Special Hobby 1/48 Seafire III
|NOTES:||Kitbashed with ICM Spitfire IX.|
It is a remarkable fact that Royal Navy´s Fleet defence fighter in 1945 was a kind of glorified Spitfire Mk V, a heavier one by the way, the same that the RAF had deemed unsuited for offensive combat operations back in 1942. It is even more remarkable that at that late date, it was still the fastest Allied naval interceptor at low level, and the one with a steepest climb rate. That made it an ideal anti-kamikaze weapon; but it should be said that, fitted with a slipper tank, the machine had an endurance that enabled them for a CAP time of more than three hours, or an useful combat radius for offensive operations. The aircraft was never safe, with operational losses far outnumbering those due to enemy action; that said, by the time of its deployment with the BPC, an acceptable degree of operational safety had been achieved. It might be that only the fact that it could fly and fight kept it in service; in peacetime, most probably, it would have never been considered at all.
NN212, a Seafire L.III, belonged to a batch ordered on 5 January 1943 under Contract B124305/40 and Contract Acft/2605/C23(c), for a total of 200 Type 358 Seafire LIII airframes built by Westland Aircraft. It was flown by SubLt. Ed Murphy to shoot down two A6Ms and share another on 15th August, 1945, while escorting an Avenger strike package to Kisarazu, in a mission which got famous as “the last combat in the Pacific”, and in which the RN-FAA suffered its last fatal casualty, the formation leader, Lt. Hocksley (shot down, captured and executed later). Of course, that didn´t exempt NN212 to bang its nose on the deck sometime later (it had already hit the ship´s gun director on 03.3.45), as a picture in Osprey´s book testify, and an entry in Sturtivant´s book confirms, saying “Floated over the barrier, HMS Indefatigable, 22.01.46, Mid.WA Armstrong”
It must be said that the fit in the SH kit is undistinguished at best, as well as the definition of most small parts. Ailerons are particularly ill-fitting, but that can be masked by posing them with a small deflection. Gun covers require heavy sanding no matter how much attention you put in them. Undercarriage is rather complex but realistic enough (but the detail in the wells has to be scratchbuilt –it is included as a resin piece in later iterations of the kit), and the angle looks correct. Fairing in the radiator, oil cooler and carburettor intakes proved labour intensive, too.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Kit decals were used. They proved a bit fragile, and most of them curled in some dangerous way at some point, but they conformed well to even difficult surfaces with no silvering (just see the picture showing the big insignia conforming to the various reinforcements in the left fuselage). I had a problem with the size of the large insignia: shouldn´t they be all the same size (48 in)? Well, it looks like someone realized the fuselage was a bit short and adjusted the ones going there… something which I missed. The difference is minimal; mine are “crossed”, but you could only notice if looking very intently.
- “Supermarine Spitfire – Part I: Merlin Engined”, Robert Humphreys, SAM Publications;
- “RN Aces of WW2”, Andrew Thomas, Osprey Publications;
- “Seafire vs. Zero”, Donald Nijboer, Osprey Publications
- “Aircraft of the Royal Navy 1939-1945”, Ray Sturtivant, Air Britain.
- “Supermarine Seafire”, Kevin Darling, Crowood Publications.
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