Trumpeter 1/48 Sea Fury FB.11
KIT: Trumpeter 1/48 Sea Fury FB.11
KIT #: 2844
PRICE: $34.95
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 be assured 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 first navalized 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, and the squadrons began to equip with it in May 1948.

      The Sea Fury's introduction to combat came in the fall of 1950 when 807 Squadron, operating from HMS "Theseus," joined Task Force 95, the Korean blockade force. Operating jointly with Firefly FR Mk IV and FR Mk V strike aircraft, 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.

      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 used by the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Pakistani Air 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 1960s it began another career as a civilian air racer, and highly-modified Sea Furies powered by Wright R-4360 engines in place of the Centaurus are among the fastest unlimited-class air racers now competing. 


     There have only been two other Sea Fury kits released in 1/48: a vacuform from Falcon back in the mid-eighties that has a very accurate outline and makes up into a nice kit, and an injection-molded kit from Hobbycraft that has so many “issues” that even when a modeler could purchase Roy Sutherland’s resin correction set for the cockpit, the landing gear, the gear well, and the prop, and purchased the Squadron vacuform canopy, the resulting model was still wrong if one worried about such things as the fact the airfoil is upside down.

    This 1/48 scale kit from Trumpeter is basically a pantograph up of its 1/72 scale kit.  That is good news, given that the kit is pretty much accurate as regards shape and such - I mean, they could have pantographed down from the godawful Hobbycraft 1/32! And results in what can easily be called the best Sea Fury kit available in 1/48 scale (not that the competition is all that strong).

      While the kit is accurate in outline, there is at least one major problem - which is, fortunately, easily fixed: the spinner is too long by about 1/16 inch (and not a “scale” 1/16") and thus much to pointed in profile.  If a modeler fills the interior of the spinner with cyanoacrylate glue or putty, cuts off the offending 1/16" and then reshapes it to the more accurate blunter profile, all is well.  The other major problem is that the drop tanks are at least twice their right size.  The solution here is to throw them away.

     The surface detail of the kit has light riveting, similar to that of the Trumpeter Wyvern and Sea Hawk in this scale; it’s not really right - every 1:1 Sea Fury I’ve ever been next to is really smooth - but it’s not so awful that it will detract terribly from the final result.

      The landing gear lacks some of the retraction mechanism, but this can easily be created from Evergreen rod for the modeler who wants increased accuracy.  The cockpit is not all that detailed, but as at least one “Venerable Modeler” said in defending the Hobbycraft 1/32 kit “it’s painted black so you can’t see anything anyway.”  The shape of the canopy is accurate and the clear parts are thin enough to look good in the open position.  The wings can be posed folded or spread. There are six rocket projectiles that look right.

      Decals are for two aircraft.  An early FB Mk 11 VW238/107 in the overall Extra Dark Sea Grey with low-rise Sky undersides, and VX691/130, a Sea Fury FB Mk 11 operated from HMS Theseus in the Korean War, which is also the markings of the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Sea Fury. One should be aware with both these aircraft that the markings instructions are incorrect regarding the underwing serials - they read “in” from the wingtip, and are reversed on each wing - Trumpeter has them both reading “up”.  Also, the underwing markings on XV691 were not covered over on one wing with the black and white ID stripes - the stripes are open around both. The decal sheet includes the black and white stripes for those modelers who are “stripe-challenged,” and the white looks to be sufficiently opaque to cover the colors below, though it is likely the national insignia on the upper wings will need white backing to avoid bleed-through of the black.  As is usual with Trumpeter kits, the red color of the insignia is a bit bright, but for the post-war “D” roundels it is not so obvious. 


      The kit will make up into a nice-looking, overall-accurate model out of the box, so long as the spinner correction is done.  A modeler who has Roy Sutherland’s resin correction set (which was bought and re-released in 2003 by Meteor) would be happier using those sets on this kit rather than the ancient piece of dreck from Hobbycraft.  The kit goes a long way toward finally providing a good 1/48 kit of this famous airplane and represents good value for money.  There are two older Aeromaster sheets for Sea Furies that cover Sea Furies operated by the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, the Netherlands Navy, Iraq, Cuba and Burma, which would be worth tracking down to provide markings options, since Sea Fury fans will likely buy more than one of these kits.

 Review kit courtesy HobbyLinkJapan - get yours at “Japanese Prices” at

May 2008

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