March 2018

DH Sea Devon C Mk.20

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De Havilland DH.104 Sea Devon C Mk.20

718 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Culdrose, 1967

Amodel 1/72

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The Sea Devon C Mk.20 was the Royal Navy’s version of the highly successful DeHavilland Dove short haul airliner, itself seen as a direct monoplane replacement for the iconic Dragon Rapide biplane (Dominie in RN and RAF service).  Powered by two DH Gipsy Queen 70 motors of 340hp each, it was capable of over 200 mph with a range of up to 880miles at a more leisurely cruise speed of 187 mph.

The Dove’s first flight was in 1945, and production ended in 1967 during which time, over 540 Doves, Devons and sea Devons were built, including a militarised version, known in the RAF as the Devon C Mk.1 and C Mk.2, of which over 127 were built for air forces around the globe as VIP and light transports.  With all-metal construction, constant speed propellers, flaps and retracting tricycle undercarriage, the Dove was seen as an advanced design and it was able to carry up to 11 passengers in relative comfort . Maintainability was a key part of the design , with easily interchangeable airframe parts and quick release engine mounts.

The thirteen Royal Naval Sea Devons were not part of the militarised batch, but were former civil aircraft purchased second-hand by the Fleet Air Arm and operated by 718 Naval Air Squadron out of RNAS Culdrose from 1955 until 1981.  They served alongside five of the larger DH Sea Herons, a four engine development of the Dove.

I have a number of A-Model kits in the stash, but I have to confess that this is actually the first one that I have built. This one cost me £25 which seems a little steep, but given the rare subject and its perfect fit with my modelling themes, I was happy to pay.  First impressions are good, with crisp moulding and nicely retrained engraved panel lines. Two decal options are provided, one for the a restored RNZAF aircraft that is still flying today, and those for the naval aircraft. For the sideways walking modeller, changing this to an RAF one by using a few aftermarket decals would not be a big issue !  A small etch fret is also provided, although I shied away from this in the end as I didn’t feel that it added enough to warrant the superglue frustration that I knew I would experience!

Parts fit was generally good, but this is definitely a short run kit, with no locating pins for any of the major parts, including the tail planes.  As such, it requires some patience and modelling experience.  That said, almost everything went together with ease, the two exception being the cabin windows, which gave me quite  a lot of difficulty, as they were not the correct size for the moulded gaps, and the wing to fuselage joint. The wing joint was relatively easy to resolve with a little fettling and filler, but the windows less so; although I got there in the end, they were highly frustrating and I’m not entirely happy with the end effect.

I added a few antenna and the prominent fuselage top anti-collision beacon, although I left out the elevator balancing horns - the provided colour profiles show all of these features, but there are no kit parts provided.  I also added a very basic interior to the main cabin, although in the end the less than clear windows made this a little pointless. The same can be said for the well equipped kit cockpit, which is almost invisible through the canopy when completed.  The kit needs a lot of nose weight if it is to sit on its wheels, and I chose to fit a discreet prop instead.  Decals went on nicely, although in retrospect I think the blue is a little too light coloured.

All in all, this is a nice kit of a rare subject, that requires slightly above average skill and patience to complete, but is definitely well worth the effort.

Above: the De Havilland museum’s example shows one VIP cabin layout, albeit a litlte worn and tatty!

Below left: the Scottish Museum of Flight’s example shows a more workman like layout.

Below Right the East Midlands’ Museums example which is currently undergoing restoration

© IWM (ATP 27501B)                                                                                                  © IWM (ATP 27501C)

Have a look at many more post war RN aircraft models on my RN Props pages