12 September 2018
New tooling Oxford diecast twin beech depicts well-travelled plane
The actual aircraft modelled was built in 1952 for the Royal Canadian Air Force, construction number CA-203 was configured as a navigational trainer and given the model variant designation Expeditor 3NM – only 59 of these were built and all could be converted to a transport aircraft if needed. The RCAF demobbed the aircraft after 10 years and it was purchased by Capital Air Surveys for photo-mapping work and given the civilian registration mark CF-SUQ
Sold again in the early eighties, it came to Duxford, UK, in 1982 and re-registered as G-BKGM. Moving again in 1983 to North Weald in Essex, it received another registration – N5063N. It visited many UK and European airshows during the 1980s and ‘90s sporting a South-East Asia Command camouflage livery and bearing the markings for HB275.
During the late 1990s, current owner Phil Dunnington was hatching a plan to fly to remote parts of the world to allow both him and wife Allie to pilot their balloon in many different countries to add to his world record tally (currently 117!). In 2014 they came across this aircraft and began to negotiate the purchase. After checking that their lightweight balloon would fit inside and permit them to travel with a certain amount of luggage, the decision was made and the sale agreed. It took to the skies again in 2016, now sporting the current Bristol Airways livery and its original UK-based registration. Then in June 2017 the adventure began (from Bristol of course), flying a circuitous route via Iceland and Greenland to initially reach Canada having taken in some incredibly remote places along the way. The next part of the journey, in 2018, took the couple to the Bahamas, Cuba, Panama, Mexico and then onto the USA, landing at Carson City Airport on the very western edge of Nevada, where the aircraft currently resides awaiting its next adventure.
Oxford Diecast’s new tooling of this wonderful aircraft is definitely up to its usual high standards. The blue body colour is the correct shade plus the subtle Bristol Airways livery and registration are neatly finished. The model comes with a stand and optional parts to display the undercarriage either down or retracted. The overall body shape is excellent too although we could be really picky here and point out a few errors noticeable to the trained eye, starting with the nose as the cross section is a little too squared to be totally accurate. The directional antenna above the cockpit is about twice the size it should be and the pitot tube under the nose is not to scale either. There should also be two more straight antennae atop the fuselage to be totally accurate for this particular aircraft and the nose light, present on the real aeroplane, is not modelled here. My only other criticism would be that the ribbing to the body panels is too exaggerated and this is made worse by paint bleed but, to be honest, at this price point Oxford’s Beech certainly represents excellent value and for one of my favourite aircraft designs to finally be released in diecast I am more than happy to add it to my collection.