1:72 Hawker Seahawk T 20; aircraft “A-256/XA454” of the Fleet Air Arm’s 809 Naval Air Squadron; based on board of HMS Albion (R 07); 1959 (Whif/Hobby Boss kit conversion)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based on historical facts. BEWARE!
The Hawker Sea Hawk was a British single-seat jet fighter of the Royal Navy, built by Hawker Aircraft and its sister company, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. In the final years of the Second World War, Hawker's design team had become increasingly interested in developing a fighter aircraft that took advantage of the newly developed jet propulsion technology. On 1 September 1944, the first prototype of the company's latest piston engine fighter aircraft, the Hawker Fury/Sea Fury, conducted its maiden flight; it was this aircraft that would serve as the fundamental design basis for Hawker's first jet-powered aircraft, the P.1035, which was submitted for evaluation by the Air Ministry in November 1944.
The design was substantially modified in December 1944, leading to a new designation for the project, P.1040. The jet exhaust was moved from beneath the tail and re-designed as two short, split-lateral bifurcated exhausts, embedded in the trailing edge of the wing root. The tail plane was raised in order to clear the jet exhausts. The air intakes were moved to the wing root leading edge, similar to the contemporary de Havilland Vampire. The unusual bifurcated jet pipe reduced pressure losses in the jet pipe and had the additional advantage of freeing up space in the rear fuselage for fuel tanks, which gave the aircraft a longer range than many other early jets. The fuselage fuel tanks, being fore and aft of the engine, also provided for a stable center of gravity during flight. The absence of fuel tanks also meant that a thinner wing could be adopted without any loss of range. To ease manufacture, the elliptical wing form of the Fury was discarded in favor of a straight tapered wing design The P.1040 also featured a nose wheel undercarriage arrangement, the first for a Hawker-built aircraft, and the aircraft was armed with four 20mm Hispano-Suiza Mk. V cannons.
In October 1945, Sydney Camm, Hawker's chief designer, being satisfied with the results generated from engineering mock-ups and wind tunnel testing, authorized the raising of a production order for a single prototype. In light of the diminished RAF interest in the project in the post-WWII era, allegedly due to the aircraft offering insufficient advances over the jet fighters already in service, a navalized version of the P.1040 was offered in January 1946 to the Admiralty as a fleet support fighter.
However, the Admiralty were not initially encouraging to Hawker's approaches, in part due the presence of the in-development jet-powered Supermarine Attacker aircraft, but the service was intrigued by the type's long-range capability, as well as by the promise of increased power from the Nene engine. Thus, in May 1946, the Naval Staff authorized the manufacture of three prototypes and a further test specimen.
On 2 September 1947, the first prototype, VP401, now called “Sea Hawk” and sometimes referred to as the Hawker N.7/46 after the related naval specification, conducted its maiden flight from RAF Boscombe Down.
An initial order was received in November 1949, and shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, an urgent operational demand for Britain's aircraft carriers, and thus their accompanying aircraft, had become apparent. The rate of production was substantially increased, and further orders for the Sea Hawk were soon placed. The first production Sea Hawk was the F 1, it first flew in 1951 and entered service two years later with 806 Squadron, first based at Brawdy, then transferred to the HMS Eagle. All Sea Hawks were in service by the mid-1950s and eventually over 500 were built in different versions, which soon became fighter bombers. Beyond these ever-improving variants, it was soon clear that a two seat variant would be necessary for naval operation transition training. Hawker responded to this request by the Admirality in 1952 with the T 20 variant.
The Sea Hawk T 20 was based on the FGA 3, the Sea Hawk’s first fighter bomber version which could, beyond its gun armament, also carry offensive ordnance under its wings. In order to accommodate a crew of two, this advanced trainer variant received a completely new front section with a side-by side cockpit, fitted with duplicated flight controls and instrumentation, and a bulbous canopy that allowed both passengers an excellent field of view for carrier landings. In order to allow a seamless transition from initial trainings, the cockpit layout and much of the operational equipment fittings was very similar to that of the Percival Provost. A key feature for the era amongst the fittings in the cockpit was the Centralized Warning Panel, which alerted the pilots in the event of a number of unfavorable or hazardous conditions being detected, such as icing conditions, fire or oxygen failure.
In order to compensate for a loss of directional stability due to the new cockpit section, the aircraft received a taller fin, which was also introduced to export versions of the Sea Hawk. As a weight saving measure and in order to keep the center of gravity within safe limits, the gun armament was reduced from four to two 20 mm Hispano cannon. The underwing hardpoints for bombs, unguided missiles and drop tanks were retained, so that the trainer could - with slight performance losses and a reduced ordnance load - fly the Sea Hawk’s complete mission envelope.
After the T20’s successful acceptance trials during late 1954 at 738 NAS at Lossiemouth, the FAA formally accepted the type in 1956. A total of 32 aircraft were produced and exclusively operated by the Royal Navy, where it quickly received the nickname “Puffin”, due to its bulbous nose section.
The Sea Hawk T20’s were distributed between 738 NAS (18 machines) for land-based conversion training and active, navel units, which received two or three trainers each for advanced training aboard of carriers.
The Sea Hawks in Fleet Air Arm service began being phased out from first line service in 1958, the year in which the Supermarine Scimitar and de Havilland Sea Vixen entered service, both of which types would eventually replace the Sea Hawk in the fighter and attack role. The last front line Sea Hawk squadron, No. 806, disbanded at RNAS Brawdy on 15 December 1960, ending a very brief operational career for the Sea Hawk. Most Sea Hawks in second line service were withdrawn by the mid-1960s, the trainers were retired in 1967, but four of them were refurbished and sold to India, where they served until 1983, partly from the Indian aircraft carrier Vikrant.
Length: 40 ft 5 in (12.34 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 0 in (11.89 m)
Height: 9 ft 8 in (2,95 m )
17 ft 8 in (5,39 m with folded wings)
Wing area: 278 ft² (25.83 m²)
Empty weight: 9,482 lb (4,305 kg)
Loaded weight: 13,220 lb (5,996 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 16,150 lb (7,325 kg)
1× Rolls-Royce Nene 101 turbojet, rated at 5,000 lbf (22.24 kN) thrust
Maximum speed: 583 mph (940 km/h)
Range: 480 mi (770 km)
Service ceiling: 44,500 ft (13,564 m)
Rate of climb: 5,700 ft/min (29.0 m/s)
Wing loading: 48 lb/ft² (232 kg/m²)
2× 20 mm (0.79 in) Hispano Mk V cannons (200 RPG) in the lower front fuselage
Underwing hardpoints and provisions to carry combinations of:
16× 60 lb (27 kg) unguided 3" rockets or 8× 5” (127 mm) unguided HVAR rockets, and
2× 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or
2 × 90 Imp gal (410 l) drop tanks
The kit and its assembly:
This one is my submission to the 2018 One Week Group Build at whatifmodelers.com, and it was originally inspired by the work a fellow modeler in 2015 (Glenn Gilbertson, from that year’s One Week GB) who mated a Hawker Sea Hawk with the nose section from a Hawker Hunter trainer. The result was, for my personal taste, a rather nose-heavy affair, but it looked very convincing. I liked the concept and I kept the idea in the back of my mind. And the 2018 GB was now a good occasion to tackle this project, also because I had proper ingredients at hand.
This included a Hobby Boss Sea Hawk kit that I had purchased as a cheap, special offer (but without a plan for it yet), and a surplus BAC Strikemaster fuselage (Matchbox) that I had in my stash after the recent BAC Bushmaster kitbashing. A quick test revealed that a transplantation of the Strikemaster nose section appeared feasible, since the width is very similar. Compared with the Hunter nose section from Glenn Gilbertson’s build, the Strikemaster nose is considerably shorter and more compact, but it still offers the plausible side-by-side arrangement.
From this starting point things evolved straightforward, since there was only a limited time frame available to complete the build from box to beauty pics. Most of the Sea Hawk (the Hobby Boss model is a lovely “real” kit!) was built OOB, only the cut for the nose transplant caused some headaches. I eventually settled on a staggered solution, keeping the Strikemaster’s floor section and internal cockpit rear bulkhead in front of the wing roots, but with an extended spine donation so that the whole slide-back canopy could be transferred and opened. All in all, and in contrast to Glenn Gilbertson’s 2015 build, the length of the new aircraft just grew only little, so that the overall proportions could be kept.
Using the Sea Hawk Mk. 100/101 kit had the benefit of a taller fin – which would have had to be scratched in some way in order to balance the trainer’s profile, since the original short fin would look pretty wacky with the enlarged nose section. The whole thing still looks a little goofy, though…?
Inside of the cockpit, I replaced the Strikemaster’s OOB double seat with two single seats from an Intech TS-11 Iskra, and I added a new floor and a rear bulkhead. The dashboard was taken OOB but decorated with instrument decals (from a Matchbox Hunter two-seater). Two scratched gunsights decorate the dashboard, too. The rest of the nose was stuffed with lead beads for a proper stance.
The canopy was cut into two pieces for an opened presentation, and for this purpose I also cut away a part of the Strikemaster spine which is, in real life, attached to the canopy’s sliding part.
The landing gear was taken OOB from the Sea Hawk, I just shortened the length of the nose wheel strut and modified the front wheel well covers (made from much thinner plastic sheet), since the Strikemaster has a shorter and smaller arrangement than the Sea Hawk.
Being a trainer, I just added a pair of OOB drop tanks under the wings.
Painting and markings:
Well, there are only a few potential options for a Fifties RN aircraft, and I guess that a silver livery with orange dayglow markings would have been the most probable option. But I wanted to attach the trainer to an active carrier unit, so I rather settled upon an elegant, shiny Extra Dark Sea Grey/White livery with some orange accents.
Basic colors are a very light grey (instead of pure white, acrylic paint from a rattle can) and Humbrol 123, with the upper tone carried around the leading edges.The kit received a very light black ink wash, so that the engraved panel lines would catch some pigments, as well as some light post-shading with Humbrol 164 and 125 (Dark Sea Grey and FS 36118, respectively) and Humbrol 34, flat white.
The fluorescent orange stripes are all decals, generic material from TL Modellbau. The RN markings were puzzled together from various sources, since the Hobby Boss Sea Hawk Mk. 100/101 only comes with German and Indian markings. The serial number, XA454, actually belongs to a Fairey Gannet and was adapted from a respective Xtradecal sheet. The 809 NAS emblems come from an Model Alliance Buccaneer sheet, while other markings come from a Sea Harrier sheet from the same company.
The aircraft’s tactical code number had to be improvised: placing it on a uniform background on the medium waterline for better contrast and readability was inspired by contemporary types like the Scimitar. Both cases of black code on white or white code on EDSG were used, as far as I can tell, as well as black letters with a thin, white outline. I settled for white, generic decal material as background, which adds to the impression that the code had been applied in the field, and black letters.
Finally the kit was sealed with a mix of Italeri acrylic varnishes, 2/3 “semi gloss” and 1/3 “matt”, for a slightly shiny finish.
You can say that this Sea Hawk trainer “has character”, but the tadpole cockpit from the Strikemaster somewhat ruins the original fighter’s clean lines? The result reminds me of the TF-102, at least when you compare the trainer variant with the original fighter, and the Sea Hawk trainer’s overall lines somewhat resemble a McDonnell F2H Banshee night fighter or even a Grumman A-6 intruder?
However, I like the outcome of this quick rhinoplasty adventure, and within the Group Build’s limited timeframe (and real life happening in parallel) I am quite pleased with the result, even though there are some flaws. Tough job, though, since it involved some serious bodywork and I just did not only build the model, but also produced a beauty pics series.