|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/72 Gannet T.2|
|PRICE:||$20.95 from GreatModels|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Gannet was built in response to the 1945 Admiralty requirement GR.17/45, for which prototypes by Fairey ("Type Q")or "Fairey 17" after the requirement, and Blackburn B-54 / B-88 ("YB 1") were built.
After considering and discounting the Rolls-Royce Merlin (actually, twin Merlins) due to size, Fairey decided to install an engine plant based on the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba. A Double Mamba (also commonly called the "Twin Mamba") was selected, driving two countra-rotating propellers through a common gearbox. The ASMD.1 engines (2,950hp) were used in the AS.1, ASMD.3 engines (3,145hp) in the AS 4, and ASMD.4 (3,875hp) in the AEW 3 variant.
The Double Mamba engine could be cruised with one of the engines stopped to conserve fuel and extend endurance. It has been said by pilots that, while this was possible, it was inadvisable at low altitude -- in case the operating engine stopped for some reason. This happened frequently enough to be a "known fault," and created considerable disquiet for the crew while that engine or the other engine was restarted. The engines could run on kersoene, "wide-cut" turbine fuel or Naval diesel fuel which allowed the Admiralty to eliminate petrol from carrier operation.
A secondary advantage of the contra-rotating propellers was that when using only one engine for long-range cruise, no asymmetric problems were encountered.
The prototype first flew on 19 September 1949 and made the first deck landing by a turboprop aircraft, on HMS Illustrious on 19 June 1950, by pilot Lieutenant Commander G. Callingham. After a further change in operational requirements, with the addition of a radar and extra crew member, the type entered production in 1953 and initial deliveries were made of the AS 1 variant at RNAS Ford in April 1954. A trainer variant (T 2) first flew in August 1954. The RN's first operational Gannet squadron (826) was embarked on HMS Eagle. The initial order was for 100 AS.1 aircraft. A total of 348 Gannets was built, of which 44 were AEW.3s (later series). Production was shared between Fairey's factories at Hayes (Middlesex) and Stockport/Ringway (near Manchester).
An Airborne Early Warning variant (AEW 3) used the AN/APS 20 radar in a bulbous radome suspended beneath the body. This variant first flew in August 1958, with trials carried out with HMS Centaur in November. For stability, it required a redesigned fin and rudder together with the small vertical fins on the tailplane fitted to the other versions.
By the mid-1960s, the AS 1s and AS 4s were replaced by the Westland Whirlwind HAS7 with some Gannets continuing as an Electronic countermeasures ECM 6 variant. These were extended in service until finally scrapped, with the radars re-used in the Royal Air Force Avro Shackletons. Some AS 4s were also converted as COD 4s for Carrier onboard delivery..
The Royal Australian Navy purchased the Gannet (AS 1 - 36 aircraft). It operated from the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and the shore base HMAS Albatross near Nowra, New South Wales. The German Navy bought the AS 4 and T 5 variants. Indonesia bought a number of AS 4 and T 5 variants (re-modelled from RN AS 1s and T 2s) in 1959. Some Gannets were later acquired by various other countries.
Arriving in its usual sturdy box, upon opening it, you are greeted by four individually packaged sprues; three in medium grey plastic and one clear. As this is a 1/72 kit, you won't find the controversial rivet pattern on any of the parts, only crisply engraved detailing. From the way the sprues are laid out, it seems that for each variant, a small additional sprue or two will be included to offer whatever parts are needed. This one has none of the usual ASW stuff, as would befit a trainer.
Close inspection of the parts showed that things are pretty much as one would expect from a modern kit. No flash, a few ejector pin marks on the inside of gear doors and inside of flaps and inside of nose gear well and on the detail portion of an interior bulkhead. I also found sink areas on the fuselage halve opposite interior alignment sections. Filling these will be difficult for those around the exhaust housings. It will also require care to prevent filling in detail. Clear bits are well done and while the sections of canopy are separate, I'm not sure the plastic is thin enough to show these open or not.
Couple of things of note. One is that there is a mini-wing stub provided to help align the wings. Secondly, the elevators are full molded onto the top horizontal stab piece, leaving a nice, sharp trailing edge. I'm sure most of us will appreciate that.
Instructions are well done with the usual parts diagram and multiple construction steps. Colors are provided using Gunze numbers and names. Markings are provided for three aircraft, all in basic silver, as I don't think these planes were left in unpainted metal. First is the box art aircraft with large red areas on the airframe. Second has just a yellow tail and lower wing band. Third is a German Navy aircraft with red wing and fuselage bands. The bands for these last two are provided as decals, though I've my doubts about the tail band actually fitting properly. Many have had reservations about Trumpeter decals, but they are well printed and will have to do until someone does aftermarket decals.
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