|KIT:||Fisher Models 1/32 Hawker Sea Fury|
|NOTES:||Resin with metal parts.|
Had the Hawker Sea Fury arrived on the scene one year earlier than it did, its place in history would not be assured by its technical excellence but rather by the outstanding combat record it would undoubtedly have achieved with the British Pacific Fleet in the final struggles of 1945. As it is, the Sea Fury ‑ designed for air superiority ‑ is known for shooting down only one opponent, a MiG‑15 on August 2, 1952, by Lt. Peter "Hoagy" Carmichael of 802 Squadron. Given that, in the intervening five years between its appearance in squadron strength and that day in 1952' technological development had rendered the Sea Fury obsolete, its victory over the MiG-15 is even more remarkable. Regardless, the Sea Fury is the penultimate result of Sir Sidney Camm's philosophy of piston‑engine fighter design.
The Sea Fury began life in 1942 with a request by the Air Ministry that Hawker Aircraft design a long‑range fighter for operations in the Far East. While a radial‑engine version of the Tempest was under development at the time, it was thought that the relatively high wing‑loading of the Tempest would be ill‑suited for combat with the lightly‑loaded Japanese fighters, and thus the Sea Fury started out as the "Tempest Light Fighter (Centaurus)."
In early 1943, the designers were directed to adapt the fighter for shipboard operation as well as the land‑based role. The first RAF prototype flew in September 1944, while the firstnavalized prototype flew in February 1945. Tests revealed a need for an increase in vertical fin and rudder size to counter the swing on take‑off, while the rigid engine mounts created difficulty until they were replaced with dynafocal‑base mounts which completely eliminated the vibration at lower speeds that had hampered the airplane's ability to land aboard ship.
While the Royal Navy was testing both the Meteor and the Vampire and had ordered the Supermarine Attacker, there was sufficient doubt about the ability of jets to operate off
carriers that ‑ while the RAF canceled the land‑based Fury in the face of the arrival of the new jets ‑ the Royal Navy continued to develop the Sea Fury as a shipboard interceptor and later as a fighter‑bomber. With carrier compatibility trials completed in 1947, 807 Squadron was the first to convert to the aircraft,
followed by 802, 803 and 805 Squadrons between August 1947 and February 1948. The initial Sea Fury Mk.X was quickly replaced by the F.B.11, which could carry underwing drop tanks, bombs and rockets; squadrons began to equip with it in May 1948.
The Sea Fury's introduction to combat came in the fall of1950 when 807 Squadron, operating from HMS "Theseus," joined Task Force 95, the Korean blockade force. Operating jointly with Firefly F.R.IV and V strike aircraft, FAA Sea Furies flew from HMS "Triumph," "Theseus," "Glory," and "Ocean," as well as with the RAN from HMAS "Sydney" until the end of the war in July 1953.
In typical operations, the carrier was "on line" for 11 days ‑ 4 days of operations followed by 3 days of replenishment followed by a final 4 days of operations; at least two missions per day were flown by each operational aircraft aboard. These were missions in support of ground troops, or against rail and road transport to choke off supplies to the Chinese and North Koreans.
HMS "Ocean" came on‑line in May, 1952, with 802 Squadron equipped with Sea Furies. By July and August, enemy jet incursions over North Korea to intercept UN fighter‑bomber sorties began to increase. On August 2, eight MiG‑15s hit the mixed strike force of Sea Furies and Fireflies. Combat was sharp, with one Firefly destroyed by a MiG's heavy cannon fire, but the Sea Furies managed to hit two jets, one of which crashed. Lt. Peter "Hoagy" Carmichael, Blue Section leader, was credited with the kill. The following day saw 8 more MiGs come after the Sea Furies, who saved themselves by using tightmaneuvers and taking advantage of cloud cover. One MiG was claimed damaged.
Following the end of the Korean War, the Sea Fury was rapidly replaced by its successor, the Hawker Sea Hawk, and became the primary aircraft assigned to the RNVR "weekend warrior" squadrons.
The Sea Fury was also used by the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the PakistaniAir Force, the Iraqi Air Force and the Cuban Air Force; it last saw combat when flown by Cuban pilots of the FAR against the Cuban exile invasion attempt at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
In the mid 1960s, ex‑Canadian Sea Furies began appearing in the U.S. civil aviation fleet, and the airplane has made a name for itself as an air racer in the years following. While the Centaurus‑powered Sea Fury was never really competitive with the Mustang and Bearcat in the short‑distance pylon races at Reno, the reliability of the engine at high revs over long periods saw Sea Furies dominate long distance races like the California 1000.
When the airplane was modified to accept the R‑4360 four‑row "corncob," and the R-3350, it became a real competitor at Reno, with several highly-modified Sea Furies among the top contenders in the Unlimited Class nowadays.
To me, there are few airplanes that look or sound better going overhead at an altitude of 100 feet or so than a Sea Fury powered by the Centaurus engine. 25 years ago, I got a ride in the jump seat of Lloyd Hamilton’s Sea Fury on a trip around the pylons for an article I was writing about the Reno Air Races that still ranks as one of the most memorable airplane rides I have ever taken.
As I say, I have been a fan of the Sea Fury for a long time. I first built the old Frog 1/72 kit in 1969, and did several more of those during the 1970s. In 1986 I discovered the Falcon 1/48 vacuform kit and did two of those, and have likely done 10-15 of the Hobbycraft kits after it was released in 1988. When Paul Fisher told me last year he was going to do a Sea Fury it was all I could do to explode. When I saw the test shot this past April, I knew it was going to be a winner.
On opening the box, the first thing anyone familiar with Paul’s kits will note is that this is much more complex than the Panther or the Cougars. Quality of the resin casting is outstanding as usual.
The design of the kit is based on extensive research done with the Sea Fury restored by Ellsworth Getchell and flown by him over the past 30 years. Since this is one of the best, most original restorations of a Sea Fury in existence, the resulting accuracy of the kit is superb. I know for a fact the markings are right because Ellsworth was working on this airplane - one of the Iraqi Sea Furies brought into the country in 1974 - at John Herlihy’s hangar at Half Moon Bay airport when I was working on Gary Harris’ restoration of the F4U-7 BuNo 133722, and I provided Ellsworth with the information.
With a fully-detailed cockpit and the gear well and landing gear designed by Roy Sutherland - whose Cooper Details resin set did so much to improve the old Hobbycraft kit (URL HERE FOR REVIEW) - this kit has it all. Full-detailed flaps are provided to allow the kit to be finished with flaps lowered, as well as full wingfold detail to allow the kit to be done with the wings up. There is a full engine, not just a face plate. Two 500-lb bombs and six rocket projectiles constitute the underwing armament.
Those who elect to do a Korean Fury should know that if you be sure to check what period of the war their model is supposed to have operated in. The 802 Squadron airplane flown by Peter Carmichael would have bombs only, while the 801 Squadron airplane could be armed with either two bombs or four rockets (with rockets more likely), with drop tanks in both cases. Sea Furies in Korea carried either bombs or rockets, never both, and usually never more than four rockets on any strike mission.
The superb decal sheet was designed by Jennings Heilig and provides markings for six aircraft. There are two Fleet Air Arm Korean War airplanes, the de rigeur Peter Carmichael airplane from 802 Squadron aboard HMS Ocean in May-September 1952, and an 801 Squadron airplane aboard HMS Glory during her second tour in April-June 1952 (this latter are also the markings of the Sea Fury restored by Ellsworth Getchell in the 1970s). The two Royal Canadian Navy Sea Furies come in early and late camouflage and markings. The Royal Australian Navy Sea Fury is the well-known overall dark blue Sea Fury flown at Nowra in 1960, while the last is a Sea Fury F.B.50 flown by the Royal Netherlands Navy from the carrier Karel Doorman.
If you love the Sea Fury, this is the definitive kit. For those who ask, is it worth $195, I will say it is a bargain at that price for what is there and what can be created. A modeler of average ability should be able to create a show-stopper with this kit, built OOB. For someone who wants to super-detail what is there, the result would be a serious “Nats contender.” I know there has been an announcement of an injection-molded 1/32 Sea Fury from Hobbycraft recently, which will likely retail for less than a third of the cost of this kit, but I have spoken with people who have seen the test shots, and that kit is not in the same quality league with this model, with far less detail than is found here.
If you want something “definitive,” something top-quality for which an excellent outcome is virtually guaranteed, Paul’s Sea Fury is the one you want.
Review kit courtesy Fisher Model Products. Get yours at www.fishermodels.com
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