Kit ref: 61053
Feature Article by Jonathan Burns
Tamiya’s Beaufighter in Battle of Britain markings
Geoff once said to me of Tamiya’s Beaufighter, “you can almost build it in a weekend” and, as a kit that I enjoyed very much when I first made one 12 years ago, I thought I’d give this a try. Other commitments meant I didn’t quite manage it in a weekend, but the build time was certainly very quick and I’d recommend it to anyone who has got bogged down in a complicated project, or is in need of a quick build for inspiration.
I decided to backdate the model to a Mark 1 day fighter which was just entering service in the Battle of Britain with 25 Squadron (“ZK” codes) during August 1940 and served alongside their Bristol Blenheims. The main difference between this mark and the Tamiya kit’s Mark VI is the use of smaller, horizontal tailplanes, a set of which is made by Heritage Aviation. Aeromaster sheet (Whispering Death Part 1, number 48-340) provided the markings.
A little bit of background to the Beaufighter
The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter, often referred to as simply the “Beau”, was a versatile, multi-role aircraft developed during the Second World War, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the UK. It was originally conceived as a heavy fighter variant of the Bristol Beaufort bomber: “Beaufighter” is a portmanteau of “Beaufort” and “fighter”. In service, the Beaufighter was used initially as a night fighter and later mainly as a maritime strike/ground attack role. It also replaced the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber.
Variants built in Australia by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) were sometimes by the name DAP Beaufighter.
For reference I used the old but good Ducimus “Camouflage and Markings” book number 9 on the Bristol Beaufighter, Modeller’s data file number 6 and two books on RAF camouflage around the time of the Battle of Britain: both by Paul Lucas and a few other publications. Finally, and this is my recommendation for a good day out, a visit to the Beaufighter in the RAF Museum, Hendon is always a great way of appreciating the sheer brutal strength of the aircraft, plus there’s a nice café next to it for refreshment!
I have only been able to find one picture of a 25 squadron Beaufighter in this colour scheme and markings, which is the well-known one owned by the RAF Museum. It shows a Beaufighter with codes “ZK” and an indistinct serial revving up its engines in front of a group of Blenheim 1s.
- Building Tamiya’s Bristol Beaufighter by Steve A Evans, ADH Publishing, 2007
- Modeller’s Datafile number 6, Bristol Beaufighter, SAM Publications, 2002
- Camouflage and Markings, RAF Northern Europe 1939-45, Bristol Beaufighter number 9, Ducimus Books
- Britain Alone: Paul Lucas, The Aviation Workshop
- Battle for Britain, Guideline Publications, Paul Lucas
- Aircraft of the Aces Number 65, Beaufighter Aces of World War 2, Osprey Publications, 2005
- Profile 137, the Bristol Beaufighter I and II, Profile Publications, 1971
- Beaufighter – a Flypast Special, Key Publishing, 2012
This photo appears in most books with completely different captions, with ascribed dates ranging from August 1940 to March 1941, and serials described as R2059 or R2069, so I think nobody really knows. The best reproduction of this photograph is in the Flypast Special: Beaufighter book. There are profiles of ZK-A featuring in many books but I have never seen an actual photo of the real ZK-A to confirm what it looked like, therefore what follows is I suppose conjecture!