Valom 1/72nd Supermarine Walrus Mk.I

By Michael Kendix

Background

The Walrus represented a culmination in a series of previous flying boat designs: for example, the various stages and marks of the Seagull during the inter-war period. Used briefly in the role for which it was initially created in 1939 and 1940, the Walrus was a spotter for the fleet and then again for the same later in the Mediterranean theater. Later on, the Walrus fell into its famous Air Sea Rescue role as well dive-bomber and the more mundane types of communications tasks. Such was its resilience and multiple–use facility that the Walrus continued in civilian operations for some time after the end of the Second World War.

The Kit

The is housed in a sturdy top-opening style box, which contains two grey sprues of plastic parts, a sprue of clear parts, a set of resin detail parts, a sheet of photoetch pieces, a clear acetate piece for the instrument panel, a decal sheet and an excellent 20-page gloss, colored instruction booklet. The grey plastic is finely detailed and the molding is on a par with other short-run kits on the market. Some of the finer detail in the interior is a little muddy but definitely acceptable. The grey plastic will require some clean up and the fuselage has to be butt-joined because there are no mating pins and holes – all of this is par for the course when it comes to this type of short-run product. The surface detail looks excellent with the fuselage containing some nice engraved panel lines and the wings’ surfaces are nicely done without too much overstatement of the hills and valleys for the spars. The clear parts are especially good being very delicately molded and thin so when you detail the interior it will be visible. In fact, the clear parts provide the option of having the canopy open. The resin parts are nice though the engine will require some clean up and the photoetch sheet provides a large amount of the interior detail in addition to pieces like the gun ring. The decals look clear, in-register and high quality: they provide markings for two schemes. The first is an overall aluminium finish for HMS Manchester, 1930, and the second is an Extra Dark Sea Gray-Dark Slate Gray/Dark Sea Gray-Light Slate Gray over Sky Type S for HMS Gloucester, March 1941. So far as accuracy is concerned, I placed the main parts over some scale drawings in the Kightly and Wallsgrove book, and found that the kit was just about spot-on. A few panel lines and small details may be absent but in 1/72nd scale, it’s not always a good idea to put in every single detail and rivet. If desired, the modeler can always add small details but I think there is sufficient.

The temptation for reviewers is to compare this kit with the Matchbox Walrus Mk.I, which I own. In truth, such a comparison is a little unfair given the improved technology available nowadays and the level of detail that consumers tend to want these days. The Matchbox kit, while not a short-run product, has far less detail – virtually no interior detail whatsoever – and has the clunky raised panel lines typical of kits manufactured at that time. The only real issue with the Valom kit is its price. Any short-run kit, all other things equal, will have a higher price because the manufacturer has a smaller number of units over which to spread his overhead. Added to that, the Czech currency has risen more than 22 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last three years, which has increased the U.S. price of several foreign manufacturers’ products. This brings the U.S. retail price of the kit somewhere in the mid to high thirty dollar range. However, for the money, Valom adds the nice photo etch and resin parts described above. I must confess that this is a kit that I have wanted for a long time and if you want a decent kit that is easily the best available Walrus in 1/72nd scale then this is it. Recommended for modelers with some experience because it is a biplane and contains multiple types of media.

Acknowledgement

Many thanks to Valom for supplying us with this review sample of their kit.

References

James Kightly and Roger Wallsgrove. “The Supermarine Walrus and Stranraer.” Color Illustrations by Bob Pearson. Published in Poland by STRATUS for Mushroom Model Publications, 36 Ver Road, Redbourn, AL3 7PE, United Kingdom. 2004.

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