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.