Twin-Tail Beaufighter: Airfix 1/72 Beaufighter TF.X
When a twin-engine plane loses an engine, it immediately turns into the dead engine. This turn or yaw is especially severe when the engines are at a high power setting, such as takeoff. The pilot controls this tendency with the rudder and the elevators. When a plane is designed, the engineers make sure that the tail surfaces are large enough to deal with the worst case scenario, which is a sudden engine loss on takeoff. Well, the Beaufighter had been in service for a while when Beaufighters started losing directional stability on takeoff following an engine loss. The tail surfaces were too small to control the plane on takeoff following an engine loss. So, the engineers began looking for a solution to the problem. One existing airframe was modified with a twin tail that increased the surface area of the tail. This cured the problem, but turned out to be expensive and time consuming to modify existing airframes. At the same time, the engineers determined that you could get the same result by increasing the size of the rudder and elevators, and adding 12 degrees of dihedral to the horizontal tail surfaces. This proved to be an easier and more cost effective fix, so all Beaufighters received this modification.
Alley Cat Models in England have a really nice resin set that converts the Airfix 1/72 Beaufighter TF.X into the twin-tail prototype. The set includes all of the parts for the new tail, and also includes new landing gear doors, engine nacelle fronts, new exhausts, engine spinners, and hubs for the main landing gear. The set also includes a small set of decals with the prototype “P” and the correct registration numbers. With the exception of the tail, all of the parts are direct replacements for the kit parts. The tail modification was very simple, with just a couple of cuts along panel lines. Over its lifespan, the prototype had several external variations: with and without an antenna mast, with and without wingtip antennas, and so on. I picked the variation that would require the least effort on my part. I couldn’t find any photos with an antenna wire, so I left it off. There is no color information for this plane, so it is basically dealer’s choice.
I was really surprised to find that many of the parts in the Airfix kit were very warped. Perhaps the kit had spent too long in my garage. The warps were easy to fix thanks to the soft plastic used in the kit.
I used an Eduard Zoom photoetch set, as well as their canopy masks. The plane was painted using Tamiya paints. I used the impressive kit decals for most of the markings, and the conversion decals also worked very well. After sealing everything with Tamiya clear, I highlighted the panel lines with Flory Models panel wash. All in all, a fun build. If you are interested in more info, there is a full build in the Work in Progress Group. Cheers, and stay safe.
8 additional images. Click to enlarge.