Hurricane updates

So, you know how it is. You’ve spent your time on a project with multiple components, getting better all the time, then you look back at earlier attempts and think, well, OK but is it really good enough? And so it came to pass that I replaced two earlier Hawker Sea Hurricanes with newer, and I think better, incarnations.

The first is replacing a bit of an error on my part. The mistake was to make an assumption. See, I thought that when the brave officers and airmen of 835NAS aboard HMS Nairana decided to paint all their Sea Hurricanes white, that the whole of the Mediterranean command had done the same. But they didn’t. So I needed to replace my erstwhile white Sea Hurricane IIc with a camouflaged one.

But why stop at changing colours? I decided to add a bit of variety by doing a removed panel and allowing a peek at the Merlin engine that lay beneath. CMK do a nice set of this, which also includes a more detailed undercarriage bay if you wish to replace it as well. But I didn’t. So I got a couple of Sea Hurricane kits from Revell and started the conversion.

First thing was to jazz up the interior slightly as this was going to be an open cockpit model. I added some fuselage structure from 0.75mm rods and a trim wheel scavenged form some photo-etch or other. I also pinched the straps from another photo etch sheet (I think a Buccaneer) which although not period look OK at this scale. I also cut out the emergency panel on the starboard side and hinged it to the body, and added some structures from the inside of a Seafire 47 photo etch, carefully bent into shape. Looks convincing from a distance, anyway.

Then the original engine panel was cut away and the engine and supports fitted. The replacement panel was painted up and would eventually sit on the port wing root. Probably not what the engineering officer would like, but needs must.

With a standard temperate north colour scheme of extra dark sea grey and dark slate grey, it look rather fetching and not a little menacing with the big barrels of the 20mm cannon sticking out the front.

So, the the other one – I had a Hurricane I had converted to a Sea Hurricane, rather badly. The set of decals I got for my Sea Hurricane I included a set for a IIb from Operation “Pedestal”. With good timing and good fortune, I was able to get a Hurricane IIb and another Sea Hurricane, both Revell kits, for an absolute song on Ebay. So I just swapped the “sea’ bits from the latter into the former and presto! A Sea Hurricane IIb with long-range tanks fitted.

This was fun to paint in the earlier dark green/ocean grey rig, making it quite an attractive looking aircraft with the twelve gun ports in red and the yellow tail flash.

So there we have it, two new Sea Hurricanes. One last big thing to do… watch this space…

Ancestral roots of a squadron

In 1923, it was decided to permanently attach aircraft from the RAF to the aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy. Previously, aircraft from RAF squadrons had been used at sea – for example, in 1922 Gloster Nightjars of 203 Squadron were embarked on HMS Argus and were shipped to the Dardanelles during the Chanak Crisis. So it was that in April, 402 (Fleet Fighter) Flight was formed at RAF Netheravon, three months later 404 (Fleet Fighter) Flight was established. These were merged in 1933 to form 800 Naval Air Squadron.

Anyway, when the Fleet Fighter Flights were mustered some Gloster Nightjars were assigned to the embryonic marine units. They were very soon replaced with the Parnall Plover and the rather better and more numerous Fairey Flycatcher. But the Nightjar served briefly under the colours of 404 (Fleet Fighter) Flight, so it must be made.

There was a reluctance on my part to do it. First, the only kit of the Nightjar is the vanishingly rare Blue Rider edition from the late 1980s. Second, that kit is a vac form, and I have never done one of those. However, eventually I bit the proverbial bullet and found a Gloster Nighthawk (from which the Nightjar evolved) also from Blue Rider.

The kit itself is, let’s say, basic. Vacform is made by heating a sheet of rigid polystyrene (the stuff injection moulded kits are made from) then placing the pliable material over a mould and pulling it into place using a vacuum. The kit parts stand out in relief. More detailed parts, such as the engine, wheels and propeller, are cast in white metal and a few bits etched in brass.

The first issue is cutting the parts from the plastic sheet. This requires much attention. If you just cut around the edges, you also have an extra thickness of plastic left on the part, so you have to sand everything down to the right thickness. This is OK on the fuselage, but on the tailplane it is a pain and needs very careful work.

Too much and you lose part of the tail, too little and it doesn’t look thin enough. All the cockpit parts are here too – including the tiny instrument panel and the seat base. The seat back is on the photo etch, as its the control column.

The two halves of the fuselage are joined together using little bits of plastic sheet as guides. Jut a little trick I picked up on t’internet!

Plenty of tape to hold it in place and beads of normal polystyrene cement and the fuselage is built. There is a bit of filling and sanding needed, but really not as much as I had imagined.

The wings come out of the sheet flat, but in reality they had a slight dihedral.

The cure was to clamp them in this home-made jig, saw the joint where the dihedral starts (outboard of the central fuel tank) then apply more poly cement. This softens the joint first, allowing the wings to straighten, but eventually sets the joint at the right angle.

The last piece of the puzzle was to replace then engine and propeller. The kit comes as the Nighthawk VI with a 14-cylinder Armstrong-Siddeley Jaguar II radial engine. This drives a big prop, way too big for the Nightjar. The latter used a 9-cylinder Bentley BR.2 rotary engine – about half the size of the Jaguar – with a more modest propeller.

Finding this proved a bit of an issue, until I came across the excellent Joe’s Models web site in the USA. Joe has collected a huge array of out-of-production bits made by companies such as Aeroclub that have sadly gone to the wall. A few emails back and forth and a lovely Bentley BR.2 engine and sensible propeller arrived in the post. I also got Joe to send me a couple of Vickers guns to add as armament, the kit having no weapons. $20 the lot including postage. Cheers, Joe!

With the engine in place I could attach the photo etch undercarriage pieces and the cast wheels. Coming together now, especially with some decals applied. I always feel this starts to bring a ‘plane to life…

The next bit was another problem. Fitting the upper wing. The kit doesn’t include the struts. The instructions, an exercise in brevity, simply says “Cut strut lengths from Contrail strut.” OK, will do. Where do I get Contrail strut? Nowhere, it appears, as they also disappeared a while back. But there is a company called Evergreen that makes polystyrene sheet, rods, tubing and so on and that are easy to source on eBay. Bits of 0.5mm x 1.5mm strip do the job. Of course, the Nightjar needs eight struts. Oh, you also need some smaller strips to do the cabane struts that connect the fuselage to the upper wing.

Then we start on the rigging. All of it. Essentially a cross of wires in each empty bay – 12 in total. And the control lines.

But then, before you know it and having taken only the three weeks, it is done.

Folding a Seafire

You’d have thought that, being a photographer reasonably competent with things digital that I would have learnt by now. You take pictures, you put them on your system and back them up. I neglected to do step 2 from the above, so have no production photos from this build. Which is a pity, because it is a beauty.

The Seafire FR.47 was the last in the line of navalised Spitfires. It wasn’t the first to have folding wings, that started with the Mk.III and continued with the Mk.XV and Mk.XVII. The FR.47 was the only Seafire to have powered wing folding, previously the wings were folded manually by a reasonably large crew.

The other thing about this build was the conversion to an ‘open engine’, with the covers off as if it were being serviced. The conversion is by CMR and comprises the RR Griffon engine, mountings, cover panels and bulkhead. I also got a set of ladders from Brengun.

The wing fold was made by cutting along the relevant lines on the kit and blanking off the ends with bits taken from a surplus Fairey Fulmar wing fold photo etch set and sanded to size. The open side door was part of the photo etch that came with the kit.

So that is pretty much all I can tell you. I wish I could find the photos, I really do, as they were quite instructive. Ah well.

So, there is just one more kit to go. One more model to complete the entire project. The first aircraft to carry the colours of 800NAS or its predecessors, the Gloster Nightjar. And it is the first vac form kit I’ve ever made…

2 into 1 goes twice…

Some considerable time ago I made a kit of the Buccaneer S.1 made by Airfix some time in the 1970s. It was, in essence, a toy aeroplane. I don’t mean any disrespect to Airfix in this, it was of its day and fit the market at the time. But for serious modelling it is still a bit off. Mind you, if you want a kit of the NA.39 prototype before the modifications that turned it into the Buccaneer, well there are precious few options.

So, wanting to do a decent S.1 Buccaneer I got hold of a resin kit. I really don’t like resin kits. This one came with a chunk of rear fuselage broken off and neither direct contact with the manufacturer or the intercession of the retailer provided a replacement. So I was stuck with the prospect of a biggish repair job.

But then, I heard that the enterprising people at Aerocraft Models make a conversion kit, allowing an S.1 to be made from the excellent Airfix Buccaneer S.2. So, I ordered it, actually I ordered two as I wanted a wing folded S.1 as well as one “ready to fly”, but kept the resin kit for some useful details…

The aircraft kit comes in two packages. One has the smaller intakes and a bit of the leading edge of the wing with an extra cooling vent. It also includes the front compressor blades of the Gyron Junior engines and two supporting pieces as we are going to hack off a chunk of fuselage.

The second contains smaller exhaust plates for the back end and smoother airbrake skins Options for open or closed airbrakes). The S.2 gained quite a few lumps and bumps and extra panels, so these bring it back to the original spec.

For the open canopy, wing-folded version, I got a cockpit detail set from Eduard. This includes all kinds of bits and pieces , but frankly some of them are just potty. I mean, am I really going to put in throttle levers at this size that I can’t see when the kit is on my shelf. Am I? Well, am I???

Anyway, I used the instrument panels and controls from the Eduard set but used the ejection seats and straps from the resin kit as they seemed much better. The office looks quite good as a result.

So, on to the actual build. The big bit is cutting out the existing inlets and leading edge and putting in the new one.

It is just a case of marking it out and hacking away with a small saw. The Aircraft web site has full instructions on all this and was very useful.

The gaping sides left are where the two support slabs go, they are marked “P” and “S” as they have a slight curve to them to follow the body shape so are not interchangeable side to side.

The slabs do create a really useful space in which to stuff weights the keep the model nose-heavy. This is because I want the nose used for something else, at least on the wing-folded model. You’ll also notice there has been some sanding around the intake and one of the inspection panels under the cockpit.

It is also necessary to cut the intake compressors off from one of the internal support pieces as they don’t fit inside the new inlets.

So, with all that done you can insert the new intakes. I’m not terribly good at all this modification lark, I will be honest, so my ones probably have needed much more filler that one made by a competent modeller. But they do fit and, with sanding, they look pretty bloody good I think.

The other modification requiring a bit of a hack is the smaller exhaust plates needed by the Gyron Junior. These are quite straightforward to insert.

The new airbrakes t the tail are a simple swap out for the kit parts and fit absolutely like a glove.

So, on to the next stage. I mentioned I kept a few other resin bits for extra messing about. Well, the main one was that the resin kit had a folding nosecone option. The Buccaneer was designed to fit British aircraft carriers and they had lifts of a set size to take the aircraft to and from from flight deck to hangar deck. The Buccaneer was too big for the lift in normal flying configuration, so in addition to the usual folding wings, Blackburn made sure that the airbrakes could be opened fully and the nose cone with its electronics fit and refuelling probe could also fold back. Doing all of this allowed the Bucc to fit the lifts. Clever.

The first step was to take off the nose from one kit. We have to remember to cut out a small bit for the hinge to go. The resin kit has a one-piece nose cone and a plug for the main part of the fuselage. These were really easy to fit to the Airfix kit.

The hinge piece itself was missing from the resin kit, so I just cut a bit of plastic card to size. The whole thing was glued up using two-part epoxy for strength, then the interior painted with yellow zinc chromate primer.

The kit was finished with practice 1000lb bombs and rocket launchers, a few remove-before-flight tags and open airbrakes.

For the other S.1, I wanted to change up the weapon load. From its very early days, the Buccaneer has one important job. Countering the threat from the Sverdlov class cruisers of the Soviet Navy. Built in the 1950s, these were the last conventional all-gun cruisers built by the Soviets, mounting 12 six-inch guns and defended with large amounts of radar-directed anti-aircraft artillery. In the days of guided missiles this may not sound too threatening, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s the Sverdlovs were a very potent enemy. Just remember, the six-inch guns of HMS Belfast moored near Tower Bridge in London could easily take out the London Gateway services on the M1, and the Sverdlov’s guns were more modern and better directed. So, the Admiralty decided that the best way to deal with them was to lob a nuclear bomb at them from a distance, and that the Buccaneer was the aircraft for the job.

The bomb used was called Red Beard. It was carried semi-recessed into the bomb bay as it was too large for internal carriage. The model comes from Freightdog, and includes the bomb with the modified bomb bay door. It all fits simply into the Airfix kit.

Painted up it looks menacing enough. The yellow “live round” stripe has a broken red stripe next to it – to denote special munition.

One final note is on the wing tips. The Airfix kit comes with the expected S.2 flared wingtips. These are triangular and flare out at the trailing edge. They were designed to counter some aerodynamic issues caused by the increased size of the Spey engine housing and inlet. They did, in turn cause some issues of wing loading, but that it by the by for now. Anyway, the S.1 had plain wingtips. Oddly enough, the Airfix kit comes with these too as part of the transparency sprue. Whether that is planning ahead for a future S.1 kit of their own, or whether later S.2s in the RAF or S.50s in South Africa reverted to the original design I’m not sure, but it made my job easier!

So, there we go. Painted up in a couple of variations seen in the squadron this brace of Buccaneer S.1s look rather fine and are a very good addition to the ‘heavy metal’ era of the squadron.

To Catch a Fly…?

You will remember, at least you will had you read the entry on the Parnall Plover, that in the 1920s a replacement was being sought for the Nieuport Nightjar fighter board His Majesty’s aircraft carriers under Air Ministry Specification 6/22. Two types were given a shot at the job, the Plover and the Fairey Flycatcher. The Flycatcher won the competition by being a bit easier to handle both in the air and on ship.

The Flycatcher went on to serve from 1923 to 1934, although many were replaced by Hawker Nimrods and Ospreys before that. Some 192 aircraft were produced. Most particularly, the type was used by both 402 and 404 (Fleet Fighter) Flights, the amalgamation of which resulted in 800 Naval Air Squadron in April 1933.

So, there being no polystyrene kit of the Flycatcher in 1/72 available, I got hold of a couple of resin kits from Karaya, a Polish company that also does the Choroszy Modelbud kits such as the Parnall Plover. The two versions differ mainly in that the early version sometimes had a spinner over the propeller and the late version had a collective exhaust ring leading to two exhaust pipes.

As usual for a resin kit, the bits come as a loose collection of stuff with some mounted on supports and others just moulded. Everything comes with plenty of flash but this is easy enough to get rid of most of the time.

So, after cleaning all the bits with detergent and a quick spray of primer, we set off. The interior is basic but decent enough, although I found the setting of the cockpit floor a bit tricky. But I got it all glued together, then started to get things marked up. The undercarriage doesn’t have a well-defined slot for the legs, neither do the struts.

But a bit of attention with a hand drill sorts this out. I also added drilled holes for the cables connecting the upper and lower ailerons. The rigging of this will be a challenge, but until then…

Getting on with the fuselage seemed a good idea as it would be much trickier to do with the wings attached. A bit more work adds the engine and exhausts, the gun sight and the guns on this late model aircraft. The tailplane is added as well…

There are plenty of little bits of rigging to apply as well. The cables to the elevators and rudder are exposed at this point.

The biplane rig was very valuable in holding the upper wing in place for the struts, followed son after by the cross-rigging. Note that the cabane struts and their rigging is already in place.

Last to be attached were the cables linking the elevators. The brass wire was bent forward to be glued to the top of the actuator horns, then forward to the entrance points on the wings.

So, that is that. I did two of them, one for 402 (Fleet Fighter) Flight and the other for 404 Flt.

So, apart from the Nieuport Nightjar, of which there is only a vac form kit available and I’m not yet brave enough to take that on, the first biplanes in the early DNA of 800NAS have been done. Next a return to heavy metal and even more messing about with resin…

Back to the Beginning…

Way back in naval aviation history, even before 800 Naval Air Squadron had been founded, aeroplanes carried by the Royal Navy belonged very firmly to the RAF. Aircraft were either seaplanes that were catapulted from cruisers or wheeled aircraft operating from aircraft carriers. The latter were organised into fleet fighter flights. Two of these, Nos. 402 and 404 (Fleet Fighter) Flights RAF were amalgamated in 1933 to form 800 Naval Air Squadron.

The standard fighter on aircraft carriers in the early 1920s was the Gloster (Nieuport) Nightjar. Two competing designs were trialled to replace them, the Fairey Flycatcher (of which more later) and the Parnall Plover. Six aircraft were given to 404 (Fleet Fighter) Flight for evaluation.

Cover art, but misspelt name!

The kit comes from a Polish company called Choroszy Modelbud. It is a resin kit, not my favourite medium as you will remember from the Hawker Nimrod II, but it is the only one available so there we go.

The kit comes as a collection of loose bits and some things on tiny supports. Everything needs cleaning up due to moulding flash, even some very delicate things like interplane struts. Anyway, it all goes together reasonably well, with the usual problem of trying to get the upper wing set in place. In the end I used a biplane rig which holds the two wings in place so the struts can be glued in place and some brass wire rigging added. This stabilises everything, then the small cabane struts can be placed between the fuselage and upper wing.

The rigging also needs to be done for the tail controls. All the cables attaching to the rudders and elevators were exposed from about half way down the fuselage.

Overall paint is aluminium dope with a black nose.

Apart from the issue of trying to put the upper wing in place, this resin kit went reasonably well and has resulted in a charming addition to the project.

The Plover also went reasonably well, but the Flycatcher was found to be easier to fly and easier to rig on ship. So the Flycatcher was purchased and the Plover went into relative obscurity. No examples survive.

Next up is the Plover’s rival, the Fairey Flycatcher…

You served for but a short time…

On VJ-Day, denied the task of helping with the invasion of Malaya, 800 Naval Air Squadron instead found itself being disbanded. Its aircraft, the mighty Grumman Hellcat II, were disembarked at RNAS Trincomalee in Sri Lanka and its crews shipped back to the UK having won a total of 13 Battle Honours during the war.

However, the squadron was doing nothing more than taking a breather. On 5th August 1946 the squadron was re-established at RNAS Lee-on-Solent, the crews then making their way to RNAS Eglington (now Derry Airport) where on October 1st the squadron reformed with the Seafire Mk.XV.

The Mk.XV lasted a very short while in the squadron, being replaced by the Mk.XVII in February 1947 when the squadron was assigned to 13th Carrier Air Group onboard HMS Triumph. Despite this very brief stint of duty, the Mk.XV managed to have two sub-versions known as the ‘frame hook’ and the ‘stinger hook’ varieties.

The frame hook was an ‘A’-frame with a covering panel fitted to the underside of the rear fuselage about half way between the wing trailing edge and the tail wheel. The stinger type extended from a fairing at the base of the rudder and effectively trailed below and behind the aircraft. Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, the greatest naval pilot of all time who tested both types, found that the stinger was easier to position to catch a wire than the frame hook, and so all the subsequent Seafires had stingers. Quite what the crews thought about giving up the huge and rugged Hellcat for the slight, sprightly and twitchy Seafire I have yet to discover, but I can’t imagine they were too happy about the very narrow undercarriage and the terribly restricted front view.

Anyway, the kit came from the rather glorious five-aircraft set by Sword. This has five different Seafires: the Mk.IIc, Mk.III. frame hook Mk.XV, stinger Mk.XV and the Mk.XVII. Each is bagged up as a complete kit in the box. Of course, this is made a bit easier due to the fact that there are only really two fuselage shapes and only one wing design across the marks. Also, if you have ever looked at a Sword Seafire kit, there are a lot of unused parts which actually belong to other marks. In effect, you could probably box up five Sword ‘Seafires’ and just have different decals and different instructions for each. Oh, and the exhausts come as resin parts.

Anyway, the kits are decent enough to do and I have made the stinger Mk.XV and the Mk.XVII previously. What I will do in the future is make the Mk.XVII again but with a proper-looking wing fold.

So, Seafires all done now. I now sit on the edge of the Dark Side – resin kits need to be made…

A farewell to Seafires…

At the end of May 1950, North Korean troops headed across the border between them and South Korea. Despite UN resolutions, they continued on toward the capital at Seoul. Allied forces in the region were mobilised and the Korean War started.

Not far away in Japan, a British ‘Colossus’ Class light fleet carrier, HMS Triumph, was despatched to join with the American carrier USS Valley Forge to form a naval strike force to provide fast reaction to the invasion and to try to slow the advance of North Korean forces. Aboard HMS Triumph were the Seafire FR.47s of 800 Naval Air Squadron and the Firefly AS.1s of 827 NAS. And my Dad. By 2nd June 1950, both squadrons were engaged on air strikes against airfields, railways and other logistic sites.

The Seafire FR.47 was the last in the long line of Spitfire/Seafire aircraft. Major differences over the Seafire Mk.17 they replaced were a six-bladed contra-rotating propeller to reduce the huge torque swing of the Griffon engine on take-off, four 20mm cannon replacing the mixed cannon/machine gun armament of the Mk.17 and a powered wing folding mechanism. Previous Seafires required a crew to unlock and fold the wings.

Light fleet carriers were built toward the end of WW2 and were not imagined to last for very long. It was not surprising that it wasn’t long before HMS Triumph developed a problem in the after gland of one of its two propeller shafts. As a consequence, it could only steam at about 17 knots on one screw. This had a huge impact on the ability to launch their Seafires. Fully loaded with fuel and bombs or rockets, the Seafires needed a strong headwind to get airborne from Triumph‘s small deck. There was a hydraulic accelerator (predecessor to the steam catapult) but that only allowed a very slow rate of take-offs. Two solutions were adopted – one of which was decidedly ‘Heath Robinson’.

The sensible solution involved adding a battery of four solid fuel rockets to the aircraft to help push them into the air more quickly. The rocket carriers were dropped after take-off as they contributed to very significant drag. The other solution addressed the fact that the Seafire only had two flap settings – up and 35 degrees down for landing. What was needed was a partial flap deployment – say around 15 degrees – that would boost lift without too much extra drag. So, before launch the pilot would select flaps ‘down’, aircraft handlers would then hold wooden chocks inside the flap bay and the pilot would select flaps ‘up’. The wooden chock held the flaps open at around 15 degrees. After take-off and in a stable accelerating climb, the pilot would briefly select flaps ‘down’ so the chocks fell out, allowing him to select the flaps fully ‘up’ for the rest of the flight. Landing back on the deck he was able to select flaps full ‘down’ for landing.

This model is the same kit from Special Hobby as I built some time ago. The kit comes with an array of parts not required, as it apparently covers the Spitfire Mk.21, 22, and 24 as well as the Seafire Mk.45, 46 and 47. Once you take away the extraneous bits, you are left with some sparse sprues of plastic!

The build was much as before, with nice photo etch parts as decent detailing. I cut away the outer flap panels from the lower halves of the wings (these are split flaps, so the upper surface of the wing is fixed).

I also had to drill holes for the rocket mountings and the IFF aerial as these are not provided in the mouldings. There is a diagram in the instructions saying where the holes must go, but it would be easier to have them set up in the mould. On many kits, such as the new Airfix Buccaneer, optional stores stations have a hole half-way into the plastic from the inside. So, you know where to drill if you want it, or you can leave it and the skin is untouched. A tiny difference, but something very easy to do.

Anyway, I think that in the time since my first FR.47 my skills and patience has improved somewhat, such that I have added all kinds of little detail bits that come with the kit (such as the rocket fuse wires) as well as all of the tiny stencil decals.

I have also tried to make the aircraft look well used, as it might have done after a few months of hard flying.

After repairs, HMS Triumph continued on the Korea station, providing fighter cover and armed reconnaissance for the fleet during the invasion at Inchon. They continued until late September 1950 when HMS Theseus arrived with its Sea Furies and Firefly AS.5s. By this point 800 NAS had only four airworthy Seafires, having lost most of its original aircraft and most of the replacements it was issued. None was lost to enemy action. One was shot down by a US B-29 ‘Superfortress’ that confused its profile with that of a Yak-9D of the North Korean Air Force (the US Navy kindly reaching the pilot), leading to the adoption of the black and white ‘invasion’ stripes shown here. The rest were lost in landing accidents or from over-stressed fuselages.

The Korean War marked the end of the front-line use of the Seafire in the Fleet Air Arm. The Seafire was never a rugged aircraft, and by the time of the FR.47 the ever-increasing landing weights meant that the basic structures were getting too weak. The day after the squadron was relieved, it moved to ‘peacetime’ flying rules and the remaining allegedly-airworthy Seafires were immediately grounded due to airframe buckling in the tail. 800 NAS returned to the UK and were disbanded, being reformed shortly thereafter at RNAS Ford to work up with the Supermarine Attacker and to form the first British naval jet squadron.

First of the, well, quite a few really…

From time to time, I take the view that one or two early models need replacing. I am hoping that my skills, such as they are, are on the way up and new kits appear that are really quite good to make. So it is in this case, with the remake of the first of the Hawker Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes operated by 800 Naval Air Squadron.

I have opted here for an aircraft based at RNAS Lee-on-Solent in 1942. This was when they were training pilots for the squadron to re-equip on retiring the Fairey Fulmar. The Royal Navy had their own training aircraft because the radio system was different from the used by the RAF, and as the pilots no longer had the radio operator they carried in the Fulmar they had to get used to doing it themselves. As it was a procedural trainer it didn’t have a tail hook for deck landings, so technically is a converted Hurricane I rather than a Sea Hurricane I…

The kit is by a relatively new kid on the block from Poland called Arma Hobby. Everything about them is slick in presentation, from the decent box artwork to the very well designed and colour printed instruction sheet.

The kit itself comes with one huge sprue and one smaller one, plus a sprue of transparencies and a decal sheet. All of the plastic is very well moulded with sharp, but not too obtrusive, panel lines. Variations included are a set of de Havilland propellers and a set of the later Rotol props with three types of spinner. So in essence some options for a Hurricane I or a Hurricane Ia. Transparencies include hood open or closed – the open hood version has to be a bit wider to fit over the fuselage. In reality the hood just slid back, but you can’t make the hood strong enough and thin enough at this scale in clear polystyrene. The decal sheet includes all kinds of things like yellow tips for the propellers and the red fabric patches for the gun port covers. The set of stencils is about as comprehensive as any hurricane model I have seen. However, as this is a Royal Navy aircraft, most of the markings come from a separate sheet made by Print Scale.

What i did invest in, and later regretted to a large extent, was some customising. The detail kit by Eduard is excellent and comes pre-painted. The flaps kit is one of the fiddliest things I have ever had to use.

So, to start off we build the cockpit area. This is very well modelled, and includes the structural tube frame around the pilot.

Then we move on to the flaps. First you cut out the existing flaps from the bottom half of the wing (these are split flaps).

Then fit the new flap housing. The kit is designed specifically for the Arma Hobby Hurricane, so the fit is actually very good.

There are a few brackets to assemble and you need to add a couple of lengths of 0.5mm rod to make the flap support arms for the inner flaps. Very fiddly stuff, but we got there in the end!

The rest of the kit goes together quickly and well. There are alignment posts on things like the fuselage halves, and everything fits together first time. This is the result of brand new moulds and modern formulations of polystyrene. Everything is crisp and sharp and easy.

There is even a mount for the reflector gun sight, the sight glass is cut from a spare bit of clear acrylic about 2mm x 2mm.

You will have noticed how much weathering has been applied. As this aircraft was used for training, I imagined it to be a very old hack of an airframe, so I dirtied it up enormously. Here you can see the starboard side before I get going.

Then compare it with a roughened up version applied already to the port side…

Look pretty darned good, I thought. Anyway, getting close to the end and it is time for the flaps to go on. They have loads of ribs that have to be bent backward and glued to the inner surface of the flap itself. These were a bloody nightmare.

Still, got something reasonably good at the end and they were glued in place in the fully open position.

So, there we have it, a Hawker Hurricane I from 800NAS based at RNAS Lee-on-Solent in 1942. I must say I am extremely happy with this kit.

The Osprey folds its Wings…

I am concerned about this project, and what it does to the mind by way of obsession. I can’t think of another reason why I would choose to try to do a wing fold conversion on a biplane. But I did.

Ever since seeing photos of Hawker Ospreys of 800NAS with folded wings, I have felt obliged to build one. The process was, well, interesting. I know how I’d do it in the future if I had to, but this one didn’t turn out too badly. Anyone with any knowledge of aviation will spot mistakes straight away, but this isn’t a build for a museum so I’m going to chill out and think positive. It looks like an Osprey and the wings are folded.


The donor kit was the Osprey III/IV by A-Model that I have built before. The kit started as before with the fuselage taking shape. Then came the modifications.


First was to mark up the wings for cutting. There are clear marks where the fixed and folding portions meet up, which is helpful.


Once cut, the lower plane inboard sections can be fitted to the fuselage and the tension struts to the fuselage put in place.


Then the upper centre section can be fitted to the cabane struts above the fuselage.


Then the outer (folding) portions of both wings can be attached with the struts and a short length of polystyrene rod to represent the braces used in reality to support the inner edge of the upper wing.


After that, we can start painting. All over aluminium dope with cerrux grey on the nose metalwork and the red and blue stripes of HMS Ark Royal.


One photo reference I found showed an Osprey of 800NAS with a red tail but with a striped panel superimposed – my guess is that this is a flight leader’s aircraft. I used the usual distressing powders and oils to make it look a little ‘lived in’. Then the big moment…


Joining the wings went more simply than I had anticipated, with the two sides lining up roughly the same. I just have to photograph from the right angle to hide the worst gaps… I painted the inside of the fold lines an interior green and added a small bracing rod on the lower planes – I can’t see the Admiralty allowing the wings to be unsecured completely when folded.


So that is the pair completed – an Osprey III with folded wings and an Osprey IV with wings out.

Next will be another modification project to replace a model i have already done, but with a new set of decals. Intrigued? then watch this space!