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James H

1:32 WWII Bristol Centaurus engine

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1:32 WWII Bristol Centaurus engine
Designed for Special Hobby Tempest Mk.II

Catalogue # 129-5129
Available from Special Hobby for €52,92

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The Centaurus was the final development of the Bristol Engine Company's series of sleeve valve radial aircraft engines. The Centaurus is an 18-cylinder, two-row design that eventually delivered over 3,000 hp (2,200 kW). The engine was introduced into service late in the Second World War and was one of the most powerful aircraft piston engines to see service. Like most Bristol Engines designs, the Centaurus was based on the mechanicals of an earlier design, in this case the "classic" 5.75 in (146 mm) piston from their original 1918 Jupiter. The Jupiter piston was in use in the contemporary 14-cylinder Hercules, which was being brought into production during the design of the Centaurus.

e Centaurus did not see service until near the end of the war, first appearing on the Vickers Warwick. Other wartime, or postwar, uses included the Bristol Brigand and Buckmaster, Hawker Tempest and Sea Fury and the Blackburn Firebrand and Beverley. The engine also saw post-war use in civilian airliners, including the ill-fated Bristol Brabazon. By the end of the war in Europe, around 2,500 examples of the Centaurus had been produced by Bristol. The most powerful version of the Centaurus was intended for the Blackburn Beverley transport aircraft. Using direct fuel injection, it achieved a remarkable 3,220 hp, but was never fitted. The Centaurus was produced in 34 variants, ranging from the 2,000 hp (1,490 kW) Centaurus I to the 2,405 hp (1,793 kW) Centaurus 663 for the Airspeed Ambassador airliner. The most powerful variants to enter service were the 2,625 hp (1,957 kW) Centaurus 170, 173, 660, 661 and 662.

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The kit

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Like the Tempest Mk.V/VI before it, CMK has catered to the recent Special Hobby Tempest Mk.II by producing a resin engine detail/upgrade set. Of course, the previous engine release was the Napier Sabre, but this time it’s the turn of the powerful Bristol Centaurus to get the full treatment. Firstly, these sets are designed for modellers with some experience in resin and the intricacies of what can only be described as super-detail, so please be aware of this before you purchase. This set is only designed for those that wish to display the actual engine, with cowls opened. That might sound pretty obvious, but it would be a waste of your resources to try to cram it all in and cowl it over when all you can see is a small portion between the cowl and spinner. As it stands, the kit already has a moulded engine face which can be suitably painted for that approach.

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CMK’s Bristol Centaurus is packaged into a small but sturdy corrugated cardboard box, with a product label affixed to the underside. Entry is via the topside tab which opens to reveal a clear plastic sleeve that’s been heat-sealed into four compartments which contain the various engine parts. These are roughly grouped so you can find things a little easier. There are a LOT of parts here too, with approximately one hundred components, all cast in light grey resin. I did note a little greasiness to some parts with mould-release agent, so these will need to be gently washed or popped in my ultrasonic bath for a couple of minutes. As there is a LOT of resin here and cutting that sleeve open does leave the parts vulnerable to loss, it’s probably a good idea to pop them into small zip-lock wallets.

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The major component around which everything else will be fitted is the crankcase with its integral firewall and details such as the exhaust outlet system. Detail is quite astonishing, with nicely shaped recesses into which the cylinders will fit. Also in this first compartment of parts is the keyed propeller shaft and a rather nice option that’s been made available to the modeller, and that is to model the reduction gear with or without the fairing. On a model with the front cowl and prop in position, you would use the part with the housing of course, but for a nice strip-down maintenance diorama, then you can use the part with all the reduction gear on show in all its glory. For the fairing gear option, you can choose to either add the forward hub detail in a propeller-off scenario, or just the plain part if prop in situ. Looks like CMK covered all scenarios here.

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Next up a series of exhaust manifold pipes will need to be removed from their casting blocks and any resin webs eliminated. This won’t be a quick job as you can see from the number of these in the photo, but you did sign up for high detail, right? Most of the material here will actually be removed and just a small pipe will be all that’s left, complete with unions, fastening clips etc. Excellent detail, all round. Just take your time. 

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No PE is supplied with this release, so things such as the engine frames, cowl latches and hinged arms etc. are made in resin and will need real care when removing and cleaning ready for assembly. 

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Of course, to fit this item to the kit will require some butchery of the mother styrene., and this is clearly shown in the instructions. You will need to check this against the resin cowl panels too, to ensure the removed material equates to the new resin. Two resin pieces are supplied for the edge of the nose ring cowl, and these can be used to also gauge the surgery required. 

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The cylinders themselves are absolutely stunning! Again, some resin webs will need removing. These are in situ to prevent breakage when the parts are removed from their moulds. I’ll leave the photos here to show how good they are. Exhaust plug-in holes are well-defined, and I can’t, at this moment, foresee any issues apart from the sheer complexity of the model itself. The completed engine is a very compact unit with many parts that need to fit tightly within its footprint.

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You will of course need new engine cowl panels to replace the plastic you cut from the kit, and to also display the internal details that they would have. Here we have four panels, with cleanly rendered details both internally and externally. External details are commensurate with the kit itself, so won’t look out of place. 

 

Instructions
A series of folded instruction sheets detail modification of the kit and assembly/fitting of the engine, over a series of twelve constructional sequences, with some use of colour to highlight key areas. Whilst no paint codes are given, standard colour names are supplied, and these are referenced throughout construction. 

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Conclusion
Another seriously nice release to enhance the excellent Tempest Mk.II kit from Special Hobby. I’m struggling to think of anything else that they need to cover now with the many detail sets now available. This set really is quite something and will doubtless build up into an accurate representation of this powerful engine, and provide a real focal point for the brutal-looking Tempest II. Whilst this is no beginner’s set, it would lend itself to those with some previous resin experience and the nerve to slice apart the host kit. In all, a real must havefor Tempest fans who like large scale detail.

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My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the sample reviewed here. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article. 

 

 

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