A labour of love?

While I am happy with many of the kits I have made so far, I thought it was time to push myself a bit more and do a little more customising. So the next aircraft to join the virtual squadron is the Blackburn Skua, but with its wings folded.


The basic kit is the Revell one – nice and cheap from eBay (£12 for this and a Hurricane to convert to a Sea Hurricane Ib) and essentially the old Frog tooling. The strange thing is that the mouldings are pretty ropey, with lots of bits of flash and ejector pins all over the place, but the surfaces are nicely done and they all fit together really quite well. Anyway, I also got an Airwaves photo-etched detailing set to help out with some of the interiors but which also helped with the wing fold.

Skua wing start

They really good thing is that where the wings join the fuselage on the kit is also the break line for the folding wings, so there was very little cutting to do. The tab used to align the wing to the fuselage had to go, then some of the end moulding as there is a gap for the locking mechanisms, etc. The wheel well had a detail plate put in to look like the underside of the skin as this will be visible, and a liner for the wheel well was put in and ground to size. There are a couple of bits of plastic dowel and a small bit cut from the flaps that are supplied in the detail kit but which I’m not using (wings were folded with flaps retracted). A bit of spray paint and, presto! Doesn’t look too bad.

skua fuselage 1

Likewise for the fuselage. A bit of judicious knife work, adding a few bits culled from the detail set and some plastic dowel and it is also reasonably convincing.

The cockpit as supplied is pretty basic, just a flat bit of plastic with two seats. The detail kit includes fuel tanks and straps for the seats.

With a bit more touching up the cockpit looks quite good. There are other bits that sit on the fuselage inner walls to give the appearance of bare structure and a throttle box. When it is assembled, with a bit of weathering on the fuel tanks and with the roll-over bars installed, it looks OK.

skua cockpit finished

Then we put open the canopy. I have started using PVA adhesive for this instead of poly cement or superglue. The other glues release a solvent while they dry which causes a ‘frost’ on the inside. The PVA dries clear, holds very well and doesn’t cause frosting. it also fills up any tiny gaps. The last thing is to cut the masking for the windows before we go to priming. This took bloody ages, but it is worth doing well.

skua fuselage masked

Then we start spraying. First a final primer coat, then the Sky Type S on the undersides, then masking out for the upper camouflage. It is worth marking out the boundaries in pencil ahead of time, as well as letters to remind you what colour goes where!

skua fuselage masked 2

Then it is the final camp upper coat. This aircraft represents a Skua based at RNAS Hatston in The Orkneys during 1940, and this has the land scheme of dark earth and dark green. I have also started applying decals at this point.

skua fuselage camo 1

The wings are sprayed off the aircraft as it would be impossible to do them with it all glued up. The decals are added and the whole thing given a quick coat of varnish before applying some weathering gently to highlight the panel lines. A little rust is added around the flaps, and the insides of the undercarriage recess is painted with interior green. The wing light is also put in at this point. The inside faces of the plastic are painted silver then fixed with a dab of PVA glue to make it look like a light with a reflector at the back.

skua wings complete

The the undercarriage goes on, with the detail set doors fitted, and a piece of 0.2mm stiff brass wire is added for the radio aerial.

skua fuselage final stage

Finally, the wings are put in placed and glued on. The radio wires are painted black and the masks are taken off the canopy. Ta daaaaaaah!!!

skua attaching wings

So that’s it. A lengthy and complex bit of work but very enjoyable and ultimately satisfying.

skua finished

What next? Well, I do need to write up a couple of other things I’ve done for the set, then maybe a Fulmar wing fold. However, there are conversion kits for that, so should be a bit easier?

2 thoughts on “A labour of love?

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