I have been chasing around on Ebay looking for the MPM kit of the Hawker Sea Hawk FB.3 for some time. Not that I have been especially wanting to build another Sea Hawk, although they are pretty, but I have a wing fold conversion kit that specifies it is for the MPM kit.
Then I discovered via the invaluable ScaleMates web site, that the MPM kit plus a few extras is the more recent Special Hobby kit. And I found one of those on Ebay. Best of all, the seller had used the photo of the contents as the main picture on the item, not the box lid. This meant they probably got at least £5 less than they normally would have done. But I’m not telling.
The kit consists in two main sprues, a clear canopy and some decals (the MPM bit), then a bag of resin pieces and a sheet of photo etch (which makes it a Special hobby kit). The kit includes the normal tail plus the extended height tail of the Mk.100/101 export versions. There are very few parts, in fact, for the standard FAA fighter.
However, there are lots of detailing bits in the wing fold kit I had, so happy days. Among the resin pieces were a huge fully moulded cockpit tub. However, this is quite light and leaves no room for additional ballast so I was worried about it being too tail heavy, as with previous Sea Hawks. So I used the detailing from the wing fold instead.
The first job, as this is a wing fold, is to chop off the outer wing panels. Simple enough with the fine saws I use these days.
Next up was to install the cockpit floor so I knew where the ballast could go. Then put in the ballast in the form of crushed up .22 lead air pistol pellets. Then PVA glue to hold it all in. I think I managed about 8 pellets, which was enough.
I would point out that Special Hobby, like Hobby Boss, don’t tell you of this ahead of time.
Then comes the detailing panels. These were all pre-sprayed cockpit black then fitted together. Then I used a small brush with almost-dry white paint to pick out the relief and to give some dimension to the panels. finally, a few spots of red and yellow for levers and stuff.
In the main it looks pretty convincing if not 100% accurate. But then this isn’t a museum piece…
The ejection seat had some seatbelts added along with the upper and lower firing handles from the wing fold photo etch. Apparently the seat belts were blue. Maybe to distinguish them from the parachute harness the pilot would also have? In any case, it looks cool. Then the two halves of the fuselage go together, the joystick and gunsight added, and the whole thing tarted up with dry brushing and spots of colour.
All looking quite jolly. Given the time and effort expended on this part of the build, it seemed stupid to do a closed cockpit. However, the kit only comes with a one-piece hood. Therefore, out with the 133-teeth per inch saw blade and ‘presto!’, sliding hood and windshield are two items.
Each is then masked out and put back on the fuselage with little bits of Blu Tack. So, a bit of priming and filling and priming again and spraying and the fuselage and the outer wings are ready to be joined together “en replié” as it were. That’s folded.
This time, instead of superglue as I used on the Fulmar I have opted for some quick drying 2-part epoxy. it gives a minute or so of messing about before it starts to set up. As the parts are quite light, that means the wings go on quite quickly. When the epoxy has set, any gaps can be removed with filler and light sanding. Other bits and pieces can be added to improve the bracing. There are also a couple of locking tabs, but I couldn’t be bothered with them.
With a bit of final finishing, some weathering around the panels and some oil staining around the wing fold mechanism, it’s not a bad look if I say so myself.
This completes the Sea Hawks. from left to right in the photo below, the FGA.4, the FB.3 and the FGA.6.
I’m conflicted about where to go next. There are lots of biplanes yet to do, two Skuas, three Seafires and two Attackers. Plus two Scimitars if I can ever find them. I’ll muse on this…