|PRICE:||65 rmb at Xinshi|
the hardest-working post-war aircraft carriers were the British-designed "Light
Fleet" type. Apart from the Royal Navy, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada,
France, India and the Netherlands all operated these small but capable ships.
They saw operational use from the Korean War (HMAS Sydney), the First Indochina
War (France's Arromanches), the Vietnam War (Sydney, as a troopship), the 1971
Indo-Pakistani War, and the Falklands War (Argentina's 25 de Mayo, which used to
be the Dutch Karel Doorman). The last of these Colossus/Majestic class carriers,
Brazil's "Minas Gerais", finally retired in 2001.
With such a diverse user base over more than half a century, it's no surprise how many different aircraft flew off these ships. Skyhawks, Etendards, Trackers, Harriers, and even Banshees came after the usual suspects from the piston-engined world, including Corsairs, Fireflies, Hellcats and Seafires.
The Hawker Seahawk had a long and diverse career on these carriers. It flew off the Dutch carrier Karel Doorman, equipped later with Sidewinders to keep it at least partly relevant to its operational environment. But it was the Indian Navy which made the most use of the Seahawk. The INS Vikrant, which served India for nearly 40 years, flew Seahawks from 1961 to 1983, when the ship was rebuilt with a ski jump to operate Hawker Sea Harriers.
The Indian Seahawks, flying off Vikrant, played a big role in the war that India fought with Pakistan in 1971. This short but complicated and very deadly war (especially, as so often, for civilians) saw the Vikrant and other ships blockading a Pakistani port. Seahawks conducted airstrikes against shipping and the port facilities. No Seahawks were lost in combat.
Seahawks had already built a solid combat reputation with the Fleet Air Arm over Suez in 1956, and they flew too with the Dutch and German navy, but their long career with the Indian Navy was unparalleled.
The Seahawk makes an interesting comparison to the Grumman Panther. Both planes had the Rolls Royce Nene (the Panther's was a P&W J-42, a licence built Nene). Both had a fairly straightforward design. Both weighed 4.2 tonnes empty and had almost identical max takeoff weights at 7.3 and 7.4 tonnes respectively. Size was within a foot of being the same. The Seahawk was just 20 knots faster. The ceiling was essentially the same. Both had 4 20mm cannons with basically the same ammo capacity.
And yet, the Panther outranged the Seahawk by 1,300 km, while the Seahawk outflew the Panther by 14 years.
This kit was ably previewed by our editor
right here on MM.
To summarise that detailed preview, you get nicely engraved panel lines, clean moulding, very clear canopy parts and three decal options (see below for a warning on the decals). Underwing stores include two fuel tanks and eight rockets. These are of that slightly annoying variety where there are 2 halves which join in the rocket's body, front and back. If a Sidewinder can be moulded in one piece, why can't a rocket?
Decals include the colourful yellow-black Suez invasion stripes, a RN version with the Ace of Diamonds on it, and an Indian Navy version from INS Vikrant in the 60s.
an easy kit to build and it fits together very well. It comes with interior
parts for the intakes, which have vanes in them, and a slightly complicated way
of putting together the engine exhausts. I started in the cockpit though, which
has raised detail on the side panels and on the instrument panel. I used the
decal for the main panel but dry-brushed the detail onto the side panels. I made
some seatbelts out of yellow tape and put in the ejection seat after adding a
cushion to it (made of blu tac). I was quite happy with the cockpit - lucky, as
we'll see later. The main wheel wheel is nicely done and installs from inside
I put some decent weight up front. There is a bit of room in the nosecone, and plenty of space behind the cockpit tub.
The undercarriage and the two fuel tanks were installed without fuss. I didn't need to use glue here, which I liked, because it enables me to remove the tanks and pylons from time to time. I'm not convinced the underwing tanks hang at the proper angle, but I think it's roughly right.
The canopy doesn't fit! Incredibly for such a modern kit, the canopy cannot fit into the closed position. That's why I was glad I did a reasonable job on the cockpit - this is the first plane in my collection to have the canopy open. In that position it goes on quite easily, and it does look good. The fit of the front windscreen is perfect.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
By now I was already good to go on the airframe so it was off to the paint shop.
In my case, hand-brushing this plane, the paint shop was in fact the same place
as the production line. On top I used Mr Color 331 Dark Sea Gray, which
coincidentally is what the (colour-printed) painting guide asked for. A few
coats of that (after masking the lines) and I was ready for the undersides. I
think going to Extra Dark Sea Grey would be too dark on such a small model.
For the bottom, the painting guide calls for IJN Grey (Mr Color 61/35; Model Master 1731). Rather than buying yet another jar of grey paint, I used Mr Color semi-gloss light grey 338, which is supposedly for USMC F-18s though I originally bought it for my GR.4 Tornado.
Two coats later - why do I always do this - I looked on the net and decided that the bottom should be white, not grey. The photo at the link under references shows this exact plane, but it's in black and white. But from my cursory research, it seems the bottom should be white. Buried away in the 7 reviews of various Seahawks right here on MM is an Indian one, painted white underneath. So I went over the grey with a few coats of Mr Color gloss white.
Yep. Shoulda checked before I painted two coats of grey. Shoulda, coulda, etc.
The decals are pretty good but unfortunately the white on the roundels is a bit translucent. This is not so noticeable on top of the wings but fairly noticeable on the side of the fuselage because the roundel straddles the white and grey areas. You can notice the grey coming through the white circle, and it contrasts with the bottom half of the roundel. Still, it's not the end of the world. I made another beginner's mistake here by not trimming down the tiny line you get from the masking tape. I only noticed it once I had the decal on, as it clung to the surface and revealed a tiny raised line right on the paint demarcation line (especially after Mr Mark Softer came to town). Oh well - lesson learned.
Elsewhere, the decals responded well to Mr Mark Softer and putting them on was a fairly painless business.
Warning - if you do the Indian version, watch out for the decal that reads INIDIAN NAVY. Seriously! I cut out the middle "I" and used the resulting IN and DIAN NAVY to get what I wanted. Beginner's mistake, HobbyBoss!
Well, a mighty big clanger with the totally ill-fitting canopy. A typo in the Indian Navy decal. But apart from that, a great kit, and if you pose the canopy open, and use care on the decals, it's not a deal-breaker. Nice to have the Indian option as well as the perennially popular Suez invasion stripes (which are included in the decals).
References: Post 26 in the following thread has a picture of the Indian aircraft in this kit.
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