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Big Daddy

Operation Manna Diorama

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Hi Folks,

It's been a while since I have been active on here but just been too busy with the restoration of Lanc FM212 in Windsor at the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association hangar.I have been asked to put together a diorama for one of our display areas, specifically one of Operation Manna. For those who don't know about it, this op began on April 29, 1945, as a humanitarian mission to save the people of Holland who were starving by the hundreds daily. The Germans had taken everything from them and, along with an extremely harsh winter, there was nothing left to live on. As the war was nearly over, the Red Cross and the RAF approached German authorities and asked them not to shoot down aircraft dropping food supplies. They were told to fly at 250' max altitude and follow a strict flight path. Two Lancasters from RAF 101 Sqn were sent on a test run to see if the Germans would keep their word. The lead Lancaster, SR-N2, known as Bad Penny, was flown by pilot Bob Upcott of Windsor, who years later worked on our restoration project. They successfully flew through the German guns and dropped their load of food supplies, radioing back to give the all clear. In the subsequent days, thousands of tons of food were dropped, saving thousands of lives.

Our plan is to depict the two Lancs coming into their target with bomb doors open and food parcels beginning to fall. We plan on having a large illustration in the background, people and one or two buildings around the drop zone. The lead Lancaster, Bad Penny, will be 1/48 scale and the second Lanc will be 1/72nd to create a forced perspective. I have both model kits and am ready to get started. What I am missing is some RAF aircrew in both scales. If anyone has any laying about that they will not need, I would be happy to buy them. Thanks!

This will be a long project and I will keep this thread updated with pics, etc. as we progress.

Cheers,

BD

Edited by Big Daddy

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Sorry I don't have any aircrew figures, but I'd like to offer a comment. Some years ago our IPMS chapter put together a forced perspective diorama for a local air museum. It turned out well, but I think we could have improved it in one area: As you might expect, we farmed out different scale aircraft to different modelers to build after which someone assembled them all into the diorama. Each modeler built his assigned kit without much if any consideration as to how all the completed models would look together. Regardless of scale, all were painted and detailed to the same high standard--fine if you're entering a single plane (of whatever scale) in a contest, but maybe not so great in a forced perspective diorama. Our diorama had perspective in the sense that larger scale models were in the foreground and smaller scale models were in the background, but it still looked a little odd in my opinion because the color intensity and level of detail was identical for all models.

If you haven't already, you might consider having the smaller, background plane painted in slightly lighter shades. Also, for the smaller plane I'd go easy on tiny stenciling decals and the like. Just an observation.

Good luck on your diorama!

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Thanks for your comments, David. That is a great point about the detail of the background aircraft. I actually am planning to use an old USAirfix kit for the 1/72 scale Lanc. It is a much less detailed kit than the Tamija 1/48 kit that will be in the foreground. Using lighter colours is also a great idea. I am building both aircraft kits so will be able to compare them side by side as the project progresses. Thanks again!

Don

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Some reference photos.

Bad Penny enroute to Holland in April 1945...

Bad-Penny-May-45_zps34469e7f.jpg

Pre-mission....

BadPennystatic_zps7801ad4d.jpg

Rear gunner's logbook entry....

Upcottbook1_zps66818ba8.jpg

Edited by Big Daddy

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These are the two kits I will be using in the diorama.

5A84A9BD-90AD-41BE-ADCD-6C3903D447E8_zpszyqfz1vm.jpg

18ee5699-3844-41ce-89b9-5d46cf75e0e8_zpse7a2730a.jpg

The USAirfix kit seems to be a pretty good one, with fairly good fit between the parts and comes with 5 crew members. It has moving turrets, ailerons and rudders. I will have to cut the bomb bay doors open though.

USAirfixLanc_zps1487329f.jpg

Edited by Big Daddy

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Hiya Big Daddy. Nice to see you back. Good luck on all your builds; these and the 1:1 version. I'll be following. I'm sorry but I can't help you with spare aircrew figures. How about dropping a note to Airfix and soliciting them for a few RAF figures? I know you're not using their kits but perhaps, being a company based in England, they might want to supply parts to a diorama that has such a historical significance to England and the RAF? Maybe a quick note of acknowledgement to Hornby / Airfix, when the diorama is complete, might be enough to persuade them to help?

Just a thought.

Take care.

Mike

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Hi Mike! Thanks for looking in. It's been a while and I have missed this place and the fine people like yourself who hang out here. Thanks for the suggestion too.

Cheers,

Don

Edited by Big Daddy

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Well, I have already had to make some alterations to the diorama plan to be historically accurate. After finding excerpts from several other of the crew's logbooks, including pilot Bob Upcott's, it turns out they were in fact flying a different Lancaster than their usual bird, SR-N2. Four of the five logs I have seen list SR-I as the Lanc flown on the mission. The logbook image I posted earlier is from the rear gunner's log. He is the only one to list SRN2 as the a/c they flew that day so I have to assume he made an error. So, more research is required to find the serial number of that aircraft as well as the markings on the other Lanc.

Upcott%20log_zpssne7kmcy.jpg

Here is the mission as described by pilot Bob Upcott in his own words.

"Bob Upcott: First ones to drop food over Holland

Early in the morning of the April 28th 1945, my crew and I were briefed together with another crew, that had an Australian pilot. Our Lancaster's were at that moment the only two bombers on Ludford Manga airfield, that didn't have secret radio-equipment installed. Normally our squadron would send bombers on their mission to fly with other squadrons that were on their way to targets over the continent. Our aircraft had an extra crew member on board, this crew member could speak, or at least understand German and while in the air with the other bombers on a mission, he would scan the frequencies with his radio-equipment and when he came across a frequency that was used by the Germans, he would send out a jam signal.

This time we were sent on a very different kind of mission. We learned at the briefing that our bombers had been filled with food, and that we were going to drop it over Holland. The ground personnel had pulled all the food in through the bomb-bay. They climbed through a small opening of the bomb doors and simply stacked the food on the bomb doors.

We learned that we were going to make a test-run. The Allied and German commanders had negotiated over a truce to allow the food drops for the last couple of days, but had not been able to reach an agreement. The Germans held off. The RAF decided that it didn't want to wait for the truce to be effective and called for a test-run, to test the German reactions to the low flying Lancaster's.

Our two bombers had to fly through a corridor that the Germans had prescribed. If our mission was a success and we could drop our food without being shot at, Operation Manna would be launched. The weather was really bad on that morning of the 28th. We weren't able to get our heavily loaded bombers off the ground and the mission was postponed. The clouds began to break early in the morning of the next day, April 29th and we took off. We crossed the Channel flying only on our instruments because it was still misty. When we came over the continent however the weather was clear there and we could now see what we were doing.

When we passed the Dutch coast we saw anti-aircraft guns that pointed their muzzles in our direction. We even saw tanks that tried to keep their masterpiece on us. We were looking right down a number of barrels. All the guns were still manned and they didn't have reason to do otherwise since the war was still going on at that time. We were very lucky that they all kept their fire. We were however hit by small arms fire. We didn't know this right away. When we returned from our mission, the ground personnel discovered that a 9 mm pistol had slung a small hole on the right side of the aircraft, near the tail.

We saw very few people on this first mission. Nobody knew that we were coming, so the civilians were not yet prepared to welcome us as they would be later. Then we saw the Racetrack Duindigt. This was our drop zone for the day. We could fly in directly, without circling around. The Australian pilot was on my port side, flying echelon port. I dropped first when we were over the racetrack, while the Australian dropped almost that same moment. I had waited a little bit to long with the drop, because I partly overshot the drop zone. Half of the load slammed into the bleachers on the end of the racecourse. I hadn't noticed that my load had dropped on the wrong place, until a Dutchman told me forty years later that he had seen the two Lancasters drop on that first day. He happened to be on the Racecourse that moment and he saw the first bomber dropping too late. That could only have been me.

The first part of the mission had been a success, now we only had to follow the corridor back to the North Sea and we were on our way home. The second part of the mission didn't provide any problems. As soon as we had left the continent and were back over the North Sea, our radio operator transmitted the message to our base that the mission had been successful. Around noon that day the BBC broadcast the news that operation Manna was going to be effective the same day. Two hundred Lancasters would appear over Holland at two o'clock that day to bring their food to the starving population of Holland. The Dutch population reacted en mass on this news. When the Bombers flew over the Dutch landscape they were waved at by many civilians."

Edited by Big Daddy

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Many thanks to master modeller Chuck540z3 for his donation of a 1/48 aircrew sprue from a Lancaster kit!!

And further thanks to Steve F from the Lancaster Facebook page who has supplied the correct serial numbers and markings for both Lancasters that flew on April 29, 1945, as well as the name of the Aussie pilot who flew the second Lanc.

"Details taken from the 101 Sqdn ORB of April 1945- The only two lancs and pilots to take part were F/S R F UPCOTT who flew NV579......P/O P G L Collett flew PB350.....Colletts service number was A424149......UPCOTT dropped 274 bags of food and COLLETT dropped 284."

Thanks again, gentlemen!

Don

Edit: Further research in my Lancaster productions records indicates the following..

"PB350 101Sq(SR-G), Damaged 20ct44 & 15Aug45, Scrap Aug46"

As there were no serials in the NV range I presume Upcott's aircraft was NX579..

"NX579 101,9,10ISqs; BCIS, Became 6305M at Stradishall"

Edited by Big Daddy

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My partner, Rob, who is building the ground scene of the diorama has done up a wireframe representation of the final product. Lots of work ahead of us!

Diorama_zps7ztmgecm.jpg

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I'm finally getting going on the 1/72 Lancaster build. The first thing I have to fix is this terrible looking FN50 Mid Upper Turret. It is not even close to the right shape.

MidUpper1_zpshhdg7och.jpg

So, out comes the saw and I chopped off the top to be replaced by this correct looking turret from a Hasegawa ASR Lancaster kit which I won't need.

MidUpper2_zpsswpehmdf.jpg

The guns in the USAirfix kit are crap as well so i will use everything from the Hasegawa kit.

MidUpper3_zpsup2i0y4t.jpg

After a little sanding everything fits together perfectly and I now have a rotating, correct-looking mid upper.

MidUpper4_zps4emnlybt.jpg

(Sorry for the fuzzy iPhone pics :unsure: )

Edited by Big Daddy

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Great project and good work so far.

If you don't mind a suggestion I think it would be better in the display to show bundles dropping.

The "picture" will grab attention before words will and I think that viewers will be drawn to look and read if they see something unusual---bombers dropping not-bombs.

A sub-title like "FOOD DROP" will augment that.

Did they fly at low enough level to show people on the ground---people wouldn't be outside running to the target if a bombing mission.

Whatever your choice, looking forward to the result and it will be a good excuse to cross the river to Windsor!

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Great project and good work so far.

If you don't mind a suggestion I think it would be better in the display to show bundles dropping.

The "picture" will grab attention before words will and I think that viewers will be drawn to look and read if they see something unusual---bombers dropping not-bombs.

A sub-title like "FOOD DROP" will augment that.

Did they fly at low enough level to show people on the ground---people wouldn't be outside running to the target if a bombing mission.

Whatever your choice, looking forward to the result and it will be a good excuse to cross the river to Windsor!

Rich, thanks for the suggestion. I am still debating whether to display the aircraft with bomb doors open and food parcels dropping or not. It poses quite a challenge as the bundless of food were placed loosely in the bomb bays with the doors partially opened. Both aircraft carried over 280 bags and when they opened the doors it fell out in a fairly wide dispersal pattern. In fact, Upcott's Lanc overshot the drop zone and hit the bleachers in the stadium, causing quite a mess and ruining much of the it I imagine. He said they were flying at around 50 feet when they dropped and, being the first two Lancs in the operation, there were not many, if any, people around, as no one knew they were coming. Subsequent food drops drew large crowds and, in fact, some people were struck and killed by falling bags because they were so anxious to get their share.

DC

Edited by Big Daddy

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Well. we are still plugging away at this project. Rob, my partner in crime, has made some great progress on the dio base. Here are some assorted pics of what he has accomplished so far. I love the last one. :thumbsup:

diobase4_zps41dvscwm.jpg

diobase2_zpshgrtew1h.jpg

diobase3_zpsg90g4txc.jpg

diobase5_zpsdhvsm8h9.jpg

diobase6_zpssoynnbcj.jpg

diobase1_zpsk6lt0sjf.jpg

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Nice work so far. Keep it up!!!

Thanks, SERNAK! I have been so busy at the hangar that I have failed to post pics or anything else on here for a while. We just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first sortie of Operation Manna on April 29th.

Here are a few images to commemorate the day...

foodparcels_zpsc4h8ou5e.jpg

fooddrop2_zpswjdetjpu.jpg

fooddrop1_zps2m7dupok.jpg

I have been steadily beavering away at the 1/72 Lanc model and will have some pics of my progress later today. Thanks for watching.

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The 1/72 Lanc is coming along. My initial impression of the USAirfix kit was pretty good but I have revised that. Many of the joints are a very bad fit and it has taken a lot of filler and sanding to make them acceptable.

IMG_0863_zpsg6b74ulm.jpg

Also, the lower half of the port aileron was missing so I had to build it up with about 5 layers of thin plasticard and then sand it down to get the correct shape.

IMG_0865_zpsxkkpuf6t.jpg

And I performed successful surgery on the bomb doors today. I had to cut them off as I will need the open area inside to attach the wires to hang the aircraft and balance it properly.

IMG_0861_zpssxftvstn.jpg

Next up...fill all the damn windows on the fuselage. The kit did not come with any clear plastic for them. :blink:

Edited by Big Daddy

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Big Daddy,

This is extremely detailed work. Inspiring stuff mate. Can't wait to see more.

Thanks, Andrew. Filling, sanding and cutting are always the most tedious parts of a build like this for me. Can't wait to get to the painting, weathering and detailing...IOW...the FUN part! :thumbsup:/>

Cheers,

Don

Edited by Big Daddy

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Hi Don, from the photos you have posted it looks like they were dropping the food supplies without parachutes!!! Do you know what kind of food supplies they were dropping? Not flour I hope!!!

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Hi Don, from the photos you have posted it looks like they were dropping the food supplies without parachutes!!! Do you know what kind of food supplies they were dropping? Not flour I hope!!!

Yes, you're right. They did not use parachutes and that is why they could not go above 300 feet or the gunny sacks (which were doubled- and tripled-up, would break). They did drop bags of flour as well as a lot of other food items, including canned foods.

DC

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Thanks for your reply DC!!!

It would have been a sight to see 200 Lancasters in the air!!!

Cheers

Sernak

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Geez, hard to believe it's been over a year since we started this project. We got bogged down for a while, but are still at it. I will try to get photos up later this week of our progress.

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