Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe Album 14: The Bristol Beaufighter
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
Valiant Wings Publishing has just released the 14th instalment in their Airframe Album series, entitled The Bristol Beaufighter: A Detailed Guide To Bristol's Hard-hitting Twin. In common with previous titles in the series, this one is authored by Richard A. Franks, a well-known name in modelling and aviation publishing.
The first thing that strikes you with this book is the terrific cover art by Seweryn Fleischer. The presentation of material in this book is impressive throughout. Photographs are generally clear and crisply reproduced, as are the 3D isometric line drawings by Chris Sandham-Bailey. The colour profiles by Richard Caruana are handsomely rendered.
The content itself is organised into four main sections plus an introduction and appendices:
- 1. Technical Description
- 2. Evolution - Prototype, Production and Projected Variants
- 3. Camouflage and Markings
- 4. Model
- I. Beaufighter Kit List
- II. Beaufighter Accessory, Mask and Decal List
- III. Bibliography
It should be evident from the list of contents alone that this title is aimed squarely at the modeller. There's plenty here for aviation enthusiasts and Beaufighter aficionados too, but the emphasis is on providing the modeller with copious data and as much detail as possible.
The Introduction is actually a 23-page potted history of the Beaufighter, and makes for very interesting reading if you're not intimately familiar with the development of the type. I found myself quite surprised by the large number of foreign operators, for example.
The Technical Description section of the book is packed with period photographs, technical drawings, and photos of surviving examples. The airframe is covered pretty comprehensively from nose to tail, with special emphasis on those areas of the most interest to modellers: cockpit, landing gear, and engines. There's also extensive coverage of the internal structure of the airframe, by way of photos and drawings.
The section on the evolution of the airframe gives a concise but very clear overview of the development of the Beaufighter, from its initial concept as an adaptation of the Beaufort, to prototypes and test airframes, target tugs, and the Australian DAP version. There were an amazing number of one-off trial airframes in the Beaufighter's development history!
The Camouflage and Markings section covers the type's use by the RAF, Coastal Command, FAA, and foreign air forces, and includes an impressive variety of attractive colour schemes. A decent selection of period photographs is included, along with the terrific colour profiles. There's some serious inspiration in this section!
I'd like to see larger versions of some of the photos, but that's a perennial constraint that all aviation publications have to deal with, and hardly a criticism.
The last of the main sections of the book features two model builds, the introduction to which pre-empts my usual grumble about not including the Revell 1/32 scale kit:
Apologies for not covering the type in 1/32 scale, but model builds are not a major component of the Airframe Album series and the Revell example in that scale is over 40 years old now, so we have refrained from doing an in-depth build of it in this section.
That said, the two builds included are both excellent. The first features Libor Jekl's new Airfix TF Mk X kit in 1/72 scale. The second build is the equally new 1/48 scale kit from Revell by Steve Evans, built from a test shot. Both are magazine-style builds, and certainly worth a look if you're interested in building either of these kits.
The final section is the Appendices, and these follow the customary pattern for this series of books, in outlining what options the modeller has in terms of kits, accessories, decals and masks for producing a scale replica Beaufighter. Only a smattering of 1/32 scale items is available, unfortunately.
The book rounds things out with a bibliography of existing titles covering the Beaufighter, which serves as a handy launch pad for further research into the type.
Here's a small selection of sample pages, courtesy of Valiant Wings:
This is a detailed, comprehensive and modeller-friendly title. If you're building, or intend to build, a model of the Beaufighter in any scale, this book will prove invaluable, and I highly recommend it. I must say that I feel rather inspired to drag my Revell kit out of the stash now!
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review sample.
© Kevin Futter 2018
This review was published on Monday, December 10 2018; Last modified on Monday, December 10 2018