by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Martin 187 is often unfairly unlooked among US WW2 aircraft, largely because it saw no combat service with American forces. Developed initially for the French as the Martin 187F, the type offered worthwhile improvements over its earlier stablemate, the 167F (Maryland), including a deepened fuselage allowing easier communication between crew positions and more powerful engines. With the fall of France, Britain took over the entire order for 400 aircraft and they were updated to UK standards as the Martin 187B-1 and christened the Baltimore.
Further orders saw the Baltimore upgraded progressively, including fitting first Boulton Paul and finally Martin dorsal gun turrets. All the Commonwealth Baltimores served in the Mediterranean area, and the type saw heavy use in North Africa and Italy, providing a marked improvement over the Blenheim. Many ex-RAF machines were passed on to Britain's allies, including the Free French, Co-Belligerent Italians - the latter fighting in Yugoslavia and the Balkans.
The kitArriving in a typically attractive Classic Airframes top-opening box, the Baltimore comprises:
70 x grey styrene parts
10 x clear injected styrene parts
55 x resin parts
The styrene parts are an example of Eastern European limited-run moulding at its best - cleanly moulded, with hardly a trace of flash or sinkage. Sprue attachments are small, but there are some prominent ejector-pin marks to deal with before assembling the kit. The satin finished parts feature light and precisely engraved panel lines and raised rib tapes on the fabric-covered control surfaces. There's some release agent evident on some sprues, so a thorough wash in detergent is recommended, but otherwise, clean-up looks set to be quick and painless.
Test FitThere are no locating pins, but all the major airframe parts line up precisely with no signs of any warping. The wings show nice thin trailing edges straight from the box. Both the wings and tailplanes are butt-joins to the fuselage, the wings fitting over a shallow raised locating stub. This being a reasonably large model, some people may wish to add a simple spar for a bit of extra stability, but the fit is very positive as supplied with a tight joint and the dihedral sets neatly.
A few detailsThe interior is well appointed with a combination of styrene and resin parts. The lack of any etched parts to round things off is a little disappointing in a kit of this price and quality, but what is there is very nice. The resin seats are excellent; no harness, but three distinct styles including the radio operator's swivelling "arm-chair". The bomb-aimer's compartment is made up of seven parts, the pilot's cockpit a further eleven and ten more go into the rear compartment.
There's a choice of dorsal gun positions; a Martin turret or an open position with a single hand-operated Vickers K gun. Fitting the open gunner's position involves some careful surgery to remove a chunk of the fuselage and adding a new dorsal section.
The wheelwells include sidewalls, which are a little unusual in being folded to shape. The undercarriage itself comprises styrene legs and resin wheels. The legs are cleanly moulded, but a little basic. The mainwheels however are real beauties, with finely detailed hubs and treads, and weighted tyres. The tailwheel is extremely delicate. The instructions show it fitted mid-way though construction, but I'll definitely leave it until much later - it really is that frail.
The resin engines are made up from a separate crankcase and cylinders and should look really good with an ignition harness added. The propellers feature resin hubs and styrene blades.
The clear parts are bagged separately, but were still slightly scuffed in my kit - nothing a quick polish won't fix though. The transparencies are good quality - thin and distortion free, with crisply defined canopy frames. The only obvious omission are the landing lamps in the leading edge of each wing.
Instructions and PaintingThe assembly diagrams are well drawn and laid out clearly. Reflecting the kit's limited-run nature, each page carries a prominent reminder to check the fit of every part, but assembly looks quite straightforward. Most stages carry colour notes for the details.
The kit includes markings for four colour schemes:
1. s/n A6724, "Red P", 223 Sqn, RAF, 1942 in desert camouflage.
2. s/n FW416, "White A", 13 Sqn, RAF, again in a desert finsih.
3. s/n FW287, "Red A", A Flight, 55 Sqn, RAF, Cecina, Italy, mid- 1944 painted in an experimental overall black scheme.
4. s/n FA654, "Red X", Coastal Command, with white undersides and Extra Dark Sea Grey topsides.
The decals are printed by Cartograph and are very good indeed - thin and glossy, precisely in register, with minimal carrier-film and accurate colours.
ConclusionClassic Airframe's looks excellent. Like any limited-run kit, it's not suitable for beginners, but modellers with a bit of experience should have few problems. With well moulded plastic parts, high quality resin details and excellent decals for attractive, varied colour schemes, it's a classy production and promises to build into a fine and impressive model. Recommended.
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