Author Topic: Kit Review - Special Hobby 1/72 Sea Otter Mk.I / ASR Mk.II "Foreign Service"  (Read 449 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

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Special Hobby 1/72 Supermarine Sea Otter Mk.I/ASR Mk.II 'Foreign Service'”
Reviewed by Brad Cancian

Item: SH72431
scale: 1/72
Price: 29 Euros, direct from Special Hobby

Review kit kindly provided by Special Hobby at

The Sea Otter
The origins of the Sea Otter can be traced back to the earlier Supermarine Walrus. Even prior to the Walrus's maiden flight, the company's design team, headed by the aeronautical engineer R. J. Mitchell, were working on an improved version that was powered by either Bristol Aquila and Bristol Perseus radial engines. The prototype was flown in September 1930, and in January 1940, a decision was made to order the Sea Otter into production. While a contract for 190 Sea Otters was issued to Blackburn Aircraft later that year, where it was intended to produce the type under licence, the company was unable to accommodate this workload due to multiple other contracts, leading to the contract's cancellation in 1941. Accordingly, it was until January 1942 that the Air Ministry placed a production order for the Sea Otter with Saunders-Roe. Due to cooling troubles found with the Perseus engine, the powerplant was changed for production aircraft to the Bristol Mercury XXX engine, which drove a three-bladed propeller. The first production Sea Otter, piloted by Jeffrey Quill, performed its first flight during January 1943.

Due to various flight trials, it was not until November 1944 that the Sea Otter was introduced to operational service. The aircraft was primarily operated by both the RAF and the Royal Navy for both air-sea rescue and maritime patrol roles. While naval reconnaissance missions was the principal mission that the aircraft performed, the Sea Otter proved to be superior to its Walrus predecessor in the secondary role of retrieving downed aircrews. This role comprised a major portion of the Sea Otter's postwar activities into the 1950s.
Various overseas militaries were quick to procure the Sea Otter following the end of the war, often purchasing via the British government. Eight aircraft were procured by the Royal Danish Air Force, while another eight were supplied to the Dutch Naval Aviation Service. The colonial service of France also purchased six Sea Otters, which were operated in French Indochina. In total, 292 Sea Otters were built.

The Kit

Special Hobby has continued their affiliation with Azur with their Sea Otter kits. This 2021 boxing is the second boxing by Special Hobby, the first being a “WWII Service” boxing released in 2020. The Azur kit, which is the same plastic, traces its origins back to 2011, and itself was released in four different boxings (indeed this Special Hobby kit shares the same box art as the second Azur release). There are no other games in town if you wish to add a Sea Otter to your collection.

This boxing consists of four sprues of medium grey plastic, a clear sprue, resin, etch, an acetate sheet, and decals.

The first sprue consists of the fuselage halves, engine nacelle, propeller, and some interior parts. The surface detail on the fuselage is nicely done, with crisp panel lines, and a nice fabric representation for the vertical stabiliser.

There is no internal detail on the fuselage halves, but there are some mould release pins that you may want to deal with. The sprue connections on the propeller and other smaller parts may require some care in removal and clean up.

The second sprue contains the lower wings (in two halves), wheels, and other small details. Again, the fabric representation is excellent, and panel lines for ailerons and flaps is crisp. Wheel detail looks nice. There is no detail within the wheel recesses, but this is probably accurate for the type. There are faint marks on the wings for strut locations, however, there are no recesses for the struts to slot into. This will mean care will be needed during assembly.

The third sprue contains the upper wing halves (again in two pieces), struts, and other small details. Again, ribs, panel lines and control surfaces are nicely done, but location holes for struts are not present, just a faint mark for strut locations. The struts are appropriately aerofoil shaped, but care will be needed in removal and clean up. There are no positive location pins at the ends of the struts, so again, care will be needed when assembling the struts and mounting the wings.

The fourth sprue contains the horizontal stabilisers (split into upper and lower halves), ridders, cockpit floor, and floats. Detail is consistent with he rest of the kit here, and is nicely done. More mould release pins will need removal to ensure flush fit of the stabiliser halves. The elevators are moulded integrally to the stabilisers; the panel demarcation here is crips, but it could be a little deeper.

Next comes the resin parts; these are very nicely done detailed parts, which include details for the engine, air scoops, bomb racks, porcupine exhaust, tail hook, and other small details. Unfortunately, the front of the engine cowl was not particularly clean, and the front face quite jagged. This will take some care (and possibly repair) to fix, which is unfortunate.

The clear parts consist of a large glasshouse canopy, and small parts for cabin windows and wing lights. These are crisply done and quite clear and should work nicely.

Lastly are the etched detail parts (marked “Azur”), which include pieces for the interior (including instrument panel and seat belts), bomb racks, intake grilles, control horns, and antennae. Nicely done.


Special Hobby’s Instructions are provided in their modern, high-quality booklet. Presented in 11 glossy pages, construction occurs over 15 steps. The instructions are comprehensive, with a parts layout, clear instruction and paint call outs (in Humbrol and Gunze paints), and full colour four angle painting profiles. Thankfully a full rigging scheme is also provided.

Construction starts in the cockpit, which is basic, but adequate, though a detailer may want to add more given the large glazing. The fuselage is then glued together and added to the lower wings, with stabilisers and rudder added at this point. Next, the engine is mounted into the nacelle which in turn is fitted to the upper wing. Lastly, the struts are put in place and the upper wing and floats are mounted. Lastly, remaining details, the undercarriage, and glazing round out the construction.

Three colour schemes are catered for, these being:
1 – Sea Otter Mk.1, 8S-10, escadrille 8S, Cat Lai airbase, French Indo-China, 1949
2 – Sea Otter ASR Mk.II, Marine-Luchtvaartdeinst (Aerial Unit of the Royal Dutch Navy), 1950
3 – Sea Otter Mk.II, JM833, Naval Air Station Copenhagen, 1947


The decals, like all recent Special Hobby releases, are crisply printed with good colour and excellent register, with the minor exception of the light blue in the French roundels, which look a little inconsistent. I don’t envision any problems with the decals.

Accuracy and Buildability:

Not having any detailed publications on this aircraft, and not being a particular expert as to this aircraft, I can’t comment conclusively about accuracy.

With this kit, one must be considerate of its pedigree as a limited run kit, and the modeller should approach this kit as such. As noted, the interior is adequate, but basic, and is fertile ground for the detailer. I do foresee some construction challenges in a couple of areas; In particular, the mounting of the struts, upper wing, and floats. There are no clear recesses for the struts, only faint scribed indicators of strut locations. This will necessitate careful construction by the modeller; I recommend drilling locating holes into the wings and floats, and drilling and inserting wire into the corresponding struts, to more firmly mount the struts and allow ease of this daunting element of construction. Again, careful measuring and adjusting before committing glue is highly recommended here, especially in consideration of the angles to the struts. Lastly, as noted, the front of the resin cowl is rough and needs fixing; I suspect this is due to some rough release of the parts from a resin mould stub, but this is unfortunate and an annoyance for this prominent area of the aircraft.


The Sea Otter is a lovely subject to release; it’s a fairly unique subject, and the extensive use of the aircraft offer many options for different colour schemes. This one will require some care in construction, and the modeller would be wise to approach this like a limited run kit, with all of the care and considered construction that a limited run kit requires. If you take this approach, once built, you’ll be rewarded with quite a nice and unique looking little aircraft to grace the shelf or the competition table.

Recommended for the modeller with a few biplanes under their belt.

Our very sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample!