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Airfix Kit

Airfix 1/32 1910 B-Type British Bus

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review February 2008 Manufacturer Airfix
Subject 1910 B-Type British Bus Scale 1/32
Kit Number 0571 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat and off-beat WWI subject Cons Kit is out of production and at a rare kit price now
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

Background

“Ole Bill” bus (B Type) in addition to use over all the routes of the London General Omnibus Company, later to become the London Passenger Transport Board, a considerable number of these buses were shipped overseas during the Great War of 1914-1918. These military buses were used in Flanders as troop transports and as ambulances.

The Prototype of this particular bus B340 is preserved in the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth. A second B type B43, “Ole Bill” (subject of this kit), has also been preserved as representative of the buses which went to Flanders. “Ole Bill” is still roadworthy and is used on ceremonial occasions.

First produced in 1910, the B type bus was a standardized mechanically propelled omnibus. It still retained many of the lines of the horse-drawn buses, which had preceded it. The B type buses proved extremely successful in service and many hundreds of them were produced. These were made as the standard double-decker and also in single deck form. Being virtually hand-built, there was a great deal of minor differences between individual buses. During the many years of use, progressive developments and improvements were introduced.

The Kit

571 The kit is close to 30 years old and now out of production. It is the scale of 1/32nd, which was popular with Airfix then on several of their AFV kits they marketed. It came in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows the bus in civilian garb, but the kit could be built either civilian or military version and a side panel of the box has an illustration of that version.

The parts were molded in a chalk white plastic, with clear parts for the passenger compartment windows and headlamp lenses. There was a sheet of printed advertisements and other logos that you had to cut out with a scissors and then glue to the model with white glue. The military version, which I built, had die cut and embossed panels that look like wood planks. These get glued to the sides, front and rear of the “Ole Bill”. They are covered with graffiti that the soldiers wrote on them. There is a small decal sheet that has the General logo in gold letters and some other markings for the civilian version.

Construction

571 I put this kit together over 25 years ago. It lay in my basement and suffered a lot of damage and dust. I pulled it out to enter it in a contest that has a category that is anything WWI. Unfortunately, I had to abort going to that contest and entering the model, due to foul winter weather. The contest was in a city about 200 miles from my home in Minnesota.

Boy! Did it ever snow on the day I was going to travel there…groan.

I found it with one of the front wheels and fenders broken off it. The spiral staircase on the rear was also broken off and the platform at the base of the staircase was missing.

571 I attached the staircase with 5 minute epoxy glue and I scratchbuilt replacements for the steps at the base out of Evergreen sheet stock. I used pictures of the one in the British museum shown on an internet site for reference of what that platform and the steps on it look like I used the epoxy glue to re-attach the front wheel and fender again. The platform on an actual B type bus has a ribbed surface, so I used Evergreen card that is embossed with ribs to match. This addition was painted khaki, to match the rest of the bus.

I had originally replaced the die cut cards with the wood planks and graffiti with some balsa wood. I had a pen that writes white ink and was going to write the graffiti onto the balsa with that. However, the balsa wood soaked the ink in and it became a total mess. So, I glued the cards over the balsa wood with Elmer’s white glue and darkened the white edges of these cards with a permanent ink marker.

571 A footstep, to get into the cab, was missing too. I scratchbuilt one out of Evergreen card stock to replace that. It was painted khaki.

The steering wheel and steering column was missing, so I stretched sprue for a new column. Years ago, my oldest son put together an Italeri 6 x 6 U.S. truck into a diorama. It was also in my basement, covered in dust with a lot of parts missing. I cannibalized the steering wheel from it and mounted it and my stretched sprue steering column into the cab of the bus. I painted all these replacements khaki. Tamiya’s acrylic khaki was used. It is a little different than the Humbrol enamels, that I used 25 to 30 years ago, when I first assembled the model – but is really not that noticeable.

The figures are missing, all 9 that were in the original kit…groan. I don’t have any WWI British infantry figures…seated ones…so am going to leave the model with no people in it.

571 I did find some Lee Enfield rifles, British helmets and ammo pouches, and bayonettes in my spares box, that was from a kit of Allied weapons that either Italeri or Tamiya produced. I don’t remember which it really was.

These were put into the upper deck and glued to several of the benches. The benches were painted an olive drab, just to break up the monotony of the khaki. I may add some other items up there later, like a pick and shovel and maybe some rolled tarps from Kleenex soaked in white glue. The rifles were painted in Model Master gun metal and Tamiya red brown for the stocks. The helmets were painted in a lighter khaki than the truck. The bayonettes were painted with the gun metal.

571 One of the 8 benches that go in the upper deck is missing and one of the remaining 7 had a busted leg. I had not added the handrail next to the rear door as yet or the squeeze bulb horn to the driver’s area. These were glued on and painted. The hand rail got khaki, and the squeeze bulb horn got brass for the metal parts and black for the squeeze bulb.

Originally, the kit went together with 11 assembly steps on the instructions. Step 11 was the painting and marking instructions.

Conclusions

571 This is one rather unusual WWI subject. Transportation must have been at a premium back at the beginning of World War One, to have used a modified bus to take British troops to war. The wood planks probably were only protection against small arms fire.

The kit has a lot of detail and is highly recommended. I found a few dealers, on the internet, that say they have the kit in the civilian version only.

Although not the popular 1/35th scale, like the Emhar and Tauro releases of WWI subjects, this kit is one not to pass up…if one can find it. 1/32nd scale is not that far off. I missed the contest that it was intended to be entered in, but it will definitely accompany me to the next contest I go to in Wisconsin.

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