Royal Navy Aircraft - WW2 Part 6

Firefly, Barracuda and Gosling

Fairey Barracuda MkII - 831 Sqn, HMS FURIOUS, April 1944.

This is also the FROG kit (albeit a later Russien re-pop), with moreTechmod decals from the same set, this time for one of the aircraft involved in attacking the German battleship TIRPITZ in April 1944.

Fairey Barracuda

The Barracuda was introduced as a replacement for the Swordfish & Albacore. Underpowered, and with its layout severely compromised by the need to give the Observer "picture" fuselage windows, it was unpopular and considered by many to be a downright dangerous design. By the time it entered service, targets for its primary torpedo armament were few and far between, nevertheless, Barracudas fought well as dive bombers in all major theatres from 1943 onward, including the devastatingly successful RN and RAF attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz (Operation Tungsten) and the massed joint UK/US attacks on the Oil Refineries of Sumatra.

This is another ancient, but much sought after kit (first issued in 1958), that has been re-released by Airfix in 2010 under its new Hornby ownership. The kit itself is really rather crude, but comes with some superb decals/transfers for a Royal Navy Machine or a US Coast Guard version.

The Gosling (or Widgeon in US service) was developed as a smaller version of the successful Goose. Fifteen were delivered to the Royal Navy under Lend Lease and most served at the Observers' School at Piarco, Trinidad, although some were retained in the USA at the Squantum, Pensacola and Brunswick Naval Air Stations for use by FAA training squadrons as communications aircraft.

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Fairey Barracuda MkII - 810 Sqn, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, April 1944.

The Barracuda has long been a favourite of modellers, with it ungainly looks. This is the ancient Frog mould first issue din 1964, with scratch build details (cockpit, weapons, arrestor hook, intakes, handling frames, and radar antennae) and Techmod decals for one of the aircraft involved in attacking the  Japanese port facilities and Oil storage tanks at Sabang, Java in April 1944. Although there are more modern and detailed kits available, I enjoyed building this one and it certainly looks like a Barracuda to me!

The Barracuda was introduced as a replacement for the Swordfish & Albacore. Underpowered, and with its layout severely compromised by the need to give the Observer "picture" fuselage windows, it was unpopular and considered by many to be a downright dangerous design. By the time it entered service, targets for its primary torpedo armament were few and far between, nevertheless, Barracudas fought well as dive bombers in all major theatres from 1943 onward, including the devastatingly successful RN and RAF attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz (Operation Tungsten) and the massed joint UK/US attacks on the Oil Refineries of Java and Sumatra.

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Fairey Firefly Mk 1, 1771 Sqn FAA, HMS IMPLACABLE, British Pacific Fleet, Truk Lagoon, 1944.

Frog's Firefly is a pretty old kit, but has usually been easy to obtain from Russian sources. Eastern Express have been the most recent Russian company to issue it; the moulds are holding up relatively well, albeit with some flash evident on the soft grey plastic. Decals are well printed, but very matt.

The Rolls Royce Griffon-powered Firefly Mk 1 continued the FAA policy of large 2-seat Fighter-Reconnaisance aircraft, started with the Hawker Osprey. Built to replace the Fulmar, it was a far better aircraft, particularly well suited to open sea and long range warfare in the Pacific. Fireflies scored a number of air to air successes, but their main contribution came from their surface attack capability, using bombs or rockets; later aircraft also included radar equipped anti surface and night fighter versions.

The aircraft modelled was flown by 1771 Sqn's commanding officer, Lt Cdr R MacWhirter and took part in the fmaous attacks on the massive Japanese Truk Lagoon Naval Base. The Firefly Mk 1 entered service in 1943 and remained until the early stages of the Korean War when it was replaced by the Firefly Mks 4, 5, 6 and 7.

FAA Museum Firefly

Grumman J4F-2 Gosling, Fleet Air Arm, West Indies, 1944.