March 2014
Sea Otter
FAA Museum Model Show


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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.

In the European theatre, the Red Army continues its inexorable but costly march westward, whilst in Britain preparations for D-Day continue, including attempts to neutralise the German Navy's remaining surface warships. In the Indian Ocean the RN Eatsern Fleet receives long overdue reinforcements and begins intensive exercises with the USN navy in preparation for planned offensive operations in the Pacific.

7 March - Japanese troop mount an invasion of India, commencing a bitter 4 month battle around Imphal.
8 Mar - The Red Army begins an offensive on a wide front west of the River Dnieper in the Ukraine, forcing the Germans into a major retreat.
12 Mar - Three RAF PR Spitfires and a Catalina operating from a forward base in Russia, begin daily reconnaissance flights over the battleship Tirpitz in Kaafjord.
18 Mar - Signal intercepts indicate that damage to the Tirpitz has been repaired and she will be ready to conduct sea trials on 3 April.
20 Mar - RAF Flight Sergeant Nicholas Alkemade's bomber is hit over Germany. He is forced to bail out without a parachute from a height of over 4,000 meters. Tree branches interrupt his fall and he lands safely in deep snow.
24 Mar - Round the clock bombing of German cities begins. Seventy six Allied aircrew stage "The Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III. Seventy three are recaptured. Fifty are shot by the Gestapo as an example to other prisoners.
28 Mar - In Loch Eribol, Scotland, aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm, flying from RNAS Hatston in the Orkneys, conduct a full scale rehearsal of Operation Tungsten, a planned attack on the Tirpitz by a massed 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 will provide Fleet Defence during the strike.
30 March - Operation Tungsten units depart from Scapa Flow under cover of a major Arctic convoy (JW58) from Loch Ewe. Sixteen British and Dutch submarines are directed to the Nowegian coast to contain Tirpitz within Kaafjord. Norwegian agents begin hourly weather reports.

Supermarine Sea Otter Mk.1,
712 Sqn Fleet air Arm

Loch Eribol, Scotland / RNAS Hatston, Orkney Islands, March 1944

Azur 1/72

Azur are a French company who design kits then outsource production to the Czech Republic. As with most kit producers, the quality of their kits is dependent on when they were first produced, but this particular model is one of their most recent and definitely represents the top standard in short run kit products. Although it exhibits the some typical short run traits, such as a lack of location pins, the parts fit together perfectly and detail is finely engraved, with a comprehensive set of photoetch and resin details.

Decals are provided for the late-war Pacific Fleet aircraft depicted on the box lid, plus two Orkney-based aircraft of the Home Fleet in 1944/45.

Construction is fairly conventional, with a well equipped cockpit and cabin area, to which I added a few sprue and plastic strip details, including the radar display (nice PE antenna are provided, but not the set itself?).

Aligning the interplane struts and the top and bottom wings was the most difficult part of the kit. Whilst there are some very lightly engraved positioning marks on the lower wings, I couldn't find any on the upper, plus the engine struts are difficult to align before the wings are attached. In the end I relied on blind luck, slow setting glue and elastic bands to get them all together, although I seem to have underdone the wing stagger and the outer struts should be angled in at the top (only found that photo after I'd completed!).

I added a very small amount of Tippex as filler on a couple of seams, but for the most part, the fit was surprisingly good. The canopy needed a little trimming to fit, but has the frames nicely defined,making painting comparatively easy.

Rigging was completed using my usual lycra and superglue method. Getting in and around the engine struts was rather fiddly, but otherwise straightforward. Paint is hand-brushed Humbrol enamel, with a coat of Klear to aid decal application, the a light oily wash and a top-coat of Winsor & Newton Matt Acrylic Varnish.

Supermarine's Sea Otter was an advanced development of the Walrus, replacing the pusher Pegasus engine with a tractor configured Bristol Mercury engine. Increased range, plus a larger hull, radar and an extended cabin area completed the improvements. Intended originally as catapult launched spotter aircraft, they saw extensive service in the land-based Air Sea Rescue role. Later aircraft were equipped with an arrestor hook fo carrier operations.

Most Sea Otters were built by Saunders Roe and the type entered service in 1942 as the last biplane type to enter service with the Fleet Air Arm and the RAF. They remained with the RN in the ASR role until the late 1940.

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

© IWM (A 27228)

And Finally....... Last month saw the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton hold its early season model show. As always, Mrs T and I had our tables in the WW2 hall, in front of the refurbished Grumman Martlet. A marvellous day was had by all, including my recent Mk.1 Martlet model, which had its photograph taken sitting on the tail of the real thing!

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Background Image: Not a Sea Otter, but a Supermarine Walrus at the Fleet Air Arm Museum