1/48 GAF Canberra B.20, A84-238 of 2 Squadron RAAF 1970-80’s

by Jim Dick


Review Type

Build review





Contents and Media:









The RAAF Canberra

In 1950 the RAAF, driven by the need to replace its fleet of piston engine aircraft with new jet engine types, announced that an agreement had been reached for the Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) to licence build 48 English Electric B.5/47 jet bombers to replace its existing fleet of Australian built Avro Lincoln’s in the bomber role. The per aircraft cost of 400,000 pounds was 150,000 pounds more than if Australia had fully imported the aircraft, but balanced against this was the government’s desire to support our local aircraft industry.

Early on, the original decision to power Australian Canberra with the well developed ‘Tay’ jet engine which was planned to power the Hawker P1081 was changed to the ‘Avon’ engine which was being used in the British built Canberra as well as the Australian built CAC Sabre. This change had the effect of increasing the project cost from 8.35 million to 10.735 million pounds. It seems project costs blowouts are not a new thing.

These 48 aircraft, along with 7 British built examples would go on to serve the Australian public for 28 years, which at the time was a RAAF record for length of service (this record has now been surpassed by the F-111 fleet in 2001). (Wilson, 1989).


Building the Canberra

This was my first attempt at a compete vac-form model kit and only my 8th model built since getting back into model making after a little 15 year break. I would never have attempted this kit if my hand had not been forced by the news that both Classic Airframes and Airfix are planning to release an injection moulded Canberra in the gentlemen’s 1/48 scale.

As soon as I heard this news I grabbed the Aeroclub Canberra B.6 kit from out of my stash and made an assessment of what was required. A quick look revealed that the only thing needed to give this kit an Aussie flavour was new decals.

One phone call to High Planes Models ( and 4 days later I was holding their excellent RAAF GAF Canberra Mk.20 decals. (See the following link for a review of these decals by Dave Harvey:

There are two must read guides you should get before attempting this kit, especially if this is your first attempt at vacform.

The first is “Vacform Modelling – A new approach” by Mr John Adams himself and is available as a PDF file on the Aeroclub website. (

The second is an excellent Aeroclub Canberra build article done by Ted Taylor:
For the Australian modeller there are two changes to be done to the basic kit,

  • The first is to blank over the starboard side observation window and sand smooth as this window is not present on the GAF Canberra
  • The second is the relocation of a pilot probe which on the British aircraft is projecting out of the bomb-aimers window but on the GAF Canberra it is located under the chin of the aircraft.

A great technique I learnt in the process of assembling this kit that I have carried over into the building of my injection mould kits, was the sprinkling or rubbing of a pinch of bi-carb soda into joints that have been glued with super glue, this acts as an accelerant and helps to both strengthen the joint and fill the gap ready for sanding. The down side of this process is that if you wet the model the bi-carb soda reacts and creates a salt like crystallisation. To get past this it is important to wash the model in water, allow to dry and lightly re-sand the joint to remove the stain and then allow the kit to completely dry out over a week or two before painting the kit.


This for me was one of those wonderful builds which makes me realise why I enjoy making models so much, with every step of the build I grew more and more confident. I went from starting the kit with the attitude that if I messed it up I could always buy the injection moulded kit however by the time I had finished, I was of the opinion that an injection moulded version is just not necessary. I’ve even purchased the Aeroclub DH Sea Venom in 1/48 scale since finishing their Canberra. Now who makes decals for an Australian Navy Sea Venom in 1/48 scale?


Wilson, S., 1989, ‘The Canberra For Australia’, “Lincoln, Canberra & F-111 in Australian Service” pp 88-89

The images