Royal Navy Monoplanes - Post WW2

Sea Hornet, Firefly, Sea Fury, Seafang, Gannet, Skyraider, Chipmunk & Jetstream

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Fairey Gannet AS.4, 815 Sqn HMS ARK ROYAL,1956.

Another Frog classic. Until the recent Trumpeter (and imminent Revell) kits, this was the best you could get. Its not bad, although the cockpit is a flat deck with the pilot's heads moulded on. This one has been built entirely out the box with no changes.

Despite being the subject of "super priority" production, Fairey's Gannet went through an extended gestation period before entering service. Powered by the revolutionary Armstrong Siddeley Double Mamba turboprop engine, the Gannet was the ultimate evolution of the propeller driven, carrier based ASW aircraft.

Fleet Air Arm Props - Index The RNAS - 1914-1918 Biplanes 1918-1946 WW2 Monoplanes Post WW2
#GannetAS4 #Skyraider #Swordgannet #Chipmunk #Jetstream #Balliol #Devon #COD #Tutor

Suez and beyond:  The mid-1950s to the 2000s


Westland Wyvern S.4, 830 Sqn HMS EAGLE 1956.

Trumpeter’s Wyvern kit is a modern and very polished production, accurate and easy to build with a good range of decal and weapons options.

The Wyvern represented the last gasp of the Torpedo Fighter concept, straddling the era of propeller driven naval combat aircraft and the jet. It suffered a very long gestation period, largely due to delays in the development of suitable conventional powerplants, but eventually entered service using the Armstrong Siddeley Python turboprop.

Wyverns only remained in service with the RN for 4 years, equipping 4 front-line squadrons.  Nevertheless, 830 Squadron based in HMS EAGLE played a key role in the Suez landings, flying 79 intense and highly successful back to back sorties against Egyptian air bases, as well as flying close support to ground forces in the landing zones.  Two Wyverns were lost to Egyptian anti-aircraft fire, but on both occasions the pilots were able to fly out over the sea before ejecting, allowing them to be picked up by EAGLE’s SAR helicopter.

Although it proved a stable weapons platform with a commendable war record, of the 124 Wyverns built for the Fleet air Arm, with 39 were lost in accidents , with 13 fatalities.  By 1958 it was obsolete and was quickly withdrawn from service.

Fairey Gannet COD, FOAC, HMS ARK ROYAL,1965.

The Frog classic once more, but with a few modifications. This one has wing fuel tanks, removed radar ”bin” and a full antenna fit. Decals come from ModelDecal. Link to build page

Gannets remained in service long after they were replaced by helicopters in the ASW role.  A simple conversion to remove ASW role equipment allowed them to be used as Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft.  Passengers , important stores and mail were loaded into the empty fuselage.  A 4th seat was fitted in front of the rear cockpit but seldom used.

Douglas Skyraider AEW1. 849 NAS A Flight, HMS ARK ROYAL.

This is the Airfix kit with the C-Scale white metal and acetate vacform conversion, plus my own decals.

For the RN, the Skyraider AEW conversion was a stop-gap measure until the Gannet AEW3 was available. In typical cheapskate style, the radars were eventually transferred from the Skyraiders to the Gannets. Some of them even ended up in Shackletons, providing front line defence of the UK until the late 1980s.

Fairey Gannet AEW.3, 849 Sqn B Flight, HMS ARK ROYAL,1978.

This is a much older ID Models vacform fuselage added to the Frog kit. Decals from Model Alliance.

Gannets saw out their final days with 849 B Flight, operating from HMS ARK ROYAL until 1978, in conjunction with F-4 Phantoms and S.2 Buccaneers.  For a short period following th ewthdrawal of ARK ROYAL, they supported the RAF from shore bases as they introduced the AEW Shackleton variant as a replacement (carrying radars removed form the Gannets).

The Gannet's organic OTH (over the horizon) radar capability was sorely missed in the South Atlantic in 1982.

Boulton Paul Sea Balliol T.21, MTP School RNAS Abbotsinch, 1963.

Special Hobby kits are some of the best low production moulds around and whilst this one has a few building foibles, it builds into a colourful and interesting representation of the RN’s lfinal pre-jet age trainer.

The Balliol served as an advanced trainer with the RAF and RN (with folding wings and hook) during the mid 1950s with the last example remaining in use  until the mid 1960s.  

De Havilland DH104 Sea Devon C Mk.20, 718 Sqn RNAS Culdrose 1967.

Amodel’s Sea Devon/Dove is an enchanting, but tricky build of this distinctive small transport aircraft.

ThThe 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.

Handley Page/Scottish Aviation/British Aerospace Jetstream T.2, 750 Sqn RNAS Yeovilton 1986.

The M&E Models conversion from the Airfix Jetstream has excellent decals, but is otherwise quite simple, matching the kit itself. It includes the new nose, replacement engines and some rather nice transfers for both RN & RAF T.1 variants. I built this kit back in the mid 1990s, when I had effectively given up modelling for a while. As a result it is not one of my better efforts.

Royal Navy Jetstream T.2s replaced the Sea Prince for training Fleet Air Arm Observers, as well as general communication duties; the main difference from the civil (and RAF) version is the use of the Turbomeca Astazou XVI turboprop, plus a distinctive Ekco navigation radar dome in the nose.

The Jetstream was one of Handley Page's last independent designs. Subsequently built by Scottish Aviation (a British Aerospace subsidiary) at Prestwick, it had reasonable success as a regional "feeder" airliner in the US.

......and the real thing (RIAT 2007):

For the 2009 Celebrations of 100 Years of Naval Aviation, Jetstreams wore this attractive motif on their tails:

Grob Tutor T.1 727 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Yeovilton, 2015

Heritage Models produce this nice Grob Tutor with decals for most University Air Sqns and also for 727 Sqn RN  Link to build page

The German-built Grob Tutor T.1 replaced the Scottish Aviation Bulldog in RN, Army & RAF elementary Flying training.  Largely built from composites, it is capable of limited aerobatics..  727 Sqn RN operated the Grob form Plymouth Airport until its closure, then moving to RNAS Yeovilton, where they conduct Flying Grading of RN pilots , selecting them for helicopters,  multi-engines and fast jets depending on their abilities.   

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DeHavilland Canada (DHC) Chipmunk T.10, Royal Navy Grading Flight, Roborough Airport, Plymouth 1983

The Airfix Chipmunk is one of only 2 1/72 kits of this versatile and long lived trainer. It is very basic, with prominent rivets, flimsy undercarriage and a somewhat difficult wing to fuselage join. Decals are from the original kit and my spares box. The kit is otherwise OOB, except that I substituted the early leather helmeted aircrew for some later ones with modern bone-domes and added the anti-spin strakes in front of the tailplanes.

This type of aircraft, from the Fleet Air Arm's initial training and grading flight, has the distinction of being the only aeroplane that I have actually flown (as opposed to flown in) . During my one and only flight, we passed up over Dartmoor, around the Princetown TV Transmitter Mast, then up to the North Devon coast for a couple of loop the loops and barrel rolls, then back south (with the canopy cracked open for some fresh air as I was, by this time, feeling distinctly nauseous) around Torbay then back to Roborough. I managed to get back on to the ground with the engine stopped before actually being sick!

The Chipmunk was the first indigenous Canadian aircraft design. Entering service in the early 1950s as a replacement for the Tiger Moth, it continued in UK military service until the late 1990s. During the 1960s, the Fleet Air Arm acquired twelve ex-RAF aircraft for initial training and grading of potential naval aircrew, operating the Britannia Flight aircraft from Roborough Airport at Plymouth (latterly under contract to Airwork Services).

Fairey Gannet AEW.3, 849 Sqn A Flight, HMS HERMES,1971.

Sword 1/72

The Gannet airframe was radically redesigned with new fuselage and more powerful engines, to carry an AEW Radar set and a basic data link, allowing it to control fighter aircraft and transmit an over the horizon radar picture back to the host Carrier.  In this form it served on RN Carriers until the late 1970s, with 849 Sqn providing 4 Flights of carrier based aircraft plus a shore HQ/Training Sqn at Lossiemouth (later Culdrose).  


Fairey Gannet T.5, 849 Sqn HQ Flight, RNAS Brawdy 1965.

Trumpeter’s kit comes in 2 variants, and AS.4 and a T.5 (labelled as a T.2) .  It’s not perfect by any means, but a much better kit than the old FROG offering.

The T.2 and T.5 trainer variant of the Gannet was widely operated from shore bases by Gannet Squadrons..


Hunting Percival Sea Prince T.1, 750 Sqn RNAS Culdrose 1977.

The Special Hobby kit of the Hunting Percival pembroke also includes parts to build the earlier Sea Prince Royal Navy trainer.  This is s short run kit which definitely requires some skill and patience to build

The Hunting Percival Sea Prince was a military variant of the civil Merganser and Prince light transport aircraft developed in the late 1940s.  Its high wing and low slung fuselage were intended to make it easy for passengers to embark and disembark at small airfields.   

The design was quickly adopted by the Fleet Air Arm as a transport aircraft, followed by the development of a dedicated anti-submarine trainer with a long nose housing an ASV Mk.15A radar, internal radar displays and tactical radios, twin wheel main undercarriage and lengthened engine nacelles. Three students could be carried and 2 small "bomb-bays" and wing racks allowed practice weapons and sonobouys to be released.

Forty one Sea Prince T.1s served in the ASW and navigation training role from 1951 until 1972 when they were replaced by the Jetstream.  The RAF also operated an upgraded version of the Prince with extended wingtips and a greater range/payload, known as the Percival Pembroke.