Designed by R.K. Pierson in the mid-1930s, the Vickers Wellington made quite an extensive career as a night-bomber during the yearly years of the Second World War, before giving way to newer, heavier, types such as the Avro Lancaster. After that, the Wellington continued to serve in other duties such as flying anti-submarine missions in the Coastal Command.
Perhaps somewhat anachronistically, an outer skin of doped linen was chosen for the Wellington, as in the mid-thirties the monocoque construction was quickly becoming more and more popular in aircraft design. The Wellington made up for that by having a geodetic fuselage construction consisting of spirally crossing aluminium alloy channel-beams forming a rigid but lightweight framework capable of withstanding considerable damage.
Between its introduction in the late-1930s and the last aircraft rolling off the production line in October 1945, the Wellington was produced in large numbers, the number of all variants built totalling 11461. As performance requirements increased and operational roles varied, numerous variants were designed and produced, ranging from bombers and Coastal Command types to trainer and transports. Numerous prototypes and experimental variants were also produced, though in limited quantities.
Interestingly, the Wellington participated (along with the Bristol Blenheim) on the very first bombing raid conducted by the RAF in the war and was also the only British bomber aircraft type to be built throughout the war. The last Wellingtons were retired from service as late as 1953, by then being flown as trainers by the RAF.
MPM's kit of the Merlin-powered Mk.II comes packed in a sturdy, lid-and-tray type box, sporting very impressive box art depicting a pair of Wellingtons on a night sortie, in the moment of dropping their payload over enemy territory. Inside in a resealable (Eduard-style) bag are six sprues of light grey styrene, two clear sprues packed in a separate bag, two resin parts in a small zip-lock bag, assembly instructions, painting & marking sheet printed in colour, and a decal sheet with markings for four aircraft.
Those having dealt with MPM's other Wellington variants will find most of the parts familiar, as the kit uses a modular approach: throwing in new parts to create different variants while utilizing the same moulds as much as possible. Unlike some manufacturers, like Hasegawa for example, who's kits tend to include numerous small sprues containing just the required parts for the variant in question, MPM uses complete sprues here. The kit contains all the parts from the earlier mk.IC kit, one clear and one grey sprue from the mk.III, and a single new sprue to make the Merlin-engined mk.II. As one can guess, this results in a healthy pile of unused bits for the spare parts box.
Starting from the mk.IC components, sprues A and B contain the fuselage, wings, and early type stabilisers. Sprues D and E (the latter labelled as C in the instructions to avoid confusion with the single sprue from the mk.III kit) hold all the smaller parts, interior and exterior alike, with the Bristol Pegasus engines, cowlings, and propellers left unused. Sprue C is from the mk.III kit and contains later-style enlarged stabilisers, Bristol Hercules engines, engine cowling rear pieces, two pairs of propellers, and various other parts. Only the stabilisers will be used from this sprue. The final grey styrene sprue, labelled Z, carries parts specific to the mk.II: the Merlin engine cowlings, intake scoops, exhaust pipes, as well as new propellers and spinners.
The larger of the two clear sprues, labelled E, contains the majority of clear parts: the cockpit canopy, turret domes and the long fuselage windows. The second, smaller clear sprue has only four parts: two triangularish rear fuselage windows, and the two halves of a four-gun Frazer-Nash gun turret dome (unused in this kit).
Rounding out the list of kit parts are the two resin radiator faces for the Merlin engines.
Taking a closer look
Moulded in light grey styrene, the plastic parts are typical modern MPM mouldings, displaying crisp detailing and minimal flash. Sprue connectors are also nicely thin, comparable to those of most mainstream manufacturers. Part numbers are moulded to the sprues, unlike most limited run kits. Although there are almost no ejector pin marks on the smaller parts, there are some raised ejector nodes and recessed pin marks on the insides of the wing and fuselage halves, some on somewhat tricky places in the latter. This can hardly be blamed on the manufacturer though, as they are the almost inevitable evils of injection moulding. Sink marks are certainly not an issue with this kit: I could only find two, both very minor. The first one found on top of the pilot seat's leg will be covered by the seat, and the second on the side of one of the cowling intake scoops is minor and easily fixed.
Scale model representations of the fabric-over-frame construction of the Wellington have varied from completely smooth surface to quite heavy sagging effect. The MPM kit seems to sit nicely in the middle, with subtly raised ribs and geodetic frame pattern, as well as finely scribed recessed panel lines. The geodetic frame pattern is also moulded to the whole length of the inside surfaces of the fuselage halves. The part of the framing overlapping the long side windows is not provided either on the fuselage halves or the clear parts. Most builders will probably want to replicate them with either styrene strips or pieces of painted tape. The holes for the long side windows are moulded open, with either styrene blanking plates or clear window parts used, depending on the variant (the latter in this case). Opening the holes for the rear fuselage windows is left for the modeller, with the outline of the window moulded to each fuselage half. Needless to say, careful cutting and shaping will be needed in fitting these windows to ensure the best fit with minimal filling required.
Interior detailing consists of the cockpit and the two turrets in the front and rear of the aircraft. Waist guns are also provided but there is no other detailing for the fuselage interior. The cockpit is quite well detailed for the scale. The pilot's workspace has a seat, control column and an instrument panel with raised details and blank gauges. The bombardier's section has a separately moulded bombsight among other details. There are also numerous boxes to be glued to the fuselage sidewalls. The bomb bay doors are moulded closed and there is no bomb bay interior provided. The defensive turrets' shells are nicely detailed, but come in four separate pieces. Careful fitting and protecting the clear panes with masking tape when gluing is advised in order to avoid smudges and glue stains. Inside the turrets are fitted two machine guns and their mounts.
Wings and stabilisers are assembled from the usual upper and lower halves and feature locating pins. All control surfaces are moulded in place. The wings have slots that attach to corresponding slots in the fuselage. While the original stabilisers used in the mk.I kit(s) had locator tabs as well, the newer enlarged ones used in this kit don't, for some reason left unexplained, leaving the slots in the fuselage unused. With no other locator aids provided, attaching the stabilisers will require care. Pinning the joints wouldn't probably hurt either.
The list of resin parts for this kit is short: just two radiator faces for the engine nacelles. Detail is good as usual with MPM, with well-defined mesh detail. Though well cast with no bubbles or other surface irregularities, the divider plate in the second part in my sample had a slight moulding flaw in the form of a small hole. If deemed visible in the finished kit, the divider should be easy to replace with styrene sheet.
Instructions are printed in black and white on two A4 size sheet folded in half, making an eight-page A5 size booklet. There is a brief subject history provided in both English and Czech, followed by sprue maps and instruction symbols explained. The step-by-step assembly instructions don't have colours of individual components pointed out. Instead, colours of various interior components are listed, again both in English and Czech.
The four-page painting and marking guide is printed in colour. All of the four marking options are for aircraft painted in a pattern of dark green, dark earth and night black undersides.
The decal sheet printed by Aviprint has markings for four aircraft. Printing quality is top-notch and all colours appear to be in register. Carrier film is thin and excess around markings is kept to a minimum. Based on my previous experiences with Aviprint decals, I expect these to snuggle down well on a glossy surface and respond positively to setting solutions.
Cleanly moulded and crisply detailed, MPM's Wellington mk.II should make quite a detailed and impressively sized model even right out of the box, though most builders will probably want to add some additional details, like installing seatbelts to the cockpit and drilling out the gun barrels and intake scoops, etc.
Even though construction looks straightforward and conventional, this kit would best suited to moderately experienced modellers with a few kits under their belt already, mostly due to its semi-limited run nature, careful cutting and fitting required with the fuselage side windows, complex turret transparencies, and the stabilizers lacking locator tabs.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Nice mouldings, crisp detailing, restrained fabric surface representation, good decals, lots of spare parts, single-piece props.Lows: Some troublesome ejector marks, stabilizers lack locator tabs, 4-part turret domes look Tricky to assemble, no photo-etched parts, no geodetic frame overlapping fuselage windows.Verdict: MPM's Wellington Mk.II should make quite a detailed and impressively sized model even right out of the box, though this kit would best suited to moderately experienced modellers.