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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Calendar Plane of the Month October: Tornado F3



The Panavia Tornado originated in the 1960s, when the UK was exploring the use of variable geometry aircraft.  Britain got together with West Germany (as it then was), Italy and the Netherlands in 1969 to work jointly on developing an aircraft. The Netherlands soon dropped out when it became apparent that the aircraft being designed was too complex for their needs. 




Before its final name was chosen it was known as the Multi Role Combat Aircraft and it was under this name that Airfix issued their first 1/72 kit of it in 1975, the year after the first prototype took to the air.  The first aircraft were delivered to the RAF and the German air force in 1979.


The current Airfix kit has markings for 111 Squadron


The F3 is the interceptor variant of the Tornado, although it wasn't designed for dogfighting but for dealing with long range Soviet bomber attacks.  This was not of interest to the Italian (although the Italian air force did later buy some) and German partners in the project at the time so it was developed for the RAF alone. The first flight of the F2 version was in 1979 with the upgraded F3 version first flying in 1985.  By the time of the Gulf War in 1991 the F3s were outdated and were confined to patrols back from the front line.  Replaced by the Eurofighter Typhoon they were retired from the RAF in March 2011 and all scrapped.




Agent Triple P never built a model of a Tornado as the plane didn't enter service until after we had stopped making model kits,  By 1979 we were far more interested in redheads!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Record Covers from the fifties and sixties: Scheherazade



Classical music covers in the sixties were rather different from today as this 1963 issue of Scheherazade shows.  Produced in the Netherlands by Philips for their Festivo label, we suppose that the enticing young lady does have some relevance to the subject of Rimsky-Korsakov's splendid piece; one of Triple P's favourites.  




Fashions change and by 1970 the cover was much more restrained.  We bet they sold more copies with the 1963 cover!  




Triple P's favourite recording of Scheherazade is even older: the recording by Ernest Ansermet and l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande recorded in November 1960 at the Victoria Hall Geneva and released in 1961.  Ansermet was a great advocate of Rimsky-Korsakov, at a time when he was very unfashionable, and the fact that his recording is still available fifty years later and still getting excellent reviews says a lot about its quality.  It has a warmth and an appropriately languid feel that means that we have never felt the need to replace it with a more modern digital recording.  Interestingly, Ansermet had his own brush with the harem girl approach to record covers with this 1962 re-release of his 1948 recording of the piece with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra.




Today you are more likely to see a 1920s ballet illustration or perhaps a period Persian painting on the cover of a Scheherazade CD but even before the Markevitch and Ansermet examples above we had this cover for this 1956 Capitol release of William Steinberg's recording with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Nothing beats the disdainful undress of the model on the Markevitch version, however!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Calendar Plane of the Month September: Avro Lancaster

Tooby version


September's plane is the iconic Avro Lancaster.  This digital box art illustration by Adam Tooby is unique in that it is an exact recreation of Roy Cross' original and equally iconic painting which used to adorn the Airfix box when Triple P was young.


Cross original


The Lancaster was one of Airfix's first two large kits (with the Wellington) which came out in 1958 after the company had bought bigger injection moulding machines to allow much larger sized models for the first time.




The 1958 box art (above) by Charlie Oates, Airfix's original resident illustrator, demonstrates exactly what Roy Cross would later bring to Airfix during the decade he worked for them from 1964 until 1974.




The actual aircraft which is the subject of the current kit (Airfix produced a new, more detailed, version of the kit in the late seventies to replace the 1958 original) is a Mark 1 Lancaster serial number W4783 and known as G for George after the last letter of its identification letters.


The real G for George


G for George, which was part of 460 squadron, flew 96 combat missions (the second most of any Lancaster) over Europe during the war between December 1942 and April 1944.  This was a major achievement considering most Lancasters only reached twenty missions before they were shot down.  In late 1944 it was flown via Iceland, Canada, the US and a succession of Pacific islands to arrive in Amberley, near Brisbane, Australia to promote War bonds.  




It sat outside abandoned for ten years before being installed in the Australian War Museum in Canberra in 1955.  Completely restored between 1999 and 2003 it now sits resplendent in the Anzac Hall, one of only 17 out of 7,377 Lancasters built still in existence.




There is a slight family connection to this too, for Triple P, as his grandfather worked for Avro after World War 1. We have never built a model of the Lancaster, oddly, but this may change in the future!  Triple P took this picture of the Battle of Britain memorial flight example (one of only two still flying - the other is in Canada) flying over Windsor in 2008.