|Sea Hurricane: Converting Hasegawa's Hurricane with MDC's Update Set
By Scott Spencer
Early in World War Two, the Royal Navy was in need of a high performance carrier-based fighter to counter the land-based air arms the RN was confronting in Norway and the Mediterranean. With control over the Fleet Air Arms aircraft program held by the Air Ministry until 1939, the Royal Navys aircraft development had suffered at the hands of those bureaucrats who favored the RAF. Faced with the desperate need for fast and sturdy mounts, the Air Ministry finally agreed to the Royal Navys demands that both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane be "navalised" for use aboard its carriers.
A total of 600 Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes saw service with the FAA in World War Two. Of those, only 60 aircraft were purpose-built as Sea Hurricanes. Of those 60, all were Sea Hurricane IIcs which carried four wing mounted 20mm cannon. All other Sea Hurricanes were "navalised" from regular production Hurricane airframes. With the relatively short front line service of the Sea Hurricane, finding photos of Sea Hurricane IIcs can be a bit of a challenge. It was the Sea Hurricane Ic, which saw the greatest use (in numbers) and therefore offers the modeler the largest number of reference photos.
With the impending release of the Hasegawa Hurricane I, combined with the MDC Sea Hurricane conversion set, you will be able to produce any Sea Hurricane flown by the FAA.
MDC's Sea Hurricane Conversion Set, CV016:
Model Design Construction has produced a beautiful resin conversion set for the Hasegawa Hurricane IIc. In a small sturdy box, you receive two circular fuselage inserts, two catapult spools, the tail hook, and the main lower fuselage insert.
You must do a little surgery on the kit, and if you are fearful of such tasks, have no fear. This was the first major cutting/hacking I have ever attempted on a kit and it went beautifully. Construction is straightforward and requires very little effort.
Let's Get Started:
The first step is to carefully clean up and inspect your resin parts. There is very little, if any, flash and only a slight oily coating on the parts. The slick coating was used to assist in removing the parts from the molds and cleans up easily.
Remove the two fuselage halves from their tree and also remove the lower wing from its tree. Tape the fuselage halves together and place the lower wing into position. You will see where the fabric joins with the metal section of the lower wing. It is this panel line, joining the fabric and metal, that is your cutting line. Using a razor saw, carefully cut a straight line and remove the fabric portion from the lower wings rear section.
Once this section has been removed, tape the lower wing onto the taped-together fuselage. Now lay the lower fuselage insert onto the bottom of the taped fuselage, carefully lining up the forward end of the insert with the section you just removed from the wing. Mark the spot where the insert ends, just in front of the tail wheel hole. This will be how far back you will make your cut. My mark came out just under 1/16" in front of the tail wheel hole. One thing to remember, just like sawing or cutting something full size you must compensate for the thickness of the blade. Make sure the blade is on the inside (towards the cowling) of the line you marked. If you do not do this, you will wind up with a cutout that's too long and will have to use filler on the resulting gap. Measure twice, cut once!
Find the panel line that extends along the lower edge of the fuselage. Using your razor saw, remove the plastic area shown in the photograph below. The instruction sheet offers drawings that show this in more detail. Once this portion is removed from both fuselage halves, the hard part is over!
While you have the fuselage halves out, grab your drill bits. Drill a 1.7mm hole to accept the fuselage inserts. The instructions clearly illustrate this procedure and it is simply a matter of measuring the distances and drilling the hole. Remember, the inserts are inserted from the inside not the outside. Do not overlook this step!
Continue building the kit as per the instructions. Once you are about ready to join the fuselage halves together permanently, you will have to decide on the way you wish to tackle inserting the lower plug. I toyed with gluing the fuselage halves together, then gluing the plug in place. Much like mating the lower wings to a fuselage. After thinking about it, I opted to glue the plug onto one of the fuselage halves first. As soon as I got my bead of glue laid onto the plug, I carefully placed it onto the fuselage half. While the glue was still workable (I used a slow setting superglue), I carefully joined the fuselage halves together with masking tape. I then worked the plug so that it fit equally on both sides and would dry at the proper angle. This would help to ensure that later on everything would be lined up properly.
When it came time to glue the fuselage halves together, I simply pried open the gap between the plug and fuselage with my No.11 knife blade. I then cautiously applied glue with a large straight pin in the resulting gap. With finger pressure only, I squeezed the lower portions of the fuselage against the sides of the plug. This resulted in such a tight gap that no filler was required at all! In fact, it looked just like the panel line that was originally visible on the kit. If you made the proper length cut initially then you will have minimal work to do when you blend in the plug with the remaining thin plastic portion just in front of the tail wheel hole.
I would suggest waiting until the finishing stages before installing the catapult spools and tail hook. These can be painted separately and you will not take the chance of breaking them.
Painting and Finish:
Sea Hurricanes were finished in the standard FAA scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey, Dark Slate Grey, and Sky. I painted the model using a special mix of Tamiya acrylics formulated by Roy Sutherland. While I love enamels, the Tamiya paint provides an excellent finish and Roy has nailed the FAA colors down with this brand.
As stated previously, there are few photos of Sea Hurricane IIcs available as references. It also goes without saying that there are no commercial decals available for Sea Hurricane IIcs. What would I do? Well, I decided to keep my aircraft simple and allow it to represent one of the "workhorse" aircraft that had no fame or fortune. Just a simple plane, flown by a gallant pilot, without any glory. I turned to the bible of Fleet Air Arm aircraft, Ray Sturtivants "Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-1945," and browsed through the listings of Sea Hurricane IIcs; I located an aircraft flown by S/L R. L. Thompson, of No. 800 Squadron. He flew this aircraft from HMS Biter and carried no special markings.
The roundels came from Aeromasters "RAF Late War Fighter Roundels", sheet No. 48-244. The Royal Navy logo and aircraft serial number came from Archer Dry Transfers "Fleet Air Arm Aircraft Serial Numbers." Archers sheet offers letters, numbers, and logos for the ROYAL NAVY, RAN (Royal Australian Navy), and ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY, in the proper 4 inch height.
The kit canopy was discarded in favor of a Falcon vacform canopy, as I wanted to pose it in the open position. The antenna wire is made from UMPQUA brand fly fishing line, size 7X (.004 dia.). It is available at any of the better fishing tackle shops in your area.
Thats all there is to it! A very simple procedure and one that will offer modelers an alternative to RAF machines.
Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-1945, Ray Sturtivant, Air-Britain Historians, 1994.
Walkaround: Hawker Hurricane, Ron Mackay, Squadron-Signal Publications.
Aero Detail 12: Hawker Hurricane, Dai Nippon Kaiga Co., Ltd, 1994