Detail & Scale Header
Digital Publications Link
Aviation Photo Section Link
Scale Modeling Section Link
Aviatin Artwork Link
Furball Aero Design / Detail & Scale Decals
About Us Link
Contact Us Link
Home Page Link


Quick Links to Available Digital Publications..


Just Released

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II


Available Now F3H Demon in
Detail & Scale
********** F9F Cougar in
Detail & Scale
**********F2H Banshee in
Detail & Scale, Pt. 1

**********
SBD Dauntless in
Detail & Scale

**********

F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
**********
Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons

**********

Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

**********
Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

**********

Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant
**********

ORDER A DIGITAL BOOK NOW!
**********

Military Aviation Websites:
Click Here

——————

Scale Modeling Websites:
Click Here



KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby Blackburn Skua Mk. II "Norwegian Campaign" -- 1:48 Scale



One of the lesser-known (but still rather interesting) aircraft that shaped the early days of the Second World War was the Blackburn Skua.  It was a late 1930s design that was quickly outperformed by other British and German aircraft, and not long after WWII began, it was relegated to duties well behind the front lines.  The Skua has been neglected in kit form, and here, Special Hobby has re-released their 2007 issue of the Skua and included lots of photoetched metal and resin detail parts. Let’s see what we’ve got.

(Return to top of page)

In 1934, the British Air Ministry specification O.27/34 called for a new multirole naval fighter-bomber.  It was to be the Fleet Air Arm's first operational monoplane with all-metal construction, retractable landing gear, folding wings, and an enclosed cockpit.  Two prototype Skua Mk. Is were ordered from Blackburn in 1935 and were powered by a Bristol Mercury XII radial engine.  These trials were successful and 190 Mk. II production aircraft were ordered.

Mk. IIs incorporated various improvements including being fitted with more powerful Bristol Perseus XII powerplants.  Yet, it was clear that the compromise achieved by blending the characteristics of a fighter with those of a dive bomber produced some problems.  The Skua had the weight penalties incurred in a carrier-based aircraft (wing folds, lots of internal fuel) to notably degrade its performance.  It was slow with a top speed of only 225 MPH.  Yet, it could pack a punch and was heavily armed for the late 1930s with four .303 Browning machine guns in the wings and a single .303 in Vickers machine gun in a flexible mount behind the pilot.  Much like the American Dauntless, the Skua could carry either a single 250- or 500-pound bomb on a centerline trapeze pylon, and there were two hardpoints on each wing for small bombs as well.

The Skua entered service in 1938 as the first squadron embarked on the HMS ARK ROYAL.  Skuas made the second confirmed air-to-air kill by the British during WWII, splashing a Dornier Do 18 flying boat over the North Sea in September 1939.  Skuas also played a key role in the Norwegian campaign in early 1941 and later in the evacuation of Dunkirk.  In the Norway theater of operations, Skuas sank the German cruiser KÖNIGSBERG.  The Skua fared well when attacking German bombers and several Skua pilots became aces this way, but Skuas were shot down wholesale when engaged by fighters such as the Bf 109.  It was clear the Skua was obsolete and the last one was withdrawn from combat in 1941, finally replaced by the Fairey Fulmar.  Remaining Skuas served out their life as advanced trainers and target tugs until early 1945, but few other aircraft can claim to have been there at the beginning and end of World War II.

(Return to top of page)

Special Hobby’s Blackburn Skua Mk. II is a multimedia kit consisting of 93 light gray injection molded polystyrene part on four sprues, six clear parts on one clear sprue, 44 cast resin parts, 14 photoetched metal parts on one fret, one clear acetate part, and one decal sheet.  Panel lines, rivets, and fasteners are all represented by engraved, recessed details.  The full color instruction booklet guides the build over 14 steps.  Decals and the markings guide cover thee Blackburn Skuas:

Strengths:  This is neat and rather appealing kit.  The more that I looked into the history of the Skua and studied the kit, the more interested I became.  To start with the basics: shape, size, and configuration details appear to be accurate.  The engineering and parts breakdown in the kit is relatively simple and conventional.  The engraved surface details are smooth, clean, and delicately engraved.  Parts breakdown is conventional and the relatively small parts number will ensure a relatively quick build.  I test fit the fuselage and wing halves, and no problems were noted.

On one hand, the interior is rather basic, but the major components are there, from the seat, control column, bulkheads, cabin fire extinguisher, fuel tanks behind the pilot, and the aft-facing radio operator/gunner’s position.  On the other hand, the level of detail is definitively elevated by the really great photoetched metal parts, from the instrument panel to the pilot’s harnesses and the really fine and small parts for the rudder pedal stirrups.  The Perseus engine is also represented in really great detail as a cast engine core with separate cylinder heads and exhaust pipes.  Other nice cast resin features include complete single piece main gear wells and the very finely cast resin Vickers .303 for the back seat.

Each of the markings options are similar to each other in terms of overall paint scheme.  Each of these three airplanes, marked as they appeared during the Norwegian campaign, met unfortunate fates, as each was lost to enemy action while attacking the battleship SCHARNHORST on 13 July 1940 and their crews became either POWs or perished.  The decals were printed by Aviprint, and everything appears in register.  Usually I keep a keen eye out for slightly off-center roundels, but here, everything looks good.    

Weaknesses:  As a late 2000s Special Hobby mold, the plastic parts aren’t quite equivalent to the standards of their kits today.  That means there are no locating pins or tabs.  The pour gates connecting the parts to the sprues are large and thick in most instances, so some cleanup will be necessary, especially for the finer parts.  Surface texture on most exterior airframe parts is pretty smooth, though on others (e.g., horizontal stabilizers) it’s a bit rough and could use some smoothing out and polishing.  There are also trace amounts of flash on some parts, and do note there’s a whopper of an ejection pin marking in the pilot’s seat bucket that you’ll want to remove.   

Also note that the box top has a typo and incorrectly labels the airplane as the “Fairey Skua.”  Blackburn was the manufacturer of the Skua and its close cousin, the Roc.  The instruction booklet correctly states Blackburn throughout. 

(Return to top of page)

Special Hobby did a pretty good job with their 1:48 scale Blackburn Skua Mk. II back in 2007, and I think it stands the test of time.  Overall, the level of detail is good and the resin and PE metal parts here make it even better.  That factor, combined with the unique and neglected subject matter (as one of the lesser-known and less-successful aircraft of WWII) makes this an appealing project for fans of Fleet Air Arm subjects, naval aviation, and more broadly those who enjoy unique subjects.  Still, it’s a good idea to have some experience with limited run multimedia aircraft kits before tackling this Skua to get the most out of what this kit offers.

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby 

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

(Return to top of page)

** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

(Return to top of page)