|Richard A Franks|
|Valiant Wings Publishing|
|£18.95 MSRP at www.valiant-wings.co.uk|
178 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-0-995777385, Airframe Album #14
This latest edition of Airframe Album concentrates on the Bristol Beaufighter. This aircraft was initially developed to be a heavy fighter version of the Beaufort, in which case it would have saved on tooling costs. However, things don't always go as expected. Thanks to the engines chosen, a prop of larger diameter was needed so the engine nacelle had to be placed through the wing instead of under it as it was in the Beaufort. There were the usual myriad of changes required from prototype to production as always occurs with new aircraft. Visually a larger fin was needed, hence the little 'bump' in the leading edge of that feature, which has always looked a bit odd to me.
There were other changes to systems, engines and the most noticeable was a simpler canopy with fewer frames in the windscreen. Oil coolers were moved to the wings from under the engine and there were also differences in the carb intake that came and went. Later production planes got a longer tailplane with considerable dihedral to improve stability and the very last variants had a very long fin fillet.
The Beaufort turned out to be an excellent platform for a night fighter as it could carry the AI.IV equipment and had plenty of firepower. Its ability to carry a torpedo made it an excellent Coastal Command strike fighter and later the airframe added rockets to its weapons suite. It was also an excellent replacement for Mosquitoes in the Far East that were having issues with their wood airframes due to the high heat and humidity. Post War, when the type disappeared from Europe rather quickly, it proved to be quite effective in Malaya despite issues with aging airframes.
The type was also used post war by several nations and soldiered on with some units as a target tug. During the war it saw service in all theaters where the RAF operated. Fortunately a couple survived to be restored for museums.
The book follows the usual script with a history of the type, the different variants, close up images of extant airframe as well as period images and tech manual drawings. There is a section on the differences between airframes and one on the various camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft. The modeler's section has two builds, a 1/72 Airfix kit and the recent Revell 1//48 issue, which sounds like it was a bit of a disappointment. The usual listing of kits, decals and accessories is provided near the end. The author rightly comments that this is not a model review book, hence a number of other kits were not built for this edition, something I think that readers frequently overlook.
In all, a most welcome addition to what is a superb series of books and well worth the effort of picking up.
For more on Valiant Wings, including getting this book, visit www.valiant-wings.co.uk. Thank you for the review copy.
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