If you have not seen the Swordfish aircraft supplied with the Flyhawk HMS Hermes kit in 1:700 scale, you are missing a treat. They are the best model aircraft in that
scale to be had. However, the
Hermes 1942 kit gives you only eight of the twelve Swordfish carried by Hermes at that time and the Hermes 1937 kit only has four
Swordfish. What if you want a full fit of Swordfish or want some of these beauties for kits of British carriers from other manufacturers? With the
Flyhawk World
War Two Royal Navy Aircraft Set One
, you have the answer. What if you want some Royal Navy fighters to defend the Swordfish or precious carriers? Now this
same set has the answer for that vexing question. This set provides miniatures for three different airframes, the Fairey Swordfish, the Fairey Fulmar and the Hawker
Sea Hurricane.
The Fairey Swordfish, known by its crews as the Stringbag was obsolescent before it entered service. A fabric covered biplane in an age when its contemporaries
were the TBD Devastor of the USN and the Nakajima B5N Kate, low wing metal monoplanes with far greater speed, the Swordfish looked like a loser. However, the
Swordfish was very successful in the early years of World War Two with the high point the attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto. The prototype first flew on April
17, 1934. Powered by 750hp Bristol Pegasus nine cylinder radial engine, the Swordfish had a top speed of only 138 mph and when loaded with a torpedo the speed
dropped to a meager 112 mph. However, the three seat aircraft was very steady and reliable and if it could get through the defending anti-aircraft and fighters was
very accurate. It could also be used in an anti-submarine role. Maximum range was 1,028 miles and maximum service ceiling was 10,690-feet. Between 1934 and
1944 when production ceased, 2,391 Swordfish were built. This
Flyhawk set provides eight Swordfish.
After World War One the Royal Navy aviation was put under the control of the newly minted Royal Air Force. Although a unified command for all aviation seemed
logical, in practice it was a failure. The RAF was interested in land based fighters and bombers and they took up the vast bulk of the limited purse. Royal Navy
considerations were a distant secondary concern, so the RN received dribs and drabs and poor designs. Finally, the Fleet Air Arm became separate from the RAF and
could consider designs optimized for carrier operations. While the USN and IJN went in for single seat designs optimized for fighting, the Royal Navy wanted two place
fighters with a pilot and a navigator/observer. It was considered that a navigator was necessary to ensure that the aircraft could get back to the carrier in rough weather.
A carrier based two place fighter was inherently inferior to single place fighters. The Fairey Fulmar originated from a failed day bomber design, the P.4/34 but the Royal
Navy was desperate for a new monoplane fighter for Fleet service. The Fulmar prototypes first flew on January 13, 1937. The Fulmar used the Rolls Royce Merlin VIII
twelve cylinder engine that developed 1,080hp and was the same engine used by the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire fighters. However, the large and heavy
Fulmar had far lower performance with a top speed of 247 mph. Service ceiling was 21,500-feet. There were some benefits to the design. The Fulmar was rugged and
heavily armed with eight .303 (7.7mm) machine guns and the navigator/observer made the platform a good scout, as when Fulmars were used to trail the Bismarck. The
Fulmar entered service in 1940 and were effective in defending Malta convoys. There were 600 Fulmars built with the last being delivered in February 1943. About 100
Fulmars were converted to night fighters but were not that successful. This
Flyhawk set provides six Fulmars.
Although the Fulmar could be considered a limited success, its limited performance was still insufficient for a pure fighter role. Designed for land based operations, the
Hawker Hurricane, workhorse of the Battle of Britain, was pressed into service to also defend the Fleet. The Sea Hurricane MK IIC had a Rolls Royce Merlin XX
engine developing 1,280hp with a top speed of 341 mph, almost 100 mph faster than the Fulmar. It was more maneuverable than the Fulmar and had the punch of
four 20mm Hispano or Oerlikon cannons instead of the light weight .303 machine guns of the Fulmar. Service ceiling was 35,600-feet. The
Flyhawk set provides
four Sea Hurricanes.
The Flyhawk World War Two Royal Navy Aircraft Set One is an outstanding product. With incredibly detailed 1:700 scale miniatures for the Fairey Swordfish,
Fairey Fulmar and Hawker Sea Hurricane, with plastic and brass photo-etch parts as well as decals, this set is perfect for providing deck candy for any early World
War Two British aircraft carrier.
Steve Backer