Hobbycraft 1/48 Sea Fury FB.11 Build Review
by Michael Novosad, IPMS/USA 36721
|Date of Review
|Sea Fury FB.11
|Still the better kit in 1/48 scale
|Older tooling, parts needed from aftermarket (or the Trumpeter kit) to do right
|Out of Production
I had the very old Hobbycraft Sea Fury in my unbuilt collection for too many years to think about. Until recently this was the only injection-molded 1/48th scale Sea Fury available, and I believe this kit is no longer in production. I recognized early on that this kit was special and would require some effort to bring up to my personal standards. This kit really is not that bad, but certainly does not have the crispness or detail as found in the newer Trumpeter kit or other current model manufacturers‘ kits. I had surgery on my right hand in early November of 2009, and that stopped my modeling for about two weeks while the splint and bandages were in place. Lots of time to read, plan and think. I decided to build the Trumpeter Sea Fury first, incorporating several aftermarket accessories, which would result in many leftover Trumpeter and Eduard parts could be used in the Hobbycraft project.
Now I could finally fulfill an old ambition to build the Hobbycraft kit and perhaps upgrade the model.
Here is the list of aftermarket accessories and surplus parts from the Trumpeter kit that were purchased for this project:
- Trumpeter Sea Fury Cockpit
- Eduard cockpit photo etch set number 49423
- Mike Grant Decals Sheet Number MG 48049 Royal Canadian Sea Furies (Aircraft number 1 became the subject for this project
- True Details resin wheels
- Bomb racks-spares box
It should be noted that my old Hobbycraft kit came with a small fret of photo etched parts. I will note below when these parts were incorporated into the project.
The engraved panel lines on the fuselage, wings and horizontal stabilizers lack the crispness of more current offerings on the market today, and are somewhat reminiscent of the deep trenches found on many kits from the ‘70‘s. There was no uniformity in width or depth, and I knew the finished model’s appearance would suffer. I noted that the engraved lines on the fuselage were more crisp than those on the wings: it appeared that two different processes were used to create the panel lines. I later realized the fuselage plastic was a harder variety than that used on the wings. This may the reason for the differences in the panel lines. I applied several coats of Mr. Surfacer 500 over the wing and fuselage panel lines and allowed the last application to dry at least 24 hours before I sanded the surfaces.
I used the UMM Scriber SCR-01 and a needle point scriber that I purchased for the re-scribing effort. Dymo label tape (used on the curved surfaces) and pieces from an old metal tape measure (flat surfaces) were used as guides for the re-scribing. I am not 100% pleased with my re-scribing skills as I have a tendency to sometimes overdo the panel line depth.
The Hobbycraft cockpit is quite plain, and could use an upgrade and detailing. Since I had the Trumpeter Sea Fury cockpit components left over from a previous build, I felt I had a home for the parts and the opportunity to further improve the Hobbycraft Sea Fury. In addition, I had the Eduard photo etch set (49 423) for the Trumpeter kit that would be used. The Trumpeter cockpit has often been described as “too shallow”, but I felt it would be more than adequate for my use in this project.
The fuselage had the pilot’s headrest formed as an integral part. I used the Trumpeter kit turtle back as a pattern and drew the new rear cockpit outline, then used finger nail nippers to cut the headrest off both fuselage halves. The edges were finished with a sanding stick. This effort went surprising easy, and resulted in a perfect fit, and in my opinion was a vast improvement over the original kit configuration.
Another surprise was discovered when it came time to test fit the Trumpeter cockpit in place between the Hobbycraft fuselage halves. It fit perfectly! I could then paint the interior without too much fear of later ill-fitting components. I airbrushed the cockpit tub and fuselage sidewalls with Tamiya flat black thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol. I then airbrushed a very thinned application of Tamiya German Grey XF-63 downward into the cockpit tub, creating some subtle shadow effects from the previously applied flat black. Once the paint had thoroughly dried I applied a wash of burnt umber oil paint thinned with odorless thinner. When that had thoroughly dried the photo etch could be installed.
I was quite pleased with how the Trumpeter-Eduard cockpit combination looked, and especially when it fit the Hobbycraft fuselage. This project was off to a good start.
The Hobbycraft kit wheel wells had a little detail, but I did have the Trumpeter wheel wells left over from that earlier project. I test fitted the Trumpeter parts to the Hobbycraft lower wing, and you guessed it, it was not a perfect fit, but it was really quite close. In building the Trumpeter Sea Fury I used the Eduard PE wheel well parts that require the use of the Trumpeter kit wheel well landing gear mounting ports to work. I then needed to cut off the Hobbycraft wheel well landing gear mounting ports and combine them with the Trumpeter wheel wells. This may sound more complex than it was. I truly enjoyed this mini project, especially when it worked! It was a small improvement over the Hobbycraft parts, and it tested my modeling skills a bit.
The first step was to prepare the vertical stabilizer for the tip antenna. I dry-fitted the two fuselage halves together and inserted a small drill bit where the antenna would be located. While pinching the two halves together I began to twist the drill bit. Shallow groves were created on each side of the vertical stabilizer. The groves were next cleaned up using the edge of a triangular file.
I planned to add some additional scribed panel lines to the fuselage, as well as some rivet detail. This is when I discovered the fuselage plastic was a good deal harder material than the wing plastic. I did add a few panel lines on the fuselage, but the rivet effort did not materialize: the plastic was just too hard for this effect to be seen.
The tail wheel well lacked a front and rear bulkhead, and therefore I used styrene strips contoured to fit the wheel well. I would use the surplus plastic doors from the Trumpeter kit, as the parts in the Hobbycraft kit were crudely formed. These were installed late in the assembly process to avoid breakage.
The kit exhausts lacked detail and were too small a diameter to effectively drill out. The parts looked like a series of plastic rods evenly stacked: not too realistic. I used small brass tubing, cut to length, with the outlets drilled out with a round diamond file. Each exhaust stub was mounting individually and super glued in place. I used Gorilla Super Glue for this installation. The Gorilla Super Glue is a slower-setting glue that allows some minor adjustment in the location before the glue fully sets up. Ordinarily super glue will set up instantly, whereas the Gorilla brand with gradually set, allowing some time for adjustments. Again, the scratch-built exhausts were a vast improvement over the kit parts.
The Trumpeter-Eduard cockpit assembly was fixed in place after the fuselage halves were glued together. The cockpit was inserted up through the wing opening and finessed into place. Gorilla Super Glue was also used to permanently fix this subassembly in place.
I drilled a small hole in the top of the aft fuselage behind the cockpit for the later installation of a whip antenna.
Wings Assembly and Detailing
This kit does not offer the option for folded wings without some surgery and a wing fold aftermarket accessory, and even if that option were available I would prefer to model the wings extended. I located the bomb racks and long-range fuel tanks and drilled mounting holes in the appropriate locations. The fit of the bombs racks was not perfect and required shimming with plastic strips and putty.
I cut out the formed wing tip navigation lights and super glued clear red and green plastic bits in the appropriate locations. Each lens was then sanded to match the wing tip contours. A quick buffing with a super fine grit sanding stick eliminated the scratches. After masking and painting a coat of Future floor wax would bring the clear, colored plastic to a reasonable sheen. The kit PE fret included two louver panels that are located forward of the gear wells. These parts were installed using Gorilla Super Glue.
The pitot tube was fabricated from a short length of brass tube. A small diameter tube would be installed later to avoid possible damage during the rest of construction. This change resulted in a
Very sturdy installation that will withstand much abuse.
The fit of the wing to the fuselage required some filler and sanding to shape. I also installed the horizontal stabilizers taking special care to vertically align them. The model was beginning to look like the Sea Fury.
Although the Hobbycraft kit did not include under wing fuel tanks I decided to add a set from the spares box. I used some artistic license and added tank filler caps from small discs of thousand plastic sheet. The discs were made with a punch and die set. I used short lengths of aluminum tubing for the tank-to-wing mountings for a more secure connection method.
Propeller Blades and Spinner
The spinner assembly consists of two parts, with each propeller blade being inserted in place. I needed to clean up the fit between the two spinner halves to eliminate an unsightly joint.
The propeller blades were a bit too short when compared to the Trumpeter kit. I did decide to finish the kit propeller blades and install them in the spinner anyways.
I cleaned up the surfaces of the blades while the blades were still attached to stub of sprue. I glued the sprue to a craft stick to hold the parts during the painting process. The blade tips were first airbrushed with Tamiya flat white, and then an overspray of Tamiya flat yellow was applied. The yellow tips were then masked off with Tamiya masking tape, and the exposed portions were painted Tamiya flat black. The shaft of each blade was then dry-brushed with silver Rub-n-Buff. When the shafts would be fixed in the spinner opening, the silver was offer the appearance of natural metal.
Undercarriage and Tail Wheel
The kit landing gear is quite basic and lack detail. Aeroclub makes a replacement set, but since I did not have the replacements at hand I decided to use the kit parts. After mold lines were removed the parts were painted flat black, and then dry brushed with Rub-n-Buff silver. I prepared the True Detail wheels and painted the hubs in a similar manner. PolyScale Grimy Black was used to simulate the rubber tires. I also applied a wash of thinned brunt umber to add shadow effect to the various recesses in the gear and wheels.
Brake lines were added using .015” diameter lead cord. I use a lead cord that is sold for adding weight to fly fishing hooks prior to tying with fur and feathers. The same cord can be flattened to form straps to hold the brake lines in place. Super glue was used to bond the straps to the landing gear.
The kit clear canopy is a single part, and is rather thick. I felt I had three choices for the canopy: install as is, cut the windscreen off and install both parts to reflect an open canopy, or use a vacform replacement. I was not thrilled with cutting the windscreen off as any error in the cutting would be catastrophic to the project, so I planned to use a vacform replacement. I had a Squadron vacform canopy and carefully removed the extra plastic from the canopy/windscreen. The edges were carefully sanded to eliminate rough edges and burrs. A test fit showed the vacform replacement was not as good a fit as I had hoped for. The kit canopy was used as a single part. First, the canopy was dipped in Future Floor Wax, with the surplus wicked off on a paper towel. The wax was allowed to dry for 24 hours before the masking was applied in preparation for painting. I used Tamiya masking tape for this task.
The assembled model was first washed in warm water with a touch of Dawn dish detergent, and scrubbed with an old tooth brush to remove any sanding residue from the previous work. The model was allowed to dry thoroughly over a warm air vent for a day. All openings were then closed off with Tamiya masking tape. The model was given an application of Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch white, sandable primer. This was the allowed to dry for 24 hours over the warm air vent.
Next, all panels lines were pre-shaded with a 1:1 mix of thinned Tamiya Flat Black and Red Brown, thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol. I decided early to model Aircraft Number One on the Mike Grant Decals. This aircraft is Extra Dark Sea Grey over RN Sky.
Now for a mini controversy, perhaps. I airbrushed the wheel wells and doors with a mix of Tamiya zinc chromate and flat white (a 4:1 ratio). A wash of burnt umber was applied to the interior surfaces. Bath tissue was used to fill the wheel well and protect the surfaces from the underside paint. After this step was complete I found several images on a popular website for a restored Sea Fury with wheel wells that color of the undersides. Some of the comments also supported the use of zinc chromate.
Both PolyScale and Tamiya offer a Sky color. I decided to use the PolyScale product thinned about 15% with distilled water, and airbrushed at 20 psi pressure. I normally apply my paint highly thinned and build the color gradually, trying to avoid obliterating the previously applied pre-shading. I paused in the application often to check my progress, and stopped when I felt I was done. The pre-shading appeared faintly along the panel lines. It was just what I wanted. I allowed this paint to dry for 24 hours over a warm air floor register before painting the top sides.
I used Tamiya masking tape to cover the entire underside of the model. I did not want to take any chances for overspray on these surfaces.
Tamiya XF-24 was used for the topside color. I added 10% Tamiya flat white to the XF-24 and thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol at a ratio of about 1:1 (paint-to-thinner). This blend was applied with an airbrush set at 20 psig, with several layers being gradually built up. Again, I stopped when the pre-shaded panel lines were still just visible.
The wing walkways were masked off and painted with Tamiya flat black.
After the masking was removed I applied a wash of raw umber oil paint thinned with odorless thinner at a paint-to-thinner at a ratio of 1:20 over the entire model. Once this had thoroughly dried I applied a pin wash of raw umber (a ratio of 1:10) along the panel lines. This was done very carefully to assure the wash filled only the panel lines.
Some very minor paint chipping was replicated with a silver pencil. Chips were applied at the various access panel edges and near the walkways.
I applied three applications of Future Floor Wax for that super glossy surface necessary for proper decal application. The last coat was allowed to thoroughly dry for at least 24 hours. Future, when applied properly will result in a very smooth and durable finish.
This was the first time for me to use Mike Grant Decals. Set 48-49 includes the markings for seven Royal Canadian Navy Sea Fury aircraft. The set comes with an 8 ½” by 11” color profile sheet with a second sheet locating all the stencils. There are stencils for two aircraft. The instructions offered me everything bit of information to place the decals. The decals were placed individually in warm water and then allowed to drain on a paper towel for about a minute. Each was placed with MicroSet applied to the model surface. Care must be used when placing the decals as they have a tendency to lock down to the surface. They can be moved if needed, but it does require some care to do this. I was quite impressed with the quality of these decals. The clear portions virtually “disappeared” with the application of Mircoset. On occasion the decal would bridge a panel line, but a sharp No. 11 blade sliced through the film, and with another application of Microset the decal fully snuggled down.
Although the decal sheet notes the painted finish of the Sea Fury to be a “gloss”, I decided to finish the model with a satin finish. Gloss finishes look out-of-scale to me, but that is just my personal opinion. I used Model Master Acryl satin finish thinned with their thinner.
Adding the Small Parts
The landing gear, gear doors, canopy, propeller and wheels were fitted in place. The fuel tanks and two bombs were fitted to the bomb racks.
I was somewhat apprehensive about how well this model would build considering the age of the kit, not to mention the modeler (!!). There were no significant fit issues with the kit parts or the parts used from the Trumpeter kit. The first true sense of satisfaction in my effort was felt after the model was painted. The panel lines on the wings are still deeper than I would like, but it is still acceptable to me. It was just as I had hoped: it looked like a Sea Fury. I was quite pleased with the end result. These older kits can be made into a presentable finished model, and will offer a great deal of fun and satisfaction for most modelers. Isn’t that what we are after?
In any project planning, patience and test-fitting of parts is recommended, and this is especially important in the type of project described herein.
References used for this project include:
- Squadron/Signal Publication Number 117 Hawker Sea Fury in Action.
- Military in Scale December 2009 Brett Green’s “Frankenfury” Part I.
- Military in Scale January 2009 Brett Green’s “Frankenfury” Part 2.
Tools used in the project include:
- The Touch N Flow solvent applicator as manufactured and sold by Creations Unlimited of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- The scribing tool as manufactured by UMM was used to add missing panel line detail where applicable. I also used a needle point scriber from Creations Unlimited to compliment the UMM Scriber.
- Tamiya acrylic paints thinned with 91% isopropyl alcohol were used along with PolyScale acrylics thinned with distilled water.
- The oil wash was made using Grumbacher oil paints suitable thinned with odorless thinner.