Trumpeter 1/32 Swordfish II
Xtradecal sheet used.
Most of the Swordfish aircraft produced during the Second World War were
Aviation, including all Swordfish Mks. II and
This situation must have felt good to Fairey Aviation - the company
responsible for the original design - inasmuch as the two had been locked in
competition throughout the 1920s and 1930s as suppliers of aircraft to the Fleet
Air Arm. Blackburn producing the Swordfish would have been the equivalent of
Chance Vought having to produce Grumman Hellcats because they had no Corsair.
The Swordfish built by
were nicknamed "Blackfish."
The ungainly-looking Swordfish - a biplane that was obsolete at the time
of its first flight as a prototype in 1934 - was in fact the most successful
naval strike aircraft of the Second World War. The strike against the Italian
inspired the Japanese attack at
while the "Bismarck"
pursuit, and "The Channel Dash" are epic actions, as a result of which the
Swordfish passed into legend.
What is less well-known but perhaps more important than all of these epic
battles combined was the day-to-day work of the Swordfish during the
From 1940 to 1945, the Fleet Air Arm sank 18 Axis submarines and shared
16 other sinkings with escort vessels or RAF units.
The Swordfish was responsible for 15 of the 18 solo kills, and
participated in 10 of the
sinkings - and it didn't even enter the Battle of the Atlantic until February
That is quite a record.
Even more important than the submarines sunk were the merchant ships
successfully escorted across the
The Swordfish was like the loyal shepherd’s dog that protects the flock
not by killing the wolves that follow the defenseless sheep, but by keeping them
The Swordfish first went aboard the escort carrier H.M.S. "Biter" in
Later that year the
ships - converted grain ships or tankers that were even smaller than the CVEs,
with no below-decks hangar space to get the 4-6 aircraft they carried out of the
weather for maintenance or protection - began operations.
The Swordfish was famous for being able to stagger off these decks in
weather conditions that kept other aircraft tied down for safety, and for
bringing its crews back to small, short decks pitching through 20-30 feet while
rolling 10-15 degrees from vertical to either side, in North Atlantic storms
where the freezing level was at 500 feet.
convoy RA-58 in April 1944, Swordfish of 819 Squadron flew from H.M.S.
"Activity," while Avengers of 846 Squadron - the premier F.A.A. Avenger
sub-hunting squadron - flew from H.M.S. "Tracker."
The Swordfish flew every day of the trip, even on days when 846's
Avengers couldn't even be brought on deck to attempt a launch.
The Swordfish that accomplished all this was the Mk.II, a progressive
modification of the original Mk.I, that was primarily distinguishable by a
slightly more powerful engine and its strengthened lower wings, the lower
surfaces of which were metal covered.
These wings were fitted to the Swordfish starting with W5836, which also
utilized the more powerful Pegasus 30 engine, for the remainder of the
Swordfish IIs and all Swordfish IIIs are distinguishable by an enlarged oil
cooler on the starboard forward fuselage for this engine.
The aircraft had been experimentally equipped with radar in 1941.
By 1943, all Swordfish II carried early
radar, with the Mk.III
- which entered service in late 1943 - carrying centimetric air-to-surface radar
in a radome between the landing gear.
The Swordfish first successfully fired rockets during tests in October,
1942. The Swordfish took rockets into action in 1943, with the first successful
use of rockets against a U-boat occurring on
May 23, 1943,
when a Swordfish of 811 Squadron flown by Sub-Lt. Horrocks pierced the hull of
U-752, which subsequently sank after further attacks by Wildcats and a
contact between a Swordfish and a U-boat occurred on April 20, 1945.
Tamiya released a Swordfish I in 2000 that is considered one of the best
injection-plastic kits ever released.
The good news here is that Trumpeter has essentially pantographed the
Tamiya kit up to 1/32 scale.
surface detail is a bit more accentuated than the Tamiya kit, and there are no
underwing racks or ordnance provided, but this is not a problem.
The kit also follows the Tamiya kit in not having separate Handley-Page
slats on the upper wings.
Essentially, this Swordfish Mk. II kit is the same as the earlier
Swordfish I kit, other than for lower wing parts that do not have fabric effect
since they are metal-covered, and with an additional sprue that includes the
larger oil cooler. Underwing ordnance, in the form of three 250-lb bombs and
racks, or eight rocket projectiles and launch rails, along with the centerline
torpedo and the outboard flare racks, are included. The kit does not include the
radar gear for the cockpit, or the radar antennas, so the fastidious modeler who
wants technical accuracy will either have to use some part from the spares box
and do a little scratchbuilding of the antennas, for accuracy.
Decals are included for a Swordfish II night bomber in
Grey/Dark Slate Grey/Night camouflage and an Atlantic-scheme airplane.
Fortunately, Xtradecals released sheet 32-026, which provides markings
Swordfish II aircraft operated by 810 Squadron in
in the standard scheme, a “Channel Dash” Swordfish from 825 Squadron, a
Swordfish in D-Day markings from 816 Squadron, and another Atlantic-scheme
airplane from 836 Squadron.
to do the 816 Squadron airplane, so I could do an obsolete biplane in D-Day
markings armed with radar and rockets, a true anachronism.
The Tamiya Swordfish is one of the best-designed plastic kits ever
produced, and Trumpeter intelligently decided to upgrade that kit to 1/32.
Thus, all a modeler needs to do to insure a beautiful result is
follow the instructions.
one place where problems may ensue is the attachment of the cockpit interior
to the right side fuselage part.
Be very careful here in insuring the sub-assembly is aligned
If you do so, the fuselage will snap together so good it won’t really need
any Mr. Surfacer or other filler on the centerline.
My one deviation from an out of the box build was to cut the leading edge
slats off the upper wing and then attach them in the open position, which was
the way they were on all Swordfish sitting on the ground. This is easy. You cut
off the parts, glue upper and lower parts together, then sand the interior of
the slat so that it has a sharp trailing edge. Evergreen sheet can be used to
fill in the gap in the wing, and can also be used for the three extension arms.
It’s an easy fix and the kit looks far more accurate once assembled with
the slats open.
I also made the
radar antennas from Evergreen rod.
Once the fuselage was assembled with the tail surfaces attached and the
lower wing center section attached, it was time to paint the model.
I first pre-shaded the model with flat black, and covered the areas of
the D-Da stripes, which I masked off when dry.
The “Atlantic Scheme” with the fuselage sides, vertical fin and rudder,
and lower surfaces of the wings and tail painted white appears from photos to
have been done after the airplanes left the factory, with the white applied over
the standard FAA camouflage.
the kit is in grey plastic, I applied Xtracrylix White to these areas, without
getting a uniform, fully opaque coat.
Thus the darker color under the white can be “seen” to varying degrees.
This has to be done subtly, and what you want is the finish you get just before
you get full coverage airbrushing the white.
I also painted the upper surfaces of the wings, and masked those areas to
complete the D-Day stripes. I let that dry and then applied Xtracrylix Extra
Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey, with a very little bit of lightening of each
color for “post shading” once the main color was applied.
When all that was dry, I applied the decals. The Xtracrylix decals went
on without problems.
I assembled and attached the upper wing center section to the fuselage,
and attached the torpedo aiming sights, which I had to modify be making the
sighting poles with Evergreen rod, since they were not part of the kit molding.
I then assembled the outer wings, and attached the photoetch rigging.
I then rigged the control wires for the elevators and rudder.
Once the sub-assemblies were complete, I attached the wings to the rest
of the model in the folded position.
I then assembled and attached the rocket rails and bomb racks, and
attached the propeller.
There is no getting around the fact that the Swordfish was very far
indeed from being a beautiful biplane. However, it is living proof that beauty
is as beauty does.
was one of four British aircraft in first line service in 1939 that were still
in first-line service at the end of the war. It outlasted its replacement and in
many ways outperformed the Avenger, performing its tasks under appalling
conditions in which no other airplane could have operated.
It fully deserves its status as one of the truly legendary aircraft of
the Second World War.
is a biplane that even those who cringe at the very thought of building a
biplane can complete without trouble.
Review kit courtesy of Stevens International.
Get yours from HobbyLink Japan at (really, really great) “Japanese
prices” which now include an all-the-time 20% off MSRP to combat the high
exchange rates for the Yen, at www.hlj.com
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