Airfix 1/48 Albion 3-Point Fueller Kit First Look
By Mark Nickelson
|Date of Review||January 2017||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Subject||Albion 3-Point Fueller||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||3312||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Very useful subject, fine detail throughout, all-styrene assembly||Cons||Molded fuel hoses may call for an alternate material|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$17.95|
The nomenclature, "3-point fueller," was probably official RAF language when they acquired this 1934 truck from the Albion factory, but if you haven't before, now is a great time for you to learn the more common British usage for a fuel truck: "petrol bowser." (It would be fun to know the etymology, but I don't.)
The Albion 463 was a 30 cwt or 1.5-ton 4x2 truck originally designed for civilian uses. The AM designation referred to 463s ordered by the Air Ministry. Some were fitted out as ambulances or for other duties.
The RAF owned more than 400 Albion AM463 bowsers in 1939. Some were lost in the evacuation from France in 1940, but the Albions in England played a key role in the Battle of Britain, servicing as many as three fighters simultaneously with their unusual array of overhead booms.
An AM463 carried only 350 gal of avgas. It was powered by a 4,427 cc gas engine developing 65 hp. By midwar, the surviving Albions had mostly been replaced by newer, bigger trucks. The overhead boom arrangement remained in service on some later bowsers.
Other automotive curiosities of this British truck: the flywheel sits in its own bracket, connected by shaft to the engine in front of it and the gearbox behind, i.e., no bell housing. There's a hand crank for the engine, a holdover from an earlier decade. Two large air flasks, part of a pneumatic suspension system, flank the radiator. And the spare tyre is mounted on the starboard fender in a position that precludes opening the driver's side door.
The kit supplies sections of fuel servicing hose festooned along the booms. As styrene castings, these hose sections may be either too delicate or unrealistic as to drape, and I am considering adapting some bell wire in their place. The builder can finish the truck with the booms servicing airplanes or stowed for travel. But you will have to choose one or the other.
The rest of the assembly looks like a delightful, straightforward project in crisply molded styrene. The fine print on the box reveals that Airfix had their injecting done in India. The kit comprises 113 parts on four blue-gray sprues and a clear sprue. The chassis is a single casting—true and straight in my kit--and the two rear fenders are molded onto a stout crossmember.
The instructions, as in other recent Airfix kits, are printed in two colors with shaded perspective illustrations, possibly the nicest anybody ever saw in a plastic kit.
There is a decal sheet with typical official fender markings. The instructions show a truck in a two-color camouflage scheme of Humbrol 30 dark green and 86 light olive—suspiciously like the colors on the Spitfires and Hurricanes the Albion serviced.
This kit would readily lend itself to some other work application simply by building a different bed onto the chassis, either for military or civilian service. But I think it would still be a 1934 Albion and not something you could squint at and call a U.S. truck. The cab and bonnet shapes are just too distinctive.
Still, used with some other recent kits of ground crew figures, this authentic little period bowser will add realistic activity to an RAF flightline diorama. On my shelves, it supersedes a half dozen civilian diecast tank trucks that never were quite right.