“It’s a bomber, it’s a bomber…!”
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, Airfix 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
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.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.