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ICM 1/48 scale Bristol Beaufort plastic model kit review

Fill a hole in your World War II aircraft model collection
Kit:48310 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$107.99
ICM (Sample courtesy of manufacturer.)
Excellent fits; several armament options
Nose assembly is very complicated
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 279 parts; decals
The Bristol Beaufort can loosely be referred to as an offspring of the Blenheim. According to The Bristol Beaufort: A Technical Guide (Valiant Wings, ISBN 978-1-91293-2-214), design work began on the twin-engine torpedo bomber in response to a September 1935 request from the British Air Ministry. As the role and specifications of the Air Ministry changed, so did the design, delaying the rollout of the first airframe until September 1938. Manufactured in both England (with Taurus engines) and Australia (with Pratt & Whitney engines), the last Beaufort left service in 1948 and remained in reserve with the Royal Australian Air Force until 1953.

To my knowledge, ICM has produced the first injection-molded plastic 1/48 scale Beaufort model kit. It’s hard to believe that an aircraft with such longevity has been overlooked for this long. The finely detailed, gray plastic parts are softer than those produced by other manufacturers but are easy to work with. In contrast, the clear parts felt brittle, but still provided excellent detail.

Decals are in-register, but the squadron codes appear darker than usual to my eye.

The 24-page instruction book provides a color chart, sprue layout, construction diagrams, and full-color, four-view profiles of the paint schemes. Since they were vague at times, I would have appreciated more detail-paint callouts, and the options for the different paint schemes are not always indicated. I do question some of the colors listed in the paint chart. For instance, I chose to use Tamiya Aircraft Grey-Green (No. XF-71) rather than U.S. Dark Green for the interior.

At first, I found the order of construction confusing; the instructions seemed to jump from area to area before completing a sub-assembly. However, I soon realized that they are organized to ease painting.

Construction begins with the interior. The instruments are decals on a panel with raised bezels, but details in the rest of the pilot and navigator stations remain sparse. A resin aftermarket set could really dress things up. In contrast, the radio station is complete and looks ready to use. Sadly, little of it can be seen with the fuselage completed.

I added the tail surfaces to the fuselage and opted to complete the nacelles before installing the wings. The fit was excellent.

Adding all five of the clear parts that make up the canopy and nose at the same time was difficult. You may want to add styrene strips to the interior to aid placement.

The beautifully-detailed main gear and engines can be added after the airframe is painted. I stuffed soft foam into the large turret opening and used Microscale Micro Liquitape to hold the closed bay doors in position during painting.

The instructions include a page of templates for you to make canopy masks. I planned to photocopy this onto repositionable sticker paper, cut the masks out, and then lay them as templates on Tamiya tape. But instead, I used an aftermarket mask set that became available just in the nick of time.

The instructions show the cowls wrapped around the engines after they are mounted. I found it much easier to remove the obstructions from inside the cowls, complete their assembly, including the cowl flaps, and slide them over the engines. I did not glue the cowls down. The props hold them in place with the help of a dab of Micro Liquitape.

Consult your references regarding the position of the exhaust pipes. The location pins on the cowls and flaps allow different alignments. I was confused until I found a three-quarter view confirming the asymmetrical positions of the exhaust stacks.

For the exterior, I used Mr. Color lacquers and Alclad II clear coats, altering the camouflage pattern slightly to keep the turret all one color. The decals conformed to the panel lines with a little prodding. I then added the turret and combing, replaced the closed bay doors with open ones, and added the main landing gear. The separate torpedo is beautifully detailed, and the trolley is a nice touch.

Extra parts include the dome for a Mk.V turret and dual gun nose, indicating later marks are in the works. Unfortunately, I saw no evidence of the Pratt & Whitney engines or the altered nacelles needed for an Australian-built Beaufort.

Though it is definitely for the experienced modeler, ICM’s Bristol Beaufort has filled a glaring gap in 1/48 scale World War II aircraft with a good, solid, well-fitting kit. I can’t wait to see what the company comes up with next.
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