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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Matchbox AW Meteor NF11

Many years ago – around the type’s 50th anniversary of the first flight IIRC – Andrew Birkbeck and I decided to do a little theme display for the IPMS-Seattle annual show. We chose Meteors for the subject. And remember, this was a time period when there were no injected F8s, and all you had to work with were Airfix F3, the Frog F4, and the Matchbox nightfighters. We each took a few types and split up a Modeldecal sheet and set to work.

Now be advised that Andrew is a better, more meticulous modeller than I am, so my main concern was to not embarrass the side too badly. We did ok in the category (second, I think) and since he was getting out of 1:72 scale at the time I ended up with some of his models that had been in the competition. This formed the core of my present Meteor collection. The project has been much aided by all the Meteor models that have emerged since those days, especially MPM’s series and the Cyberhobby F3. No matter the brickbats that some of the CH Brit types have received, the Meteor was well detailed and simple to put together. Put next to my F1 and F3 from Airfix there is just no comparison.

So it comes as no surprise that I do occasionally dip into the Meteor well. The RAF squadron markings are covered in the Modeldecal series, all of which I have. MPM has done their models of the F4/8/9/10. And Xtrakit re-released the Matchbox mold, as did Revell. So there is no excuse.

But that doesn’t mean that the Matchbox kit is a flawless example of the molder’s art. It was a perfect examplar of their forte: excellent subject selection and somewhat murky execution, and over-engineered to allow for multiple variants. It would be a challenge to find a seam on the kit that wasn’t covered over in putty and Mr Surfaceer. But once you emerge from the trial of PSR, you can get on to the painting and the action that makes it all worthwhile: decaling.

I chose to do an NF11 variant. And I wanted squadron markings that I didn’t have on any other aircraft in the finished collection. I stumbled onto 256 Squadron, with their two-tone blue wave markings. And so that is what I used.

I should take this occasion to state my fondness for and gratitude to Dickie Ward, the decal artist and kingpin of Modeldecal. Even 20 years after the last original sheet was printed the markings are still fully usable, especially if stored with care. Being a big RAF fan, those Modeldecal sheets were like printed gold in the early days of my return to modelling in the mid 1980s. I gathered them up like candy, and actually used some as well! The only problem I’ve ever had philosophically is the decision to only print the unique markings on his sheets and leave the modeller to find roundels and serial numbers (which, admittedly were usually available on other Modeldecal sheets). Actually I didn’t usually have issues with there being no roundels, but serials were more of an issue. Lining up 5 little 8” (scale) single-cut decals while keeping them all properly spaced and in a straight line contributed to my personal collection of foul and blasphemous language that I find comes in handy when modelling.

This is completed model #405 (#30 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

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