April 2014
Hellcat (Gannet) Mk.1
Corsair Mk.II


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PoppySelected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

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

The Fleet Air Arm, equipped at last with effective modern British and US naval aircraft, is finally able to move into a fully offensive role in the European and Far Eastern theatres. Seafires, Barracudas, Hellcats, Corsairs and Wildcats are now the spearhead of British Naval Aviation and are a match for anything the Axis can field.

2 April 1944 - Operation Tungsten, a massed air attack on the battleship Tirpitz by a carrier borne force of 21 Barracuda dive bombers escorted by a fighter force of 40 Corsairs, Hellcats and Wildcats. A further 25 strong force of Seafire, Wildcat and Swordfish aircraft provide Fleet Defence during the strike. The raid achieves total surprise, and although the Tirpitz is not sunk, serious damage means that she will remain under repair in Norway during the initial D-day assaults.

19 Apr - Operation Cockpit - A combined British, Australian, New Zealand, Dutch, French and US naval force of Barracudas, Corsairs, Hellcats, Dauntless' and Avengers attacks the Japanese naval facilities at Sabang in Sumatra.

27 Apr - Exercise Tiger - The Slapton Sands Tragedy During D-Day rehearsals by US forces at Slapton Sands in Devon, several German E-Boats are able to attack the landing ships, resulting in the death of nearly 950 US Servicemen.

Grumman Hellcat (Gannet) Mk.I,
800 Sqn Fleet air Arm, HMS EMPEROR
Operation TUNGSTEN, Norway, April 1944

FROG 1/72

Frog's Hellcat was first issued back in 1971 and in many ways it shows. The kit is typical FROG; well moulded in chunky thick plastic, with a good basic shape but little fine detail, it makes for an enjoyable build definitely but has its limitations. In particular, the undercarriage legs are far too short. I started building it gear down, but they looked so wrong that I removed them and changed ot my first "wheels up" build in about 20 years!

Other than that, I substituted the very basic pilot figure for an old Airfix one, helping to hide the empty cockpit and changed the kit fuselage roundels (which were slightly out of register) for some Modeldecal ones - other than that the 45 year old decals (transfers!) worked perfectly well.


Grumman developed the Hellcat largely on their own initiative, after talking with experienced British and US Wildcat pilots.

Building on the lessons of real combat, it was a quantum leap forward and possibly the best all-round Naval Fighter of WW2 (its only real competitors are the Seafire and Corsair, both of whom excelled in some areas but not in others).

RN Gannets (they were only known as this for a very short time) and Hellcats, mainly supplied under Lend-lease arrangements, fought with distinction in European and Pacific theatres.

A great aircraft in every way; sadly, at the end of the war, almost all of the FAA's Hellcats were dumped at sea as a condition of Lease-lend.

Hellcats played a major role in Operation Tungsten, accompanying the Barracuda dive-bombers to the target then strafeing flak batteries to suppress anti-aircraft defences before the bombers began their runs.

© IWM IWM (A 22644) - A Fairey Barracuda returns to VICTORIOUS after the raid.

Have a look at my "RN Props" pages for details of my other WW2 Naval aircraft models

Chance-Vought Corsair Mk.II,
1836 Sqn Fleet air Arm, HMS VICTORIOUS

Operation TUNGSTEN, Norway, April 1944

Hobbyboss 1/72

This is a quick build of the Hobbyboss easy assembly F-4U kit. In this case I boobed somewhat with the version/variant, requiring a few more changes than I had planned. Nevertheless, although very simple, this remains a very nice kit; even its basic cockpit can be made to look convincing with a little paint and a spare instrument panel decal! Another Airfix pilot has conveniently filled the remeaining gaps.

Vought used approximate "substitute" colours to paint their RN aircraft (whereas Grumman used "equivalent" US paints for the Hellcat), so I have used a lighter grey, olive drab and a more grey sky shade than normal;


The Corsair saw its first combat operations with the Royal Navy on 2 April 1944, when Corsair Mk.III aircraft from 1834 and 1836 Squadons in HMS VICTORIOUS provided fighter cover for Operation Tungsten.

The aircraft involved was the Corsair MkII, introducing an RN specified raised cockpit seat and bubble canopy to overcome some of the operating problems experienced with the "birdcage" variant.

Wing tips on the RN aircraft were also "clipped" to allow stowage below decks in the rather more cramped conditions of the British carriers.

© IWM (A 23036)

Have a look at my "RN Props" pages for details of my other WW2 Naval aircraft models including the types shown below, all of which participated in the Tungsten raids.

Hellcat, Barracuda, Corsair, Seafire and WIldcat all from Operation TUNGSTEN

A Barracuda of 831 Sqn, HMS FURIOUS that participated in Operation TUNGSTEN

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Background Image: © IWM (A 22649) Early morning before the raids, onboard HMS EMPEROR looking back at ViCTORIOUS