Aeroclub 1/72 Sea Otter
KIT #: ?
PRICE: 16 pounds sterling
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Limited run multi-media kit


The Sea Otter was the last seaplane to be designed by Supermarine Company. It was developed with a view to provide a replacement for the then ageing Walrus amphibian that gave a stalwart service since mid 30s. It had to wait until later years of WWII for the Sea Otter to enter service. The visible difference between the two types was the tracker engine carried above the wings rather than the pusher propeller. The Sea Otter was powered by a Bristol Mercury radial engine, which gave a trust of 870 HP. The range was of 833 miles and was greater than that of the Walrus. The Sea Otter had a span of 46ft and could attain a maximum speed of 163mph and carried an armament of 3x7.7mm machine guns and a crew of four. It had a range of 833 miles and a service ceiling of 16,076 feet. The empty weight was 6,805 lbs and when fully loaded 10,000 lbs.  

There was considerable development with the power plant/ propeller combination during the design of the Sea Otter that at its concept was called “ Stingray”. The original test aircraft had Bristol Perseus XI engine with a two-bladed propeller. This gave insufficient trust so a two position three blade was built and change was made again to a 4-blade with the pair of blades set at an angle of 35 degrees instead the usual 90 degrees. Although the first flight took place on the 23rd of September 1938, it was not until January 1942 that the Air Ministry places a production order for the type powered with the superior Bristol Mercury XXX engine driving a three-blade airscrew. Of the initial order of 592 aircraft only 292 were built due to end of WWII. Eight aircraft were bought by the Royal Danish Air Force, and another to the Dutch Naval Air Attaché. Others were purchased by the colonial service of France, six in number for use in the Indo-China war.


The Sea Otter Mk1 was a reconnaissance and communication flying boat while the Mk2 was an Air Sea rescue flying boat. The Sea Otter also had the advantage of coping more effectively with overload conditions that SAR missions often demanded. It was normally attached to shore establishments though several were seen on deck of carriers. The Sea Otter remained in active service, with the Royal Navy, in particular for quite some time. Hal Far in Malta was a base from where several Sea Otters operated after the war until the early 50s for air-sea- rescue duties and general communications work. On 24.9.47 one of the Sea Otters, a Mk2 JN204 from the Hal Far Station Flight alighted with message and was damaged on take off from rough sea and subsequently sank undertow by HMS Blencathra. The Sea Otter was to become the last biplane in squadron service with the Fleet Air Arm.


 The kit of the Sea Otter II by Aeroclub was released on the market over 10 years ago and till now was the only kit of the type that is available on the market. This is a limited run type moulded in tan plastic, wing and float parts; and having a vacform fuselage and cockpit canopy as well as detail metal parts. A good decal sheet is also provided. The kit comes in a typical Aeroclub sturdy box having a somewhat poor isometric artwork on the outside of the box on the subject in black and white. Scale plans are provided inside the box depicting five views. Reference to these proved helpful during assembly. It is hoped however that one day Aeroclub will provide a simple exploded view to indicate proper placement of parts of kits of this type if it is intended to reach outside the level of the experienced modeler.

 As a general rule on the construction of these type of kits Aeroclub includes written general description of the steps to follow. Kit has first to be cleaned and all joints are filled; careful removal of injection moulded parts from the sprue; and clean up of the surface with smooth files and fine sanding; the hull which is vacformed is marked with a soft pencil and scored around with a sharp modeling knife and sand down the hull halves to the marker line. Small drill and knife cutter to cut two slots in the wing roots to accept the two main planes; a slot needed to be cut in the vertical fin to take the tail planes; check the anhedral of the lower wings to help to match that of the upper wings. Adding two 20mm long rear central wing struts that are cut from the plastic strip provided. There was no reference however to any suggestion concerning the rigging arrangement besides the detail that appears on the scale plans and box line drawing.


 The assembly starts with the fuselage and cockpit interior. This has a floor, detail ribbing sidewalls, an instrument panel and three bulkheads, which by them would have benefited if simple assembly diagram of the interior layout was provided. This would also indicate that the crew seats were one behind the other then side-by-side arrangement. This is besides other detail indicating where to fit the observer’s chart table. Lack of this detail and adequate researching proved to be time consuming. At this stage I painted the interior in cockpit green and seat straps were also added. I also added crew figures from my spares box to give a comparative indication of the scale of the aircraft. There is also other detail such as the gaps behind the floor and sidewalls. This was found to be intended to allow water which may enter the cabin to seep through and will then be pumped by the on board bilge pump.

 On the positive side there is a well-detailed metal engine nacelle, which comes with two separate metal intake scoops and a detailed metal exhaust manifold. These along with the upper wing were completed as a sub assembly. The front support struts for this assembly are also metal. All the other wing struts are cut from measured lengths from plastic strip supplied. This also needed some fit trials to cut to correct length size. Reference to the front view on scale plans provided indicated that the wing struts lean inwards as is on the actual aircraft.

 This is the type of kit that one cannot rush as one goes assembling it and sufficient time is allowed to allow the parts to set and dry completely before moving from one stage to another. Finally the upper wing that is now a complete assembly with the engine nacelle in place is lowered on the struts mounted on the lower wings and center of the fuselage. At this stage one needs to ensure that the correct angle of attack is obtained so that the propeller will clear the top deck behind the cockpit canopy. After this is checked then the propeller could be fitted at a later stage. The under wing floats are injection moulded in two halves and has short metal struts. One has to ensure to match the correct struts to the relevant wing as these differ. The metal spatted tail wheel that has also the function of water rudder and the side undercarriage legs are a final stage of assembly. For a deck landing Sea Otter one needs to scratch build from metal wire of the correct thickness the arrestor hook and some alteration at rear end of the fuselage is also needed. At this stage I added the rigging using the predrilled set of holes on the wings and fuselage parts etc. I have used nylon thread for both the rigging and wireless arrangement.


When the kit was complete in one whole unit the canopy was masked and the lower surfaces airbrushed in Sky. Lower areas were then masked and the upper surfaces had disruptive camouflage of temperate scheme.

 The decals that comes with the kit are of a very good quality and are for an aircraft serial JN135 when serving with 1702 Squadron Naval Air Station at Hal-Far, Malta circa 1949. The particular type also had small radar aerials attached at a horizontal angle to the outer wing struts. Fortunately I had photos of the real aircraft since not even these are indicated on the incomplete cover art work while there is some indication on the scale plans as to where these could be fitted in the event one makes his own as these are also absent among the kit parts. I built mine out of a strip of plastic with thin length of wires fitted horizontally on it and then attached to the front struts. A good reference source was the Aviation News Vol16 No2, which also depicts alternative finishes to choose from, and also Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol 16 No4. These sources were also helpful to locate the type of rigging and wireless arrangement suited for the type.


 In spite of lack of adequate instructions that should have come with an otherwise quite accurate kit I have with some extra effort enjoyed making the Sea Otter that in the end makes a good replica of the real thing, This was also an opportunity to add another military type that frequented the airspace over Malta.

Carmel J. Attard

February 2007


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