updated April 10, 2009
have always been fascinated by AEW aircraft since boyhood,
I have been lucky enough to serve at RAF Waddington in the
UK twice and on both tours was involved in AEW aircraft
trials and operations. Last year (2004) I returned to plastic
model aircraft making after a gap of nearly 20 years. During
August a group of modellers and I from the RAF Cranwell
model club visited a Model Expo at Southwell, I saw there
a wonderful 1/72 scale model of an Avro Shackleton
AEW Mk2 which fired my enthusiasm to build one myself. I
had previously built a “Shack”
in 1978 using the old Frog kit and balsa wood to create
the radome. Unfortunately I gave it away when the kids came
along. At the show I purchased another Frog donor kit and
the Aeroclub conversion set and decals to complete the kit.
However, this project was quite a comprehensive one for
an initial attempt on return to modelling so this project
is still on the back burner.
Cranwell model cub has its own on-going
project to create a model of every aircraft that has served
at RAF Cranwell (that’s another story) so I used a
few models built for them to get my eye back in and to update
my skills alittle.
several more AEW modelling projects in the pipeline, the
next being an AMT 1/48 AD-4W Skyraider in Royal Navy colours
so watch this space. If there are any other AEW buffs out
there please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I can
be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to thank Scott Pedersen for his generosity
in time and effort to post my models on his website. The
World Wide Web is a wonderful thing that allows like minded
people to communicate in friendship and fraternity wherever
Lincoln, England, June 2005
Aircraft TBM-3W2 Avenger VS-32 USS Palau 1951
was my first “AEW” aircraft project; I thought
it would be a quick one because I had a built up Frog Avenger
and a spare Aeroclub radome to put on it. How very wrong could
I be, the fuselage profile is very different from normal Avengers
and the radome surrounds and rear cockpit required heavy filling
and sanding. The end result wasn’t bad for a first attempt,
but I later researched and found out this version was more
a sub hunter than an AEW variant in this TBM-3W2 form. I now
have the Falcon Conversions fuselage set and a new un-built
Airfix donor kit to build a proper AEW prototype as used in
“Project Cadillac 1” in the near future.
to Bombers in Blue
Neptune MR 1 RAF, 1453 “Vanguard”
part of the AEW research I discovered that the RAF had operated
a few Neptunes as AEW aircraft, notably, Fighter Command’s
Vanguard Flight which was formed on 1st November 1952 at
RAF Kinloss, disbanded on 5th June 1953 to then become 1453
(Early Warning) Flight, which reformed again on 5th June
1953 at RAF Topcliffe and was finally disbanded again on
30th June 1956 at Topcliffe. One of their four airframes
was WX501 coded’4’ and finished in Dark Sea
Blue Gloss. This particular aircraft has no MAD boom, the
Emerson ball type turret in the nose and a very different
cockpit canopy to the later P2V-7. I had also discovered
that Falcon conversions do a triple conversion set that
includes a complete new Neptune MR1 nose forward of the
wing roots, Emmerson nose turret, tail turret (no cannons
though) and a new flat top canopy. This set also includes
an Avenger TBM-3W fuselage of the correct profile. The model
took a long time to complete as I had a false start. After
a lot of work on the fuselage, I started again by grafting
the Falcon parts onto the front an rear fuselage, I’m
happy with the overall results but just wish I could find
out more about 1453 Flts missions!
The subject of my model WX501 Neptune MR1as she was in service
with 1453 Flt circa 1953.
my intention was to model the later RAF Neptune version
complete with MAD boom and nose glazing as per the FROG
kit, however, on realising that Falcon Conversions of New
Zealand did the conversion set I decided to go the whole
hog and model the early version that the RAF used for AEW
missions. So many hours of previous work was aborted and
the semi complete fuselage butchered again to include the
vac-form parts. The cockpit furniture was rescued and re-fitted
into the new nose along with a lot of lead weight.
of the construction is complete but many hours of rubbing
down is still to be done. The white metal nose and tail
cannons were robbed from the Aeroclub Shackelton conversion
set. The rudder and an aileron had been lost from the old
donor kit so had to be fabricated from plastic card, I used
the “Neptune Warpaint” 1/72 plans for reference.
at last, the undercarriage was again white metal from Aeroclub,
Beware, fit the main gear struts as the engine nacelles
are put together or you’ll be faced with a lot of
fiddling to get them to fit!
top view shows the exhaust staining to the upper wing surfaces,
Neptunes suffered greatly from this and in fact I’ve
underplayed the staining when I compare the model to pictures
of in service Neptunes. The upper turret was donated by
a generous friend (Mike Barnes) who also moulded some large
resin wing tip tanks for me for the first conversion attempt.
They were not wasted, as on the re-start of the model they
were sanded down and fitted inside the vac-form tanks to
give them weight.
rear view, the astrodomes were formed from acetate sheet
using a male and female mould. The stretched sprue aerials
are a little on the heavy side and will be replaced with
nylon fishing line in due course.
windscreen wipers and pitot tubes were from constructed
from stretched sprue. The acetate cockpit canopy was a nightmare
to cut out and fit but accurately represents the “flat
top” cockpit canopy fitted to early Neptunes.
PB-1W Flying Fortress
a result of “Project Cadillac 2” the US Navy
obtained several B-17Gs from the Army Air Corp and converted
them to PB-1W AEW aircraft. This was the first real “AWACS”
type aircraft to enter operational service as the Avenger
transmitted its radar picture via a data link to surface
vessels where it was interpreted. The PB-1W carried its
own radar operators as part of the crew. Both “Project
Cadillac” aircraft were conceived as radar pickets
to counter the Kamikaze threat in the Pacific, however WW2
ended before they could be deployed. The PB-1Ws were developed
as very effective radar ACI and surveillance platforms by
the US Navy and were the precursors of the airborne ‘DEW
Line’ protection for the USA. They served until the
early 1950s when the were replaced by the WV-1 Constellation,
which went on to be the extremely effective EC-121 Warning
Star (see below Lockheed
WV-2 Warning Star).
early US Navy PB-1Ws were a standard B-17G obtained from
the US Army Air Corps with the chin turret and cheek guns
removed (later during overhauls the whole chin turret assembly
was removed), the upper turret was faired over, an additional
small astrodome was fitted on top of the nose, tail turret
guns removed and the AP/ANS 20 radar was installed in a
fibreglass radome at the forward end of the Bombay.
subject of my model Buer No 77138 as she was when serving
with VW-1 at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii in 1952.
of the construction complete, the 1/72 Hasegawa B-17G kit
was used as the donor kit with the faithful Aeroclub AP/ANS
20 radome fitted, almost ready for the Sea Blue Gloss to
views of the completed model, there’s something very
aesthetically pleasing about the “Fort” she
looks even nicer in her blue uniform.
to Bombers in Blue
AEW Shackleton Mk 2
This is the 1/72 Avro Shackleton
AEW Mk2 that I built in 1978 using the FROG MR3 kit as the
donor. The radome was fabricated from balsa wood with talc
and dope mix filler. The wing tips, nose wheel bay and main
undercarriage were all heavily modified. This all took many
hours, unfortunately I used a friend’s photographs
to match the overall colour and consequently the grey used
was too turquoise in shade. When our first child came along
the study was converted into a nursery and I sadly said
goodbye to many models that I didn’t have the space
for anymore. This model was donated to the Intelligence
Cell at RAF Waddington in 1986, I would love to know
where it ended up! There is another AEW Shack model on the
horizon though; I have 2 FROG Shacks and the full set of
conversion parts to do another AEW 2 in the not too distant
future. I’m also working on a model that will come
as a surprise to many, the first true ACI/AEW Aircraft ever
from 1942, and it was British!
WV-2 Warning Star
Warning Star of VW-1 Buer No 145930, ‘TE 6’,
as she was when serving with the VW-1 “Typhoon Trackers”
based at NAS Agana on Guam. Initially they provided AEW/CIC
support to Wets-Pac 7th Fleet operations around July 1960.
On the 1st July 1961 VW-1’s primary mission changed
to Weather Reconnaissance. Doing a model of a WV-2 was the
natural progression from the PB-1W and to be able to build
an example from the same Sqn was a bonus.
basis for my model was the Minicraft 1/144 EC-121 Warning
Star, I would have preferred to have used the Heller 1/72
version but could not obtain an example from model shops
here in the UK or in Germany and kept on being outbid on
e-Bay. Here the main construction is complete, windows
have been drilled out and the undercoat applied.
completed Warning Star, I was very pleased with the end
result even if it is a little small.
multitude of aerials on the Warning Star varied between
different airframes so close attention had to be paid to
the original reference photographs to get it right.
to Bombers in Blue