1:72 Hawker Furore Mk. II, aircraft „NQ-J/L1485“ of the Royal Air Force No. 43 Squadron “B Flight”, RAF Henlow, Hertfordshire (UK); November 1938 (Whif/modified Matchbox kit)
+++ 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 Furore was an evolutionary development of the successful Fury fighter. Like the Fury, the Furore was powered the liquid-cooled Rolls-Royce F.XI V-12 engine (later known as the Rolls-Royce Kestrel), which was also used by Hawker's new light bomber, the Hawker Hart.
The new fighter prototype first flew at Brooklands, Surrey, in March 1932, about a year after the Hawker Fury biplane had entered RAF service, and, in parallel, Hawker’s chief designer Sidney Camm also designed a monoplane version of the Fury, but it was held back since Rolls Royce was developing a new, more powerful engine at that time.
The Furore was a single-engine biplane and featured a modern all metal structure single bay wings and the Kestrel engine was enclosed by a smooth, streamlined cowling. But even though the new aircraft used many components from the Fury, it had a totally different look: The Furore had a novel configuration for a fighter, with the fuselage attached to the upper wing — somewhat like the 1914-designed German Gotha G.I bomber and the contemporary Handley Page Heyford heavy bomber. The lower wing was connected with to the fuselage through the landing gear struts, a pair of small pylons and by single struts between the outer wing sections. The fixed, spatted landing gear was integrated into the lower wing’s leading edge, and instead of the Fury’s tail skid the Furore was outfitted with a small wheel, which was spatted, too.
The rationale behind the unusual layout was the desire for a free field of view for the pilot, which was, in traditional designs, obscured by the upper wing. Another factor were improved aerodynamics through less struts, e.g. for the landing gear and between the wings, and attention was paid to reduce drag wherever possible. In the end, Furore and Fury had only their outlines in common, and maintenance of both types was very similar, but structurally the two types differed considerably from each other.
The armament was augmented to four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns: a synchronized pair fired through an innovative variable pitch three blade propeller (instead of the Fury’s wooden fixed-pitch two blade propeller), while two more of these weapons were integrated into the spat fairings, firing outside of the propeller arc.
Since Rolls Royce’s new engine was pending and in order to compare the Furore’s potential with the conservative Fury, the Air Ministry ordered at the start of 1933 a small initial production run for 21 aircraft. These machines, designated Furore Mk. I, were delivered in the course of early 1934 and distributed evenly among No. 25 and 43 squadron, which also operated the Hawker Fury as direct benchmark. One machine was kept at Hawker for further testing and development.
These trials soon showed that, despite the Furore’s slightly higher weight, the benefits from the aerodynamic cleaning effort outweighed this penalty. The improved firepower also spoke in favor of the Furore. However, the type’s handling was less appreciable, horizontal stability had suffered and the low ground clearance of the lower wing created an unexpected ground effect, which made landing the aircraft literally difficult. Furthermore, the unusual wing position resulted in an operational drawback: even though the pilot enjoyed an almost free, hemispherical field of view from the cockpit in flight, the view for- and downwards was hampered by the relative position of the upper wings and the cockpit, which made taxiing and especially landing – on top of the venturous ground effect – hazardous.
Despite these drawbacks, a second batch of 30 aircraft with some minor refinements (recognizable by longer spats) was ordered in late 1934 as Furore Mk. II, just a couple of weeks before Sidney Camm’s Fury monoplane design eventually came to official attention when Rolls-Royce presented their famous Merlin engine. The Fury monoplane’s design was then revised, according to Air Ministry specification F5/34, to become the prototype Hawker Hurricane. This highly successful type quickly replaced the RAF biplane fighters in frontline units from 1937 onwards, and from this point on, the small Furore fleet was quickly retired or used in liaison and meteorological duties 1940, when the type was retired.
Length: 26 ft 11 in (8.20 m)
Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
Height: 12 ft 3 in (3.74 m)
Wing area: 250 ft² (23.2 m²)
Empty weight: 2,995 lb (1,360 kg)
Loaded weight: 3,800 lb (1,725 kg)
1× Rolls-Royce Kestrel IV V12 engine, 680 hp (506 kW)
Maximum speed: 245 mph at 16,500 ft (395 km/h at 5,030 m)
Range: 270 mi (435 km)
Service ceiling: 29,800 ft (9,100 m)
Rate of climb: 2,650 ft/min (13.5 m/s)
Wing loading: 14.4 lb/ft² (21.5 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.179 hp/lb (0.293 kW/kg)
2× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk IV machine guns with 500 RPG in the upper fuselage
2× 0.303 in Lewis machine guns with 350 PRG; one in each wheel fairing
The kit and its assembly:
This one is another contribution to the “RAF Centenary” Group Build at whatifmodelers.com. It was actually inspired by a Matchbox Handley Page Heyford in my stash – I looked at the box an asked myself “Why did you buy this…?”. However, the Heyford and its unique layout made me wonder how a contemporary fighter might have looked like? Looking for a potential conversion basis I stumbled upon the Hawker Fury biplane – its structure looked like a good basis.
Said and done, I organized a Matchbox Fury in the form of a Revell re-boxing. I was shocked to see, though, that this re-issue is of really poor quality, with lots of flash and even some sinkholes! I have no idea what Revell did to the originally very crisp Matchbox molds!?
Conversion work started with wing surgery: the upper wing lost a middle section, which was transplanted between the lower wings, which were cut off from their fuselage connector. The latter was used as a plug to fill the ventral gap between the lower wings’ original position.
Cockpit and tail were taken OOB (I just used a single pair of stabilizing struts instead of two), but I added a spine fairing behind the cockpit (a leftover piece from an Airfix P-61 drop tank) and mounted a taller windscreen.
The upper wings were then mounted directly to the fuselage, under the machine gun mounts. The radiator was placed into its original, ventral position. The lower wing then received a pair of spatted wheels (Eduard resin replacements for an Avia B.534), since I wanted to integrate them into the hull and reduce the overall number of struts. In a wake of more modernization, I also added a pair of machine gun gondolas (from a Gloster Gladiator) on top of them, and the spats were elongated and blended into the wings with 2C putty.
Mounting the lower wing freely under the fuselage was the biggest stunt – I eventually settled on using the Fury’s landing gear struts as connectors – they’d also ensure a proper height of the aircraft. Once they were in place, I added another pair of struts between the fuselage and the lower wing, for a proper angle of attack. After letting this wobbly affair dry thoroughly, the wings were connected with four tailor-made single struts, created from the OOB N-shaped struts. The result is quite stable!
The original wooden, two-blade propeller was replaced by a more modern three-blade propeller with a round spinner; it comes from an Airfix Westland Whirlwind, but had to be modified in order to fit onto the Fury’s nose. Internally, a styrene tube and a metal axis were added.
After the good experience with my recent TR.2 build, the rigging was done as a final step after painting and applying varnish – as per usual, I used dark grey styrene material and white glue.
Painting and markings:
Not many choices here – either a colorful aircraft in overall silver, or a toned-down, camouflaged livery. I settled for the latter, in a typical 1938-39 livery in Dark Green and Dark Earth (Tamiya XF-61 and Humbrol 29). The fuselage and stabilizer undersurfaces were painted in aluminum (Revell 99), while the outer wings became black (Revell 09) and white (Humbrol 22, with a little 147 added).
The cockpit interior was painted in Tar Black (Revell 06), while the spinner became black and Dark Earth. The propeller blades received bare metal front sides, while the rear became black, with yellow tips.
After a black ink wash the model received a post-shading treatment. The decals were puzzled together from the scrap box, e.g. with roundels from an Italeri Tornado, medium sea grey code letters from Xtradecal and serials and some other markings from an Airfix Hurricane. The yellow trim as flight marking on the spats is the only extraordinary addition to the otherwise sombre look.
After some light soot stains around the exhausts, the kit was sealed with matt acrylic varnish from the rattle can. The final step was the rigging, which I tried to keep at a plausible minimum.
A thorough conversion, even though almost the complete original Fury kit could be used! And the result is really ambiguous – on one side, the resulting Furore looks both plausible and very Thirties, like one of those many weird designs that were spawned during the transitional era between biplanes and monoplanes. The build was intended to look like the missing link between the Fury and the Hurricane, and I think that I achieved that. On the other side, the “Heyford effect” takes full effect: despite being based on a sleek and elegant aircraft, and with no major additions, the “re-arranged” Furore looks quite bulky and very massive.