Author Topic: Kit Review - Special Hobby 1/72 Seafire F/FR Mk. 46 ‘No. 1832 Squadron’  (Read 1298 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

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Special Hobby 1/72 Seafire F/FR Mk. 46 ‘No. 1832 Squadron’
Reviewed by Zac Yates



Item: SH72482
scale: 1/72
Price: €19.89 direct from Special Hobby.

Contents: four grey and one clear plastic sprues; two decal options.

Review kit kindly provided by Special Hobby at https://www.specialhobby.eu/seafire-f-fr-mk-46

Background

The Supermarine Seafire Mk.46 was the penultimate in a line stretching back to the first navalised Spitfires – “Seafire” being a contraction of the cumbersome “Sea Spitfire” – fielded by the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in late 1941. The Mk.46 was essentially a Spitfire Mk.22, powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 or 64 (2,035hp) and with that aircraft’s fixed wing, unlike most Seafires which featured folding wings for storage aboard aircraft carriers.


A Seafire F Mk.46 in flight showing the final version of the famous Spitfire wing. (Photo from Destination’s Journey)

Initially fitted with a five-bladed propeller, in April 1947 the Mk.46s were upgraded to the more powerful Griffon 85 or 87 (2,375hp) and received a distinctive six-bladed contrarotating propeller which eliminated the strong torque effect exhibited on initial examples. This made take-offs and landings easier for the pilots. Two variants were produced: the F Mk.46 and the FR Mk.46 used for photographic reconnaissance – aside from cameras being fitted to the latter, the two were otherwise identical.


A striking photo of Seafire FR Mk.46 LA561 from No.1832Sqn FAA, one of two decal options provided in Special Hobby’s new kit. Note the underwing rocket rails and centreline drop tank. (Photo from Destination’s Journey)

Due to storage issues aboard aircraft carriers caused by the type’s fixed wing the Mk.46 served mainly from land bases with FAA and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve training squadrons. Two hundred Mk.46s were ordered but only 24 were produced before production focused on the refined and more successful Mk.47. Today just two Seafires remain extant, fighter variants LA546 and LA564 which are both under restoration to fly.


A lineup of No.1832Sqn Seafire 46s, headed by LA561, at RNAS Culham in 1948. (Photo from Destination’s Journey)

Special Hobby’s model
This is the second time Special Hobby has issued a 1/72 kit of the Seafire 46, the first being in 2012 as part of a remarkable range of late Spitfire and Seafire kits based around three common sprues (two grey and one clear) that allowed for the Spitfire Mk.21, 22 and 24 and Seafire Mk.45, 46 and 47 to be released with different wing and fuselage combinations. This kit uses the Spitfire Mk.21, 22 and 24 and Seafire Mk.45, 46 wing sprue along with the Spitfire Mk.24 and Seafire Mk.47 fuselage sprues to realise the F.Mk.46 and FR.Mk.46. This means a staggering number of parts will be left over from the build including a fuselage, four rudders and complete propeller assemblies (sixteen blades are provided!), however the sprue layout diagram does not label any parts as not for use with this build. Alternatively, armed with the instructions from Special Hobby’s website and the appropriate decals one could easily build a Spitfire Mk.22 or 24 from the parts provided.

The top-opening cardboard box features very atmospheric art by Antonis Karidis of the kit’s two decal subjects flying together, and contains four grey plastic sprues, one clear sprue, a 12-page instruction booklet and fairly small but full decal sheet.






Considering this is the eleventh boxing in as many years the sprues are remarkably free from moulding imperfections or defects, other than a small amount of flash around the windscreen mount on a fuselage half. The engraved and raised detail is delicate and appears accurate based on this reviewer’s knowledge of the type, however no reference drawings are ready to hand to check these.



The cockpit is well detailed for the scale with raised elements on the fuselage sidewalls and a comprehensive set of controls sandwiched between a rear bulkhead and a nicely detailed instrument panel. Unfortunately no seatbelts are provided as either moulded elements or decals, however Special Hobby does offer a colour photo etch set which includes a full harness (along with many other items to make the cockpit really “pop”). The majority of the cockpit is labelled as being painted either Black or Grey Green so the modeller will need to use references to check which is appropriate: given both subjects represented are very specifically described as being from May 1948 (see Markings below) it is surprising this information is not firm, but it is possible adequate references may not exist and an educated guess may be required.



Thanks to the comprehensive parts count there is little extra the builder needs to do except drill a hole in the rear of the lower wing part for a clear disc, and scratchbuild two whip antennas for which dimensions are given. Unfortunately the distinctive contraprop cannot be made to spin as it is designed to be cemented in place, but the good news for the modeller is that the blades are keyed to the spinner backplates so their correct angle is assured.




The main wheel wells are boxed in with four small sidewalls each, front and rear faces are provided for the radiators (as are separate cooling flaps) and the cowling bulges are provided as separate parts so care will be needed to avoid unsightly seams on this very visible area. No provision is mentioned for the model to be built with landing gear retracted.



The clear sprue is another universal one meaning there are several parts that will go unused. All parts have excellent clarity and are fairly thin with no obvious mould lines or flash. The wingtip navigation lights are moulded in clear to allow for a more realistic look than painted plastic.




Instructions:
The instructions are in very clear line drawing format with Gunze colour callouts throughout the 14 steps. As the two decal subjects require different fuselage parts these are also called out to avoid confusion: this is the only difference in construction between the two. Other options include rocket rails, RATO bottles, and 22.5-gallon underwing or 60-gallon fuselage centreline drop tanks, however the choice of which to install are all left to the builder as no context for their use is provided. The cockpit door – which is moulded separately – can also be open or closed.











Markings:
The kit features two marking options:
1.   FR.Mk.46 LA561/104-CH
2.   F.Mk.46 LA545/110-CH

The reason further detail isn’t provided in the above section is because both subjects are from 1832 Squadron FAA, both are depicted as they were when based at Royal Naval Air Station Culham in May 1948, and both are in the same camouflage of Dark Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey over Sky. Given only 24 Seafire 46s were built there are presumably very few schemes to choose from, so this choice is perhaps unsurprising. In addition to the identical camouflage scheme, both subjects have a Yellow spinner and if the external fuel tank is used it is said to “probably” be Dark Slate Grey in both cases. All colours are glossy.




Decals:
The decals themselves are fairly comprehensive with many and readable stencils (placement of which has its own dedicated page in the instructions) and are in register. Unfortunately on the review copy the roundels and fin-flashes appear slightly blotchy when viewed close-up, and one of the underwing roundels has small patch of missing dark blue ink. Some decals have more carrier film than modern modellers may be used to but, based on previous experience, they should behave well with solvent and setting solutions.



Summary:
At just under €20 this kit represents excellent value for money with the number and quality of parts provided, and the versatility the universal sprues present. The included colour schemes are eye-catching and the variety of stores means the modeller is spoilt for choice when deciding how exactly to add this excellent kit to their shelf.

Highly recommended!
(Review sample kindly supplied by Special Hobby. Please support the businesses that support your Forum.)