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James Kelley
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"It's a bomber, it's a bomber....!"

January 30, 2021 · in Aviation · · 17 · 2.9K

October 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of Motörhead's iconic third album Bomber. An absolute rock'n'roll classic from start to finish, raging through Dead Men Tell No Tales, Stone Dead Forever, Sharpshooter and (of course) the rollicking title track. To celebrate four decades of Bomber, have created a limited number of planes inspired by the album cover. (In actuality, it was a marketing ploy by Hornby to clear out stock that wasn't moving out of the warehouse-and it worked.)

 In an interview in 2015 with Rolling Stone Lemmy recalled the origin of the song:  

"I was reading Len Deighton's book Bomber at the time I wrote it. It's about a bombing raid on Germany when the British hit the wrong town, and it's what goes on the floor in the air from both sides. It's a really good book. You should read it. "Bomber" was the first song I wrote about war. We made a big bomber lighting rig for the tour and we've still got it. It's big; it's about 40 feet down, 25 or 30 feet across and it's got lit-up propellers on it. It gets a truck all by itself."

Ain't a hope in hell
Nothing's gonna bring us down
The way we fly
Five miles off the ground
Because we shoot to kill
And you know we always will
It's a bomber, it's a bomber
Scream a thousand miles
Feel the black death rising moan
Firestorm coming closer
Napalm to the bone
Because, you know we do it right
A mission every night
It's a bomber, it's a bomber, it's a bomber
No night fighter
Gonna stop…

 In 1979, artist Adrian Chesterman used the Heinkel kit to help him create the sleeve for the album, which features Lemmy Kilmister, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and “Philthy” Animal Taylor crewing the World War II German aircraft. The now infamous artwork shows the three members of Motörhead inside the cockpit of a Heinkel during the Blitz. As a renowned collector of WW2 memorabilia, Lemmy insisted the plane be German.

“I suggested the Heinkel plane,” says album cover illustrator Adrian Chesterman. “They wanted this photo-realistic effect, so I designed the thing with the detached bomb coming towards you.”He adds: “I worked in airbrush in black and white, which I would then tint. That's why my work always looked very doomy. To get the lighting right, I got a little Airfix kit of a Heinkel 111, made it up and sprayed it black.“When you work realistically, you've got to have a realistic reference.”The artwork was so striking and impressive that Motörhead insisted on a 40ft Heinkel replica to hang above their heads on their legendary Bomber tour. “It's the most famous cover I've ever done.”

 Airfix originally released this kit as a new-tool in 2015, but it doesn't build like they did. Fit was more reminiscent of their 1970s kits, right down to the soft, light blue plastic. A little putty was needed at the wing roots, a lot of putty was required at the engine nacelles, and none of the clear parts fit. The greenhouse nose had to carefully wrapped around the fuselage incrementally with superglue and careful clamping. None of the fuselage side windows fit, so I filled them in last with PVA glue. They dried clear, and are satisfactory. The gun windows on the side stand proud of the fuselage, which I hid with some paint around the edges. The ventral turret parts required a lot of sanding and reshaping, which is always a lot of fun to do with clear parts.

 Motorheads' mascot, “Snaggletooth” (look it up) takes up part of the greenhouse panels. I masked off all of them except where the decal would lie, and airbrushed over them. It's a close approximation of the album artwork. The antenna wire is Uschi Van der Rosten extra fine “Just Rig It” line.

 The panel lines are exceptionally deep as well. The overall black is Tamiya acrylic, and the rest of the colors are GSI Creos (Gunze) acrylics. The decals were very, very thin, which made them a little tricky to work with. I only incurred a few small tears, which can't be seen. The semigloss final coat is Testors Acryl Semigloss. I kept the weathering to a minimum. 

If I were ever to do a project like this in the future, I'd put the Motorhead decals on a Hasegawa kit.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

17 responses

  1. Nice build sir, and thanks for the info on the build.

    Incidentally Lemmy use to sit in the nose area and play doing one of the songs (it was so long ago I cannot remember which one)

  2. Nice job considering it's not one of Airfix's best. I like the black frame work you created for the photos.

    If you haven't streamed the documentary "Lemmy" yet, it's a must.
    I've never been a Motorhead fan, but I've always had a soft spot for the guy.

  3. Thanks for building this so I don't have to, James. Nice, first-rate result from a third-rate kit.

    • You're welcome Tom, lol. I refuse to believe this was a "new tool" in 2015. My plan was to write a magazine article around this project, but it turned into so much work I stopped shooting photos and just wanted to get it done. The kit is a major disappointment.

  4. That's real rock'n'roll, James, definitely liked.

  5. Nice job on this difficult kit, James!
    I love Motorhead too!

  6. 🙂 ... Greetings ... 🙂 :
    A very sharp looking build James.

  7. Nice and clean build, James.
    Well done.

  8. Nice work on this James, I am just starting this kit as well though I am going to attempt to copy the album cover and pose the aircraft in flight with bomb released , why on earth did airfix only supply one bomb ? as you know there are two torpedo's...seems odd to me.

    I saw Motorhead six times ,they always toured the U.K. around December so tickets would come out around spring time ,I would buy them the day they went on sale to make sure and then be on edge until they turned up, when "Motorhead day" as I called it finally arrived my anxiety level would rise to the max, "what if the car broke down, what if the traffic was bad ,what if I couldn't get a good view" ...etc etc , me and my mate would arrive at the iconic Manchester Apollo at least an hour before the doors opened and start waiting in line with the other die hards ,Manchester in December is pretty chilly but if you want to stand right at the front of the stage that's what you had to do.

    Lemmy ,god bless 'im, left me with a gift I think I will keep forever - Tinitus in my right ear, the doctor said it's permanent but I don't care it's a reminder of some of the best nights of my life.

    Rock on Lem.

    • Hi Neil, I was planning on sourcing a chin turret like on the album cover, but ended up just wanting it done. Great stories, that's how I am regarding Iron Maiden lol.

  9. Well done James I like it a lot. My musical claim to fame is I shot spot lights for Lead Zeppelin at a concert and they were the warm up act that evening. But that's another story.

  10. Neat subject! TY for throwing in the pic of the band & stage prop. If the kit was a 70's re-pop, you must've put in some work to really bring her up to date.

  11. Nice build. A different take on this aircraft which is cool.

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