Author Topic: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber  (Read 1834 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« on: September 19, 2015, 09:11:19 PM »
The Marmite-Vegimite trade war of 1949 was devastating for Australia. As the main power in VEGANZ (the Vegemite Exporting Group Australia/New Zealand), the Land Down Under would suffer the bulk of world-wide wrath in the form of an international embargo. This meant that the Royal Australian Air Force would never fly the bomber namesake of their beautiful capital, the Canberra.



Realizing revenge is a dish best served cold, the Government Aircraft Factory employed that famous ingenuity Australians are known for. There were still plenty of good, if vintage, B-25 Mitchell airframes around that could be had for next to nothing which would become the basis for this revolutionary GAF-made jet attack bomber. Being a B-25 Mitchell updated to Canberra specs and then some, the prototype was jokingly referred to as the Mitch Berra and the name stuck.



The aircraft was powered by two indigenously produced jet engines and featured a redesigned tail to accommodate the efflux. The prototype reached a top speed of 603 mph during testing and was armed with four forward-firing 20 mm canonon. While part of the bomb bay had to be sacrificed for the landing gear, it could still carry over 1500 lbs of ordnance internally in an innovative modular rotary delivery system.





The powerful engines were manufactured at a top-secret GAF facility in Cobber Pedy. Finished engines were then trucked down the Stuart Highway to Port Augusta and from there could be shipped to the main GAF assembly plant just outside of Yamba.



One little-known bit of Mitch-Berra trivia is that the author & aeronautical engineer Nevile Shute designed the Secondary Tail Skid, indeed one of the aircraft's most critical components. This would inspire Shute's award-winning follow-on to On the Beach aptly titled On the Skids.



The Mitch Berra entered service with the RAAF's 4167th Squadron (Attack) based at Gunn Point near Darwin. Eventually all 24 RAAF attack squadrons would be equipped with the type which was universally beloved by those fortunate enough to fly and service it.



The Aussie attack jet never saw actual combat, the closest it came was flying alert patrols during the Christmas Island Incidents which ironically began on Boxing Day, 1965.



An ELINT/recon version of the Mitch Berra called the Yogi Berra was planned, but this was cancelled and the only Australian-built jet attack bomber was eventually replaced in service by more modern types imported after international sanctions eased in 1967.



The last Mitch Berra was scrapped in 1981 after finishing its life as an instructional airframe at the RAAF introductory mechanics' school & reformatory at Amaroo. All that exists of the Mitch Berra today is this Dinky Planes child's toy and the fond memories of those who flew this fantastic aircraft.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 09:49:53 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 09:32:56 PM »
Way back when, I acquired a nice pile of 1/144 B-25s:



While this kit is the very definition of simple, it's perfect fodder for being bashed into something completely different. I started by filling in the side gun positions and adding the tail feathers from a 1/72 T-33, canting the horiz. stabs. with a nice upward dihedral to make way for the jet exhaust.



I decided to keep the B-25 wings and engine pods. Converting them to jets took adding the rear pieces of 1/72 Amerika bomber engines and the flared exhausts from 1/144 707 jets. Later, I sanded down what were now the front intakes to make them smooth and hopefully resembling somewhat the famous Canberra engines.





A new nose seemed in order and the left-over tip from a 1/72 drop-tank was a pretty good fit. Two halves of a spare 1/72 bomb from a Mosquito were used for landing gear sponsons. I also added a winky little blister stolen from a small, box-scale B-36 and a swept antenna scratched from card. Finally, a 1/144 pointy prop spinner was called into service as a tail cone.



Building this baby took no time at all, but it would be a while before it hit the paint shop.



The model was brush-painted by hand in acrylics, Model Masters Light Sea Gray and Polly Scale Olive Drab on the uppers and Model Masters Aircraft Interior Black on the undersides.





Decals were a mix from spares. Weaver generously sent me those cool 'roos a while back.





I hope you enjoyed my Mitch-Berra and learning a little about the forgotten history of the RAAF.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 09:57:13 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Camthalion

  • The man has done a pink tank...need we say more?!
Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2015, 10:38:45 PM »
Nice one, both model and back story.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2015, 11:05:31 PM »
Another excellent job, love your work Brian.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2015, 11:11:47 PM »
Gorgeous work and inspired back-story.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2015, 11:32:41 PM »
That new tail makes it look kind of like a little Neptune.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2015, 11:33:14 AM »
I love it! Brilliant concept and execution Brian! I want one! And I love the backstory...I better get a jar each of Marmite and Vegemite for your next birthday.

I agree with Logan, the tail is very Neptune.
"He's more real-world now than whif..."

Offline jcf

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2015, 11:43:18 AM »
Nooice. Did Shute design the all important skid via teletype from the UK, or was he on holiday at Bondi?
"Evil our grandsires were, our fathers worse;
And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
Horace, 65BC - 8BC. Marsh translation.

Offline TurboCoupeTurbo

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Re: 1/144 Aussie "Mitch-Berra" jet bomber
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2015, 02:36:49 PM »
Excellent work. My favorite of the three.