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Revell Bristol Beaufighter TF.X

Build review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with many finishing options

Descended from the Blenheim and the Beaufort, the Bristol Beaufighter was used in a number of roles including long-range-, night-, and strike-fighter. The torpedo fighter (TF) Mk.X was optimized for antishipping strikes with powerful Hercules XVII engines and the ability to carry either torpedoes or rockets.

Crisp details that will come alive with careful painting populate 22 sprues of gray and clear parts. The surface detail is the finest I’ve seen and petite doesn’t begin to describe the panel lines. Two of the three scribers I use would not fit into the grooves, they’re that narrow. Options include open or closed cowl flaps, raised or lowered landing gear and flaps, and posable control surfaces. Unfortunately, these beautiful parts also come with mold seams and some flash.

The decals offer markings for two aircraft: an early production aircraft in D-Day stripes and a later airframe with the thimble nose and dorsal fin strake. Take the time to study the 28-page instruction manual. There are substantial differences between the two airframes and you need to decide early on which one you’re building.

Cockpit construction is a bit different than anything I’ve built before, but it’s simple enough. The results are a busy cockpit and adequately detailed gunner’s position. The decal provided for the instrument panel did not want to stretch over some of the raised detail. Pay attention to the notch in bulkhead A9 or you may have to cut an extra one if you glue it in backwards. The tailwheel can be added during final assembly. I thought I was being clever, matching the fuselage halves to the slightly wider nose. This was not wise as I ended up making the fuselage wider than the canopy.

When the instructions switch to wing assembly, I suggest jumping ahead to the landing gear. When I followed the instructions, I found that the assembled multipart gear wells were much narrower than both the landing legs and the extension jacks. Use Part E99 to maintain the width of the wells without gluing it in place. I also suggest attaching the lower wing to the fuselage before adding the upper wings to minimize gaps. Check the aft portions of the nacelles for sink marks. Wait until final assembly to glue the flaps.

The detail on the multipart engines is stunning. Pay close attention to the instructions to ensure correct alignment. The five-piece engine cowl could have used a better alignment system. Getting them together at the same time was a challenge, and they ended up narrower than the cowl-flap ring.

Clever design and engineering set the horizontal stabilizer dihedral. The elevators and rudder are designed to be glued around pins so they remain movable. I did not see a way to adequately clean up the seams for this option and chose to assemble the parts, eliminate the seams, remove the pins, and glued the surfaces in a neutral position.

The complicated landing gear is well represented but extremely delicate. Unfortunately, there are mold seams to deal with, so be careful.

I finished the TF Mk. X with Mr. Color paints and added the decals over a coat of Pledge Floor Gloss. The markings are thin and conform well. There is some color bleed through from the invasion stripes, also the clear film connecting the aircraft codes did silver. I scored the film with a new No. 11 blade and an additional coat of Micro Sol solved the issue. I used a sludge wash of water, dish soap, and acrylic paint to accentuate the panel lines and dirty up the aircraft. A few of the panel lines were so delicate they didn’t want to hold the wash; I used a pencil to darken them. A layer of Testors Dullcote gave the model a satin finish.

I didn’t realize until final assembly that the canopy in the kit was part S23. It is an earlier canopy not used on the TF Mk.X, it should have been part J118. This, along with some of the extra parts, indicate a strong possibility of other variants to come. I’m hoping for an early night-fighter.

In some ways this model took me back to my younger days, building Monogram’s aircraft kits in the 1970s. They too were full of excellent details and working parts. Although they could be a challenge, they were extraordinarily fun. Just like Revell’s Beaufighter.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2019 issue.
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