June 2018

Supermarine Seafire 46

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Supermarine Seafire 46

Station Flight, RNAS Lossiemouth, 1948.

Airfix 1/72 with scratch mods and Model Alliance decals

The Seafire 46 and 47 were the last of the Sea-Spitfire line, based around the equivalent land-based Spitfire 22 and 24 with its cut down bubble canopy, laminar flow wing, powerful 2-stage supercharged Rolls Royce Griffon 85 or 87 engine and enlarged tail surfaces derived from the Spiteful/Seafang design. Rocket Assisted Take-Off (RATO) modules could be fitted above the wings and 4x20mm Hispano cannons gave it a powerful punch along with underwing rockets or bombs.  Although its power to weight ration was similar to it’s Griffon engine predecessors, its range and top speed were much higher due to the more efficient wing design.

Crucially, as well as the usual naval radios, electrical system changes, additional nav equipment, catapult hooks and a tail hook, the naval variants also carried a large contra-rotating 6 bladed propeller, to avoid the torque effects of the massive Griffon engine and enable safe handling on deck.

The Airfix Spitfire 22 kit first appeared in about 2012 and is currently out of production.  Although a modern, keenly priced and good looking kit with some very fine detail, it suffers from overly tight clearances between some moulded parts, probably as a result of the computerised mould design (CAD) process used, which makes some parts difficult to fit together.  Some parts are also rather difficult to remove from the sprue without damage due to very thick and inconveniently placed moulding gates, possibly intended to extend the robustness and working life of the mould.  

That said, surface detail is sharply engraved without being too deep and these issues are fairly easy to overcome, but I was a little disappointed to have to use a lot of filler (I used Tippex correcting fluid) on the main fuselage seams of such a recently issued kit.  Decals, for two RAF aircraft are very nice, covering one in overall aluminium and one with full green/grey camouflage.

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Background Picture - Seafire 17 at RNAS Yeovilton Air Show

Have a look at many more Fleet Air Arm models on my RN Props and Seafire pages

Still immobilised in bed and on the sofa after a bad leg-break and two operations (this is week 10 since my accident !) , but I am trying my best to do things that are a little more difficult, including some more challenging modelling subjects.

In fact, I’m quite pleased with the way that this one has turned out. It’s a fairly simple conversion and a reasonably well engineered base kit.

The Seafire 46 was very much an interim design, almost identical to the Seafire 47 except for its lack of folding wings.  The initial order was for 200 aircraft, but only 24 of these were completed and it was used mainly for development work and training, with a number remaining as station flight “hacks” in later years..

The aircraft featured in this build, was used as a station flight aircraft at RNAS Lossiemouth in Scotland, and reputedly as the personal mount of the station Commanding Officer, Captain Caspar John RN (later First Sea Lord and Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Caspar John GCB), who played an important role in planning the return of the Fleet Air Arm to naval control in 1939, after many years of mismanagement and neglect by the RAF since 1918.

As the Seafire 46 is effectively a Spitfire 22 with a hook, the conversion is relatively simple.  A new contra-rotating propeller needs to be produced and the tail unit modified to carry a hook.  A few other minor details can be addressed satisfactorily in this scale by cutting bits of sprue to shape.  

For decals I used a Model Alliance late Seafire set, which by spooky co-incidence was on special offer this month at Hannants.  This covers a colourful Seafire 46 used by the station flight at RNAS Lossiemouth and adopted as the CO’s personal mount. By all accounts the aircraft was maintained to Captain’s rounds standards at all times, so I went easy on the weathering and applied a fairly glossy top coat to finish.