The Hawker Hurricane is one of Britain's foremost fighters of WWII, and although slightly overshadowed by the more graceful Spitfire during the Battle of Britain, it was a capable aircraft that was available in large numbers, and took more than its fair share of "kills" during the campaign. It went on to see service to the end of the war, but was relegated to less onerous tasks as technology leapt forward and faster, more agile aircraft came on stream on both sides of the conflict.
The Sea Hurricane was initially developed to be launched from Catapult Armed Merchantmen (CAM Ships) as a one-shot launch that would be used to defend a convoy from attackers, and then either flown to friendly shores, or ditched close to the convoy in the hope of being picked up. The aircraft were converted from well-used airframes for a last hurrah to protect the merchantmen, and were initially known as Hurricats. They had a number of alterations to make them suitable for launch and operation by Navy pilots, including naval spec. radio gear. The later 1B was equipped with an arrestor hook and catapult equipment and were used on aircraft carriers of various types, while the later 1Cs had cannon armed wings and an overboosted engine that put out 1400hp at low level. The IICs were used on naval carriers, and over four hundred were built.
Following the launch of the Italeri Hurricane last year, many reviewers spotted the insert under the belly and speculated on the possible Sea Hurricane that might be in the works. Of course that speculation is now over, and here it is - based upon the original kit that was well received by most sensible reviewers, and an awful lot easier to come by than the Hasegawa offering that has been out of production for some time. The kit arrives in a top opening box, the mention of which will send some readers into apoplexy because I simply mentioned it. On the front is a nicely painted picture of a Sea hurri coming in to land with flaps and arrestor hook deployed superimposed upon what looks to be a real sea-scape.
Inside the box are four sprues of medium grey styrene, a small sprue of clear parts, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass sheet, a good sized decal sheet, and a thick instruction booklet that also includes the painting and decaling guide in greyscale. The overall impression is good, as per the original non-naval issue, with subtle changes to the sprues, such as the lack of the blunt spinner and alternative prop blades, and the drop-in section of tooling that replaces the standard belly fillet with the arrestor hook equipped variant, with the spools and hook of course. The rest of the tooling is identical to the original issue, so if you have that kit, you will know the score already.
For those that don't, the cockpit is made up of a tubular framework that encloses the pilot's seat with fancy PE seatbelts, onto which the PE instrument panel and styrene coaming are added. The instructions tell you to place the decal under the PE instrument panel so that they show through the holes, as well as offering you the coward's way out and not using the PE panel at all. The cockpit is finished off with a set of rudder pedals and control column, all of which looks as it should, resulting in a nicely detailed cockpit that will satisfy most modellers. In addition to the cockpit, you also get parts for a Merlin engine in the box, and although it is somewhat simplified, consisting of 9 parts, it looks quite detailed, and has additional parts for the engine bearers and firewall, plus a choice of two types of exhausts, although it's not clear which airframes the options are suitable for, and the painting guide is no help. A large portion of the cowling can be left off to display the engine should you wish, although most will probably opt for the closed up cowling to preserve the Hurri's pugnacious lines. Once those two assemblies are completed and painted, the fuselage can be closed up and work can start on the wings.
The lower wing is a single span, into which a large boxed in main wheel bay is dropped, and the ailerons are separate parts allowing you to pose them deflected if you wish. The upper wings are separate halves, and both upper and lower have a large cut-out on the leading edge into which the gun inserts fit. Careful fettling and test-fitting will be necessary to ensure a good fit, and their presence whispers "cannon armed Hurricanes" quietly to this reviewer. Outboard of the gun insert are a pair of landing lights that have separate lenses and covers, plus wingtip lights that can all be found on the clear sprue. The fuselage is dropped into the slot between the two upper wing halves, and the separate rudder is added, which can again be modelled deflected one way or the other. Under the wing are a small chin scoop plus the larger radiator housing, a clear recognition light and of course the important belly insert with the recess for the arrestor hook. The hook fits within it, and aft of that is the fixed tail-wheel, replete with rather overdone weighted wheel. The horizontal tail is made up from two halves each side, with a single part used for each elevator, which can be posed deflected if you wish.
The landing gear can be posed up or down, with the retracted option omitting a few parts and cutting off some of the retraction struts. Cleverly, the weighted portion of the tyres is hidden under the gear bay door, by simply rotating them 180o to hide them. The gear down option is more complex, and includes a little extra detail in the bay, with a two-part gear leg that attaches the gear bay door and receives the weighted tyre, with two choices of hub, pushed onto the axle. The pitot probe, catapult spools and retractable stirrup step are all located under the wing, some of which are probably better left off until construction is complete. Take care to place the flat-spots on the wheels in the correct position for the aircraft's weight to rest on them, or they'll look very odd indeed!
As mentioned earlier, the cowling panels can be left off to display the engines, but they are a little thick to be representative at that scale, and there is no internal detail, but the choice is of course yours. The edges are thinned a little, so they could quite easily be arranged so that the blank insides aren't visible. The cockpit escape door can be posed open or closed, as can the canopy, and Italeri have thoughtfully included a pair of external handles for each side of the sliding portion for emergency opening from the outside. The distinctive external rear view mirror is added to the top of the windshield, and a small flange fits to the front of the cowling, deflecting oil from the prop away from the windscreen. The prop itself is made from rear portion with keyed blades that fit into holes in the rear, after which the spinner is added.
Five marking options are included on the decal sheet, all Mark IBs, and many of them depicted during Operation Pedestal, as follows:
- RN V7056 HMS Victorious, Operation Pedestal, Aug 1942 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
- RN AF955 HMS Indomitable, 800 NAS, Operation Pedestal, Aug 1942 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
- RN Z4550 HMS Indomitable, 800 NAS, Operation Pedestal, Aug 1942 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
- RN P2886 786 NAS, Machrihanish, 1942/3 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
- RN V7077 HMS Indomitable, 801 NAS, Operation Pedestal, Aug 1942 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
- RN W9134 HMS Victorious, Operation Pedestal, Aug 1942 - Extra Dark Sea Grey and Extra Dark Slate Grey over Sky
The decals are printed by Cartograf and are in good register. Colour density is good, as is sharpness, and the carrier film has been kept to a sensible minimum.
Another good quality Hurricane kit from Italeri that is perhaps only let down by the narrow band of decal choices, with only the yellow tail flash or sky fuselage bands to tell them apart if we ignore the codes. Moulding is first rate, with restrained panel lines and plenty of detail in the main areas out of the box, but the curmudgeon in me wonders whether the tooling costs of the engine could have been better spent elsewhere.
If you fancy a Sea Hurricane in 1:48 for your collection, this is the kit for you.