Hawker/Armstrong Whitworth Sea Hawk FGA.6, Fleet Requirements Unit (Airwork Services Ltd) Hurn Airport, 1975 - Airfix, with own decals.
As the RN's Sea Hawks were withdrawn from service in the late 1950s, they found new life with the Fleet Requirements Unit operated out of Bournemouth's Hurn Airport on contract to Airwork Services Ltd and painted in an attractive gloss black scheme with a Harley light fitted in one drop tank.
Cockpit nearly ready to button up. The kit seat was missing, but isn't really any great loss; a new one was scratch built from card, sprue,paper and wire then added to the cockpit, along with a front panel and some side consoles, plus generic instrument decals and paper seat belts.
A little bit of detailing next, plus the undercarriage, then on with a sealing coat of Klear before the decals, which will be a selection from the spares box.
And finished. I'm really pleased with this one. A simple, but attractive kit and colour scheme! Also very pleased with the way the wing nav lights turned out - cut a slot, one blob of Krystal Kleer, colour with magic marker, than apply second blob of Krystal Kleer. I painted on the auxiliary intakes with matt varnish against the gloss - not altogether successful, but getting there!
General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, 2008 - Italeri, with own speculative decals - 809 Naval UAV Sqn, RNAS Donibristle, 2012 (!).
Those of you who take your modelling seriously may feel that I have lost the plot completely on this one, but it is not as fanciful as it may seem. Granted, the RN does not operate Predator UAVs, nor is it likely ever to do so (although the Maritime variant of the larger Reaper UAV is not beyond the bounds of possibility). Even if they did, the UAVs would probably be pooled with the RAF and Army (Joint Force UAV?), and certainly wouldn't be painted in the Fleet Air Arm's WW2 Temperate sea scheme of Sewage and Slime (Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey topsides, with Sky undersides). But the kit supplied scheme is just so....well......grey!.
.............and if the Italians can camouflage their Predators, why couldn't we?
The Predator A and its much larger cousin, the Predator B or "Reaper" represent a new generation in military aviation. Flown under local C-Band Line of Sight control for take-off and landing, once in the air, the aircraft are flown using Ku-Band satellite links for control. In this way, Reapers and Predators are currently flown over Iraq and Afghanistan by US and RAF pilots from a remote corner of the Nevada desert. Italy operates its own Predator aircraft, whilst RAF pilots from 39 Sqn/1115 Flight fly US aircraft and have recently acquired a number of their own Reapers. Originally unarmed, both versions now regularly carry and use Hellfire missiles.
The Italeri kit is a re-issue of a Platz kit, which has also been issued by Accurate Miniatures. Its a good kit, but an astonishingly large box (and price) for such a small amount of plastic! It only took about 20 mins to build, and I decided to go for a speculative RN Scheme - Predators are ideal for surface search reconnaissance and attack at sea; a modified version of the Predator B (called Mariner) is currently under trial with the USN.
The kit as supplied is the unarmed RQ-1 (Reconnaissance) variant. Conversion to the MQ-1 (Multirole) variant is simple; just add some spare pylons (from the Sea Hawk actually) and scratch built Hellfire/Brimstone missiles.
Moving on from the brief distraction of the Predator, and back to the Sea Hawks. The last kit came with a spare canopy in the box, which has prompted me to have a go at refurbishing my oldest Sea Hawk Model, the F.1.
I first built this kit around about 1973. No, really, THIS ACTUAL KIT. It has been repainted 3 times since then (it was initially unpainted, as an out the box FGA.6, then in 1978 got a dark grey topcoat and a few add-ons (e.g. brake pipes) inspired by an Airfix book in the local library, then in 1987, my first use of after market decals changed it into the 898 F.1, along with a new cockpit and painted pilot (which was when the canopy cracked). It received another topcoat in 2006, in the correct shade of EDSG. Well I now have another set of the 898 decals, plus a canopy, so here we go again.
The nose has a number of melted sink marks where I glued some metal screws in to hold the nose down (using the "floods of Britfix" method - well we all do it at least once), so I have applied copious amounts of tippex to fill the gaps. To my amazement the cockpit already has some nice (balsa wood) side panels and an instrument decal, so a quick coat of black is all it will get.
"What a difference a day makes" 24 Hours later and she looks pretty much the same as my recent builds. New front undercarriage doors were required, but the tippex filler on the fuselage indents looks good .
Hmmm. Took a bit longer than I thought (real life intervened), but although the end product is not exactly perfect, it is a long way ahead of how it started, and can now happily sit alongside its more recent siblings!