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Project 108 - WZ.897 A most unusual Sea Venom


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A brief introduction

The Australian designed and built Ikara  was a long range anti submarine weapon developed for

the Royal Australian Navy and used internationally.

Design and construction took place at Aeronautical research laboratory- Fisherman Bend, and the weapons research establishment- Salisbury

with flight testing of the complete package at Woomera.

For those wishing to know more may I suggest the DST group 


For flight testing of the missiles guidance package and the torpedo release gear two deHavilland Sea Venom FAW.53's of No 724 Squadron Royal Australian Navy

were modified to carry out testing under the operation name "Project 108"

In accordance with modification Sea Venom RAN/58 WZ.904 was modified to carry the Ikara tail fin and guidance package under the starboard tail boom. Surprisingly the fin

was always carried under the starboard boom but the mod sheet refers to a port boom installation.

WZ.904 was used to simulate the flight profile of the missile and to calibrate the ground based systems. In later years the Macchi MB-326H's of VC 724 squadron carried out the same missions

in the fleet support role. The Ikara fin was mounted on the seat rails in the rear cockpit.


WZ.904 on the compass base at NAS Nowra, the fin fairing can be seen under the boom aft of the wing trailing edge




WZ.904 survives today in the Beck collection at Mareeba Queensland.

 As per Mod Sea Venom RAN/58 WZ.897 was to be the drop test aircraft for the Ikara torpedo release gear. The radar, gun sight and two port side cannons were removed

twin camera's were mounted in the port side of the gun bay with a window cut into the gun bay door and mounting points under the port wing for the Ikara release gear.

8 X 60lb dummy rockets were carried under the starboard wing to counter balance the load carried on the port.

Drop tests were successfully carried out though due to the highly classified nature of Project 108 the exact number is not know.

Two shots of 897 releasing the Mark 44 torpedo.







WZ.897 was retired from service some time after 1968 and was partially scrapped. The cockpit pod was obtained by the Sydney Technical college in 1972 and used for parts for the training

aid Sea Venom WZ.910. 897's pod was eventually obtained by the late Harold Thomas for the Camden Museum of Aviation and is currently under restoration by yours truely.



Now heres a short fillum for those who wish to know more.



Edited by NAVY870
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Several of the more unruly members of the forum have decided its high time I stopped telling everybody else how to do it

and built one of my own. Probably a very good idea but I must warn you all that it will be a long annoyingly slow build with me

worrying over every detail and turning to strong drink. Hopefully we can look forward to some of the thread derailments we love so much!


'ere goes.

Matchbox released their 1/32nd scale Sea Venom in 1979 and in arrived here in 1980, not long after WZ.895 and myself were first introduced.

Standard Matchbox fair, basic, somewhat over exaggerated panel lines and simplified. I shan't go on too much here as most of the issues will be covered later.

The kit for this build was very kindly given to me by Frank (Bentwaters81tfw) some years ago. It was earmarked to be done as 897 and will eventually be displayed 

beside the aircraft at the museum.

Box art



Matchboxy goodness



All the gubbins













Cant start a jobbie like this one without some AM, a set of main wheels and Martin Baker let down system from AIMs, some of my

diminishing collection of Reheat and the superb Airscale goodies.







And for reference, 897's instrument panel I've been rebuilding for the past few months and the observers console made up of bits from WZ.905 & WZ.908, both scrapped.







Might be time to get on with it?

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Messy bits first.

I took to the fuselage halves with various drills and the no 11 to open up various bits such as the inverter exhausts

fuselage lift points ladder lock point engine oil sight glass access and the camera window






The camera door is quite a sizable cut out, I've made a rough cut for now and will build up the outer fairing later.





We've yet to work out why the door is marked WZ.904 as 904 doesn't have 897's door fitted!

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Hi Steve :D 


Great to see this happening! I just know it'll be a gem so settling-in for the duration. :thumbsup2:


I read your earlier musings over in my thread about the 1/32 torpedo issue. Would a smoothed-down G7 with some scratch-building for the required shroud parts on the tail of the Ikara torpedo be a route?:



Good on yer for starting!


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:popcorn:This looks interesting, especially as I have had that MB kit in the stash since... 1979.... I am sooooo old....


So, :drink:and :popcorn: at the ready


Christian, exiled to africa

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Great project, must admit I enjoyed the two Matchbox Sea Venoms I built, even though they did require extra work, seem to remember a chisel being used at one stage.


I hadn't realised that there were aftermarket seats and wheels for the kit, are they still available?


Looks like you've got the ulimate reference material there and will follow with interest.


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Unruly? Us? I can't think who you could possibly be talking about.


Not to worry Steve, I shall be following this fascinating build every step of the way so that should make you feel better! :evil_laugh:

Seriously though, it will be interesting to see what you make of the subject, given the 100% guaranteed accurate reference material you have at your disposal.


Anyway, :drink:and :popcorn: at the ready.



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Looking forward to this one Steve :)

An interesting film. Amazing to see the old 'computer' and how Ikara used tela-mee trees to guide it to its target. Are they some kind of special Antipodean tree?

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10 hours ago, Pete in Lincs said:

Did I read the words strong drink?

You'll be importing that then? (Ha Ha)

I'm in.


10 hours ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

'Bout bloody time. I'm surprised the box hasn't rotted away by now. :P


Oh look some of the unruly ones have turned up :D

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Right pay attention you lot.

For instructional purposes only I loosely assembled the cockpit components as supplied by Matchbox to show

what wants changin'








Matchbox have based the kit on an FAW.21 but have overly simplified many details and just plain left a lot of them out. The rear bulkhead and floor have a large

extension molded to allow the seats to be mounted, this doesnt exist in the aircraft as the seats are bolted to the floor via the lower gun mount and the rear bulkhead

is flat with various black boxery mounted.

Matchbox included the arch of the nose wheel well but neglected to add the surrounding structure or the raised area around the control column. This is the same area in WZ.897



This causes a couple of knock on issues, the control column is far too long, the gap between floor and the instrument panel is too far and the side consoles are too high.

The instrument panel is undersize making the issues even worse.


These have to go




I may reuse the nose wheel housing, I'll deal with that later

The instrument panel is a reasonable if undersized representation of an FAW.21




Unfortunately I'm not building a 21 so its off to the bin for this one.

These are usable with a bit of butchery




First job was to make a new floor and number 2 bulkhead. I used the kit floor as a template but extended it up to where bulkhead one would be it the real one.

This gives me a spot to mount all the bits that go on the observers side forward.








Next job is to start building up the floor structure and cutting out the gear well.


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22 minutes ago, Duncan B said:

This'll be fun. If you're looking for reference material I know a guy.............oh hang on!




I'll tag along if I may Steve,  methinks this'll be something special.....


I also have fond memories of building this kit as a youngster.


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It's always a good start to a build when the first thing done is scrapping the kit itself and starting to make new bits! This promises to be very edukashunal.....



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9 hours ago, NAVY870 said:



Oh look some of the unruly ones have turned up :D

What else did you expect? At least the arch "Unruly One" aka Venom Vixen hasn't pitched up yet!


Nice to see this getting underway Steve. My crystal ball foresees this model ending up with nearly as much plastic card in it as original kit. Well, actually I didn't really need the crystal ball to predict that. I just hope you have plenty of plastic card and strip in.



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Good on you Steve - looking forward to seeing this project progress & see an accurate cockpit/ejection seats modelled - also seeing modelled what is under the rear of canopy area  behind the opening part.


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Bit more progress today. The number 1 bulkhead was carved out of a bit of plastic card

and went in without too much profanity. It lined up extremely well with the previously fitted floor.

A nose wheel well was cut from a left over kit floor section to be mounted on the new floor later.

After its mounted I'll start building up the pilots side floor and detailing the floor in general.

No happy snaps as today's efforts are as boring as watching grass grow but I'll leave you with a pic of

897 in her more war like days onboard the Battlestar HMAS Melbourne.



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Nice image.


As a freshly-minted Sea Venom nerd I have to ask about those red bars on the trailing-edges of the wings. I see one associated with the wing-fold?



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53 minutes ago, NAVY870 said:

No happy snaps as today's efforts are as boring as watching grass grow but I'll leave you with a pic of

897 in her more war like days onboard the Battlestar HMAS Melbourne.

Nice picture Steve but I like watching grass grow, its a bit of a novelty here on Mars.



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