Friday, October 30, 2009


Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb used in the World War II raid against a series of enemy dams, died 30 years ago today, so it’s a fitting moment to see how kit makers have treated the subject. The video shows a longish clip from the 1955 movie of that raid, The Dam Busters.

A new Dambusters release from Airfix should certainly be on the ‘maybe treat myself’ list as, although it’s marked as a gift set that includes paints, cement and brushes - and indeed as a Level 2 (8 years-old and up) product - the draw is really the potential display-factor. The kit comes complete with a fairly realistic German dam, with a 1:72 scale Avro Lancaster flying over the top. Strictly speaking, the dam is somewhat undersized but even so, the combo will make a fine talking piece, especially if side-lit by a small desk lamp in a darkened room. It’ll look impressive, as the dam measures some 432 mm (17 in) across.

The Lancaster itself is a fair representation of the real thing, though the 1:72 scale Revell kit is more accurate and cheaper - but you don’t get a dam in the box. Tamiya’s big 1:48 Dambuster is packed with detail, but is pricey, and has a few inaccuracies too. So there’s no one perfect kit, though there are aftermarket conversions available, mostly aimed at improving the Airfix kit. Your choice!

A brief afterword on packaging - congrats to Airfix on the steadily improving look and feel of its kit boxes. The latest ones show that there are people who seem to really care about design and marketing.

The pictures above show:
1 Airfix Dambusters kit.
2 Barnes Wallis.

Barnes Wallis picture, courtesy IWM/PD-BritishGov.

The Airfix Dambusters gift set is available from Amazon here.

Revell and Tamiya Dambuster Lancs are available here.