Novo 1/72 Beaufort Mk.II/Mk.VIII Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||Novo|
|Subject||Bristol Beaufort Mk.II/Mk.VIII||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||F229||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting subject||Cons||Tons of flash on parts|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Bristol Type 152 Beaufort was a large torpedo bomber designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and developed from the earlier Blenheim light bomber.
Beauforts were most widely used, until the end of WWII, by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the Pacific theatre. Most of these planes were manufactured under license in Australia. Beauforts also saw service with the RAF Coastal Command – including Commonwealth squadrons serving with the RAF – and the Fleet Air Arm from 1940, until they were withdrawn in 1944.
The Beaufort came from Bristol’s submission to meet Air Ministry specifications M.15/35 and G.24/35 for a land-based, twin-engined torpedo-bomber and general reconnaissance aircraft. With a production order to specification 10/36, the Bristol Type 152 was given the name Bristol Beaufort. The competing torpedo bomber entry from Blackburn was also ordered as the Blackburn Botha.
Although the design looked similar, in many ways, to the Blenheim, it was in fact somewhat larger, considerably heavier and added another crewmember (to make 4). The weight proved too much for the Blenheim’s Mercury engines, and so a switch to the larger Taurus engine was made. The Taurus proved to be a problem on the Beaufort, and overheating was a constant issue. This introduced delays into the production. While the plane had first flown in October 1938, and should have been available almost immediately, it was not until December 1939 that production started in earnest, with service delivery in August 1940.
A number of changes were introduced into the line, and after the 1,014th had been delivered, all of these were collected into the Beaufort Mk. II. The Mk. II was visibly different primarily in the use of a flat bomb-aiming window under the nose. However, it also included a second forward-firing 0.303 in. (7.7 mm) gun in the wing, a blister under the nose with a rearward firing gun, and improved dorsal turret with a newer Vickers K gun, an installation of the ASV Mk.II air-to-surface radar, removal of the Youngman trailing edges, retractable tail-wheel, and improved airflow on some points of the aircraft. Performance, however, was not improved.
Despite planned use of the Taurus engine, the first 165 of the Mk.II’s were delivered with Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps instead. From the 166th onwards engines reverted to the Taurus, although the Twin Wasp was the better-performing and more common model. The Taurus engine was unused apart from the Beaufort.
The Beaufort was a slow aircraft, with a top speed of only 265 mph, which dropped to a mere 225 mph when carrying a torpedo. Although it did see some use in the torpedo bomber role, notably in attacks on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau while in the port of Brest, the Beaufort was more often used as a mine-laying aircraft while in European service. It saw considerable action in the Mediterranean theatre, where it helped put an end to Axis shipping that supplied Rommel in North Africa.
Coastal Command regarded the Beaufort as a disappointment, but it turned out to make and excellent basis for a heavy fighter in the form of the Bristol Beaufighter. The Beaufighter was so superior to the Beaufort that a number were specially modified to carry a torpedo, and it replaced the Beaufort in service.
Beauforts were operated by Australia, Britain, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey.
FROG was a model company that was founded in 1932. Its name originally was FLIES RIGHT OFF THE GROUND, later shorted to just FROG. FROG reached it’s peak with sales of 3,100,000 kits in 1969, but later fell on hard times and sold all their molds to the Russian firm of NOVO in 1976. This kit is a re-pop of one of the FROG molds. It even retained it’s original kit no. of F229. The NOVO plant that produced this Blenheim kit was based in Odessa, Ukraine. I don’t think NOVO exists anymore.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a photo of the model made up and sitting on a map. I can’t tell what the map is of, as it is all in Cyrillic Russian. Ninety-five percent of the wording on the box is all in Russian too. The markings on the aircraft shown on the box art are for a RAF Blenheim in a wave pattern camouflage of foliage green and earth brown above and sky blue undersurfaces. It has the black serial number W6476 near the tail and the fuselage code of G (roundel) AW in light gray. It carries RAF roundels and tail stripes and has a character of a white ghost with the word “Ghoul” below it on the nose. I don’t know what Australian Squadron this was with. This box art and the side panels showing the made up model, from a different angle, is the only help with the markings.
Inside the box are two trees of very pale gray parts with tons of flash on the parts. I have never before seen flash this bad on a model kit. NOVO must have not closed the molds tightly when molding this kit and should have been ashamed to market a kit in this poor condition. A lot of parts had also broken off these trees and were floating around loose in the box. Nothing was cello bagged. There were two clear parts trees, the decal sheet and the instructions that completed the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that is printed on very poor quality paper, kind of like newsprint. The sheet is printed on only one side and then folded several times to fit the box.
The one side of the instructions gives 12 assembly step drawings.
The first very pale gray parts tree holds: engine cylinder parts, the main gear wheels, rudder, cockpit floor, propeller axles, landing gear legs and doors, 2 crew figures, one wing flap and the propeller spinners (24 parts) This tree is thick with flash. Parts look like you will have to WHITTLE them out in places. Terrible molding job!!! Shame on you NOVO.
The second very pale gray tree holds: cowling parts, one of the propellers, gear doors and air scoops etc. (16 parts) There were parts on this tree I could not identify, because they are so buried in heavy flash…sigh.
Loose parts, that broke off the trees include: wing halves, fuselage halves, cowling fronts (one of these heavy with flash again), the other propeller, the 3rd crewman, crew seats, navigator/radio man’s compartment floor, a gear door etc.
There are two clear parts trees in the kit of cockpit windows and turret transparencies. Each one holds three parts.
There are two marking options on the decal sheet. One has already been described above. The other one has the serial number A9-408 in light gray near the tail and has the fuselage code A (roundel) SK in light gray. It has the RAAF roundels and tail stripes.
This is an interesting bomber aircraft. However, with all the bad molding and flash, it is going to be a more tedious build than it could have been.