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  1. The Blackburn Skua was designed to be both a carrier-borne dive-bomber and a fighter. Procuring aeroplanes capable of more than one task let the Fleet Air Arm wring all the use it possibly could from its slender service strength. How slender that was, and what a minor consideration the FAA was, may be illustrated by the Air Ministry budget for 1935, the year Blackburn began designing the Skua. This proposed adding nineteen new aroplanes to the Fleet Air Arm, while proposing eleven new squadrons be formed in the Royal Air Force by year's end, as the first step in a program to form some forty new squadrons in the next three years. The Skua was a ground-breaking machine for the Fleet Air Arm when its prototype took flight in 1937. Though biplanes still were common in the Royal Air Force, new production underway made clear the monoplane would soon predominate. With the Skua, the Fleet Air Arm would have a monoplane too, and one of the most modern sort, a low wing cantilever monoplane of all-metal stressed skin construction, with a retractable undercarriage, enclosed accommodation for its crew of two, and a multi-gun battery mounted in its wings. That the Skua was designed to be a dive bomber was as ground-breaking as its construction and configuration. Procurement of a dive bomber was an innovation for the Royal Navy. Admiral Henderson, who had made his career commanding aircraft carriers, beginning with HMS Furious soon after the Great War, believed in the technique. The Air Ministry did not, but under the intricate arrangement between the Air Ministry and the Admiralty, the latter could write its own specifications. By the time the Skua's development was underway, Admiral Henderson had been appointed Controller, in charge of determining capabilities and design parameters of warships for the Royal Navy. The Skua was intended to engage enemy warships, whether on the high seas in aid of the fleet in action, or in surprise raids on harbors. It was a true dive bomber. The Skua could dive steeply and pull-out safely at very low altitudes, owing to air brakes under its wings, which kept the aeroplane from accelerating much in its dive. The Skua could carry a heavy bomb on the centerline, and release it while diving by means of a 'trapeze' which swung the bomb clear of the propeller's disc. The heaviest bomb available for the Skua's use was the five hundred pound semi armor piercing bomb. Roughly equivalent to an eleven inch shell, this could inflict catastrophic damage on lesser vessels, but could do little harm to the vitals of most capital ships. The subsidiary role of 'fleet fighter' envisioned for the Skua did not include interception and offensive patrol, roles the Skua would be pressed into by events during its service life. Carrier-borne fighters were to prevent enemy reconnaissance aeroplanes from discovering or tracking the fleet, and with the fleet in battle, were to prevent enemy aeroplanes from assisting their ships' gunnery. No great speed or agility was required to carry out such tasks, and Skuas had many opportunities, in northern waters and the Mediterranean, to see off enemy reconnaissance planes. Put to the task, the Skua proved capable of success against enemy bombers, whether in aid of ships or ground forces. What the Skua could not do was engage modern land-based fighters on equal terms, being by design too large and too heavy, and therefore too slow to do so. Blackburn's design was accepted for service late in 1938 only after the prototype's poor stall and spin characteristics had been sufficiently rectified (by lengthening the nose, increasing the tailplane's span, and tilting up the wingtips). The Air Ministry that summer had made a last minute attempt to quash production of the Skua, on the grounds it was obsolescent as a fighter plane (which by compare to emerging single-seat fighters in the RAF it certainly was). The Navy Board countered that nothing else was available to carry out either the fighter or the dive bomber roles, and that the latter was the Skua's most important use. Skuas began to trickle into Fleet Air Arm squadrons during 1939. 800 Squadron, the 'senior' squadron of the FAA, received the first three in January. These were taken to sea for service trials alongside the unit's Hawker Osprey biplanes aboard HMS Ark Royal, and the juxtaposition of the Navy's newest modern aeroplane with the Navy's newest and largest aircraft carrier drew great attention, which Blackburn stoked by a vigorous campaign of advertisements featuring the Skua, in which the aeroplane looked quite the speedy and powerful modern fighting machine. When war with Nazi Germany began, 800 Squadron and 803 Squadron, assigned to HMS Ark Royal, had nine Skuas each, and 801 Squadron, assigned to HMS Furious, had a dozen. Ark Royal, Furious, and HMS Courageous were sent into the Western Approaches, where their aircraft were to search out submarines, and respond with bombs to reports of submarines sighted. Two Skuas of 803 Sqdn, engaging a surfaced submarine, pressed their attack so low the blast of their own hundred pound bombs slapped them out of the sky (and without harm to the U-boat, which rescued aircrew). Despite a web of searching aeroplanes, and destroyers in close escort, German submarines found their way to the carriers. Ark Royal sighted and avoided the torpedoes of a U-boat, which escorting destroyers then sank. HMS Courageous, however, was struck and sunk by a U-boat's torpedoes. HMS Ark Royal sortied into the North Sea with battle-cruisers late in September, in aid of a Royal Navy submarine in distress near the German coast. 800 Sqdn Skuas drove off two German flying boats seeking to spot and shadow the capital ships, and Skuas of 803 Sqdn drove down a third. The position of the force had been reported, however. When twin-engine German bombers approached, Ark Royal's aeroplanes, Skuas included, were down in the hangers, drained of fuel and stripped of munitions, for the safety of the ship in case of a hit. There nearly was one, a 1000kg bomb close enough by the bow to have been honestly reported as a hit. The German bombers carried out their business without hindrance or hurry, though with no success, and the ineffectiveness of the anti-aircraft fire put up by a sizeable group of vessels including capital ships, particularly in the face of dive bombing, led the Admiralty to abandon the view defense against air attack was the responsibility of the gunners, and to direct that henceforth, carrier-borne fighters should aid the gunners by engaging bombers. At the start of October, the Admiralty had confirmation that Nazi Germany's Graf Spee was loose in the South Atlantic shipping lanes. HMS Ark Royal was ordered to leave the Home Fleet for the South Atlantic, and there to join Force K (the battle-cruiser HMS Renown and several destroyers) at Freetown. Ark Royal reached Freetown on October 12, carrying a half-dozen Skuas of 800 Sqdn, and three slim squadrons of Swordfish. Force K at sea seeking for Graf Spee could employ carrier-borne aeroplanes in just the way the Navy had always thought to be their crowning use. They would extend vision many miles beyond the horizon. If the quarry were spotted, they would help HMS Renown hurry into battle, by keeping Graf Spee in sight, and even striking to slow it down in a prolonged chase. There would be no more than a float-plane or two by way of aerial opposition, which the Skuas could easily deal with. It is one of the minor yet intriguing 'might have beens' in naval history, what could have occured had Force K encountered the Graf Spee. A strike would certainly have been launched from Ark Royal if the enemy vessel were sighted at any distance from the guns of HMS Renown. A dozen or more Swordfish coming in low from all directions with torpedos, while half a dozen Skuas overhead dove down with bombs equal to Graf Spee's main deck armor, might well have put paid to the German ship, and made Graf Spee the first capital ship sunk by air attack on the high seas. It was not to be, however. On November 18, Force K departed Freetown for the Cape of Good Hope to rendezvous there with a pair of heavy cruisers, after report was received Graf Spee was in the Indian Ocean south of Madagascar. By the time Force K reached the Cape, on December 1, Graf Spee had doubled back into the South Atlantic, where it was soon to meet the cruisers of Force G off Montevideo. While HMS Ark Royal was with Force K, when the Skuas of 800 Squadron went aloft they remained near the carrier, while search at distance was carried out by Swordfish. The Skuas spent so much of their time immured in the enclosed hanger deck the flyers dubbed themselves 'the pit ponies', after the animals once employed down the mines. Still, on December 8, one Skua came down in the sea. The wireless man was rescued, but the pilot was lost. HMS Ark Royal was to remain in the South Atlantic till February 6, 1940, when it set sail for Portsmouth. It arrived there the day after Valentine's, and remained for a month's refit. 800 Sqdn took its Skuas to Hatston in the Orkneys, where it was joined by 803 Sqdn and a freshly formed Skua unit, 806 Squadron. During March they flew convoy protection patrols over the North Sea, engaging German U-boats (rarely) and bombers (fairly often). The remaining Skua squadron, 801, was ashore at Scapa Flow with the Home Fleet. A Royal Navy operation to mine Norwegian waters collided with a German invasion of the place on April 9. 800 Sqdn and 803 Squadron flew their Skuas through the night to attack German vessels in Bergen harbor at dawn on April 10, sinking the German light cruiser Konigsberg at anchor. The Germans had quickly seized airfields in Norway, and flew in a strong force of bombers, which soon made the coastal waters untenable for English warships without a scrap of air cover. HMS Ark Royal, with the Skuas of 800 Sqdn and 801 Sqdn, and HMS Glorious, with the Skuas of 803 Sqdn, were dispatched to provide air cover for Allied forces at sea and on land, arriving April 25. The situation for Allied ground troops in central Norway had become dire, and their evacuation began in early May even as a fresh landing was made on the north coast at Narvik. 806 Sqdn Skuas, flying from HMS Furious, joined the three Skua equipped squadrons now operating from Ark Royal, but when the Narvik effort collapsed, 801 Sqdn disembarked from Ark Royal at Scapa Flow. In Norway, Skuas made dive bombing attacks on German shipping in harbor and German occupied airfields, and flew frequent offensive patrols over the coast to protect ground forces, and break up bomber formations heading out to sea. The impression Skuas were not up to the task in Norway owes more to their being far too few of them by compare to the German aerial fleet mustered there than to the aeroplane's (quite real) deficiencies. While German bombers were generally faster than the Skua, over the North Sea Skua pilots had learned they could get enough speed diving without their brakes to manage a firing pass. Skua pilots found over Norway that deploying the brakes in level flight made the aeroplane much more manuverable, which proved some defense against the only fighters available to the Germans in Norway, twin-engined zerstoerer such as the Me110, and Ju88s fitted with a gun-pack. Skuas were flown in aid of the Dunkirk evacuation even as they continued to cover Allied forces disengaging from battle in Norway. From late May and into June, 806 Sqdn and 801 Sqdn engaged in both dive bombing in direct support of ground forces, and offensive patrols. There were some successes against bombers, but the Skuas were roughly handled by Me109s. June 13 brought another demonstration of the Skua's vulnerability to the Me109. Fifteen Skuas of 800 Sqdn and 803 Sqdn took off from HMS Ark Royal to attack the Scharnhorst at Trondheim, as part of a combined operation that became a ghastly muddle, with eight of the Skuas downed by defending German fighters. By late June Skuas ceased operating over the channel. 801 Sqdn went to Hatston, and during the summer flew long-range raids to bomb installations on the Norwegian coast, while 806 Sqdn embarked on the new carrier HMS Illustrious for training on the new Fairy Fulmar fighter, an aeroplane better armed if not much faster than the Skua. HMS Ark Royal, carrying the Skuas of 800 Sqdn and 803 Sqdn, patched up after the Trondheim debacle, set sail for the Mediterranean on June 17, to provide air cover for the fleet there now that Italy was entering the war. The Ark Royal operated in the Mediterranean till it was sunk late in 1941, with several sojourns into the Atlantic, three times after German surface vessels (including the Bismark), and once to attack Vichy French forces. Employed against the Vichy French and Italian navies the Skua's operations took on much the same contours as in Norway and the North Sea. Skuas flew to drive off reconnaissance aeroplanes, and intercepted formations of bombers intent on attacking English warships. Single seat land-based fighters were largely absent. HMS Illustrious joined Ark Royal in midsummer, with 806 Sqdn, which still had Skuas in reserve for the frequent occasions the new Fulmars were out of repair. 803 Sqdn left Ark Royal for re-equipping with the Fulmar in October. It was not till June of 1941 the Skua was taken off front-line operations in the Mediterranean, with the final departure of 800 Sqdn from HMS Ark Royal. 801 Sqdn, flying under Coastal Command orders from St. Eval, had already been stood down by May, and was being re-equipped with Sea Hurricanes. This model represents Skua L2878, 'L' of Yellow Section, 800 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, as it probably appeared when embarked on HMS Ark Royal in the South Atlantic. Though allocated to Ark Royal, 800 Sqdn was ashore at Hatson when the war began, and orders to see a black port wing (an important identification marking for ground observers) would have seen to. I have made the demarcation the join of the folding wings, since this would expose the under-surface, and be fair easier to paint. I think the colored wing-tip on the port wing under-surface would have been retained, and doing so would not be difficult. 800 Squadron does not seem to have got camouflage paint till Ark Royal returned to Plymouth in February, 1940 (803 retained its peacetime finish only till October, when it disembarked Ark Royal for Hatston). This model is one from the shelf of doom, brought out by a 'shelf-queen group build' on an other site. When the Special Hobby 1/72 Skua kit was new I took a run at it. I don't recall much about the original build, except that the engine was a gem, I put a lot of effort into the cockpit, and had to trim the turn-over pylon a bit to get the canopy on, and put a lot of effort into the cockpit. At the end I did not like the finish I'd got with silver acrylic, noticed I had misaligned (and sealed down) the fuselage roundels, and the last straw was decals for 803 Sqdn chevron stripes (from the old Pavla/Octopus kit) dissolving on contact with water. A while later I stripped the paint, and in the course of this, all the little bits came off, and the big pieces separated. I stuck the wings and tailplane back on, and the whole affair resided for years in a box. When I decided to take it up, I decided the plain finish of 800 Squadron was a better choice than trying to make or procure 803 chevron stripes. I was fortunate enough to receive information on Ark Royal's Skuas at this time from FAA boffins here. The finish is Tamiya rattle-can silver over foil. I foiled intending to brush on a thin coat of silver lacquer, a procedure which I had previously got a good result from, but true enough to form for this, I could not make the trick work this time --- I had not got brushmarks before, but this time I did. I noted the problem early enough it was easy to remove what had been applied. There probably should be 'universal carrier' bomb racks under the wings, but I am by now disinclined to scratch such to acceptable standard. (Moment of 'D'oh': I only noticed after posting up pictures I have got the black walkway wrong. It should extend a bit onto the butt-end of the wing's folding portion. Guess I got carried away by the trickiness of freehanding just the stationary stub of the wing roots. It will be an easy fix.)
  2. I understand the overall finish is aluminum lacquer, with port wing undersurface black. I have no idea what squadron markings might have been employed while on HMS Ark Royal in the South Atlantic, or what might be serials and such of individual aircraft. It might make a nice model.
  3. Back when they were near new, I took a run at a Special Hobby 1/72 Skua. I wanted to do it in a pre-war finish, and had decals for an early 803 Sqdn Skua from the earlier Pavla/Octopus kit. These disintegrated, however, and home-mades weren't then an option. Besides, I had a roundel misaligned but sealed down firm, and I didn't like the silver paint job. So I stripped it, and between the ammonia and the vigorous old tooth-brush, some things came off and came apart, and the whole thing went into a box.... Over on the old HyperScale 1/72 forum a 'shelf queen' group build is on, and that got me thinking of this old relict. I did put some effort into the cockpit... Mentions in the MM Skua & Roc number of the South Atlantic sojourn of HMS Ark Royal piqued my interest, and the likely 'peace-time plus black port wing undersurface' scheme is the sort of oddity I like. Due to the assistance of some FAA boffins here (for which I am most grateful) I have a choice of several 800 Sqdn machines, whose livery was always more plain than 803's, and will be simple to contrive. So here is a first small step to get underway --- spraying the control surfaces with rattle-can Tamiya bright silver... My intent is to first foil the model, then over-paint this with a thin coat of silver lacquer, essentially replicating in miniature what I understand to be the actual finish. It gives a good look. Here for illustration is a Type 96 Carrier Fighter given this treatment.
  4. Blackburn Skua Mk. II Special Hobby 1:48 In 1934, the Air Ministry issued Specification O.27/34 calling for a carrier borne multi-purpose aircraft which should be capable of operating in both fighter and dive bomber roles. In those days, the concept of a carrier fighter aircraft as seen by the British military had to have a crew of two facilitating long flights over the sea and suited to fighting enemy’s patrol planes. In no way, any kind of fighting against opposing bomber planes or even fighters had ever been considered. As the best of all proposed projects was chosen the B.24 designed by Blackburn’s chief designer G.E.Petty. The aircraft was a low-wing type with folding wings and retractable undercarriage. Under the fuselage, it also had an arrestor hook and a recess for one bomb of weight up to 226kg. The first prototype aircraft, later to be named the Skua Mk.I, was taken aloft for the first time on 9 February 1937. Following a successful set of test flights, the mass production was launched instantly. The production machines were powered by a Bristol Perseus XII and were known as the Skua Mk.II. They saw service with front line squadrons no. 800, 801, 803 and 806 and were also issued to training units or to target tow units. Despite all the rush while being put to production, the machines really lacked abilities to serve as figher planes and were deemed to be quite obsolete. But when the war broke out, the Skua found wery quickly its way to operations both over the land and from the carriers. During their first ever bombing raid against a German sub, which occured on 14 September, two of the flight of three were lost to their own poor-quality bombs. On 26 September, two machines of No 803 Sqn managed to shot down a German Dornier Do 18 flying boat, achieving the very first confirmed victory of a British aircrew in the war. The Skua, however, had several more primacies under its belt. On 10 April 1940, during the Norwegian campaign, a group of 16 Skuas sank German cruiser Königsberg. Aircraft of No 800 Sqn led by Capt. R.T.Partridge and of No 803 Sqn under the command of Lt.W.P.Lucy took off from their base at Hatson on the Orkneys and performed what was the first successful aerial attack against a war ship of the Second World War. Skuas also took part in fighting over Dunkirk and machines from HMS Royal Ark fought in the Med, where, on 3 July 1940, they got famous for being the first British warplanes involved in action against the former British ally, the French. It also has to be mentioned that these Skuas were the first ones to be lost in that undeclared war. The last Skuas were withdrawn from Ark Royal in April 1941 and since then went on serving with non-combat units only. Their war career was rather short, and despite their low performance in the fighter role, several pilots managed to achieve ace (ie gaining more than five confirmed victories) flying these aircraft. The Skua could have been far more successful, mainly in the bomber role if it had just been used in a proper way by Admiralty, obviously to the detriment of the Royal Navy. The Model With a pair of Skuas flying over what looks like Norway on the box top you might begin thinking that you’ve seen this scene before, well you probably have as the same box art was used on the original release in 2007. Upon opening the kit is well wrapped in a poly bag with the decals and instructions loose. The model is produced on four sprues of grey styrene, one of clear, quite a few resin parts, a small sheet of etched brass, a small acetate sheet and the decal sheet. All the parts are nicely moulded with no visible imperfections but definitely short run style. The panel lines are finely done and seem to represent the aircraft structure well. The plastic is quite shiny and hard, which could indicate that it will be quite brittle. Construction starts with the cockpit, which is made up of the pilots and rear gunners floors, mid bulkhead, seats, joystick, rudder pedals, instrument panel, compass, pilots headrest, gunners backrest, fire extinguisher and PE seatbelts. The instrument panel is made up of three PE sections with acetate backing for the instruments, which will need to have a dab of Clearfix or similar for the instrument faces. The pair of fuel tanks that sit between the pilot and gunner are made up from three parts each. The cockpit assembly is then fitted to one side of the fuselage. The rear mounted machine gun trough is then fitted, as is the two part machine gun mount. With the addition of the tailwheel, the fuselage can be closed up. The wing centre section is then fitted to the underside of the fuselage and the three piece horizontal tailplane assembled. The resin engine assembly comes next with the nine separate cylinders are glued to the crankcase and the eighteen pipes that lead from the cylinders to the collector ring are attached along with the ring itself. There is a triangular frame that is glued t the front of the engine, to which pair of intake trumpets are fitted. The cowling sides are then attached and the whole assembly glued to the front fuselage. To the rear of the fuselage the horizontal tailplane assembly is attached, along with the upper and lower wing sections, which include resin main undercarriage bays. Although the upper wing sections are separated at the fold join the lower sections don’t appear to be and there are no internals, so, unfortunately, the wings cannot be posed folded without a fair bit of scratch building. On the upper front fuselage a pair of scoops are added, as are the clear lenses for the wing leading edge landing lights, whilst to the rear the three piece resin and plastic Lewis gun is fitted to its mount. On the underside the arrestor hook and its fairing are glued into position, as are the oil cooler intake, engine exhaust, and two piece main bomb swing. The main undercarriage assemblies are each made up from the main leg, two piece wheels/tyres, main retraction actuator, secondary actuator and two bay doors. The assemblies are then glued into place, along with the large pitot probe on the starboard wing tip and the four canopy sections, of which the gunners and pilot sections can be posed open if required. The model is completed with the fitting of the main aerial, single piece propeller and two piece boss. Decals The decal sheet contains markings and codes for three machines as well as some stencils. The decals are well printed by AVIPRINT, and are in good register and nicely opaque, although the red centres on the side and upper wing roundels do appear to be ever so slightly off centre. Blackburn Skua Mk.II, L2963, of 803 Sqn. FAA, embarked on HMS Ark Royal. The aircraft was shot down attacking the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst on 13th July 1940. Blackburn Skua Mk.II, L2940/A6A, of 800 Sqn. FAA, embarked on HMS Ark Royal. This aircraft shot down a Heinkel He.111 on 27th April 1940, but was lost on 13th July 1940 on the attack against the Scharnhorst. Blackburn Skua Mk.II, L2991/Q, of 803 Sqn. FAA, also embarked on HMS Ark Royal. This aircraft was also lost on the raid against the Scharnhorst on 13th July 1940 Conclusion Whilst he short run nature of this kit may put some modellers off, but with a bit of patience and lots of dry fitting a nice model can be produced. It’s certainly great to see it back in production and whilst not produced in great numbers, a very interesting and quite an important airframe in the history of the Fleet Air Arm, a time when they weren’t exactly endowed with the best aircraft types. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Just finished this one, build of of box. cheers Jes
  6. Please may I present to you my just completed 1/48 Special Hobby Blackburn Skua II. I have finished my Skua as the aeroplane of the Royal Navy's first "Ace" of WWII Lt WP Lucy RN of 803 NAS. Blackburn Skua II L2925/F of HMS Glorious flown by Lt Lucy was involved in operations off Norway during April and May 1940. Lt Lucy had been involved in the attacked that sunk the Konigsberg. He went on to share in the destruction of 7 enemy aircraft, 1 probably destroyed, 3 shared damaged. In L2925/F he shared in the destruction of 2 He.111s on 24.04.40 & 07.05.40 but was killed with his observed when the aeroplane exploded attacking a He.111 14.05.40. The kit was constructed out of the box (boxing comes with some resin elements and some etch). Paint is Xtracolour and Tamiya acrylic. Markings were cobbled together using various sets but mainly Xtradecal standard sheets. Anyway enough ramble, here is a couple of pictures.. Hope you like it. By the looks of the pictures I need more matt varnish on those tyres... Thanks for stopping by.. The Blackburn Skua was notable for a Royal Navy aircraft for the large number of ‘firsts’ she notched up in such a short career: First –monoplane in Royal Naval service; First –all-metal aircraft in Royal Naval service; First –British aircraft to shoot down a Confirmed German aircraft in the Second World War; First –aircraft in the world to sink a major warship by dive-bombing; First –British aircraft to have a bomb-ejector fork for bomb to clear propeller in dive; First –British aircraft with sleeve-valve engine; First –British aircraft to feature Koffman starter gun for engine; First –British aircraft to mount four Browning guns clear of prop. No CC gear; First –British aircraft to feature two-speed propeller (two pitch positions); First –and only aircraft to be fitted with anti-spin tail parachute; First –British aircraft equipped with radio-homing beacon on new VHF; First –British aircraft to have front gun reflector sight; First –British aircraft fitted with oxygen bottles and supply lines." Skua:-The Royal Navy's Dive-Bomber: The Royal Navy's Dive-Bomber" by Peter Smith
  7. Good day to you all This is my latest impression of one of Her Majesties Fleet Air Arm not so great aircraft. Rejected by the Air Force so the Navy made do and it performed as well as it could but it was Too Big, Too Slow and Too Late! This is the 1:48 Special Hobby kit. It is a nice kit with some fine details, the only over size area was the fuel tanks behind the cockpit. It went together quite well but the wings do need alot of care and attention. Another pain was the engine, an exquisite rendition but to fit the engine to the exhaust ring was a right pain in the butt and caused quite a bit on chuntering and grumbling! Persevering it came out ok. The only problem I really had was when it came to painting. With the engine off there is a nice hole in the front to push a rod into so it can be held on that. However when I took it off again there was a rattle inside. On closer inspection I had shoved the rod up thropugh the cockpit and knocked off the instrument panel! With a bit of careful cutting and jiggery pokery I got the bugger back in but it was a little at times! Painted in Model Master acrylics, the sky was mixed approximately 2:1 with light sea grey to try and get that early sky grey colour. The camouflage was RLM 70 and 71 lightened about 1:1 with white. I think it came out ok and am pleased with the results. I think there has been a bit of criticism about MM RLM 70 and 71 but I find they are not too far off Fleet Air Arm colours! The underside was interior black and white. I did try a bit of preshading but i think i lost the effect. I shall try again though.I did a panel wash with my own mix from soft pastels and then used those for the exhaust staining. Decals from kit and a touch of rigging with elastic thread. Now for the fotos, I started off then as I uploaded I saw I had forgot the front canopy! so then went back and reshot but I have included some of the originals. All in all I like her. And her she is next to her new stable mate Next up is a Fulmar from MPM but due to lack of space I had to chop the wings up, I can feel myself going a little Cheers now Bob
  8. Hi mates! This one took a bit longer than expected, but it's finally finished. This is the not-so-often praised kit of the not-so-often praised Blackburn Skua, as seen in the autumn of 1939 aboard HMS Ark Royal. This is an out-of-the-box build, somewhat unusual for me, the only bits I added that didn't come with the kit were the antenna wires and the ordnance. Project: Blackburn Skua Mk.II Kit: Special Hobby Blackburn Skua Mk.II "Silver Wing" (kit number 72217) Scale: 1:72 (the only scale that matters) Decals: From the kit, representing flight leader 803 Squadron, L2887/A7F aboard HMS Ark Royal in the autumn of 1939 Photoetch: From the kit Resin: From the kit Paint: Alclad 103 Dark Aluminum, 117 Dull Aluminum, 115 Stainless Steel, 107 Chrome; Gunze H90 Clear Red, H94 Clear Green, H93 Clear Blue, H5 Blue, MC219 Brass, Navy Bird Custom Gunze Blend for British Interior Green; Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black; Testors 1149 Flat Black, 1168 Flat White; Floquil 110015 Flat Weathering: Panel line wash, pastel shading on control surfaces, pastel shading on collector ring Improvements/Corrections Added port and starboard air outlets (top of fuselage forward of windscreen), parts made from leftover resin pour stubs. Added 500 lb. SAP (Semi Armor Piercing) bomb. Added clear plastic piece to represent windscreen armor plate. Added antenna with 0.005" diameter Nitinol wire. Build thread: Link This was a nice little kit. I found that it went together without any fuss, with very little filler required. The photoetch stays for the engine were a bit fiddly, but they really add some nice detail. Skuas from this time period were painted with an aluminum lacquer, which I represented by Alclad Dark Aluminum with an overcoat of Floquil Flat. This gives a nice even aluminum finish (without any of the grain one sometimes get with silver paint) and a semi-gloss, eggshell finish. Alclad Dull Aluminum was used for the control surfaces to differentiate them from the fuselage. I did a lot of research while building this model, and now have a much better appreciation for the Skua. Tony O'Toole helped a lot with my incessant quests for information, and Peter Smith's book of the Skua provided a great historical backdrop. Pictures! The Skua, of course, is the personal favorite of none other than the Dude himself. Abide! Cheers, Bill
  9. Hi mates, I've decided to take a bit of a breather from my PB4Y-1 project. I've been working on that for three months or so, and I need to refresh my modelling mojo with a smaller project. Something to clear my mind so to speak. So I figured I would take up this nice little 1:72 scale kit of the Blackburn Skua by Special Hobby. The rules say I need to have an obligatory shot of all the stuff: Not much to it, as you can see, so this shouldn't be a long project. The kit includes a small PE fret with goodies for the cockpit, engine, landing gear, machine gun, rudder pedals, and bomb (or is it torpedo?) rack. In addition, nicely moulded resin parts are provided for the engine, tyres, and exhaust collectors. Panel line detail is recessed, but maybe a bit on the light side. Hopefully it doesn't disappear. As you can see, the marking schemes are for silver birds from 1939, both 803 and 800 Squadron from the Ark Royal. I'll do the 803 Squadron leader's mount, L2887/A7F, as it's a bit more colourful than the others. Did this plane participate in the downing of the Do 18 flying boat in September 1939? First is the cockpit, and as is typical with these short run kits it wasn't immediately obvious from the instructions how everything fits together. There are very few pegs and holes in this kit, so butt joints are common, even with the cockpit floor panels. But do the bulkheads mount on top of the floor panel, or to the end? It's shown one way in one illustration, and the other way elsewhere. However it goes together, the bulkheads need to be positioned where the small cutouts in the horizontal ribbing are: What looks like a huge ejector pin (which it probably is) will help locate the cockpit floor, but will be hidden by the fuel tanks. I decided to start by gluing the forward bulkhead in place (there are raised bosses to align it against) and then work my way aft, gluing each piece to the sidewall, one at a time, rather than trying to assemble the entire cockpit at once and then attaching it. This method seemed to work, as the bulkheads lined up to the small cutouts and it became obvious how they attached to the floor. Next up is a nice coat of British cockpit grey-green, or whatever it's called. I grabbed my handy jar of Model Master RAF Interior Green and found it had turned into, well, rubber by the looks of it. And no amount of Testors thinner would reduce it back into a liquid. No problem, stop by the LHS on the way home from work and pick up another bottle. Nope, sorry, there's been a run on that colour as it seems like everyone is building a Skua this week (which is really quite odd over here in Rochester New York). I decided to mix my own home brew, matching the Model Master paint. I used Gunze paints and the final mix consisted of H41 Pale Green, H48 Field Grey 1, H312 Green FS34227, and H322 Phthalo Cyanine Blue. Testing this against an old Revell Hurricane cockpit that was painted with the Model Master colour showed a really good match. The cockpit was then sprayed: With the vagaries of PC monitors, digital cameras, and the lighting in my photo booth, the photos are not an accurate rendition of the colour, which has more grey to it in real life. But it's gloss (the Gunze paints used to create it are all gloss) so this will take a wash without having to apply a separate shiny coat on top. Being generally lazy, I like being able to delete a step! Well, that's the start. Dry fitting things together shows no really problems (unlike some short run kits) so I'm pleased so far. The canopy even sits down over the pilot's roll-over frame/headrest, and I've read on-line that some folks had trouble with that. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the build! A Skua! Woo hoo! Cheers, Bill PS. To deepen the insanity, there's a Roc and Defiant lurking near the top of the stash! Yikes!
  10. Hi mates, I'm building the Special Hobby "Silver Wing" edition of their 1:72 Skua kit, and I have a question about the markings. I'll be doing L2887/A7F which is the plane shown in the box art: It is also the third one back in this photo: So here is my question - this aircraft is the only one in that photo with a "fin flash," which according to the Special Hobby instructions denotes the flight leader. On the box art, the fin flash is blue/white/blue (from the top) while the decal itself is blue/white/red. So which is it? For what it's worth, Pavla also think it's blue/white/blue: Another dumb Skua question while I'm at it - when a control surface, for example an elevator, is fabric, the associated trim tab is metal, correct? Or not? Cheers, Bill
  11. Some photos seem to show a rearward rake to the main gear when viewed from the side. In other words, the main gear leg is not perpendicular to the bottom of the wing. Other photos don't show this so clearly, and many profiles don't show it at all. Am I not seeing this correctly? Do the main gear legs have a rearward rake or not? Cheers, Bill
  12. Hi mates, quick question: What colour were the wheel wells and inner cowling on the Blackburn Skua? I doing a silver bird from 803 Squadron off the Ark Royal in 1939. I'm guessing it's the interior green colour, but the Special Hobby instructions don't offer any guidance. I'm also guessing the silver is aluminum paint, and not natural metal. True fact? Cheers, Bill
  13. Hi Mates, I'm continuing to work on my 1:72 Special Hobby Skua, and I've come across a fascinating part that they cleverly label in the instructions as "C17." I immediately searched on this term, as I would like to know what colour to paint it, and I keep coming up with pictures of this giant, bulbous grey aircraft without any propellers. Now, this C17 part looks for all the world like a fire extinguisher (complete with hose and nozzle), and with those two fuel tanks between the pilot and the gunner, I think this would be a prudent addition. In Brett Green's build of Special Hobby's quarter scale Skua, he has painted this part a nice bright green (you can see it right next to the gunner's seat, scroll down to see the cockpit picture prior to closing up the fuselage): http://www.hyperscale.com/2007/features/skuabg_1.htm Is it a fire extinguisher? Is green the right colour? Or maybe it serves some other purpose...I suppose it could be an oxygen cylinder for the gunner, but the "nozzle" is moulded too long and narrow for it to be a face mask. Maybe it's a holding tank for the relief tube. I also searched around for British WWII Fire Extinguishers, and found a few auction sites selling them. They all seem to be bronze in colour. I came across an aftermarket company that makes resin versions: http://www.jjfpub.mb.ca/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=1342&category_id=2&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=6 These are shown in yellow, and I'm not even sure they are for an aircraft. Were fire extinguishers coded with different colours to indicate the types of fire they could be used on? Or is that a more modern idea? As you can see, I know nothing about fire extinguishers, although I do have one in my studio. Any help, guidance, or pre-paid appointments with a psychiatrist would be appreciated! Cheers, Bill PS. Oh, I forgot to state that Special Hobby says to paint this part "dark iron."
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