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825

Blackburn Firebrand TF5

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My second contribution. Valom's recently (re-)released Blackburn Firebrand. A beast of a post war FAA Torpedo Fighter. I have a Mark 2 with a Sabre engine in the stash but until recently haven't seen one of the definitive TF 4 or 5s. I don't know if this is a new release but it's a bit mixed with some sublime engraving and resin but some indistinct moulding and an elderly looking sheet of etch. Although not a success by any matter of means, it is a pugilistic looking beast. Also my father worked on them while in the FAA but I'm not sure whether it was in Squadron service or on one of the support bases. Here's the box 

 

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There are 3 plastic sprues, not really many injection parts, but certainly all the big parts. 

 

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Some nicely moulded resin, although this picture doesn't really do it justice. Unfortunately, the top of the control column has gone amiss. 

 

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A piece of etch

 

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and a couple of vac form canopies. Which is why I wonder if it's  a really-release as Valom's have been injection moulding canopies for some time now. 

 

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Nice transfer sheet with transfers for two early liveried aircraft. 

 

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And a 12 page instruction sheet. I bought a mask set for it as well. 

 

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Nice choice it may have been a brute and not well liked but I have a soft spot for the big Blackburn torpedo bomber, looking forward to this build.

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What's not to like, it looks a really vicious beastie, and with that long nose and sleek bodywork it's a bit like a flying e-type Jag, or an XKE for those on the other side of the pond !

Good luck with the build

Cheers Pat

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Woho a firebrand, very cool looking aircraft, and very happy to have it in the GB!

 

nice choice!

 

Rob

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Nice.

Always fancied a Firebrand but at the time I was thinking about it there was only a vac form available in 1/72 and I could not get excited about it. Since then more and more of the rarer/exotic planes have turned up in injection so can't complain, even when some of the earlier releases are at times a bit crude. Unfortunately the single seat torpedo fighter was an outdated concept and development was slow and problematic I believe, like a lot of FAA planes at the time (Barracuda for example).

 

This should look good.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB

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Difficult to describe the single seat torpedo fighter as an obsolete concept when the Firebrand was the first, and was followed by the Wyvern and the Skyraider, just to pick the most successful examples of single seat torpedo carriers in the monoplane era.  Remember that the Firebrand was actually intended as a fighter, rather than a strike aircraft of any kind.

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I think CMK did a resin TF5. It's strange Valom originally did a Sabre engined Firebrand a number of years ago. I've got a couple in the stash, bought thinking they were the definitive TF4/5 version. Though now Valom do both a TF4 and a TF5 in a few liveries. Not a Tamigawa or recent Airfix in quality but eminently buildable and should turn out well. 

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12 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

Difficult to describe the single seat torpedo fighter as an obsolete concept when the Firebrand was the first

Really?

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2 hours ago, Dave Swindell said:

What are you questioning? That the concept was obsolete or that it was the first single seat torpedo bomber which it was?

 

Mike

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25 minutes ago, mick b said:

What are you questioning? That the concept was obsolete or that it was the first single seat torpedo bomber which it was?

 

Mike

You may or may not  have noticed my comment was also a link, maybe I was being a bit too subtle.

The Firebrand certainly  wasn't the first single seat torpedo bomber, you could argue that was the Short Admiralty Type 81 of 1913, which although designed as a two seat floatplane, it was adapted to drop the first torpedo on 28 July 1914. With the torpedo fitted the aircraft was grossly overloaded and could only fly with a single crew member. The same applied to the Short 184, which was the first type to sink a ship with an aerial launched torpedo on 17 August 1915. The first purpose designed single seat torpedo bomber to enter service was the Sopwith Cuckoo of 1917, nearly 30 years before the Firebrand entered operational squadron service.

Whilst the concept of a single seat torpedo strike aircraft wasn't obsolete with the inception of the Firebrand, it was approaching obsolescence when withdrawn from service, it's developement into the Firecrest never entering service and it's replacement the Westland Wyvern only ever carrying torpedos for trials and not with operatiional squadrons.

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Yeah far too subtle for me so let’s clarify that it was the first monoplane single seat torpedo bomber if being pedantic.

 

 

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Ok, not so much the single seat torpedo bomber concept but Torpedo Bombers in general by 1944 IMHO. The Barracuda hardly ever used them as I understand it, and perhaps because of the considerable increase in AA weapons on ships during the war, the idea of a longish straight run in at low level and relatively slow speed to drop a torpedo seems to me to have been rapidly going out of favour, at least in the FAA. Yes, Coastal Command Beaufighters could and did drop torpedos but rockets and bombs seem to have become more the norm in Europe - the USN stuck with torpedos rather longer I think, but then they did have rather more targets to use them on. And yes, in spite of that the Wyvern was originally ordered as a torpedo fighter! Nothing wrong with having the capability I suppose.

 

For the record there were other single seat monoplane torpedo bombers, though probably not originally designed as such, One variant of the Fw 190 for example comes to mind. As the old saying went - "Bombs let in air, torpedos let in water" so at the start of WWII it was the preferred method of sinking ships but it became increasingly hazardous for the crews. The Firebrand was indeed originally produced in response to a specification for a fleet fighter - Spec N9/39, later N11/40 I believe but Spec S8/43 changed that to a strike aircraft - the Firebrand III - V, and incidentally the Blackburn Dart was a previous single seat torpedo bomber for the RN AFAIK, but of course a biplane. As the the Firebrand Mk V, I gather 813 and 827 Squadrons were the only operational users, though 738 and 759 Training Squadrons also had some according to Putnam's "British Naval Aircraft since 1912" though of course that may be wrong as it is an old book.

 

I will say no more and let 825 get on with his build. Like my Tigercat and Bearcat, it is one of those planes that arrived too late to achieve fame, but still a very interesting and uncommon one.

 

Pete

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Torpedoes were used operationally by Skyraiders in Korea, and as anti-submarine weapons from WW2 until the current day.  The simple reason the FAA stopped using torpedoes in WW2 was that they ran out of targets, but even then a few were carried by the BPF,  just in case.  They were also seen well into the 60s on Soviet anti-shipping aircraft such as the IL.28.  To consider it as an obsolescent weapon as early as 1942 requires an excessive amount of hindsight.

 

I do feel that any historical lessons on torpedo-carrying aircraft should not have omitted the Sopwith Cuckoo.

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Hi Graham,

 

I was generalising a bit and did think of mentioning ASW torpedos, though being smaller they were and indeed still are used by a variety of planes. I am aware that Skyraiders attacked a dam in Korea with torpedos but do not recall them being used against ships though perhaps they were. As to the Soviets you are quite right and I agree with you about the Cuckoo! The point I was attempting to make was that by the time the spec was changed late in 1943, the torpedo was becoming outdated, at least in the western theatre as I see it and was no longer the principle weapon used against shipping, and will leave it at that.

 

Cheers

 

Pete. 

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The discussion on the day of the torpedo fighter and anti shipping torpedo attacks is interesting. A couple of things to add to the debate are that we mustn't forget the role of Beaufort, Wellington, Swordfish and Albacore torpedo strikes in the Med which effectively cut off Rommel's supply line and was a significant factor in victory in the Western Desert. The other is that probably the idea of a torpedo fighter was obsolete by the end of the 40s/beginning of the 50s the principle of a strike fighter has lived on until today where most strike aircraft are fighter bombers capable of defending themselves and carrying out interceptions as well as carrying a significant ordnance load with the capability to deliver it accurately. 

 

Anyways back to the Firebrand. I've spent some time getting some paint in as well as priming the etch. 

 

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The injection moulding is not too bad, could be better in places, it lacks a bit of finesse, but overall OK. 

 

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However, the resin is exquisite, for example the roof of the undercarriage bay is wafer thin but with loads of detail. 

 

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Nice work on the firebrand, it’s looking very good!

 

also glad you mentioned the role of the torpedos in the med, thought that was being overlooked for a second. Very successful job they did in that theatre!

 

Rob

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Forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but the torpedo was carried on variable angle mount so it was angled nose down for ground clearance and then rotated nose up after takeoff for minimum drag (unlike the Douglas TBD, always nose down, or the Douglas AD, always level).

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On 2/24/2020 at 11:52 PM, Tailspin Turtle said:

Forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but the torpedo was carried on variable angle mount so it was angled nose down for ground clearance and then rotated nose up after takeoff for minimum drag (unlike the Douglas TBD, always nose down, or the Douglas AD, always level).

 

I didn't know this until starting this build. But the instructions show quite clearly the difference in Torpedo attitude. 

 

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However ever there isn't any real instructions on how the two configurations are achieved. There's a beautiful resin cradle but looks like it holds the torpedo in the flight configuration. And whatever holds it at the front on the ground is hidden behind the undercart in the view above. And nothing obvious in the instructions either. Mind you through the instructions there isn't much detail where things actually go despite the plethora of etch and several excellent resin parts. This is modelling I suppose. 

 

I have the 'From the cockpit' edition for the Firebrand so hopefully I might find something there. There's a lot of paint on now so hopefully some pics tomorrow. 

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A bit more paint on, the internal parts done and dry brushed with some Aluminium. The etch parts all painted ready for later. 

 

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These are all single parts and the moulded detail is excellent even before any etch or other parts are added. I'll add a wash of black on the wheels and undercarriage bays. The latter will get a coat of matt barnish as well. 

 

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Some paint paint on the wings as well to see if I can get a good demarcation. If the fit is good it gives a really good demarcation line as well as saving a lot of time on masking. The paint also shows that the engraving is not at all bad. 

 

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19 hours ago, 825 said:

However ever there isn't any real instructions on how the two configurations are achieved. There's a beautiful resin cradle but looks like it holds the torpedo in the flight configuration. And whatever holds it at the front on the ground is hidden behind the undercart in the view above. And nothing obvious in the instructions either. Mind you through the instructions there isn't much detail where things actually go despite the plethora of etch and several excellent resin parts. This is modelling I suppose. 

 

I have the 'From the cockpit' edition for the Firebrand so hopefully I might find something there. There's a lot of paint on now so hopefully some pics tomorrow. 

I've looked at Warpaint Series No. 56 and there's no help there. As best I can tell, there's a small fixed fairing ahead of the stores pylon, the forward end of which is covered by the fairing when the torpedo is in the cruise flight position. Some sort of claptrap extends behind the pylon. It is flush up against the bottom of the fuselage when the torpedo is in the takeoff position.

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A bit of interior detail work completed. It's looking lovely but I'm not sure how much will be seen but let's wait and see. I don't think I'll use the tiny levers as they won't be visible. Small aperture and everything is black. 

 

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Added wing interior bits too. 

 

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Starting to glue parts together and detail being added. The main challenge is the instructions are totally useless when it comes to indicating where things are affixed. For example the arrow for the tail wheel indicates than it should be fixed to the side of the fuselage and not in the tail wheel bay. 

 

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undercarriage wells look good IMHO

 

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Cockpit detail

 

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I'll let things dry and hopefully close up tomorrow. 

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Posted (edited)

Although lovely the cockpit has fought me at every turn: etch has steadfastly refused to stick to where it should go but stay on my finger, tweezers, scalpel blade or any tool used to fix it. Anything but where the glue is. Others have fallen off never to be found. The side panels have had to be prised off twice and moved to allow the cockpit to fit into a closed fuselage and the IP kept falling over or twisting itself. And last but not least the cockpit simply parted company with the fuselage side after being fine for a couple of days. Finally got it done. 

 

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And the fuselage closed up. Not perfect fit but I've had worse. 

 

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And despite all all those trials and tribulations of the interior, this is all you can see. 

 

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Edited by 825

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Fuselage closed up and went together pretty well although most of the seam needed a little filler. I had the Dark Slate Grey out so I ran some along the upper seam to see Howe it was after a bout of sanding  and polishing. Doesn't look at all bad although on close inspection it probably needs a little more work. and some fairing in of the cowling would be desirable. 

 

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Here's the underside, without the benefit of paint. 

 

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There's a goodly amount of paint on most other parts. If the upper and lower wing parts are a good fit I prefer to paint them this way so as to get a good demarcation along the leading edge. On dry fit they go together well. 

 

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Tailplane fixed on. This took a bit of trimming and sanding to get to sit straight. At first it had a significant lean. It'll now need a little filler to repair some of the excess that needed to be removed to get it to fit. It looks like a giant version of a Skua's tailplane. 

 

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And the wings glued together. They went together pretty well. There will be some trimming of the fisuelage opening needed to get them the fit nicely but that's for later once everything is more solid.

 

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