May 2011

Fairey/Blackburn Swordfish
DeHavilland Sea Vixen

Fairey SwordfishSea Vixen

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PoppySelected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

The Western Desert campaign continues. Rommel continues his successes, but the city and port of Tobruk remains in British hands

1-7 May 1941 - Liverpool is devastated by seven nights of continuous bombing.
8 May - In one of the most significant events of the Battle of the Atlantic and perhaps the whole war, German submarine U110 is captured intact by HMS BULLDOG, along with her working Enigma coding machine.
19 May - Operation Rheinebung - German Battleship Surface Raiders BISMARCK and PRINZ EUGEN sortie into the Atlantic to attack merchant shipping. British Home Fleet Battleships HMS HOOD and HMS PRINCE OF WALES are despatched toward Iceland to intercept.
20 May - Operation Mercury - German paratroops begin the invasion of Crete. Allied forces and the Cretan population offer fierce resistance and German losses are significant, but the defenders are outnumbered and out-maneouvered.
24 May - BISMARCK sinks HMS HOOD during the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Winston Churchill orders the destruction of the BISMARCK at all costs. Every available British unit is deployed. Aircraft from HMS VICTORIOUS attack, causing a single fatality, but no significant damage. BISMARCK manages to lose the pursuing ships.
26 May - A Catalina patrol aircraft of 209 Sqn RAF spots the missing BISMARCK. Aircraft from HMS ARK ROYAL launch a torpedo attack that disables BISMARCK and allows the battleships HMS RODNEY and HMS KING GEORGE V to catch her.
27 May - Following a concerted barrage by RODNEY and KING GEORGE V which has failed to sink the crippled ship, cruiser HMS DORSETSHIRE delivers the coup de grace, 3 x 21 inch torpedoes. BISMARCK's crew have already begun the process of scuttling and at 1039, she slips below the waves.

28 May - With the battle for Crete lost, British forces begin to evacuate by sea. Despite appalling and unsustainable losses to continuing German air attacks by Ju-87 and Ju-88s, the British Mediterranean Fleet continues the evacuation for as long as is possible.

Fairey Swordfish Mk.11

810 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, HMS ARK ROYAL, May 1941

Airfix Club 1/72, with modified decals

Fairey Swordfish

Throughout 1941, the Fairey Swordfish provided the backbone of offensive British Naval Aviation operations. In the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, North African Desert, North Sea and the Atlantic, Swordfish Squadrons continued to show that this ancient looking biplane remained an effective force to be reckoned with.

In May 1941, after the devastating shock loss of HMS HOOD during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the honour and spirit of the Royal Navy depended on the rapid destruction of the German surface raider BISMARCK. The entire Home Fleet, plus the Gibraltar based Force H were deployed to stop BISMARCK reaching the safety of a French port.

An initial attack in atrocious weather by Swordfish from HMS VICTORIOUS was ineffective, but a follow-on strike the next day by a large force from HMS ARK ROYAL jammed the BISMARCK's rudder, making her unmaneouverable and allowing the British Fleet to catch her and deliver the fatal blow.

Link to a comprehensive account of the battle

Fairey Swordfish

This month marks the 70th Anniversary of the sinking of the BISMARCK.

The Airfix Swordfish is well past its sell-by date, and a new tooling is promised for this year. However, its not that much worse than any of the other 1/72 Swordfishes currently available. This is the 2009 Airfix Club issue, with a nice set of decals for one of 810 Sqns aircraft, plus a second set for the scheme currently worn by one of the RN Historic Flight aircraft (HMS RAIPANA in 1943).

Fairey Swordfish

The same 810 Sqn markings have been included with every Swordfish Kit I have ever bought (Frog/MPM/Airfix/Matchbox & Revell), plus they have been included in several after market decal sets. All claim to be one of the BISMARCK attack aircraft, but unfortunately, the references that I can find suggest that this particular aircraft did NOT actually participate in the battle.

I have therefore changed the colour scheme somewhat and modified the supplied "2Q" code to "2P", L2826, of 810 Sqn, flown by Sub Lieutenant AWD Beale, with Observer SLt C Friend and TAG L/A K Pimlott, during the critical action against the BISMARCK on 26 May 1941. Beale became disorientated in the poor visibility and flew back to the shadowing cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD for directions. As a result he approached the BISMARCK from a different direction from the other aircraft, registering a confirmed torpedo hit.

Fairey Swordfish

Fairey Swordfish

Poppy Historical Postscript: Whilst researching the aircraft represented by this model, I discovered that one of the Royal Navy crewmen lost on the 24th May 1941, onboard HMS HOOD during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, came from my own home town. Ian Alister Roy was 17 years of age, the son of George & Ethel Roy, of Currie/Juniper Green, Edinburgh.

Link to more of my FAA WW2 Aircraft models

DeHavilland/Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen FAW.2,
xxx Sqn, Fleet Air Arm, HMS EAGLE 19xx.

Airfix, 1/48

Continuing from last month. I'm taking my time with this superb kit fo one of my favourite aircraft. I have also uploaded a number of my Sea Vixen reference pictures, which may be of use to anyone else building this kit.

Airfix Sea Vixen

The airbrake assembly and forward undercarriage bay are both painted and in place. Next up, the main undercarriage bays, intake trunking, tail hook assembly and jet pipes.


Intake and jetpipes in place, plus the wing strengthening fixtures - wings are going to be lowered. It will also be sitting on its undercarriage, so whilst I have lowered the airbrake and tail hook, both use the smaller of the 2 jacks that Airfix provide, in order to retain sufficient ground clearance.

Vixen - cockpit - 1

And then its time to join the fuselage. Before doing so, you have to open up the slots in the wings for the weapons pylons - not the easiest task, and one that ended up in my damaging the lower port wing slightly. I also superglued a very large lump of lead into the nose to make sure we have no tail sitting! The fuselage join was very good, only needing a little bit of Tippex along the side of the forward fuselage, and around the lower intake lips. I also had some difficulty getting a tight fit with the tail pipes, needing a little more filler (Krystal Klear/PVA instead this time.

One slight hiccup - you really need to insert the Observer's window before the cockpit interior is fitted. I didn't and it was a very fiddly job to complete afterward.


With the tail booms, nose and jet intake lips attached (remember to paint the inside of the stbd intake to match the fuselage, as you can see it from inside once in place), it really is beginning to look like a Sea Vixen! So far, the build has progressed really smoothly, and I have been most impressed with the degree of thought and engineering that appear to have gone into this Airfix kit.

Some really nice touches include the different parts for different configurations (e.g. wings/flaps/undercarriage/air brake/hook up/down). One particularly useful touch is the way that all of the parts are numbered logically and consecutively on the sprue - one of my pet hates, especially prevalent with Russian and Japanese kits, is where the parts numbers are spread randomly across the sprue, so that you have to resort to a diagram to find them.


My only 'complaints' so far are pretty minor - the sprues are quite thick, so removal of some of the very small parts requires a lot of care. Otherwise, I'm really getting into the swing of this large kit - maybe a permanent change of scale is called for!!!!

Link to more on the Sea Vixen next month.....

Or - back to last month

More FAA Jet aircraft (including 1/72 Sea Vixens) on my RN Jets Pages

Link to my Sea Vixen Reference Pictures (warning - very picture heavy)

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