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Lancaster Kit

Tamiya 1/48 Lancaster B.I Grand Slam Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2009 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject Lancaster B.I Grand Slam Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61504 Primary Media Styrene
Pros All four engines are motorized Cons All four engines are motorized
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production (originally $149.00)

First Look

Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit
Lancaster Kit

For a quick history of the Lancaster, look here.

Tamiya jumped on a motorization craze as they went through a number of their single-engined kits and adapted the tooling to accept a small motor to spin the prop. The ultimate motorization project was this one - the Grand Slam Lancaster. This release had the good news and the bad news.

First the bad news - all four engines are motorized and by slipping the Tall Boy bomb on its mount, you could turn the power on or off. The motors were powered by a single C-cell battery inside the fuselage that was accessible through the removable bomb bay section. The motorization was well engineered and the cabling is the best I've seen in this kind of project.

Now for the good news. Prior to this kit's release, the 1/48 scale Lancaster had been off the market for a number of years and the remaining kits were starting to get expensive on eBay. While the MSRP of this release rivaled the eBay prices, you could find them once in a while on the bargain tables. I don't know how sales of this motorized Lanc went here in North America, but I got mine at a nice price.

The other good news is that this is the first time that this kit was set up with a new-tool Tall Boy 22,000 pound bomb. A few aftermarket companies had produced the Tall Boy in resin, but now we have one in styrene along with the concave belly to loft the bomb.

The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees plus two fuselage halves, one tree molded in light gray styrene consisting of the crew figures, and one tree of clear parts. The detailing is still raised, but it is also fine, not overdone.

Where the stock Lancaster kit had a long main deck that ran from the nose to the rear of the weapons bay, this kit comes with a short flight deck section, leaving the area behind the cockpit open. This allows internal clearance for the battery holder mounted on the removable ventral bomb fairing to fit inside the fuselage.

While the kit comes with all three turrets, only the FN20 in the tail is used as you'll be using the nose fairing and dorsal plug to close off the turret holes for this version. To get that huge bomb into the air, the aircraft had to be stripped of all but the most essential gear to save weight.

The main landing gear is nicely rendered along with the structural details that make up the interior of the wheel wells that in turn become the interior of the inboard engine nacelles. The kit does have provisions for building the model gear up should you rather pose your model in flight.

Where the original kit had two Merlin engines that went into the port nacelles, this kit has motors and new parts to facilitate the motorization in this version.

The flight control surfaces are all molded in place and in neutral, which is still a common practice with kit makers today. If you want to pose the flaps, elevators or whatever in another position, a little careful surgery and perhaps some aftermarket details will help you along here.

The one feature in this kit that I wish would be offered in all of their Lancasters are the pre-painted windows. Look at those crisp frames on those window sections inside the box near the bottom of this image stack. Nice!

A sheet of decals are provided for this release for two examples:

  • Lancaster B.I (Special), PD133, 617 Sqn, YZ-P
  • Lancaster B.I (Special), PD112, 617 Sqn, YZ-S

The Tamiya 1/48 Lancaster is clearly still at the top of the pyramid of scale Lancs. While these motors will get diverted to other duties, the kit will build up into a nice rendition of the B.I Grand Slam bomber with the help of some nice aftermarket details.

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