The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter (or “Beau”) is a multi-role aircraft developed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Sharing design elements with the Bristol Beaufort, the Beaufighter quickly proved its worth as a formidable weapon within the RAF’s inventory. As the war progressed, it went from being a successful night-fighter to a capable rocket-armed ground attack aircraft (dubbed the “Rockbeau”) and torpedo bomber (dubbed the “Torbeau”).
The TF Mk. X (or simply Mark 10) was the two-seat torpedo fighter variant powered by two Hercules XVII engines, which used cropped superchargers to improve the aircraft’s low-altitude performance. It was the last mayor Beaufighter variant to be constructed in large numbers and saw a production run of 2,231 aircraft (from a total of 5,928 Beaufighters built). With several adjustments throughout its career and a Mk XIC subvariant for RAF Coastal Command (which was virtually a Mk. X without any torpedo gear). The variant also saw reasonable export success to several countries and many aircraft managed to survive the was as converted target tugs.
- Subject: Bristol Beaufighter TF. X
- Manufacturer: Revell
- Scale: 1/48
- Parts count: 188 (177 styrene, 11 clear)
- Serial: 03943
- Price: 40EUR
- Personal rating: ✭✭✭✭✭ ✭✭✭✭✭
- Pros: Well detailed, Lots of parts, several display options
- Cons: Subtle hints of flash, Tamiya alternative, room for improvement
Upon opening the kit we are greeted by many parts on many frames, giving a similar vibe to Revell’s recent Tornado kits. The details are very fine with in both raised features and recessed panels lines. Sadly the fuselage halves have sharp edges which managed to cut their way through their plastic bags and damage the instruction booklet and dent part of the decal sheet, while the wing halves also managed to cut their way through their plastic bags.
Lucky for me this has not damaged any parts which would be vital for the build, but feels like something that should be addressed with future Beaufighter kits. I’m stating this because it is obvious that the part to frame layout is designed in such a way to incorporate or omit (non)-essential parts for other Beaufighter variants.
Examining the contents in more detail we can we can identify no less than 22 frames. These are neatly bagged with multiple frames within each bag, of which two bags are holding identicle parts (the E, F, M, P – frames). Details seem crisp and clean, but tiny bits of flash can already be found on some parts of the fuselage halves and some other parts (although nothing can’t be fixed within minutes).
A, B, H, G – Frames
Our first four frames consist mostly of the wing halves, ailerons, flaps, cockpits parts, rudder and other doo-dats. Overal the detail is fine, although I did find a few molding seams here and there. But in the end no real flash was found on these parts. I also couldn’t help myself to test fit the wings and am happy to report they fell together perfectly.
What I did notice is that, while a large portion of Mk. X Beaufighters had their cannons removed and/or blocked off in several manners as seen on the image above, there are no parts provided with the kit to do so in any way. It is up to the builder to replicate such efforts by the crews.
Second is that the cockpit feels somewhat bare compared to the real thing as seen above (of a Mk. IF Beaufighter). This has always been something of a big drawback with the Tamiya kit, and I would have liked for Revell to address it in their new kit, or at least provide more detail than what we got now.
E, F, M, P – frames
The next four frames are provided twice in the kit, and consist of items like the wheels, landing gear, engines, propellers, prop hubs, exhausts shrouds and engine covers. Again the detail here is very fine and crisp, but some tiny bits of flash and seam lines can be found here and there.
I am a bit disappointed with the bald tires that Revell has provided. While bald tires are not inaccurate, photographic evidence seems to indicate that they are rather uncommon on Beaufighters, especially the later types. A few more options (like padded tires or those provided in the Tamiya kit) would not be a bad thing here.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The engines and exhaust shrouds are a massive improvement against the Tamiya kit, but as seen on the images above it is still not ‘perfect’, with some ‘tubing details’ still missing on the engine which were present on all Beaufighter aircraft. Thankfully a bit of brassing tubing or some bits of evergreen styrene rods can easily overcome this tiny issue.
While the exhaust shrouds are a enormous improvement against the feeble attempt in Tamiya’s kit, the builder will still have to drill into the part to add a bit more depth into their build, but (1/2) hour of work should save you the trouble of having to order aftermarket parts from the internet.
The engine nacelles might be my biggest point of critisism on these frames. I’m uncertain what Revell’s reasoning was by designing and dividing the engine nacelles in this manner, as it adds unnecesairy sanding work for the builder and makes displaying the engine by ommiting panels undenyningly harder.
While I do love the attempt of providing the engine cowling in seperate parts, glueing the ring together into one solid piece without the engine panels (like the real thing as seen on the image above) seems frustratingly harder this way. I would have rather seen the three panels individually and the ring molded in one single part. Maybe somehing to address in your future Beaufighter variants, Revell?
C, D, W, N, O, R, Y – Frames
Our final bag holds no less than 7 frames, most of which are small and hold no more than one to five parts. They comprimise the two fuselage halves, horizontal stabilisers, a torpedo, the dorsal fin and a nose cone. While detail here is fine on the parts, I did find some flash on the fuselage halves and some rather outspoken molding seams on various small parts. Thankfully most of this can easily be dealt with or is found in areas which will be hidden away once the model is completed.
Also added to the Y sprue is an attachment plate for the RP-3 rockets, but Revell seems to have forgotten (?) to add any RP-3 rockets or even launch rails with the kit itself.
Thankfully for us, Revell did not forget to add a torpedo with the kit. And lets be honest, what would a Mk. X ‘Torbeau’ kit be without a torpedo? In addition to the torpedo itself is a part replicating the Mk IV gyro-stabilised MAT (Monoplane Air Tail) which was outfitted with a gyroscope to stabilize the torpedo in flight and then broke off upon entry with the water surface.
As mentioned before we can find the unique TF.X randome as well as the additional plate used to hold the launching rails for the 3-inch rocket / RP-3 projectiles on frame Y. Although the parts for this weapons system are not provided in the kit, RP-3’s were often used on Beaufighters. Sadly the construction of the plate is not mentioned anywhere in the instruction booklet, nor are any colours callouts. I therefore added several images of this weapons system attached to different Mark X Beaufighters, all of which sport different colours as can be seen on the next three pictures below.
On the first image we can see that the plate sports the same colour as the RP-3 rockets attached to it. As RP-3’s used in combat were painted in ‘BS224 Deep Bronze Green’, with the warheads painted in Olive Drab, it would be logical to assume this as the correct colour for such a plate (training projectiles were painted in a dark blue-ish colour).
It was not uncommon however that the plate was painted over in the same colour as the aircraft itself, as seen on the second photograph. The same happened to aircraft which carried invasion stripes, where this attachment plate would also be painted over as seen on the third photograph (and can also be spotted on the second picture of this review).
The clear parts within the kit are spread out over three different frames and are completely devoid of any scratches or damage. The use of different frames is obviously meant to reduce production costs for future releases of other Beaufighter variants where canopies tend to differ. Frame J holds the main cockpit canopy part, with frame L holding the later variant gunner canopy instead of the early single cast perspex bubble canopy.
On frame K we are able to find all the other parts like the navigation light and landing light housing. The navigation lights are molded in one solid piece, enabling it to be adjusted in my own preferred way of creating navigation lights.
What does stand out is the absence of the tear drop canopy for the short wave loop antenna found on top of a large portion of Mk. X Beaufighters. I’m uncertain why Revell has ommited this part from their kit and I hope this will be addressed accordingly.
Instructions & Markings
By now many of us have grown accustomed to the new graphic style of Revell’s instruction sheets. Although this is a brand new kit of only days/weeks old, my instructions booklet was damaged by the fuselage parts inside the kit during transport and managed to rip a hole in the cover and dent several roundels on the decal sheet.
In total the building process is divided into 77(!) steps, some of which are optional like the installation of a dorsal fin. Some of the parts (although not many) are adorned with suggestions of colour in which to paint said parts. Although I am not a big advocate of ‘colour accuracy’ for pre-1950 subjects, I would refer to more credible sources for interior colours if you want your beau to be ‘accurate’ (at least with the interior).
Provided with the kit are two sets of late war RAF markings.
- Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk. X NE429, RAF, No. 489 (NZ) Squadron, July 1945
The first set of markings consist of NE429 painted in the typical late war two-tone FAA ‘Dark Sea Grey’ on ‘Sky Grey’, sporting D-Day invasion stripes on both sides of the wings and empennage. Being in No. 489 (NZ) Sqn, it was part of the Royal New Zealand Air Force working under the RAF Coastal Command as an anti-submarine and reconnaissance unit. The squadron converted to Beaufighters in November 1943 and was mainly used to attack Axis shipping in the North Sea and along the coast of Occupied Europe. From April 1944 on it formed part of the Anzac Strike wing, converting to DH Mosquitos in June the following year. This adjustment was short lived as it was to be disbanded less than two months later with the collapse of Japan.
- Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk. X RD467, RAF, No. 254 Squadron, May 1945
The second aircraft consists of RD467 as part of No.254 Sqn RAF, stationed at North Coates at the end of the war in May 1945. This aircraft is also painted in the late war two-tone FAA ‘Dark Sea Grey’ on ‘Sky Grey’ but without the D-Day invasion stripes.
After being disbanded after the First World War, 254 squadron was quickly reformed in October 1939 as part of RAF Coastal Command. After the introduction of torpedoes in 1941 and being re-equipped from Bristol Blenheims to Bristol Beaufighters in 1942, the unit switched its focus to an anti-shipping role with a specialisation toward anti-U-boat actions by the end of the war. In October 1946 it was re-numbered as No. 42 Squadron.
I must say that I find the set of markings provided rather dull, as the Mk. X was one of the most widely exported Beaufighter variants. There are dozens of interesting markings like aircraft from operation Firedog in Malaya, (converted Mk. X) target tugs, Turkish AF, Portuguese AF, Israeli AF, Dominican AF or even the full green or brown on brown camouflaged Australian RAAF machines. This is easy for aftermarket decal printers to fix, yet still I find Revell’s choice a bit disappointing in this regard.
The sheet provided with this kit provide all the decals needed to build both the markings provided on two seperate models (so you could build a second kit which would not have decals of its own). Also included are the common stencils found on both aircraft, although there are only enough for one model. The decals themselves are in perfect register and suffer little overspray of the matte protective coat.
The only course of action I would take here is to cut the ID codes into seperate letters, cut away the excess protective coat between the letters and place them onto the aircraft seperately one by one.
It is inevitable that people will compare Revell’s newest addition to the Tamiya kits. Although they are nearing 20 years of age, Tamiya’s Beaufighter kits blew the competition out of the water ‘back then’ and have stood the test of time well (as they are still rightfully sold and build often). Tamiya took a few tiny questionable design approaches in the layout of their kit (mostly at the wheel wells, spartan cockpit), but Revell seems to have somewhat dropped the ball as well (mostly the nose-fuselage-wing joints, cockpit is ‘meh’).
I know that my review might come off a bit negative towards its contents, but Revell does offer better quality decals, a bit more detail in certain parts (like the engine) and a few optional things like closed wheel wells, a gyro-stabilised MAT for the torpedo and the open or closed engine nacelles. Drawbacks are several other details like the lack of parts to imitate the ‘improvised guncovers’, details on the engine, one set of ‘bald tires’, etc. or even omitted parts which are provided with the Tamiya kit like bombs or the tear drop canopy for the short wave loop antenna found on top of several Mk. X aircraft.
Truthfully one can’t really complain. But with 20 years of difference in design and production standards between the two kits, one can’t blame another to have expected more. Unless Revell will choose to not address these drawbacks in their future releases, nothing is lost here. And as they did so with their ADV Tornado, I have hope that we might see something similar to happen here.
The biggest problem which Revell will have to face is the question wether the creation of this kit was necessary and wether it will pay off in the long run. In the end I love my Beaufighters and I’m sure we will see more variants soon, but only time will tell.
In the end neither the Tamiya or Revell kit would be a bad purchase on the builder’s part, but neither are truly convincing enough to ditch the other kit completely. In this case I think it will mostly depend on what the prices for either kit are like where you live.