Sunday, April 17, 2011

UG 504

Okay, UG stands for Unlucky General's 504 but this model will be instantly recognizable to aficionados as an Avro 504K. I have been inspired for many years to collect early First World War aircraft but as a wargamer, I really required a gaming impetus to do so - which I lacked for a long time. The Wings of War and Canvas Eagles wargames rules have ended that and hence my first two models have just had their first outing.
Several chaps at the Goulburn Wargames Group have veered in the direction of an amended set of Wings of War rules, adapted for use with models in 1/72nd scale. We prefer this scale because of the modelling required but I admit the one down side is the fragility of the model. The aeroplanes are mounted on stands made from TV aerials based on clear perspex. The aerials allow shifts in representative elevation making it visually spectacular and easier to get a feel for where your enemies actually are. Other representaions of height tend to be confusing and after all, wargamers look to the model, rather than a record sheet or other indicator.

As you can see, I elect to 'rig' my models as I feel it projects the right feel of the relative fragility of these machines and the heroics required of pilots just to fly the things - let alone dog fight in them. I say relative of course because they were developing rapidly into very sturdy airframes but there's nothing like this era which is very much about pioneering in air combat. I also insist on this scale because who wants to rig anything smaller? I used 1.8kg pound strain fishing line (.165mm thickness). Next time I will use rayon thread which I use to rig my Langton ships as it keeps a better tension and fixes brilliantly with a drop of SupaGlue which also sets clear over finished paint jobs. The rayon thread also comes in any colour, dispensing with the need to paint rigging.
My model is an Amodel plastic kit (limited edition - Cat No: 7259) and to be honest I can't tell you how easy or difficult it was to build. I Finished constructing the model about a year ago and only just finished painting it yesterday in time for our game. The pilot figures are my inclusion and they are from the Orion's Dark Dream Studio 'Pilots of the First World War' box set (DDS 72003) which is a 48 piece set of plastic 1/72 scale pilots covering English, German, French and Russian aviators. I added a spare rifle from my accumulated box of bits which I suspect I have given to the pilot rather than the observer.
I chose the early war because of my childhood memories of the 70's English TV series 'Wings' which I revisited (finally) the year before last and which is now commercially available - essential viewing. The show centres around actions fought by an English squadron in 1915 which is equipped exclusively with the Avro 504 and the BE2. Neither were designed for combat but were adapted over time as escourt, observer and bomber when military aviation remained embryonic.
My 504 is not marked up for any squadron in particular so if anyone says that 304 (tail number) actually represents a particular 504 then let me tell you that's a howling coincidence. Apart from rigging, I also like my models to have spinning air screws or propellers which I simply etch and cut from a sheet of thin, clear plastic with a pair of dividers. The only other comment I have to make about this model is that the paint scheme, whilst simple, was quite involved. It has three basic layers of progressively lighter dry-brushing with an additional wash applied between the wing frame lines. The decals are softened after application to adhere to the groves - the ailerons being re-scored by cutting across the decals which over-lap them and a second application of softening agent. Once dried, I coat over the top of my decals with clear matte coat and them dry brush again, once dried, to pick out the frame.

I am pleased to announce that this models first mission was a success, having acquired a precise target, relaying it back to an artillery ground location (after five attempts) and then exited after shooting down one of its pursuers, a Pfalz IV eindecker. Our version of Wings of War has no provisions for rifles or pistols yet but I predict when we have included that fire table, I won't be so lucky in the future without my BE2 escourt. Better get building.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice work. I do like the rigging. It takes patience and dedication to add that detail. The AVRO 504 served along time, and in the service of a few countries. They did upgrade the 504 and added a Lewis 0.303 in. (7.7 mm) machine gun. It was Britain's primary trainer. The 504 even served in the Estonian Air Force in combat missions in 1919-1920.

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