Scale Trap-pings

RCN News - - Contents - by Jim Bates

The Sea Hur­ri­cane

When World War Two dawned, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm found it­self woe­fully short of fighter air­craft. They started adapt­ing land based types for car­rier use: the Gla­di­a­tor, Spit­fire, and Hur­ri­cane were soon adapted into the Sea Gla­di­a­tor, Seafire, and Sea Hur­ri­cane. While the Sea Gla­di­a­tor was out­dated, the Sea Hur­ri­cane and Seafire sol­diered on un­til U.S. types such as the Hell­cat and Cor­sair were avail­able in large num­bers. Of the two, the Sea Hur­ri­cane was prob­a­bly the bet­ter car­rier type, be­ing less del­i­cate than the Seafire.

The Sea Hur­ri­cane in Canada

While the Sea Hur­ri­cane never served in the Royal Cana­dian Navy, it was, iron­i­cally, op­er­ated by the Royal Cana­dian Air Force. In late 1941 the RCAF found it­self with­out any front­line fight­ers, hav­ing sent its ear­lier Hawker Hur­ri­canes off to the UK along with 1 (F) Squadron RCAF, and was hav­ing a hard time procur­ing ad­di­tional fight­ers to meet its needs. For rea­sons that are still slightly un­clear, the RCAF re­ceived 50 Sea Hur­ri­canes in 1942. It is as­sumed that th­ese air­craft, built in Thun­der Bay, On­tario by Cana­dian Car and Foundry, were to be used as part of the Fleet Air Arm Mer­chant Ship Fight­ing Unit based in Canada, but were di­verted to the RCAF. Th­ese Sea Hur­ri­canes were ba­si­cally a Hur­ri­cane Mark I with a tail-hook, cat­a­pult spools, a short blunt DeHav­il­land spin­ner, and an eight gun wing. The Sea Hur­ri­canes car­ried se­ri­als BW835 to BW884 and en­tered into RCAF ser­vice with hooks re­tained, ROYAL NAVY painted on the fuse­lage, and painted in the Fleet Air Arm scheme of Ex­tra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey over Sky. It ap­pears that most of the Sea Hur­ri­canes spent their time fly­ing out of Dart­mouth, Nova Sco­tia on strength with ei­ther 126 (F) Squadron or 118 (F) Squadron. In 1943, the Sea Hur­ri­cane sur­vivors were re­turned to Cana­dian Car and Foundry and up­graded to Hur­ri­cane XXIa sta­tus. This in­volved fit­ting US made Packard Mer­lin en­gines, re­moval of the tail-hooks, and a re­paint into the stan­dard RCAF Hur­ri­cane scheme of Dark Earth and Dark Green over Sky. After the re­turn to ser­vice, most of th­ese Hur­ri­canes were al­lo­cated to 1 OTU in Bagotville, Que­bec, for train­ing pur­poses.

The Ita­leri Sea Hur­ri­cane in 1/48 scale

Un­til 2012, the only way to build a Sea Hur­ri­cane in 1/48 scale was to con­vert a Hur­ri­cane kit, ei­ther on your own or with a ded­i­cated resin con­ver­sion. How­ever, Ita­leri re­cently is­sued a ded­i­cated Sea Hur­ri­cane kit which has made life much eas­ier for the mod­eler. Upon lifting the lid of the kit, the mod­eler is greeted with a plas­tic bag con­tain­ing two large sprues of ma­jor air­frame parts and two smaller bags; one with the clear parts and the sec­ond with two iden­ti­cal sprues, in­clud­ing smaller de­tail parts. Also in­cluded is a small fret of photo etched parts for the in­stru­ment panel and seat belts and a nice de­cal sheet. The clear parts are thin, del­i­cate, and very clear. The plas­tic parts show good re­cessed de­tail and some rivet- ing, but look softly molded with flash present. The rear fuse­lage fab­ric de­tail is well de­picted. De­tail is quite well done for the cock­pit and a sim­ple Mer­lin en­gine is pro­vided for those who wish to leave the cowl­ings off the air­plane. Ailerons, hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­liz­ers, and the rud­der are all sep­a­rate parts which can be de­flected by the mod­eler. One odd en­gi­neer­ing choice is that the gun ports are sep­a­rate parts that in­sert into the wing lead­ing edge. Most model­ers who have built the kit have com­mented on their poor fit. The tail-hook and re­cess are sep­a­rate parts that fit into a cutout in the bot­tom of the fuse­lage. The small cat­a­pult spools of the Sea Hur­ri­cane are in­cluded as well. The de­cal sheet looks very nice and pro­vides de­cals for six dif­fer­ent Fleet Air Arm Sea Hur­ri­canes. Over­all, this is a nice look­ing kit let down only by its very high re­tail price in Canada and the United States.

The Sea Hur­ri­cane in 1/72

The first ac­tual Sea Hur­ri­cane kit to be re­leased in 1/72 scale was Rev­ell’s Sea Hur­ri­cane IIC which ap­peared in 1999. Not ap­pro­pri­ate to build as an RCAF Sea Hur­ri­cane, this is the later can­non armed ver­sion flown by the Fleet Air Arm. The kit has re­cently been reis­sued by Rev­ell and makes into a neat model. The break­down of the kit parts is rather com­pli­cated, es­pe­cially the wings that are made up of five sep­a­rate pieces. The fit is good, but it does take some care. Rev­ell pro­vides the rear fuse­lage in­sert and tail took, but the mod­eler is left to make up the cat­a­pult spools if he or she wishes. Cock­pit de­tail is sim­ple but ef­fec­tive with a de­cal in­stru­ment panel. The clear parts may not be as clear as many would wish. Sadly, the kit does have some ac­cu­racy con­cerns. The dog­house area of the rear fuse­lage un­der the canopy is not de­picted, the spin­ner and pro­peller are not pro­to­typ­i­cal, and the rear fuse­lage fab­ric de­tail is slightly heavy. That be­ing said, it does re­sem­ble the Sea Hur­ri­cane when fin­ished and the price is right.

More re­cently Air­fix has is­sued a com­bined Hur­ri­cane IIC/Sea Hur­ri­cane kit. Un­like the Rev­ell kit, this is a con­ver­sion in a box. The kit does pro­vide the tail-hook and the fuse­lage in­sert, but the kit is molded as a Hur­ri­cane and the mod­eler is in­structed to cut open the fuse­lage to fit the in­sert. Again, the cat­a­pult spools are not pro­vided. The kit it­self is a mixed bag; the fuse­lage fab­ric is beau­ti­fully done, but the re­cessed panel lines and riv­ets are very heavy. The mold­ings are quick thick and de­tail is lack­ing. How­ever, it does build up rea­son­ably well, and out­side of the surgery nec­es­sary to build the Sea Hur­ri­cane, would make a good first ef­fort for a be­gin­ner. Sadly, again, there are ac­cu­racy is­sues. The pro­peller is com­i­cally small, the spin­ner is, again, not pro­to­typ­i­cal and the canopy is larger in length and width than it should be. De­cals are pro­vided for a mostly white Sea Hur­ri­cane from the HMS Nairana named “Nicki.” Even with it be­ing the newer kit, and again, at a nice price, I would still rec­om­mend the Rev­ell kit over the Air­fix Sea Hur­ri­cane if the mod­eler is look­ing for a 1/72 ex­am­ple for their shelf.

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