British Naval Aircraft
Blackburn Skua – Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen FAW.2 – Blackburn Buccaneer
Today I thought we’d wander around the gallery of British aircraft and once inside I noticed that, to date, there are only four naval aircraft. So let’s look at three of them.
The Blackburn Skua was ground breaking aircraft when it was designed and then entered service with the Royal Navy in October 1938. It was the Navy’s first monoplane of all metal construction with retractable undercarriage. It was intended as a multi-role aircraft that could perform as a dive bopmber, fighter and scout but dive bombing was its primary role. At that time it was thought that dive bombing was the best way to attack targets like ships and so most self-respecting nations had one in their aeronautical arsenal. When war came most nations also found that dive bombers were very vulnerable to fighter attack, the Skua particularly so, and it was withdrawn from front line service in 1941.
This model was made from the old Frog kit that dates from 1964 and needed a lot of major surgery to make it into a passable replica of the real thing. It’s painted in the drab wartime camouflage to hide some of the less desirable features of this model. The Skua looks much better in its aluminium pre-war scheme and I’ve bought the Special Hobby kit to make in that scheme one of these days.
The Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen began life as the deHavilland DH-110 subsonic twin seat all-weather fighter that made its first flight in September 1951. The development process lasted until 1959 when the Sea Vixen began entering service with the Royal Navy. The improved FAW.2 version first flew in 1962 but by then aeronautical knowledge had moved on and this aircraft was virtually obsolete so they were replaced by Phantom fighters in 1972.
I must like this aircraft, particularly the FAW.2 version, because this is the second go I’ve had at making it. I bought and made the old Frog kit in the 1970s, one of that company’s last kits and pretty good for its day but poor by later standards. It has been released since then by many companies in many boxings, most recently by Revell. MPM/Xtrakit released a new version which I bought in 2009 and made a few years later. It’s better than the Frog/Revell kit but still not perfect and we’re still waiting for a high quality kit of this aircraft.
The Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer began life as the Blackburn NA.39 naval aircraft which could attack Soviet shipping at low level to deliver conventional or nuclear weapons. They began entering service in 1962 and flew with the Royal Navy until it disposed of its aircraft carriers in 1978. Many were then transferred to the Royal Air Force where they flew through until 1994, having participated in the Gulf War.
Airfix have made three kits of this; the first in 1960, the second in 1989 and the third in 2019. This model was made from the 1989 version which was a good kit for its time. I made this one in the overall dark grey scheme on the 1970s using aftermarket Modeldecals which, together, make what I think is a very nice little replica of the real thing. I imagine that the most recent Airfix kit is even better, but who was to know that they would have a third go at making a kit of this aircraft a decade and a half ago.