Trumpeter 1/48 Sea Fury FB.11

KIT #: 2844
PRICE: $54.95 MSRP
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


      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, shot down 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 and one of the most beautiful piston-engined fighters ever flown.

      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 Fury prototype flew in September 1944, while the first navalized Sea Fury 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 vibration difficulty until they were replaced with dynafocal-base mounts which completely eliminated the vibration at lower speeds which had hampered the airplane's ability to land aboard ship.

      While the Royal Navy was testing both the Meteor and the Vampire aboard carriers, 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.

      In 1947, the Royal Canadian Navy was looking for a fighter with fighter-bomber capabilities to replace the Seafire F.XV that had been acquired in 1946.  The Canadians wanted an airplane that was more robust and able to fly off the light carrier HMCS Magnificent in the stormy North Atlantic, an assignment the delicate Seafire was not up to fulfilling.  Commencing in 1947 with the delivery of one F.B.10, 74 F.B.11 Sea Furies were delivered for use by 871 Squadron.  The Sea Furies served the RCN between 1948-57, at which time they were replaced by the F2H-4 Banshee, the last fixed-wing fighter operated by the Canadian Navy.  Beginning in the early 1960s, surviving Canadian Sea Furies made their way south of the border, where they made a name for themselves in the 1960s and 1970s as air racers and proved popular as warbirds.  Today, most surviving Sea Furies in North America have had their Bristol Centaurus replaced by an R-3350, since parts and maintenance on the American engine are both easier and cheaper to maintain.  Several highly-modified Sea Fury racers can be seen at Reno each September, where they are formidable competitors.


     Trumpeter’s 1/48 Sea Fury is the first kit of this airplane in 1/48 since the release 20 years ago of the Hobbycraft kit.  The only other Sea Fury available in this scale is a vacuform by Falcon which was originally released in the mid-1980s.

      Of the three, the most accurate in terms of outline and dimensions is the Falcon kit.  One could use parts from the other injection-molded kits for props and landing gear and get a model that is still very good looking.  The Hobbycraft kit suffers from numerous faults, including a wing with an upside-down airfoil, among other things.

      Unfortunately, while the Trumpeter kit is miles in advance of the Hobbycraft kit in terms of outline and dimensional accuracy, it has its own faults. 

     The cockpit bears no resemblance to any Sea Fury cockpit I have ever seen (and I have sat in three), being too shallow and incorrectly laid-out.  There is the additional problem that the area of the fuselage under the canopy when closed has been cut down, which is totally inaccurate.  Also, the gear legs are too short and the gear is positioned much too far inboard in the wheel wells.  The drop tanks that are provided bear no resemblance whatsoever to any used by the Sea Fury, being at least twice the size of the actual tanks.  Finally, the propeller blades are strangely shaped and the spinner is too long and too pointed.

      Fortunately, almost of these faults can be fixed with scratch-modifications, which will be sufficient to create an accurate-enough model out of the box.

      Decals are provided for two aircraft.  As with most Trumpeter kits, the sheet is best tossed.  Among other things it uses a non-existant font for the serial numbers. 

      Fortunately, better decals are available. There is an old Aeromaster Sea Fury sheet, which provides markings for Cuban, Iraqi, Dutch and Burmese Sea Furies.  There is additionally an Aeromaster sheet that provides markings for Commonwealth Sea Furies including one flown by the RCN and one by the RAN.  More contemporary releases include a sheet of Canadian Sea Furies from Mike Grant Decals and a sheet of Commonwealth Sea Furies from Xtradecals.  One can also rob decal sheets from contemporary Hobbycraft releases of their Sea Fury kit and get excellent decals that alone are worth the cost of this kit.

      The kit is in severe need of aftermarket detail sets.  Unfortunately, there are none currently in production, though if you have the Cooper Details set that was re-released several years ago by Meteor Productions, or the Airwaves cockpit set, these should fit this kit with only a slight bit of sanding to get them to fit.  The Falcon/Squadron vac canopy for the Hobbycraft kit fits this kit perfectly.


      Overall, the kit goes together easily and I only needed a very little bit of filler along the fuselage centerline upper and lower.

     Fortunately, I was able to refer to the most accurate Sea Fury model - the Fisher Models Sea Fury - throughout this project as a guide for what to do in correcting this kit.

      The first thing that stuck out to me was the spinner, which was obviously too long and too pointed.  The first thing I did was fill the spinner with cyanoacrylate and let it dry normally overnight.  When that was done, I cut 1/16 inch off the tip of the spinner, then reshaped the spinner to make it blunter.  The prop blades were just “off” enough to be noticeable, but I decided they would be acceptable for an out-of-the-box project.

      The next thing I noticed was that the area just behind and below the exhaust area on the forward fuselage side was done with angles, rather than a smooth curve.  I trimmed the angles and then reshaped this area with a file to give it the proper curve.

      It was glaringly obvious that the cockpit was completely incorrect.  I decided that since it was to be painted black, if I simply closed the canopy a viewer would be unable to see all that bad detail.  I did use a set of photo-etch Eduard seatbelts, which improved the seat and gave the cockpit enough of a “look” for what would be seen through the clear plastic.

      The area immediately behind the cockpit was also completely incorrect, being cut down.  I too some .010 Evergreen sheet, cut it to fit and then curved it correctly.  I filled in with cyanoacrylate glue and then sanded it smooth.  I reshaped the headrest to fit properly.

     The next problem was the wheel wells.  I made a bulkhead section with Evergreen sheet, then used some Evergreen tubing to lengthen the landing gear a bit more than 3/32 inch. The landing gear was glued into the extreme end of the wheel well where it is supposed to be.  I also lengthened the tailwheel leg by the same amount.

      The engine cowling was a bit fiddly, so I cut off the guides, glued it in position and then held it overnight with rubber bands to insure a solid attachment.

      I had contemplated having the wings spread, but since I didn’t want to give an observer more view of that cockpit than necessary, I decided to fold the wings.  When folded, the ailerons both go “down” about 5 degrees.  Since the ailerons on the kit are separate, this was easy to do.

     At the end, I discovered the Trumpeter canopy has a seam down the middle.  This can be scraped off with a knife blade, then the area can be smoothed an polished with Micro-Mesh.  Once it is Futured, the seam will be unnoticeable.



      I decided to do the Canadian Sea Fury on the Aeromaster sheet.  This airplane is also found on the Mike Grant and Xtradecals sheet.  This is one of four airplanes of 871 Squadron which flew as an air demonstration flight in 1957-58, with the spinners painted red with a white star on the tip, with red lightning flashes on the drop tanks. 

      I originally painted the spinner white, then discovered during the decal application process that the red decal provided in the Aeromaster sheet was too small to fit (since the Hobbycraft spinner is also small).  Two attempts at masking and painting didn’t work, so I decided I would depict the airplane as it would have looked prior to its air demonstration flight assignment, with the spinner painted Extra Dark Sea Grey.

     The model was painted Xtracrylix Sea Grey Medium on the lower surfaces, and Extra Dark Sea Grey on the upper surfaces. I post-shaded each by applying a bit of white to the colors and going over panels. The Canadian airplanes may not have been painted these exact shades, but whatever they were was “close enough” that these colors work.


      The Aeromaster decals are thick, and required two applications of Micro-Sol, a bit of slicing with an X-acto blade, and several applications of Solvaset to make them finally go down.  Since both the Mike Grant sheet and the Xtradecals sheet provide markings for this airplane, I recommend you use those decals since I know they are thinner and will not give you this kind of problem. 


      I gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Satin Varnish to give a “scale effect” gloss finish.  I then unmasked the canopy and attached the wings.


      For a kit that retails at around $50 (and perhaps more by the time you read this since all manufacturers are announcing price increases to deal with $130+ per barrel petroleum products and vastly increased transportation costs), the Trumpeter Sea Fury is a disappointment.  It is a scale-up of the inaccurate 1/72 kit, with all of its problems made larger.  The rivet detail isn’t really right for this scale but under the proverbial “coat of paint,” the surface detail doesn’t look all that bad.

     As I was finishing the model, I was contacted by my friend Dave Carter, the chief designer at White Ensign Models.  WEM is planning a correction set for this kit.  I referred Dave to “Mister Sea Fury” (Paul Fisher) who is providing him with accurate information.  White Ensign should make a good set that will correct the prop, the wheel well, the landing gear, and the cockpit.  If you are a “serious Sea Fury Fan,” then I suggest if you have this kit in the stash you put all the parts in the box, tape it closed and put it back in storage to await the release of the WEM set.

      Overall, with “some modeling ability required,” this can be turned into a mostly-acceptable model with what’s in the box, so long as you are a modeler who is content with a “mostly acceptable model.”  The kit definitely requires aftermarket decals no matter what you decide to do with it.

      As far as a final final recommendation is concerned, if you are a really serious Sea Fury fan and only want one in the collection, which will be totally “right,” then bite the bullet and get the Fisher kit, which is still in production and worth every penny.  

 Thanks to Stevens International for the kit.

Tom Cleaver

July 2008


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