A few months back I found myself in the centre of Melbourne with a few minutes to kill so I popped into Hearn’s Hobbies to have a look at their wall of paint. After having selected a few items to take home I went around to the other side where the aeroplanes are stacked on shelves and there was a little Trumpeter Sea Hawk Mk100/101 that said to me ‘I need a good home, take me.’ So I did.
I reckon that the Hawker, later Armstrong Whitworth, Sea Hawk is one of the most elegant looking aeroplanes ever made, so I was happy to add another one to my Treasure.
More recently I was overtaken with the urge to make it. The kit is a breeze to assemble; all the parts fit, they are finely moulded and the end result is pleasing. There are only two things less than perfect. One is the cockpit canopy which does not merge as well as it should with the fuselage and the decal sheet which gives options for German and Indian aircraft, but the white is not as dense as it should be so you can seen the underlying colours through it, which is not a good look. Still, I had an aftermarket sheet with some Indian markings for Sea Hawks so that problem was solved.
While talking to Master Steve about Sea Hawk models at our most recent meeting he commented that MPM had made a kit of the Sea Hawk some years back but perhaps he’d get the Trumpeter kit instead. I agreed, I had the MPM Sea Hawk kit as well but thought maybe I’d get rid of it and get another Trumpeter kit to make up a standard Royal Navy one instead.
Later, I had another look at my MPM Sea Hawk kit and decided to make it just in comparison to the Trumpeter kit. The first thing I noticed that, in comparison to the highly detailed Trumpeter kit, the MPM one is very basic. The cockpit is there but very rudimentary, there are no under wing weapons, no gun troughs under the nose and there is a huge gap where the engine intakes are so you can see right through. ‘Oh well,’ I said to myself, ‘it’s here, let’s see how it goes’. So I did, but without making some of the changes that might be necessary if I wanted to enter it in Expo. But even I had to fill the gaping hole in the fuselage between the intakes.
To draw attention away from the kit’s many faults I decided to paint it up as a Sea Hawk FB.3 that flew in the Red Devils aerobatic team of 1957, nice glossy read, so people wouldn’t notice what I’d not done. The only advantage that this kit has over the Trumpeter kit is that the cockpit canopy is a better fit.
While working on this model my mind returned to 1959 or thereabouts when I fossicked through the bin of bagged Aifrix kits and chose their offering of the Sea Hawk. It was wonderful and, having discovered that you could paint scale model kits, I put some grey paint over the upper surfaces and was mightily pleased with the end result.
So, I was musing, how much more advanced was the MPM kit over the old Airfix one. I remember that the Airfix kit offered options for the standard Royal Navy tail or the taller German tail, it had the option of drop tanks or bombs under the wings and there was no gaping hole in the fuselage. There were deficiencies, but what would you expect from a 1950s kit, particularly in comparison to a 1980s one.
It was tempting to assemble another Airfix kit to compare it to the MPM and Trumpeter kits, but perhaps memories are better than the real thing, and best left that way.