'Downtime with the Lads' Flying Officer Adrian (Warby) Warburton DSO DFC

August 13, 2021 · in Diorama · 23 · 2.1K

Around this time last summer, I wanted to commemorate one of the greatest pilots to ever grace tiny Malta, with his presence: Flying Officer Adrian Warburton.

Now Warby as he was affectionately known, wasn't exactly your usual fighter or bomber pilot, but he was a Reconnaissance pilot and an Ace !
Brief History: Adrian was baptized on his father's submarine in the Maltese Grand Harbor, later on in his life he earned his flying hours with the RAF and while he was considered as a brilliant pilot in the air, his takeoffs and landings where the stuff of nightmares, so much so that at first he was assigned as Wop/ag, yet following certain mishap the commander of the recon section needed pilots and thus Adrian was given the chance to show his true self.
Like many brilliant pilots who found their way to Malta during World War 2, Warby was also considered as a misfit by the powers that be, in fact we find this a lot during the period, many misfits excelled in Malta, many historians attribute this to the fact that in Malta the situation wasn't to 'live by the book' as it was back in England. In Malta at the time, pilots, ground crews and military personnel were the daily bread on a given airfield (as can be seen in the DIO), they all knew that they were on the same boat and thus they mixed together a lot, unlike in England where rank was rank.
Warburton himself (as can be seen in the final photo) dressed as he liked and did what he liked, one particular anecdote that comes to mind is when he promised his ground crew and mess officers, whisky for Christmas... after returning from a mission, on his way to Malta he diverted his Maryland to Greece and loaded it with black market whisky.
Why an Ace? apart from managing to shoot down aircraft Adrian, used also to load his aircraft with small caliber bombs and hand grenades, there are recorded instances where he asked his crew members to open up the under hatch and unload the bombs on an airfield he just photographed, while he himself from the driving position used to throw out hand grenades.
He was instrumental in photographing Taranto prior and after the successful attack that was carried out by the Navy. He used to go down so low that on one particular sortie he came back with part of a ship aerial attached to the Maryland's underside.

There are many more exploits of Adrian Warburton which are brilliantly detailed in Tony Spooner's book: Warburton's War and the Brian Cull Frederick Cauchi Book: Mayrlands over Malta.

Here are some useful links I found:

and also a BBC documentary can be found on YouTube (divided in 4 parts) :

The Build:
The build here wasn't as straight forward as originally planned, for starters I used an old 1/72 Frog kit : Marin Maryland 167 Recon Bomber, which needed a lot of work like sanding down the raised panel lines and rescribing them, following which I noticed that the top wing panel lines were not in line with the underwing, thus I filled the brittle grainy plastic and redid the whole process.
The Farmhouse I did according to the picture which I found in Marylands over Malta, this was done by airdrying clay and the process can be seen as pictured above, cut the sides in balsa wood, apply the airdrying clay, after drying, scribe the clay with the scribe tool, seal everything and start the painting process.

The Figures are from Airfix RAF Groundcrew, and 8th. Army, which where heavily modified for my purposes

Everything was airbrushed and hand painted in Humbrol enamels for the Aircraft and the figures respectively, which the farmhouse and the stone wall where done in AK paints.

Enjoy !

Reader reactions:
15  Awesome

23 additional images. Click to enlarge.

23 responses

  1. Nice bit of history to illuminate a very nice project.

  2. Amazing result out of the very old, very basic Frog kit, Christopher! (don't get me wrong: I love old kits, like this!).
    As your other dioramas, this is also exceptional.
    Great history, nice to know about "Warby"!

    • Thank you very much Spiros, yes I agree with you, I have a vast stash of old Airfix kits, they are challenging yes but that's part of the fun no? Also I find that old kits are more manageable to add some extra details due to the lack of low tolerance, unlike today newer kits have a lot of low tolerance

  3. This is a beautiful diorama, Christopher @chupajs
    Great work on both, the Maryland and the house.
    Thanks for the additional history.

  4. Kudos, this is a really nice project!
    I like the story, the work on the aircraft model and the historically consistent building but in particular I like the way you modified the combat and working poses of the figures into "relax mode".
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nicely done Christopher and a great history lesson as well.

  6. Nice work, Christopher. You have a real talent for dioramas. Nice to see a FROG Maryland. I just pulled a bagged Soviet reissue of that kit from the stash and started fiddling with it yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Too kind, thanks. Is the Soviet one, the 1/48 version ?

      • No, same kit in 1/72. After FROG’s bankruptcy in the ‘70s, the Soviets purchased the molds for all of their allied kits. The Soviets produced the kits in a factory in Central Asia under the Novo label. My Maryland is molded in a dark maroon plastic and came in a greasy plastic bag. I purchased it and a FROG/Novo Baltimore for $5 at a show years ago. I pulled them out of the stash a few weeks ago and actually started the Maryland yesterday.

  7. Great project! I like to see these old kits brought to life with a little elbow grease. Well done.

  8. Excellent diorama and I really enjoyed reading the background story, definitely liked.

  9. Nice diorama, Christopher (@chupajs). I built the Special Hobby 1/48 Maryland a while back, so I can really appreciate the masking job this took. Plane looks great, and the stone-masonry on the building is very cool.

    • Thank you, actually this was done in freehand, it was only later that I started using blue Tec in order to get the British sharp edge in camo. Did you by any chance do the French one ? As that is for sure a nightmare to mask

  10. Really good work om that old FROG kit, Christopher, and not half bad on all those lads with their gaming cards! A splendid diorama to be sure. Congratulations on completing this outstanding scene!

  11. Nice work. Though notice above you repeated the "Traces of War" URL for the BBC.

Leave a Reply