’t remember the exact year, but I was probably around 7 years old. My Dad had built a few plastic kits for me and decided it was time for me to learn, so he picked up a P-47 and we built it together. Neat little model, it came with a stand and had a motor driven prop. Among other things, he taught me how to build rubber band powered kits. The tissue paper covered balsa wood frame planes. That was a lot of fun, but I always came back to scale modelling. The first kit I built by myself was an early Spitfire. I was 10 years old when the “Battle of Britain” movie was released in theaters.

I picked up a Revell Spitfire to reacquaint myself with forgotten skills. The quality of the kit proved to be a challenge as you can see in the WIP covering the build. I was truly surprised to find a “Made In China” imprint on the trailing edge of the bottom wing exterior! The Hasegawa kit, a gift, was a far better experience. The few blemishes and faux pas on this kit were purely self-induced.

After several starts and stops, the Revell kit turned out to be a nightmare. In an attempt to keep on a steady pace, it became a “Test” subject and I picked up a Tamiya kit to fill the void.

Both planes were intended to be completed for the 100 Years of The Royal Air Force Group Build started by Paul Barber @yellow10. Suffice to say, they were not completed in time. Life threw a few surprises at me. My Daughter became a Bride and was married in 2018. Now I am about to receive my first Granddaughter in just a few months from now. Life is good.

You can see the WIP article for these two builds here:

Without further ado…………I present to you, my first builds in 43 years.

Tamiya 1/48 Spitfire Mk II - RAF No. 411 Squadron 1942

The Presentation Spitfire represents “Venture I” of No. 411 Squadron. No. 411 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, was formed at RAF Digby on 15 June 1941 as a fighter unit, named “Grizzly Bear”. It became operational with Spitfires two months later and began fighter sweeps over northern Europe by September. In March 1942 it was posted north to 12 Group and engaged on routine patrolling until August when it returned to fighter sweeps and bomber escort missions over France and the Low Countries. For much of the remainder of 1942 the unit conducted training in night fighter duties and was involved in coastal patrols. In March 1943 it joined the Kenley Wing for more sweeps and later formed part of a mobile wing of three Canadian squadrons.

1944 saw the unit engaged on bomber escort duties and fighter sweeps, attacking targets in France. In April it began bombing tactical targets. On D-Day it was deployed on beachhead patrols, moving to Normandy on 18 June. It was sent into action against enemy transport around Caen and eventually moved forward with the advance towards Germany, where it moved in April 1945. After the war the squadron remained in Germany as part of the British Air Forces of Occupation and was disbanded on 21 March 1946 at Utersen.

Hasegawa Thunderbolt Mk. I - RAF No. 146 Squadron 1941 – 1945

The P-47D represents a Thunderbolt I serial number FL848 as flown by Flying Officer, F/O Edgan N Wilson RNZAF. No. 146 Squadron was formed on 15 October 1941 in Risalpur, India. The Squadron flew the obsolete Hawker Audax, a variant of the Hawker Hart biplane of the late 1930’s. In March of 1942, the squadron received Brewster Buffaloes and Curtiss Mohawks and eventually transitioned into Hawker Hurricanes by May of the same year. In June 1944, No. 146 Squadron was among the first two fighter units to be converted into Thunderbolts. F/O Wilson flew the first squadron Thunderbolt operation on 16 September 1944. Of note, there is some discrepancy in the actual serial number of this plane. The decal sheet indicates HD648 as being the serial number but upon further investigation, I discovered it to be FL848 according to a publication compiled by Phil H. Listemann for, found here

Since I had the Photo Booth set up, I decided to shoot a few photos of two of my surviving models from back in the late 70’s. Both are Tamiya in 1/35th scale. A little worn and missing a piece here and there, but they have made a long journey. Countless moves during college and after. Hidden in boxes and being jostled about. They now sit above my work bench as a reminder of days gone by.

Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

14 responses

  1. Now, seeing the crisp and clean planes I cannot help but tell you that you need to wash that jeep! (sorry had to)

    Well done indded - and welcome back to the hobby! Looking forward to be following more of your builds in the WIP area.

  2. Thanks Erik @airbum. Yes it could use a bath, but then it would lose some of it's attractiveness. Overall, the Spit is a bit of a shelf queen but I'm please with how they both turned out.

  3. Nice intro back into the hobby. It's never too late! And a nice pair to start with - will done.

  4. That is so nice James! Good to have you back on the bench, so we can enjoy a scale modelling post from you. The Spit and Thunderbolt look great. As far as the Willy's is concerned: I think this was also the first vehicle model I built. In my case I think it was Italeri. I really enjoyed this post as it brought back memories for me as well!

    • michel @michel-verschuere, Thank you. I had been building for about 10 years by the time I built the Jeep. Had a real nice diorama with it. Lost all the photographs from back then. Kind of a shame, but kind of neat that these two kits survived as long as they have.

  5. Well done and welcome back!

  6. Thanks Greg @gkittinger, I had to dust off a lot of cob webs!

  7. Hello James ! @jamesb
    I am very happy to see these two posted in the headlines section. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them come to life on your work in progress journal, just as I have been watching your Glen Miller story now.

    For being "absent" from the hobby for a while you can't tell it from here. These two look fantastic buddy !

    I also really enjoyed reading the history behind the men and the machines you have built and presented to us here. For me, the research is almost as much fun as the actual building part is.

    I have a few kits that survived from my childhood, but most of them were sadly tossed. The ones that have survived, don't look anything nearly as nice as what yours do. About 25 years ago I started building again, but I didn't get to spend as much time at the work bench as I would like to have. For my very first attempt I chose the 1/32 scale Revell FW-190D kit. It was also my very first time using an air brush. I still have it in my display case, but it looks more like it would have at a German airfield in 1946 about a year after the War was over. One landing gear leg has snapped off and it's in sad shape. The errors, gaps and omissions are pretty bad too if you were to look at the quality of the build. I think that we all learn from each new model we make, and it carries over to the next one. So in essence, the more you build, the better you get. Occasionally we get a kit that fights us tooth and nail, and no matter how hard we try it still doesn't turn out how we envisioned.

    Your models are far superior than anything I did on my "re entry". I like your Matilda and the Jeep, especially when you consider the age and how they have been bouncing around in boxes... The Spitfire and the Thunderbolt are very nice too. Another similarity we have is my very first rubber band powered balsa stick and tissue paper plane was a Guillow's Spitfire with a 16.5 inch wingspan. My second balsa flying model was a Vultee A-35 Vengeance, made by the Comet company . Those were the times ...

    Congrats on the daughters marriage and the new grand baby on the way... I'll bet you are going to be one very proud grandpa, (and you should be).

    Well done and liked.

  8. Thank you so much Louis @lgardner. Really appreciate the kind words and input.

  9. Nice work, James! Glad to see them finished.

  10. Thank you John @j-healy! Feels good to get these done and move on to bigger things.

  11. Awesome builds ! I love that T bolt. Nice to see the older builds.

    • Thanks Robert @roofrat. I guess they survived because they were some of my favorites from back then. Really wished I could have kept up with the full diorama builds I had, but things were different back when I was a kid. 😉

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