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Lancaster Kit

Hasegawa 1/72 Lancaster B.III Dambuster Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2007 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Avro Lancaster B.III Dambuster Scale 1/72
Kit Number 00554 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $65.95

First Look

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

The Avro Lancaster design evolved from the less successful Manchester bomber. The Manchester was a twin-engined bomber powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Vulture 24-cylinder engines initially rated at 1760 horsepower each. On paper, the design was sound, but in operation, the Rolls Royce engine had reliability problems that led to the short operational life of both engine and aircraft.

Avro's chief designer, Roy Chadwick, came up with an alternative to the problem, the Manchester Mk.III. The Mk.III replaced the two Vultures with four Merlins mounted on a wider span wing. The result was quite successful and renamed Lancaster Mk.I.

The Lancaster proved to be the heavy lifter of Bomber Command, able to carry not only a mixed bomb load of 14,000 pounds, it could loft the 12,000 pound Tallboy, 22,000 pound Grand Slam, and the dam-busting Upkeep. When the USAAF planners for project Silverplate grew concerns over lingering problems with the B-29 Superfortress, they approached the RAF for using the Lancaster as an alternative delivery platform for the two types of atomic bombs being developed.

For Operation Chastise, a group of Lancaster B.IIIs were modified to open up the bomb bay to allow external carriage of the Upkeep weapon and its special rotating launcher. These aircraft were also given special spotlights that allowed crews to accurately judge their low height above water as they approached their targets in the dark of night.

A few years ago, Hasegawa blew everyone away with a new-tooled Lancaster kit. While 1/72 isn't my 'thing', Fotios Rouch couldn't wait to get his hands on one and shared his impressions of this new kit here. Let's take a look:

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus a large tree of clear parts. After building the venerable Revell Dambuster many moons ago, I was struck on how much the state of the art has improved. Yes, I know I review all of these new kits, but the Dambuster, even the Tamiya one, still have certain characteristics that are stuck in my mind (until now). I can only hope that Hasegawa will release this kit in 1/48, Tamiya will re-tool their kit, or someone else will step up with a contemporary tool of this kit in 1/48 scale.

The interior of the Lancaster is nicely laid out in this scale and as I recall, there are some aftermarket detail sets to really set this area off. Given the large canopy over the cockpit area, there is lots of room to show off more that just 'stock' detailing here. Don't get me wrong, what's in the box is nicely done and most modelers will be pleased on how the model will look using just the kit parts.

One nice design feature of this kit is the fuselage wing box structure that mounts to the main deck and extends wing spars through the sides of the fuselages. This makes alignment of the wing/fuselage joint as well as the mechanical join of the wing and fuselage much easier to work.

The four Merlin engine nacelles are nicely rendered and feature the requisite exhaust flash suppressors, carburetor and radiator intake scoops.

Of course, this kit includes the rack and rotating mechanism that mounts into the inset ventral fairing to carry the Upkeep bomb with the least amount of drag possible under the circumstances. With the addition of these parts to the kit, you'll have some stock parts to toss into your spares box including the stock bomb bay parts.

The landing gear is detailed nicely with a proper depth on the main wheel wells and slightly bulged tires.

There are a lot of clear parts in this kit and the modeler can choose to cut plastic and install all the navigation lights that add so much to the appearance of a model.

The kit includes one decal sheet that covers three Lancasters :

  • Lancaster B.III, ED932, 617 Sqn/1 Group, AJ-G, May 1943, as flown by Wing Cdr Guy Gibson
  • Lancaster B.III, ED912, 617 Sqn/1 Group, AJ-S, July 1943
  • Lancaster B.III, ED817, 617 Sqn/1 Group, AJ-C, July 1943

It is no surprise that Hasegawa has a winner here and each of the kits from this tooling represent the best kit of the Lancaster available in any scale. If you are a fan of World War II bombers, no collection is complete without the Lancaster, and there are Lancasters more famous than the 'Dambusters'.