1/72 Revell Blackburn Skua

Gallery Article by Oliver Weston on June 18 2009

 

Hello all!

The Blackburn Skua is one of the those often forgotten British Naval aircraft of WW2, but nevertheless played an important and historic part in the Fleet Air Arm's short history.  For a start the aircraft represented a few "firsts" if you like. First FAA service monoplane and a radical departure from the open cockpit biplanes of the time. A Skua was credited with the first confirmed kill by a British aircraft in WW2 in September 1939. And it was 16 Skua's of 800 and 803 NAS who sank the cruiser Konigsberg in Bergan Harbour in June 1940. This was the first major warship to be sunk by divebombing and the first major warship to be sank in wartime by air power! However the Skua was a relatively old design when it entered service having been penned in the mid-thirtys. And it suffered from its dual role, having been designed as a fighter and a divebomber! As a bomber it performed well and when put up against enemy bombers as a fighter it gave a good account of itself. But when the Skua encountered more modern monoplane fighters it was outclassed in every respect. Having alot of extra bulk (because of the Navy's insistance at the time of a two man crew) and not enough power gave it a lackluster top speed. In 1941 Skua's were removed from front line duty and replaced by another compromise the Fairy Fulmar ( the Navy again insisting on a two man crew for a fighter!) and this aircraft doubled the forward facing armament and gave its pilots a 50mph speed advantage over the old Skua's!  A number of Skua's were converted to target tugs and the remainder used as advanced trainers by the FAA after its withdrawal from the front line. The model pictured depicts a MK2 Skua of 759 Squadron Fleet Fighter School based at RNAS Eastleigh 1940.

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Until recently no examples were thought to exist of the Skua which was very sad most being destroyed after the war. However In April 2007, the only known nearly complete Blackburn Skua was discovered in Orkdalsfjorden in Norway at 242 metres depth. Due to an engine failure, the Skua, flown by John Casson, leader of 803 squadron, had to make an emergency landing on the fjord. Both crew members survived but faced five years as prisoners of war. Despite efforts to get the aircraft to the surface as gently as possible, the tail broke off. The engine had become detached in the original crash landing. The fuselage, cockpit and wings were salvaged. The Skua will be restored at Norway's aviation museum in BodÝ. It would be nice to think that one day the finished aircraft could be bought home and be displayed at the FAA museum and take its place next to other historic RN aircraft of the period where it so rightfully belongs.

The kit itself is basically and old Frog moulding (after Revell bought the rights) and as such lacks detail and crispness that you normally get from more modern kits. Still who cares!!! Built OOB and brush painted, with the only scratch built bits being a bit of a cockpit and the radio wires (made from fishing line). A straightforward fit and an interesting if uncommon subject make for a fun and entertaining build well worth it!!!

Till next time!

Oliver Weston

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Photos and text © by Oliver Weston