1:72 Hawker P.1019 "Sea Fury" Mk. XII, aircraft "125-P (s/n JZ670)" of the Fleet Air Arm 1832 NAS; HMS Pioneer, Admiralty Islands, July 1945 (Whif/modified Airfix kit)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Hawker Fury was an evolutionary successor to the successful Hawker Typhoon and Tempest fighters and fighter-bombers. The Fury's design process was initiated in September 1942 by Sydney Camm, one of Hawker's foremost aircraft designers, to meet the Royal Air Force's requirement for a lightweight Tempest Mk.II replacement. The fuselage was broadly similar in form to that of the Tempest, but was a fully monocoque structure, while the cockpit level was higher, affording the pilot better all-round visibility.
The project was formalized in May 1943, which required a high rate of climb of not less than 4,500 ft/min (23 m/s) from ground level to 20,000 feet (6,096 m), good fighting maneuverability and a maximum speed of at least 450 mph (724 km/h) at 22,000 feet (6,705 m). The armament was to be four 20mm Hispano V cannon with a total capacity of 600 rounds, plus the capability of carrying two bombs each up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg).
In April 1943, Hawker had also received Specification N.7/43 from the Admiralty, who sought a navalized version of the developing aircraft. In response, Sidney Camm proposed the consolidation of both service's requirements under Specification F.2/43, with the alterations required for naval operations issued on a supplemental basis. Around 1944, the aircraft project finally received its name; the Royal Air Force's version becoming known as the Fury and the Fleet Air Arm's version as the Sea Fury.
A total of six prototypes were ordered; two were to be powered by Rolls-Royce Griffon engines, two with Centaurus XXIIs, one with a Centaurus XII and a final one as a test structure. Hawker used the internal designations P.1019 and P.1020 respectively for the Griffon and Centaurus versions, while P.1018 was also used for a Fury prototype with a Napier Sabre IV. The first Fury to fly, on 1 September 1944, was NX798 with a Centaurus XII with rigid engine mounts, powering a Rotol four-blade propeller. Second on 27 November 1944 was LA610, which had a Griffon 85 and a Rotol six-blade contra-rotating propeller.
With the end of the Second World War in Europe in sight, the RAF began cancelling many aircraft orders. Thus, the RAF's order for the Fury was cancelled, but development of the type was continued as the Sea Fury. The rationale behind this was the fact that many of the Navy's carrier fighters were either Lend-Lease Chance-Vought Corsair or Grumman Hellcat aircraft and thus to be returned, or, in the case of the Supermarine Seafire, had considerable drawbacks as naval aircraft such as narrow undercarriages. The Admiralty opted to procure the Sea Fury as the successor to these aircraft instead of purchasing the lend-lease aircraft outright.
The first Sea Fury prototype first flew at Langley, Berkshire, on 21 February 1945, powered by a Centaurus XII engine. This prototype had a "stinger"-type tailhook for arrested carrier landings, but lacked folding wings for storage. The second prototype flew on 12 October 1945 and it was powered by a Bristol Centaurus XV that turned a new, five-bladed Rotol propeller and did feature folding wings. A third prototype was powered by a Griffon 85 with a chin radiator and drove a six blade contraprop, similar to LA610 from 1944. Specification N.7/43 was modified to N.22/43, now representing an order for 200 aircraft.
Both engine variants showed virtually identical performance. While the Centaurus-powered Sea Fury had more power and was slightly lighter than the Griffon-powered variant, the latter had better aerodynamics and, thanks to the contra-rotating propeller, better low-speed handling characteristics.
In order to expand production of the new naval fighter as quickly as possible, Sea Fury variants with different engines were produced at different factories: 100 were to be built as F Mk. X, powered by the Centaurus engine, at Boulton-Paul's Wolverhampton factory, and another 100, powered now by a Griffon 130 with a two-stage, three-speed supercharger and fuel injection, were to be built as F Mk. XII at Hawker's Dunsfold factory.
Things did not unfold smoothly, though: the manufacturing agreement with Boulton-Paul was ended in early 1945 and all work on the Centaurus-powered Sea Fury transferred to Hawker Aircraft's facilities at Kingston. As a consequence, production of the F Mk. X was delayed and only the Griffon-powered F Mk. XII made it to frontline units until summer 1945, but, in fact, only a mere 50 aircraft left Dunsfold until the end of hostilities, all of them were immediately transferred to the FAA’s Pacific theatre of operations. The first twelve airframes went on board of the newly built HMS Pioneer, a Colossus class aircraft carrier, which set sails for Australia in May 1945 and then operated along the Northern coast of New-Guinea. In the vicinity of Manus Island the Sea Furies were operated by NAS 1834, replacing Corsair II and IV fighters, and they were the only machines of this type to become involved in aerial combat and CAS missions. In August 1945 the machines were transferred to HMS Indomitable; based on this carrier, they supported the liberation of Hong Kong, arriving after a landing party from HMCS Prince Robert had taken the Japanese surrender. These were among the last combat missions of the war.
The Sea Fury Mk. X came too late for any frontline involvement. In fact, the first machine of this variant eventually first flew on 31 January 1946, and immediately upon completion of the first three airframes, the flight testing program began at Kingston. It was soon discovered that the early Centaurus engine suffered frequent crankshaft failure due to a poorly designed lubrication system, which led to incidents of the engine seizing while in mid-flight. The problem was resolved when Bristol's improved Centaurus 18 engine replaced the earlier engine variant, but this further hampered the program.
From the Griffon-powered Sea Fury F Mk. XII, only 92 aircraft from the initial N.22/43 order batch of 100 were actually produced, and they did not serve long in front line units. One factor was the high-powered Griffon engine, which was prone to failure and its liquid-coolant system was not free from trouble, either. On the other side, the technically less complicated Centaurus-powered Sea Fury F. Mk. X became available in 1947 and it showed more development and also export potential, so that the Mk. XII was retired from Royal Navy units until 1949. Some of the aircraft were stored, though, and eventually handed over or sold to friendly nations.
Altogether, the Sea Fury was produced with some 875 aircraft built (number varies by source)—including prototypes and 61 two-seat T.20 trainers. Sea Furies also served in Korea and they were the last front-line piston-engine aircraft operated by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
Length: 37 ft 3 in (11.37 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 4 ¾ in (11.69 m)
Height: 15 ft 101⁄2 in (4.84 m)
Wing area: 280 ft2 (26.01 m²)
Empty weight: 9,325 lb (4,233 kg)
Loaded weight: 12,510 lb (5,680 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 14,760 lb (6,700 kg)
1× Rolls Royce Griffon 130 liquid-cooled V-12 engine;
maximum output of 2,420 hp (1,805 kW) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
Maximum speed: 460 mph (400 knots, 740 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
Range: 700 mi (609 nmi, 1,126 km) with internal fuel;
1,040 mi (904 nmi, 1,674 km) with two 90 gal. drop tanks
Service ceiling: 35,800 ft (10,910 m)
Rate of climb: 4,320 ft/min (21.9 m/s)
4× 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V cannon in the outer wings with 150 RPG
Up to 12× 3 in (76.2 mm) unguided rockets and/or bombs or drop tanks
for an ordnance of 2,000 lb (907 kg)
The kit and its assembly:
Building this kit was a spontaneous decision - but since it would fit well into the RAF Centenary Group Build at whatifmodelers.com, I used to occasion to motivate myself and create this conversion as submission #5 to the GB.
This build was originally triggered by a Sea Fury model, recently built by fellow user knightflyer from whatifmodelers.com: a "normal" Sea Fury in late-war FAA markings. I found the resulting aircraft pretty sexy, but wondered how I could add a personal twist? While doing some research into the Sea Fury's development I stumbled upon the Griffon-powered Fury prototype LA610, a pretty ugly aircraft with a gaping radiator intake and a menacing six blade contraprop. This one, in FAA colors...?
The kit is the PM Model Sea Fury, in this case an Airfix re-boxing, but this does not change anything. The kit is simple, is a bit crude (e.g. the wings trailing edges are rather massive), but it goes together well.
The conversion included a better seat for the cockpit, a dashboard, a split canopy for open display, and some rhinoplasty: the OOB Centaurus and its five blade propeller went into the spares box. Instead, a resin power egg from Red Roo for an Australian Avro Lincoln was installed in the nose. To be honest, the engine is actually a Merlin with a chin radiator, but the piece's overall outline and the radiator just look perfect for something close to the LA610 prototype! Some body sculpting was necessary to create a smooth transition in front of the cockpit, and the OOB exhaust arrangement from the Centaurus was "recycled" as radiator outlets, just very similar to LA610.
The contraprop is a mash-up: The spinner (which fits onto the resin engine very well, only a little trimming was necessary) comes from a Special Hobby model of a late Griffon-powered Spitfire; there are several boxings of this kit for different variants, but the main sprues are virtually identical, so that a lot of spares, including propeller variants like the six blade Rotol propeller, are available. This specific propeller is not functional, though. Both propeller sections are intended to be glued together and onto the kit’s nose, only for static build and presentation. That’s a bit disappointing, so I modified the parts with holes and a styrene axis that fits into another deep hole in the resin engine block, so that both propellers can spin – and they actually do, even though it only works when I blow into the propeller from a certain angle.
The propeller blades were replaced, too, because the original Spitfire parts turned out to be too short, on the massive Sea Fury and the gaping radiator intake maw they looked undersized. So I dug out a Novo Shackleton from the donor bank and used the blades from one of its engines for my conversion.
Another small modification concerns the arrestor hook: with the Special Hobby Spitfire kit at hand and its many optional parts, I added a Seafire hook to the rudder’s base, instead of the later Sea Fury’s separate hook under the rudder, for a slight retro feeling.
The flaps were lowered and the wings’ VERY thick trailing edges trimmed down significantly. The leading edges were slightly modified, too, in an attempt to get rid of their square OOB shape.
The ordnance was slightly modified, too: I added a pair of pylons under the wings with 500 lb bombs instead of the OOB drop tanks (I assume that these large blobs are rather ferry tanks?), the 3in missiles and their launch rails are OOB.
Painting and markings:
No real surprises: standard late WWII FFA colors (Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey/Sky) livery without quick ID markings on the wings and stabilizers. Basic paints were Tamiya XF-54 (Dark Sea Grey, a relatively light interpretation of the tone), Modelmaster 2056 (Dark Slate Grey, lighter than Humbrol's 224) and Tamiya XF-21 (Sky, a rather intense variation of the greenish tone). The cockpit interior was painted in RAF Cockpit Green (Humbrol 78) – it’s a bit of a guess, but AFAIK the interior of British combat aircraft was changed to black after the end of WWII? The landing gear wells were painted in the same tone, using late WWII Fairey Fireflies as benchmark.
The kit received a light blank ink wash, some post-shading treatment and dry-brushing with FS 36231 and Faded Olive Drab from Modelmaster, as well as Humbrol 90 underneath. Some more detail brushing with even lighter tones was added, too.
The decals/markings actually belong to a lend lease F4U during the final weeks of the war; I found the red tactical code quite interesting, even though HMS Pioneer, where the aircraft was based, was only a repair carrier, not an active combat platform for aircraft operations? Well, it’s whifworld, after all…
Another individual detail are the overpainted areas on fuselage, wings and fins, where the aircraft had carried standard RAF roundels upon delivery, and for the Pacific TO, the roundels were changed en route on short notice, maybe with paints from US supplies. Consequently, the overpainted sections were created with slightly different shades of the basic camouflage colors, namely Humbrol 125 (FS 36118, which was frequently used on FAA lend lease aircraft), Tamiya XF- (Olive Drab) and a mix of Humbrol 90 and 95 for the underside. Any white ID bands on the wings were left away, just the spinner’s segments were painted in black and white.
I used, according to the benchmark F4U, blue-and-white FAA roundels with USN-style white bars, but modified them with a very small, white central disc.