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Seafire Kit

Grand Phoenix 1/48 Seafire Mk.46/47 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer Grand Phoenix
Subject Supermarine Seafire Mk.46/47 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0005 Primary Media Styrene. Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice cockpit, excellent engine details! Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit
Seafire Kit

The Supermarine Seafire was an adaptation of the Spitfire airframe for aircraft carrier operations. The aircraft's power to weight ratio was excellent for operating off the deck, but key parts of the airframe had to be strengthened for surviving the 'controlled crashes' coming back aboard. This included reinforcing the tail section to accommodate a tail hook for arrested landings. The Achilles Heel of the Spitfire was even more evident on the carrier deck - the narrow-track landing gear made flight deck operations difficult, but not impossible.

As improvements were made to the Spitfire, many of these also found their way into Seafire production as well. The Mark 46 and 47 Seafires featured the cut down rear deck and bubble canopy as well as the powerful Griffon engine.

One of the most notable features of these versions of the Seafire is the counter-rotating propellers. As you increase horsepower, you must also increase the area of your propeller blades or all you'll get the same maximum thrust/RPM developed at a lower engine manifold pressure. Since you cannot lengthen the blades without lengthening the landing gear (or else you'll be grinding your propeller tips into the flight deck), you can only increase the chord (width) of the blades.

Think about the huge paddle blades on the Fw 190D. These are efficient at creating thrust, but for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the increase in thrust with the paddle blades results in increased torque (turning the aircraft into the direction of the downward rotation of a propeller) and a larger rudder to compensate. Supermarine adopted a three-bladed counter-rotating propeller design that provided suitable prop blade area for thrust, and its counter-rotations eliminated torque, making this version of the Seafire a gem to control at low airspeed/high power situations like take-off and wave-offs.

This kit has been on the market for a while and I didn't grab one of these gems when it was first released as I was not interested in yet another Spitfire kit. I recently found this example on a store shelf that had been there a while and finally decided to have a look inside. When the store owner told me that we're not likely to see much from Grand Phoenix in the future, that these kits were getting hard to find, and he'd cut me a good deal to get it off his shelf, I finally gave in.

What is in the box is Airfix's beautiful Seafire Mk.46/47 kit. This was a fairly recent tooling (relatively speaking) that featured scribed panel lines and nice detailing. This basic kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on two trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The basic kit offers the parts to render the distinguishing differences between the Mk.46 and Mk.47 Seafires. Another nice design feature is two complete sets of wings. One standard three-piece wing to render the aircraft in flight-ready condition, and a seven-piece wing to render the aircraft with folded wings. This is a first-class touch as you don't have to surgically alter the kit to fold the wings as you do with other manufacturers' offerings.

If the Airfix kit wasn't nice enough out of the box, check out the resin and photo-etch details included in the Grand Phoenix box! This is an AMS modeler's dream. The kit provides resin for an all-new cockpit and this alone is well done. What is even more impressive is all of the resin parts for the firewall forward. There is a complete Griffon engine with lots of detailing and plumbing. Even the cowling access panels are provided in finely cast resin. A nice set of rib details are also included for inside the wings at the wing fold points.

The photo-etch set supplements the resin details for additional detailing around the engine, seat belts, harnesses, rudder pedals, a nice instrument panel with acetate gauges, and more.

Markings are included for four aircraft:

  • Seafire FR.47, 800 Sqn, P/180, VP492, HMS Triumph, 1949
  • Seafire FR.47, 800 Sqn, P/180, VP492, HMS Triumph, 1951, Korean War
  • Seafire FR.47, 804 Sqn, O/139, VP483, HMS Ocean, 1949
  • Seafire FR.46, 804 Sqn, LM/900, LA546, Lossiemouth, 1946

Leave it to the Czechs to take a decent kit and turn it into an AMS modeler's dream. The resin castings are outstanding and there isn't anything else you could buy to make what comes in this box any better.

Get one if you can!