HobbyCraft 1/48 Hurricane IV

KIT #: Test Shot
PRICE: $1 plus postage
DECALS: None supplied
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Aeromaster 48-237, Carpena 48.48 and SuperScale 48-541 decals, Aeroclub V146 tailwheel, Airwaves SC48028 Armored radiator.

HISTORY

                                    Firmes Volamos – Part II

Little was known about the involvement of Argentine volunteers in the RAF, RCAF and RN until Oscar Raimondi started his research work a few years ago. Claudio Meunier joined forces, continued and enhanced this project after Raimondi’s death.

There were almost 1,000 Argentine volunteers that joined the flying forces during World War II. Most of them were descendants of British people living in Argentina (i.e. working in the Great Southern Railways) and thus their names are, no doubt about it, British. But there are many other volunteers that have Spanish names and yet joined the RAF, RCAF and RN. They flew in every theater of operations and flew practically all the planes available (from bombers to fighters to transport to trainers). Some of them remained in Europe after the war, but others went back to Argentina.

During WWII the British community in Argentina organized the 'Wings for Winston Foundation of Buenos Aires'. This Foundation gathered money with the aim of creating an all-Argentine fighter squadron (planes purchased with Argentine money and flown by Argentina born pilots). The dream finally came true on April 6th 1942 when 164 Sqn was formed.

For the 164 squadron Spitfire period check Part I  

On February 1st 1943 the Squadron flew to Turnhouse where 341 Free French Squadron took charge of their Spits. The pilots then flew on to Fairwood in an ancient Harrow transport where they met their 40mm gun armed Hurricane MkIV. After a week long familiarization with their new mounts the Squadron moved to Middle Wallop. Squadron Leader Tom Rowland was promoted to Wing Commander and left the unit being replaced by Irish Sqn. Ldr. Desmond “Mac” McKeown DFC. Mac had more than flying 4,000 hs, had fought against the Italians in Eastern Africa in 1940 and was an instructor when he joined 164 Sqn.

During March they learnt the trade at Midfield and around mid month they returned to their home base. After ground attack practice (now in co ordination with the Army and covered by Spitfires) they started training against naval targets, this time flying from Portreath. It must be noted that rockets were fired 300 to 400 yards away from the target. This means that the Hurricane would be there in 2 to 3 seconds! Therefore immediately after firing them, the pilot had to break hard to avoid flying thru the explosion of the rockets…It is said that during actual combat 1 in 6 planes did not make it with both pilot and plane being lost!

In June they moved to Warmwell. On the 20th of that month they practiced against a convoy. There even is a picture of KX540 flown by Ronnie Sheward making a dummy run against an escort in Meunier’s books.

On one occasion the Squadron was going to be shown to the Queen and Mac could not find his hat. He rushed back home very angry looking for his hat (his 2 years old daughter hiding behind a sofa to avoid being hit by him) and left for the airfield. Pictures Jill Mckeown has seen show his father with the Queen and the Hurricanes…and he is wearing a hat! So it looks like he found it…or at least borrowed one.

Finally on June 27th the Squadron did their first operation with the new plane. It was a recco to Sark and Guernsey islands. They were escorted by Spitfires of 129 Sqn and one they way out the flak finally woke up and fired at them but to no avail.

On July 9th they repeated their mission, this time flying to Guernsey and Jersey and on this occasion the flak was awake and more active. A night attack to Cherbourg the same day had to be aborted due to bad weather. Night intruder missions were sometimes flown in night painted Hurricanes MkIID.

In early August 164 Sqn moved now to Manston. This would put them in range of the Dutch coast. More missions without contact were flown during this month (escorted by Typhoons) including Dutch islands, a night raid along the French coast from Cap Griznez to Berck, rhubarbs against Dieppe, St. Valery, Ostend.

Flying Officer Ronnie “Pablo” Sheward was one of the Argentine pilots that flew with Firmes Volamos. He was born in Temperley (Argentina) in 1913. He was sent to England to finish his studies and when he returned to Argentina in 1930 he moved to Cinco Saltos in the Argentine Patagonia. He managed a farm for 6 years but when World War II broke he left everything and finally managed to board a ship for Europe in July 1940. Among the approximately 100 Argentine volunteers in that ship Sheward remembers Christopher “Lungo” Ford (flew fighters in the Burma theater), John Pinsent (lost in a 233 Sqn Hudson attacking an U Boot), Philip Runnacles (POW, shot down in a Whitley) and Derek Wood (KIFA in a Lancaster). Even though he was by then 27 years old, Ronnie was sent to fly fighters. His first operational unit was 164 Squadron where he flew Spitfires and Hurricanes.

Hansweert Canal show:

The first attack ever by rocket armed Hurricanes took place on September 2nd 1943 against the doors at the Hansweert Canal in Holland. It was flown by 8 planes of 164 Sqn (S/Ldr McKeown in KZ406, P/O Trafford in KX566, W/O Cook in KX536, F/Sgt Wilson in KX696, F/Lt Dennehey in KX404, F/O Sheward in KX540, F/O Ian Young (Canadian) in KX541 and F/Sgt Pidgen in KX414) along with 4 from 137 Sqn and 4 more from 184 Sqn. They were escorted by Tyhpoons of 3 and 198 Sqn.

The attack had been cancelled at least once due to bad weather. On this day weather and sea conditions were good enough for this type of attack. Taking off from Manston Mac put the formation in combat formation just above the sea to delay being detected by the German radar. He told his men: “I’ll blow the gates of this blessed canal if it’s the last thing I do”…

They crossed the Belgian coast at Knocke and the Flak started to fire at them. Young’s plane was hit and started to loose glycol. He was unaware of this until his wingman warned him. His only chance was to turn back immediately and try to reach the rescue launches. Flying as close to the ground as he dared, Young flew under telephone cables firing his guns against the flak gunners. Hit again and now with his windshield shattered and the engine loosing power he decided to bail out. But he only managed to gain 450 ft and therefore he changed his mind and dove to the sea to try to ditch his Hurricane. Now, everyone knows that the Hurricane with her big radiator was really difficult to ditch. He left the canopy opened (which, according to the procedure, was a mistake), slowed the plane down and kept the nose high. Finally the tail hit the water, the plane went down under, Young hit his forehead against the gunsight and the canopy closed again. This saved his life because now there was air left inside the cockpit, which gave him time to undo his straps and wires. Battering against the canopy he managed to break it, equilibrate the pressure, open the hood and escape his plane. With the last oxygen left in his lungs he managed to reach the surface of the sea. After inflating his dinghy he tried to row to the open sea as the wind was pushing against the enemy coast. His battle lost, he was taken prisoner and that “was the end of the war for me”.

The weather had deteriorated and fog was hiding the important landmarks. Mac could not find the target so he climbed on a left turn looking for it. Now the flak really started shooting at them, firing from the coast, the harbour and the ships. Finally seeing the target Mac dove towards it at full speed with the rocket laden Hurricane. On their right there was a dyke full of guns firing at them and Sheward’s plane was hit many times. He believes that Mac was also hit because, aligned with the entrance of the canal, he fired his armament in a salvo but instead of breaking right to avoid them he kept flying ahead and was hit by his own rockets. The explosion destroyed 164 Sqn Leader’s plane and killed the pilot (whose remains were later retrieved and buried by the Germans).

Sheward fired his rockets and turned right, then flew low over the Zuid Beverland, turned West (firing at a platoon of German soldiers that were crossing a small bridge), flew to Walcheren and got to the open sea while his Hurricane’s engine was vibrating and shaking.

Sheward had hit and destroyed the housing of the canal’s eastern entrance gate. Trafford, Wilson and Cook had also followed McKeown attacking the eastern entrance of the canal, the first destroying the outer exit while Wilson and Cook fired at the inner ones. Dennehey fired at the middle entrance that exploded when the rockets hit it. The main target had been completely destroyed.

Pidgen, the last one to attack, had to deal with the western entrance but when about to fire a Reinflottlilje ship crossed his path. Though hit by the rockets and seriously damaged, she did not sink as the crew managed to ground it on the bank of the canal.

Flying over the North Sea Sheward saw two Hurricanes ahead but even though he had full power he was not able to catch up. His FJ-B (KX540) was shaking like a leaf and Ronnie asked the pilot to slow down. Johnny Dennehey gained height slowly giving Sheward a chance to catch up. He asked his friend if he could see any damage on his Hurricane but Dennehey could see that everything seemed all right. Now flying in formation they reached the coast of Kent and with the last drops of gas they landed on a small landing field.

Sheward took his plane to the dispersal were KX540 coughed and died. Then he could see why the plane had been vibrating so badly: a large section of one of the propeller blades was there no more! Another Hurricane could not make it to the dispersal as it run out of gas. Dennehey found that, besides hits to the airframe, the leading edge of his wings had what look like saw marks. This was the result of flying thru wires. Trafford’s and Wilson’ planes were also damaged.

Out of the 8 planes that 164 Sqn contributed to this mission, two were lost (McKeown…his prophecy fulfilled…and Young) and three seriously damaged. Two more planes were lost, one from 137 Sqn (F/L DeHoux DFC) and another Hurricane from 198 Sqn. The German claimed two Hurricanes shot down when the actual number was four out of the sixteen that started the raid.

After Holland:

Sqn Leader Humphrey A B Russsell DFC (a Battle of Britain veteran) took over the Squadron after the loss of McKeown.

With FJ-B now repaired, Sheward and 164 Sqn flew night raider attacks to Abbeville on September 15th 1943. Diving towards some lights and shadows on the airfield “Pablo” fired his rockets in twos. He was fired at by the Flak without success as he was climbing up and away.

Later that month (September) 164 Sqn was moved to Fairlop.

On October 17th 164 flew an armed recco against shipping the Somme estuary during the night but with no success.

On October 25th 164 Sqn flew to RAF Hornchurch where Sqn Ldr Russell received their badge. Air Vice Marshall Saunders, Hill and the Duke of Gloucester attended the important event, along with Argentine civilian authorities.

For the rest of their Hurricane period 164 flew against V-1 sites. Pilots hated these missions as the Hurricane was obsolete and had they had to face FW-190s or Bf109Gs they would have been completely outclassed. Besides they did not have a ground attack gunsight so they were aiming their rockets using their (2 x .303) machine guns gunsights…During one of these the Hurricane flown  by F/O Francis Dennison RCAF was hit and caught fire. The 22-year-old Nova Scottian jumped from his doomed plane but his parachute failed to open and he fell to his death.

In December Sheward was promoted to Flight Commander and transferred to 137 Sqn (also flying Hurricane IV)

Some of the Hurricanes flown by164 Sqn have been identified as (among others):

KX561 (FJ-G), KZ193 (FJ-O), KX696, KX536, KX540 (FJ-B), KX409, KX405, KX702, KX413 (FJ-M), KZ707, KZ912, KZ609.

In regards to Ronnie Sheward, he moved from 137 Sqn and then flew with 263 and 266 Sqn, finishing the war as Squadron Leader with a DFC. After leaving the RAF after the war he decided to remain in Great Britain.

In January 1944 164 Sqn started to receive their Typhoons, their Hurricanes soldiering on until February…but the Typhoon story with 164 Sqn will be the 3rd and last part of my articles about the Argentine-British Squadron.

THE KIT

I won this kit in eBay. No one else bet on it so I won it for 99 cents plus postage from Toronto to London! (Ontario, not England. Ed)

Except for the color of the plastic it is exactly the same as described elsewhere. Some incorrect panel lines in the border of attack of the wings, missing panels under the fuselage close to the wings, spartan interior, lack of flat area behind the cockpit, tail wheel for an MkI (not MkII or MkIV).

To convert it to a MkIV there are several panel lines that have to be removed, others scribed. Besides I bought at Roll Models the MkIV armored radiator and the white metal tailwheel. Both need just a little bit of clean up and they fit very well.

CONSTRUCTION

The interior was put together with no fuss at all as it is very simple. It was painted in RAF Interior Green with some details picked out in black, brown and red.

The wheels wells, in the same Interior Green, also got a careful painting in black to represent the windows that showed the pilots whether the undercarriage was up. You can also see some of the panel lines that were erased and the new ones that I scribed.  I followed a couple of scale plans found in Internet and Richard Caruana’s in the Hawker Hurricane book (SAMI)

Wings and fuselage halves mated with no problem. Just a little bit of putty was required to hide some sink marks on the last and along the fuselage union. I scratch built the cap for the left wing oil tank and the cinegun on the border of attack of the right wing.

Then I moved to the undersides. Here first I painted the interior of the radiator using very diluted black paint. This run into the pockets under the screens and the screens themselves stood out in sort of a light gray as the paint run away from it. There was no need to dry brush the screens in silver. I added the armored radiator with no problem using two-part epoxy glue (Goop!). After looking for pictures of Hurricanes armed with rockets I realized they were using a protective sheet of metal under the wings. These prevented the rockets from damaging the wings when fired in anger. Luckily many years ago when I built my Tamiya Beaufighter in the Malta cammo I left with the rockets and the protective sheet in my spares box. The metal sheet fits the Hurricane very well, has the correct dimensions and with some minimal trimming in the area along the flaps I attached it easily. Lucky me!

Tailplanes went with no problem and with this I was almost ready to start painting. But just before that I realized that I had lost one of the main landing gears and was forced to make a copy using the other leg as a starting point. I used rubber to cast the mold and resin to make the part.

Having decided to build a rocket armed Hurricane I found that I had 16 in the spars box: half from the Airfix Mosquito and the other half from the Tamiya Beau. None of theses have it completely right so some surgery was needed: As the rails and supports of Tamiya are better, I used these (also they would fit the protective sheet under the wings). But Tamiya’s rendering of the head of the rockets is awful…and Airfix’s is very good. So I cut out the head of the Tamiya version and replaced it with the one from Airfix.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I used Model Master Acryl 4759 for the inferior surfaces and the entire kit to hide the dark blue plastic. I sprayed the spinner and the fuselage band with Modelmaster RAF sky. Once the undersides and the band were masked with Tamiya tape and paper I airbrushed the darker gray for the fuselage and wings using Model Master Acryl 4746. To correctly describe the camo I made copies of Hasegawa’s color plans, cut them and attached them using masking tape. Then worms of Blue tac added to the edge of the paper masks helped to achieve a soft demarcation. Once this was done a coat of Model Master Acryl RAF Dark Green finished the camo.

Rockets and rails were also painted in light gray, along with the landing gear. The yellow for the wings border of attack was MM Acryl 4721

My usual technique of sanding black pastel and applying it to some areas with a brush delivered some wear and depth (moveable surfaces). A silver pen created an effect of chipped paint especially around fasteners, walking area on wings and edge of panels. Stains behind the exhausts were created using a mix of rust and black-sanded pastels and a brush. These were also used to get the undersides a little bit dirty.

Landing lights were painted in silver with black background. The main landing gear was glued in place (minus wheels and doors) as support for the plane during the process of applying Future.

After the layers of Future were applied the plane was ready for the decals.

All decals came from different sets due to the fact that the kit had none. Stencils were copied from the Hasegawa’s kit, printed in clear decal paper, protected with Testors spray for decals and applied in position. Sky letters were from Aeromaster 48-237, the black serial numbers came from Carpena 48.48 and the roundels and fin flashes are SuperScale 48-541 (the red being too bright). From the unusued Tamiya Spitfire MkV I cut out the red dope for the machine guns. A coat of Model Master Acryl semi gloss covered and protected the decals.

FINAL BITS

From this moment on everything went fine and fast: I glued wheels and doors, tail wheel, propeller, gunsight with pad painted in brown, rockets (painted in olive green with the exhaust in black), exhausts (painted in Model Master rust), navigation lights (wingtips in red and green and tail white). A couple of handles for the canopy were made using very thin bristles and attached to the frame.

The landing gear lights covers were slightly sanded to make them fit in place. Antenna went on with no fuss and the model was finished when I glued the perfectly fitting canopy (with the rear mirror glued and painted in black).

CONCLUSIONS

Always cheap I managed to use the Hobbycraft kit to represent this seldom seen version of the Hurricane. In fact I have only been able to found one MkIV model kit built flown by 164 Sqn in Internet…and it is in 1/72nd scale!

Stay tuned for Part III (and final) of 164 (Argentine British) Sqn in the coming months.

Thanks to:

Carlos A. Garcia for his help to try to decipher the color scheme (A or B?) of this Hurricane.

Richard Caruana for his search of more detailed scale plans.

REFERENCES

Alas de Trueno (Claudio Meunier)

Nacidos con Honor (Claudio Meunier)

www.BBC - WW2 People's War - My Father's Hat.htm

Issue 15 - Hurricane Refining the breed - The Mk II, IV and V - Aviation Classics Magazine

The Hawker Hurricane – SAMI (book)

http://www.largescaleplanes.com/Walkaround/hurricanmkiv/hurricanmkiv.php

Pablo Calcaterra

May 2012

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