December 2023

Fairey Gannet T.5

Supermarine Attacker F.1

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Supermarine Attacker F.1

800 Naval Air Squadron,

HMS EAGLE, 1951.

FROG, with spare decals - 1/72

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After the heady days of the Spitfire family in WW2, Supermarine struggled with their transition into the jet age.  Their main projects, the Attacker, Swift and Scimitar were all commendably advanced designs, but the fast moving pace of aviation (and in the case of the Swift, serious development problems) left all of them behind.   

The Supermarine Attacker became the Fleet Air Arm’s first operational carrier based jet fighter, entering front-line service in 1951. Although the DeHavilland Sea Vampire had made the first jet carrier landings, the Admiralty opted for the more conservative tail-wheeled Attacker design, based around the proven and advanced Spiteful/Seafang laminar flow wing and its more responsive and powerful Rolls Royce Nene jet (which, in different forms, licenced and otherwise, also powered the Grumman Panther and the MiG-15).

The initial F.1 variant was quickly upgraded to the FB.1 with underwing racks for unguided rockets.  The definitive and final Attacker variant was the FB.2, with a  more powerful Nene engine.  After significant problems with the original canopy, a new one with framing and a covered rear section was added, with some retrofitted to earlier aircraft.

Ten FAA and RNVR sqns were equipped with the Attacker, but its operational effectiveness was marginal at best, while the tail-wheel undercarriage/jet pipe arrangement caused numerous awkward problems, including deck erosion. Although it gave the RN valuable experience of operating jet aircraft at sea, pilots welcomed its replacement in 1954 by the Hawker Sea Hawk with great relief.  Nevertheless, it remained in service with RNVR Squadrons for three further years after its withdrawal from front line service!  

Cut-down (non-navalised) export variants served with 11 Sqn of the Pakistan Air Force until the late 1950s.

Building the FROG Attacker kit:

One final build to end 2023 and this one definitely fits in the "nostalgia" category.  

FROG's Supermarine Attacker kit was one of their earliest, first appearing in 1956 and seemingly with a remarkably long production run, with FROG until the late 1970s, then the NOVO and other USSR offshoots until the late 1990s and beyond!   It really is a very basic kit, with only 14 parts and despite its claim to be "based on official plans" it isn't the most accurate around.  

Mine came in an unmarked dirty bag of bits for £5 (which sounds a bit expensive) almost a decade ago.  Given the reasonable and flash-free moulding in dark blue plastic, plus useable canopy (sort of) I think it could be a genuine FROG, or perhaps an early NOVO kit.  No decals (but I have plenty in the stash) and no instructions (not really needed!).  For my last one of these I used a Falcon vacform canopy (because the canopy is really bad!), plus a set of Modeldecal markings, but for this one it will be much as FROG intended, warts and all !!!  The kit canopy represents the earlier type, with no framing.  This does limit the ways in which the kit can be used, unless you replace the canopy.

Fit is almost perfect, although some light sanding will be needed to tidy up seams.  I have to confess that I slapped the whole thing together in an afternoon, whilst waiting for the Gannet T.5 decals to dry. To compete the nostalgic atmosphere, I even ran some glue into the seams as a filler and wiped it off with a finger.   Detailing and painting took a little longer, but not much.  I left the "pilots head" in place, painting around it in black to hide the lack of a cockpit and did the same with the missing undercarriage bays.

My decals were a hotch-potch of Modeldecal sets.  Although similar to the kit decals for an aircraft of 800 Sqn, based onboard HMS EAGLE in 1951, I have chosen to represent the aircraft that is displayed in the FAA Museum at Yeovilton.   

Top right:  If it had actually come in one of these early boxes, I probably wouldn’t have built it!

Left:  But in fact it came in a dirty poly bag full of bits.   Rummaging in boxes full of unloved anonymous kits like this, trying to spot that hidden gem, used to be one of my favourite model show activities.  

Below:  Some of the many other boxes in which this kit has been sold.

Link to more Fleet Air Arm aircraft on my Flight Deck pages

December 2023 - Fairey Gannet T.5

Link to December 2023 Part 1 (Gannet T.5) >>

Part 2

December 2023 - Fairey Gannet T.5

Above:  © IWM A 32016A - An Attacker of 703 Sqn, piloted by Lt Cdr John Marshal Glaser DSC makes the first launch of a jet aircraft from HMS EAGLE

Below:  © IWM ATP 23123C  - A fine side profile of an early aircraft. .

Below:  some detail photographs of the Yeovilton aircraft.  Note the later style framed canopy.

Below:  Two icons of naval Aviation sit side by side at Yeovilton:  the De Havilland Sea Vampire that made the first ever deck landing and take-off from an aircraft carrier and the Attacker that superceded it in RN service.

Above and below:  An Attacker exhibited at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton.

I believe that this is the last remaining example of this aircraft type.