August 2014

Hawker Sea Hurricane


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Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme based on selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.

In France, the Allies continue their advance inland, although there are strong pockets of Nazi resistance, especially along the coastal Festungs.

Nevertheless, progress is better than hoped, allowing a second front to be opened by large scale amphibious landings on French the Mediterranean coast

1 Aug 1944 – The Warsaw Uprising starts.

4 Aug - A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find young diarist Anne Frank, her family and others in hiding.

12 Aug – In one of the greatest ever feats of military engineering, the first PLUTO (Pipe-Line Under The Ocean) becomes operational. A 2 inch thick armoured pipeline, developed from Post Office undersea telegraph cables and laid across the 70km from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg, begins to supply the allies with fuel.  By January 1945 PLUTO will supply over 1million gallons per day and will have been extended as far as the Rhine.

15 Aug – Operation Dragoon - Allied forces land in Southern France. By the end of the month, German resistance has collapsed and the southern forces are able to join up with Patton’s 3rd Army approaching from the North.

25 Aug – Allied forces commanded by Free French General LeClerc enter Paris. Nazi commander von Choltitz, faced with unsurmountable odds, surrenders the city without a fight.  

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk.IIc

835 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, HMS NAIRANA, Bay of Biscay, July 1944

Airfix 1/72

835 Squadron in HMS NAIRANA were the last Fleet Air Arm squadron to use the Sea Hurricane in front line service. NAIRANA was a small escort carrier, equipped with a composite squadron of Swordfish, Sea Hurricanes and (later on) Wildcats.  She served mainly on escort duties between the UK and Gibraltar, and the UK and Murmansk.  

NAIRANA’s Hurricanes were painted in an overall white scheme as an extension of the anti-submarine schemes worn by the Swordfish and the long range patrol aircraft of the RAF’s Coastal Command.  Intended to blend in to the heavy cloud cover, they were highy successful and a pre-cursor to the low visibility grey schemes we see today.  NAIRANA’s pilots gained a magnificent reputation, operating their day fighters constantly from the ship’s astonishingly narrow deck, sometimes even at night in atrocious Arctic storms.

The subject of this kit was an aircraft named “Nicki”.  Flown by several of 835’s pilots, she is best known for shooting down a Ju-290 in May 1944, whilst being piloted by Sub/Lt. Allan Russell Burgham DSC, RNZNVR.

This is the relatively recent Airfix Hurricane kit, which comes with 3 decal options, including two RAF aircraft, one UK based and the other from India, as well as the Sea Hurricane “Nicki”.  For this last option, you need to cut out part of the lower fuselage and insert a replacement section that includes the hook mechanism; this is not as difficult as it sounds, but did need a little filler (I used Tippex) to complete.  

The kit is very nicely moulded, with slightly overdone engraved details, but excellent fit throughout, allowing an good looking model to be built by all levels of modelling experience.  The kit’s undercarriage is particularly well done, robust enough to hold the kit’s weight, but with very positive engagement points and very fine, but easily fitted operating struts.

Have a look at my "RN Props" pages for details of my other WW1 Naval aircraft models


QEC Class Aircraft Carrier, Rosyth Dockyard, 4 July 2014.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance - Naming Ceremony Souvenir Model

Last month saw the naming of the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carrier, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife Scotland.  The ship was subsequently floated out of her building dock and into Rosyth’s non-tidal basin at the end of July.

At 280m long, 70m wide and displacing 65,000 tonnes, she is the largest vessel ever built for the RN. Designed to carry a task-tailored strike air group of up to 40 F-35B aircraft, or an ASW or Assault force of Merlin, Sea King, Wildcat, Chinook and Apache helicopters, she will enter service around 2019, followed a few years later by her sister ship HMS PRINCE of WALES

The Queen Elizabeth Class’ twin island design is a world first ; providing an excellent forward view for ship control and an optimised view of the flight deck and approaches for aircraft control they avoid one of the major compromises facing other modern carriers and typify the innovative design of these radical new ships.

#qec #nicki

This is one of the reasons my modelling has been limited this month.  There are many better pictures of the ship’s naming and float -out on the ACA’s own Flickr pages, including pictures of the next major parts of the 2nd carrier, PRINCE OF WALES leaving Govan and arriving. At Rosyth

Meanwhile, the tiny little “lego-style” building brick kit was handed out to all of those attending the naming ceremony.

Not sure about the scale, but you get the idea!  Now how do we convince Airfix to do a bigger one?

….. And here she is in the amazing video below:

When it was first issued, this kit saw some criticism for its deep panel lines (judge for yourself - but I don’t see these as a problem), its tail dimensions (every Hurricane kit I have is different) and its undersized propeller.  I would add some doubts about the windscreen shape, which looks too wide for me.  The canopy comes in 2 parts, but since you can;t actually fit the aft part over the rear fuselage, this is kind of pointless.  

The propeller is genuinely an issue; its blades are clearly too small and if I had been able to find where I put my propeller spares box (somewhere safe, I’m sure!) then I definitely would have replaced it.  Apart from this (small and fixable) point I really liked this simple and enjoyable little kit.

The fuselage codes are also open to some discussion; several other kits (from respected manufacturers) show Nicki as 7@N, or even 7@T.  Not impossible that there was more than one Nicki, or that the codes changed, but Airfix have chosen 7@K, a code apparently backed up by SubLt Burgham’s own flying log.

HMS NAIRANA with her white Sea Hurricanes ranged on deck© IWM (FL 12664)

NAIRANA’s Sea Hurricanes were originally painted with full D-Day stripes, but within a month these had been overpainted on the fuselage and wing upper surfaces.

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Background Image: A rather sad looking Jet Provost sits forlorn in a field near Bristol Airport