AIRFIX


A09183 Airfix 1/48 Walrus Mk 1


Review by David Harvey

 

Review Type

First Look

Scale:

1/48

Price:

AUD$52.05 from Hannants in the UK

Contents and Media:

156 parts plus a small sheet of decals.

Advantages:

Nicely done decals and design of components.

Disadvantages:

Ejection post marks in the fuselage and lots of sprue bits to clean off.

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended

 

History

The Walrus first flew in 1933 and was a result of a private venture for the Royal Australian Navy wanting a 'Fleet Spotting' aircraft to launch from it's ships. Construction of the aircraft started in 1930 but owing to Supermarine's other commitments it was not completed until 1933, this initial design was called the Supermarine Seagull V in RAN service. The RAN ended up with 24 Seagull V's from an order that was completed in 1934 with the first RAN Seagull V flying in June 1935.

During May 1935 the Royal Navy placed an order for 12 aircraft with the first aircraft flying in March 1936, this was named the Walrus or 'Shagbat'. The aircraft featured a metal hull and various other components that led to being a very noisy aircraft. The Walrus Mk II was a modification of the Mk 1 that used a wooden hull instead of metal, this meant it was easier to repair and much less noisy for the crew.

The aircraft carried out a number of different roles including the originally designed ships spotting aircraft as well as Air Sea Rescue, Anti-Shipping and Anti-Submarine patrols. It became famous for some of it's efforts while carrying out Air Sea Rescue as it carried this out, at times, under fire or saved so many people it was unable to take off and had to taxi back to base.

After the war the type didn't last long in service but continued on with the Irish Air Corps, Argentina and various civilian companies.

Introduction

I have had a SMER Walrus and two Classic Airframes kits in my stash for a few years now with the intention of building them to represent the RAAF aircraft. The SMER kit was to be a challenge to myself as I had built the SMER Swordfish by totally rebuilding certain areas for a great result. I have had a love hate relationship with Classic Airframes kits and this was to be a better build using what hopefully was a decent limited run kit. When I heard Airfix was to produce the Walrus in 1/48 I quickly decided that a few of these would be a good start to my RAAF amphibian collection. I ordered my two kits from Hannants in the UK and was wondering why the postage was so high, on receiving them I understood why - the box is BIG! Inside the box is two sealed plastic bags, one for the clear parts and one for the rest of the sprues with the decals in the instructions booklet.

The last few kits put out by Airfix have been good builds that go together easily and look great on completion so I expect the same from this one.

The Kit

The plastic is the, now standard, grey plastic from Airfix and generally it is well cast and easy to work with. There are a number of sprue bits to be trimmed off and small amounts of mold lines to be removed. I can see no flash on the plastic which is to be expected though the engine mounting struts need some careful cleaning due to their shape and design.

I have conducted a bit of dry fitting with the hull and, while it looks like it will turn out ok, I am a bit concerned that the joints will need some work to ensure you don't lose to much of the fine detail on the plastic. I think that the joins being on the edges of the fuselage saves some detail but opens it up to a problem of ensuring the fit is correct. Speaking of detail, the kit has some very nice, fine, details representing the riveting on the hull which would be a shame to lose so care will be needed to not destroy it. The design of the hull has four main components that lock together with all the bulkheads inside the hull giving it the correct angles. The frustrating part to me is the number of ejection post marks on the fuselage walls. These are both raised and sunken down so clean up will be a pain as some of them will be visible if left there and the hatches are open.

 

The interior of the kit is basic and I am sure that if you scratch build or use the plethora of Photo Etch or resin sets becoming available you will be able to make it very busy in there with all the small detail not included in the kit. One thing that surprises me is that there is no seat belt provide on the decal sheet nor in any form, what is even more surprising is that I have the Eduard interior set and they don't have one there either; they are provided in a separate set from Eduard. The Walrus, according to the walk around on the Seawings site, has a seat belt so you will need to make them or get an AM set.

The instrument panel is represented by a decal on the supplied plastic. The pilots seat is a raised and looks quite nice and has a fair amount of detail, it is also much better than the Classic Airframes kit. The front gun position is also basic with detail such as the cutouts around the cupola missing due to the restraints of the mold, this can be fixed by some sheet plastic drilled out or some PE from an AM set.

The wings can be made extended or folded and the way Airfix has designed the plastic you need to trim the centre section to suit the version you are making. This should not be too hard as they have molded in cutouts that just require you to trim or file away to give the correct setting. If you plan on rigging the aircraft it will make it harder to do as you need to plan how you will do this and paint it at the same time. If you are extending the wings there is also different end pieces with join pegs for the wings as the kit has cut outs in the fuselage to allow the wings to be joined with pegs, you will need to drill out these holes in the fuselage. If folding the wings the upper wings look easy and make a strong joint with the spar included in the kit but I am not sure about the lower wings as they rely on a small peg to be glued to the fuselage in which Airfix don't really highlight on the instruction sheet. I would suggest making the wings as a separate unit and after painting has been finished join them to the fuselage.

The engine design is a nice touch as this is normally one of the places on the SMER and Classic Airframes kits that sends people crazy while trying to align it. The Walrus engine was neither centered on the fuselage nor was it parallel to the airframe which means it is off on all angles against both the fuselage and wings. Airfix has saved the problems of aligning it by having the struts as an integral part of the engine so once all locked together it gives you the correct placement and angles. Comparing the engine to images of the real one it looks good and would only need a small amount of detailing to make it stand out, this includes drilling out the exhaust. One thing that was baffling me was the small pegs all over the struts holding the engines. On further investigation I believe that they are actually fold out steps for mechanics to access the engine without needing an external stand. Judging by the images online, in particular the image above from the IPMS Stockholm website, the pegs could be removed or replaced with no problems and a rectangle scribed in if you wish to.

The ordnance provided in the kit is basic and could use some detailing for example the 20Lb bombs could have the tail fin drilled out for a bit better look. The bomb bays and bomb racks look a bit soft and could be further detailed but are ok once the ordnance in mounted, this extra detailing is also able to be done with PE sets from Eduard etc. The machine guns don't look bad and should paint up to look good if you chose to mount them.

The Walrus rigging looks like it would be interesting to do and Airfix has included a page showing what cable went where. The wings also have the mounting points for the rigging that just need to be drilled out for the line to be pulled through and securely glued in.

The options provided in the kit are:

 

The Instructions

The instructions are well presented in the new Airfix format of highlighting in red the components you need to glue. I like the new format as it makes it easier for the novice and the rest of us to know exactly what they are talking about in their diagrams and where things are supposed to go. When it comes to deciding on whether you are going for extended or folded wings the instructions have two different sections to cover this; you will need to decide early which way you are going to pose it. I am opting for the folded wings initially and the second one extended wings with all hatches open.

The paint recommendations are basic and I would suggest you check out the Walk a rounds on the various web sites to get a better look at the variety of colours in the aircraft.

 

The instructions also have a handy page showing the rigging of the aircraft if you wish to send yourself insane as I plan to. The image below is a bit of a guide with the actual diagram being an A3 page (will be added later).

The decals

The decals cover the following aircraft:

I have not had a good run with the Airfix decals over the last few years as they have been poorly printed or just bad, these appear to be different. The last Airfix decals I had, the Meteor Mk 8, went on well but these Walrus markings appear to be very nice indeed. The decals are well printed and in register and the amount of carrier film involved with each decal has been minimized.

The decals have the national markings and serials for each aircraft with only minimal stencil markings for the airframe which I find unusual, but I am not an expert on the Walrus and can be easily wrong.

Recommendation

This has been a long awaited kit for a lot of people and thankfully Airfix has done a good job on it. There is heaps of detail and options to chose from and should not be too difficult to build or even add extra detail to if you so chose. The colour schemes are a bit similar in colour but you can always buy a more colourful one from Xtradecal or Model Alliance if you want something more flashy or different.

I highly recommend this kit for those interested in the Walrus or wanting to make a biplane.

References