1/48 Scratch Built Wellington Part 1

Model by Howard Hill (No Internet connection)

Pictures taken and Article written by Steve Bamford



Every so often, a modeller quietly comes along and does something that makes everyone shake their head in amazement.

You've seen Howard's work before.....notably his 1/32 cutaway Hurricane in various print magazines years ago.  This is his latest model....his skinless Wellington.



The Vickers Wellington was the main British bomber for the first two years of the war.  The Wellington was designed to meet the requirements of Air Ministry specification B.9/32. On June 15th 1936 the prototype flew for the first time. Put into production in 1936, the first production Wellington flew on December 23, 1937.  In 1939 the Wellington started to be delivered R.A.F. Squadrons. The Wellington remained in service as a land bomber for five and a half years, its initial mission was to attack the German warships at Wilhelmshafen on the day after war declared, its final raid was on Treviso in Northern Italy in April 1945.  During the last half of the war, it was replaced by the Avro Lancaster, Handley Page Halifax and Short Stirling.  The Wellington operated, during WW2, from bases in Great Britain, India, the Middle East, North Africa and Italy.  Due to heavy looses on daylight raids, the Wellington or "Wimpy" as it is also affectionately called, became a night bomber and from 1940 was also used as a long range bomber in North Africa.  In 1942 the Wellington also became a long range bomber for the Royal Air Force in India fighting the Japanese.  It was well used by Coastal Command as a U-Boat Hunter. The Wellington remained in service with the Royal Air Force until 1953.  The Vickers Wellington could sustain major damage and still fly, probably due to its construction of its geodesic structure and practical application of geodesic lines.  Designed by Sir Barnes Wallis  Its utility is proven by the large number built, 11,461


Technical Details

The aircraft was a twin engine bomber or general reconnaissance middle - wing cantilever monoplane with retractable landing gear.  One of the Wellington's claim's to fame was the unique geodetic construction of the fuselage.  Combined with a fabric covering, the manner of construction made it extremely strong while light, able to absorb a lot of punishment and easy to repair. The Mk IC was crewed by 6, a pilot, radio operator, navigator/bomb aimer, observer/nose gunner, tail gunner and waist gunner. It was powered by two 1050hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII engines that gave it  atop speed of 235 mph. It had a ceiling of 19,000 ft and a range of 1,805 miles and was armed with eight 0.303 machine guns and could carry 4,500 lbs of bombs.

The Model

The inspiration for Howard's cutaway models came from an cutaway Me 109 model that Howard saw in a print magazine.  That sparked him to many cutaway projects.  This Wellington is Howard's most ambitious project yet.  Once Howard had gathered enough reference material on the Wellington he was ready to begin.

Originally Howard planned to do his Wellington in 1/72.  First he took a 1/72 Airfix Wellington....actually 3 of the 1/72 Airfix Wellingtons and cut them up into sections to get proper cross sections for making a balsa wood master.  The master that was made from balsa wood was sized so it would fit inside the geodetic frame work. 

The balsa wood master to the right has since been cut into sections....but before it was cut up, it was used for making the outer sections of the model.  First Howard made the sides of the frame work...then the top and then the bottom.....each one separately and as each was completed it was carefully stored away as he built the next part of the fuselage frame work.  Once these were made he then turned his attention to making the bulkheads.....but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.  To make the frame work on the side, he first had to mark the layout for the diagonal frame members.  To get the lines for the layout around the curved side of the fuselage balsa wood master, he stuck a pin into the balsa wood at each end of the diagonal frame member and then wrapped a piece of thread around one pin and then ran it to the other pin and wrapped it around the other pin.  Howard laid out the diagonal grid work for the whole side with many pins and pieces of thread.  This gave him the diagonal grid work that goes underneath the horizontal frame members along the side of the fuselage....the threads were his reference point for proper placement of the plastic frame members. 

Then one by one, Howard would put the diagonal frame members on the balsa master and secure them with pins on each side of them.  The frame was made using Evergreen Strip Styrene and glued with regular tube glue.  Howard would cut up tiny pieces of strip styrene to go between the diagonal frame members going in the opposite diagonal direction.  All these tiny pieces had to be lined up perfectly so they looked like one long diagonal piece.....and remember....his first attempt at this was in 1/72!!!  

Click on images below to see larger images.


Here's the 1/72 fuselage with a spare bulkhead to the left by the nose.
The pictures above and to the right are pictures of the 1/72 Wellington fuselage as it looked when Howard gave up on it and decided to do the project in 1/48 instead.  The 1/72 plane never got past the fuselage stage.  Howard was getting a bit "buggy" from the small scale and as he got the fuselage complete he got a hold of some more reference material that revealed a "serious" flaw in the layout of the frame members.  The "serious" flaw had something to do with the diagonal frame members on the top section of the plane not lining up correctly with the diagonal side frame members on the side section to replicate the real 1/1 plane.  To the average viewer of this model, this "serious" flaw is impossible to spot and quite difficult to notice even after Howard shows you.  By this point Howard had had enough of doing this project in 1/72 and decided to start over and do his Wellington instead in 1/48.
Click on images below to see larger images.

So Howard began again.  Scaling up the 1/72 Airfix fuselage to 1/48 scale Howard once again made a balsa wood master to build his side, top and bottom sections on....one section at a time.  As he completed each section they were carefully stored away till he had them all built and final gluing to the bulkheads was ready to begin.  How did he make the bulkheads you ask?  Read on.....  

Once the sides and top and bottom section were individually made....and stored away one by one....it was time to cut up the balsa wood master and begin making the bulkheads.  Remember now....Howard did all these bulkheads etc in 1/72 scale first before he switched to making this model in 1/48.  First Howard would take some very thin aluminum (like you would get in Chinese food take out containers).  He covered one end of a section of the balsawood master with this sheet aluminum and bent it down the sides a couple of mm.  He flipped over this piece of aluminum to get a "jig" to lay the strip styrene inside of.  Howard made many bulkheads....the one to the right is a "flawed" one that he rejected and tossed into his spares box and made another one.  Yup...scary....it looks perfect doesn't it?....it sure looks perfect to me.  Once Howard had the "jig" for the particular bulkhead, he would lay strip styrene around the inside of the "jig".  This first piece would be glued end to end to form the outer perimeter of the bulkhead.  Then the tiny inner pieces would be precut and glued to the outer perimeter bulkhead piece.  Finally the inner perimeter piece would be cut and laid inside and glued end to end as well as being glued to the rest of the bulkhead.      
Click on images below to see larger images.

There were many bulkheads in this model of all different sizes, all along the fuselage.  You can see them in the picture below of the finished model.  One bulkhead between the cockpit and navigator's station has a doorway cut into it.

Here's a picture of the finished model in 1/48


Howard needs some reference material assistance.

Currently, Howard is working on a 1/24 Skinless Sea Fury.  He's collected plenty of reference material, but he is stuck on 2 critical areas.  

  • The first area is the ducting for the air intakes on the wing leading edge close to the wing root.  I believe there are oil coolers inside these intakes.  But is there more ducting behind these oil coolers....and if so...where does it go?  What about placement of the oil lines to and from these oil coolers?

  • The second area Howard needs info on is the hydraulic line system throughout the entire plane.  Basically Howard is looking for any info on the placement of any and all hydraulic lines throughout the entire plane.  His 1/32 Sea Fury will have no skin, at all, so all the details will be exposed. 

Two ARC regulars have sent in 2 articles for me to pass along to Howard.  One is the Sea Fury article from Scale Models International October 1983 and the other article is from "Scale Models" (unknown date).  Both of these articles have provided Howard with some badly needed information and he is greatly appreciative to the 2 gentlemen that sent these articles in.

What Howard could really use now, is the factory manuals that show this sort of detail....perhaps mechanics repair manuals?  If someone has access to such a  book...... a few select photocopies of key pictures would probably provide Howard with the detail he needs to complete his Sea Fury.

Howard is an older gent and doesn't own a computer......please send any e-mails or info to Steve Bamford and I will pass along the info to Howard.

Howard is willing to pay a reasonable amount for this reference material.

Please try to help.

I've seen his partly built 1/32 Skinless Sea Fury....it is as cool as the Wellington above. 



1/48 Scratch Built Skinless Wellington model Part 2 1/48 Scratch Built Skinless Wellington model Part 3
by Howard Hill (no Internet connection) by Howard Hill (no Internet connection

Photos and text by Steve Bamford and Howard Hill