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RAF Pilots and Ground Crew WWII

Revell/Germany 1/72 RAF Pilots and Ground Crew WWII Kit First Look

By Michael Abbott

Date of Review April 2010 Manufacturer Revell/Germany
Subject RAF Pilots and Ground Crew WWII Scale 1/72
Kit Number 2401 Primary Media Styrene
Pros More detailed crew for your 1/72 WWII RAF planes, beautiful detail Cons Painting guide lacking
Skill Level Basic MSRP (GBP) £5.99

First Look

During the 2nd world war the total strength of the RAF reached over 1.1 million personnel of all ranks and sexes comprising not just of United Kingdom nationals but many from Empire countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica, occupied countries such as Poland, France, Norway, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, friendlies from the USA and even some from Argentina which had a big British ex pat community.

The RAF’s actions during the Battle of Britain earned them the accolade by Prime Minister Winston Churchill "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" It was the dogged determination of the RAF that kept Hitler’s invasion at bay by denying him the air superiority he demanded.

The RAF at the beginning of WW2 was undertaking a rapid expansion with many inexperienced aircrew and obsolete aircraft as was witnssed by the experience of many in western Europe and Norway coming up against Luftwaffe crews who had fought in Spain and Poland. At the end of WW2 the RAF was a battle hardened fighting force with a fearsome reputation.

All pilots had to be issued with some form of protective flying gear irrespective of which theatre or role they were in. All aircrew were issued with a leather flying helmet, goggles, an oxygen mask if they flew above a certain altitude, Mae West, Irvine sheepskin jacket, and flying boots, it got very cold at altitude, even on blisteringly hot summers days.

Pre-war pilots would wear a 1 piece overall flying suit usually seen in period photos as being White, even during the war you could still find pilots wearing this, Alex Henshaw, a test pilot who flight tested over 10% of all Spitfires built was often pictured in such a suit. This gradually was replaced by the now familiar Irvine sheepskin jacket, gloves and boots. Some pilots chose to fly in uniform during summer weather, some even reverting to shirtsleeves.

Packaged in a side opening box the figures are presented on 1 sprue of mid grey hard plastic. Colour illustrations on the box are the only assembly instructions given. Painting instructions are on the back and give Revell colours only but translation to your favourite brand should not be too difficult as they are fairly standard colours.

The sprue contains 101 pieces which make up into 25 figures of 10 designs. These comprise of seated pilots, seated navigator/radio operator, standing pilots, crouching and standing groundcrew. The aircrew are wearing a variety of clothing, Mae Wests, integral parachutes, one of which is separate for one of the standing pilots, leather Irvine flying jackets or uniform, flying helmets, some with goggles, leather boots, gloves and oxygen masks, either on or hanging clipped to the helmet. The groundcrew appear to be in 1 piece overalls, the crouching guy having no hat and the standing a forage cap. All figures look suitable for European theatres from 1940 onwards and could be adapted for other theatres with a bit of work.

The detail for each figure is wonderful. One without a Mae West but in normal uniform has the correct pattern parachute harness for 1940, the Mae Wests clearly show the inflation tube and the seated crew are clearly sitting on their parachutes. The figures scale out to about 6 feet tall.

There is some fiddly assembly and cleaning up involved with mould seams noticable on most figures. The oxygen masks are missing the feed pipe which may or may not be noticed when seated and surrounded by cockpit, it can simply be added from suitable thickness wire. All figures have separate arms, some separate heads and even 1 with a separate leg so a bit of mix and match is possible.

With the only painting guide on the box itself, the insert is just a Health & Safety leafelt. You will need to study the illustration, carefully, I found the Osprey Aces book on Spitfire Pilots of the Battle of Britain particularly useful as it shows a selection of crew in the illustrations. Studying photos of wartime aircrew will give you an idea as to just how worn out the equipment could look, the yellow Mae West taking a beating from the seat straps rubbing on the shoulders.

All in all a very useful addition to the Revell range and in hard plastic so there should be no painting problems as one would find with the Airfix polythene figures for example. I am not aware if this is a new Revell mould or from another source, if it is then the likelihood is that it will be Faller. I wonder if they could do a follow up with additional ground crew, airgunners, bomb aimers, officers and a WRAF driver, one can wish.