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Shar2

Blackburn Skua Mk. II. 1:48

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Blackburn Skua Mk. II

Special Hobby 1:48

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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I have recently finished this model.  It is a very good kit and I thoroughly enjoyed building it.  As you say aligning parts can be challenging but if you make up some tabs and stick then to one half to help you align the second.  I did this both for the fuselage and for the wing inner and outer panels.

 

The resign crankcase and cylinders can be troublesome.  It is best to have the cowling assembled (even if just taped) to ensure that the engine will fit in the cowling but the really fiddle was getting the individual (18) exhaust to align with the collector ring.  Take your time and you will be rewarded...

 

The only other area I had difficulty with was the alignment of the undercarriage which seems quite unique to the Skua.

 

All in all a great model that builds up really well...  I thoroughly enjoyed it... And I am going to procure another...

 

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