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James H

1:32 Supermarine Walrus Mk.I

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1:32 Supermarine Walrus Mk.I
HPH
Catalogue #
Available from HPH for 170€

 

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The Supermarine Walrus, or 'Shagbat', as it became more affectionately known, was designed by Reginald Mitchell, the very same man who designed the infinitely beautiful Spitfire fighter. Designed to satisfy an RAAF request for a reconnaissance/patrol aircraft to operate from cruisers, and was designed to be launched by catapult. The Walrus was an amphibious aircraft, so as well as being catapult launched and winch retrieved, it could also operate from land. Powered by a single Pegasus VI radial engine, swinging a 4 blade propeller in a pusher configuration, the quite agile Walrus carried 2 Vickers MG guns in gunner openings both fore and aft of the cockpit. The Walrus could also carry bombs and depth charges.

 

 

First becoming operational in 1935, the Walrus was operated by a number of Commonwealth countries as well as Egypt, France, the Soviet Union, and Turkey, and for the UK, primarily with the Fleet Air Arm. The type finally left service in the late 1950's when Argentina retired the handful that they operated.

Think of Supermarine, and the image of the iconic Spitfire might come to mind. Yet again, you may well think of those amazing Schneider Trophy winning seaplanes, whose design paved the way to our most prestigious fighter plans design. For me, however, it is the Walrus that is the design which sticks in the forefront of my mind. I was captivated by this aircraft after building the 1:72 Matchbox kit when I was a kid. 

 

 

We recently took a look at perhaps the most major of resin kit designs recently, the HPH 1:32 PBY-5A Catalina, and this sparked an intrigue in me to look at the earlier Walrus kit release. Thankfully HPH delivered this to us in a very reasonable timeframe, in order that we could evaluate this smaller, but for me, far more beautiful flying boat.

 

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HPH's Supermarine Walrus is packed into a very sturdy top opening box, with superb colour artwork on the lid which depicts the TWO schemes available within this release. The inner box itself is neatly compartmented with the resin parts packed into various zip-lock bags, and further protected by layers of bubble wrap. The large fuselage halves and wing sections were wrapped in generous lays of bubble wrap too. On top of the various parts, a large ziplock wallet contains a CD with digital instructions, HGW textile seatbelt set, photo etch frets (including colour PE), canopy masks and a decal sheet.

 

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HPH have managed to finely cast the fuselage as halves, in their full length, minus the vertical fin which is left off in order for the model to first accommodate its stabilizer. The fuselage halves appear to be very delicate due to how thin they are. But of course, this thinness is necessary to produce a scale interior, which this model indeed has. And I mean a FULL interior! Externally, the Walrus depicts superbly mastered detail, such as delicate rivets and reinforcing doublers. Resin webs and structures are cast over areas which need to be removed, such as the gunner positions, cockpit, hull windows and various other portals.

 

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Internally, you will be amazed at the detail cast within. As this model contains a full interior, all the constructional elements within are included. The fuselage has the various longerons and minor vertical structures in situ, and there are a lot of them. The internal frames, however, are separate entities which need to be inserted within the recesses cut within the stringers and longerons. The manual shows these in detail, and where exactly every one of them needs to be inserted. I imagine this will aid the rigidity of the fuselage somewhat. A little of the stringer detail on my sample, is broken away, but this falls squarely in an area which will be covered by the duckboards flooring, so I'm not at all concerned by this.

 

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Points exist within the fuselage, into which you attach resin pins. This is to help align the fuselage halves when you glue them together. They act in the same way as the locating pins on an injection moulded kit. No casting blocks as such exist on these parts, and all you'll need to do to prepare them for assembly is to remove the aforementioned webs and a little flash which exists around the edges. On my sample, a little micromesh will be needed to buff out a mark on the external port side.

 

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The wings are simply a fantastic exercise in mastering and casting, with the lower wings having integral wheel well bays into which the externally hull-based undercarriage would swing into. Excellent fabric and rib detail is present throughout, with the fabric having just that right amount of pleasing 'sag'. There are also recesses in the lower wing into which bomb both resin and PE mounting racks and brackets can be fitted, although looking at the reference which comes with the kit, the main bomb racks are perhaps an optional feature as the recesses in the wings are the same as the photos of the Walrus which are supplied. The ailerons are cast separately too, and do have scope for being positioned dynamically, if you so chose to.

 

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The leading edge of the wing panels have a casting block attached, and you'll need to carefully remove this, along with some resin webs on the wingtips. This is pretty common fayre for such parts, so take it easy in cleaning these up. The wing roots have indentations into which you should drill in order to mount the wings on the wire pins which are suggested for use.

 

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Another bag of large resin parts contains the outboard wingtip floats, cast in a single piece, as well as the engine 'pod'. Just a little clean up is required here, and as per the main airframe, beautifully detailed with restrained rivet detail. The engine itself is cast as a central crankcase, with separate cylinders. The cylinders themselves will be a little clean up in order to remove small amounts of resin debris which seems to have stuck to the parts. It's no major deal though. The manifolds will also need a little clean up, and our sample has a little rubber from the moulds which is attached. TWO propellers are included, which are fitted back to back. Just a little clean up, drilling, and the trailing edge thinned, should see these good to go.

 

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A resin jig is included which fits over the fuselage, and helps align the engine pot height and angle.

 

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HPH's solution for producing the vertical tail plans is to produce it in port and starboard halves. You can pin these together for rigidity, and of course, when you sit the fit parts in place, you will see no joint line whatsoever. Again, the elevators are cast separately, and the rib and fabric detail is excellent. The same is to be said for the rudder and vertical fin parts. Look at pinning these parts wherever you can, and perhaps fixing with slow setting CA gel.

 

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The internal formers, like many parts in this kit, are cast flat, onto thin sheets of resin. Julian Seddon is building one of these on Scale Modelling Now, and he gives an interesting note that you simply don't cut these from the sheet. Instead, you must sand the part from the rear until the sheet falls away. If you don't do this, the parts way well be too thick to insert into the slots within the fuselage. You may find it a little easier to slightly nick away the stringer within the fuselage in order to finally fit these, as the formers can be quite thin and flexible.

 

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A series of duckboards are flat-cast too, in a slightly darker resin. These are beautifully sharp and require minimal cleaning before use. Most of the actual hull floor will be obscured by these, with the exception of the cockpit and rear fuselage. Where the hull floor can be seen, keel strips mean you won't actually see any joint at all.

 

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This aircraft has many struts, whether to support the wing, tailplane, engine pod, or wingtip floats. All of these are cast onto sheets, and have a tough steel pin insert within. The same applies to the undercarriage legs and tail-wheel strut. These pins don't bend too easily, so you should have no problem with your model being properly supported.

 

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The majority of other parts which comprise the detailed interior are sheet cast too, and detail is excellent. The pilots seat comprises of a basic chair, into which padded cushions are installed, and the seat itself being connected to a tubular frame. The cockpit is dripping in detail, comprised of both photo etch parts, and resin. I really don't think any facet of detail has been left out here. The cockpit will be seen from the capacious glazed greenhouse canopy, and from there, you will see into the area to the rear of the pilot. This itself is adorned with seats, radio equipment etc. You will also see the cockpit through the forward gunner position, which is open through into the cockpit.

 

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A bare resin instrument panel plate is included, and onto this, you will attach the coloured photo etch parts. The radio equipment from the engineers area is pre-cast with detail, but you can also opt to grind this off and attach some colour PE instead.

 

Granted, you won't see every angle of the internal detail, but you will see pretty much most if it, whether through the forward or rear gunner positions, or through the hull side wall glazing. Although I'm one modeller who 'builds for me', meaning 'I really don't care if the detail is seen, as long as I know it's there', in this case, you will see a LOT of it! Believe me, and this is probably the best interior that I have seen on any model, with perhaps the exception of the PBY Catalina. It really is difficult to describe the detail internally, so here are a few images for you.....just to give you an idea. The forward gunner position even has a winch and choice of two anchors!

 

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All grey resin parts are generally superbly cast. Being resin, there will always be a few parts which will need cleaning a little, and may need a little reworking in places. I think out of the whole kit, there are probably no more than a dozen parts which will require me to work a little at them. For a kit with this number of parts, that is perfectly acceptable to me. The exterior of the hull, as I said, will need a little micromesh in places, but nothing too major. Casting blocks are relatively few, and are mostly confined to the flying surfaces, with other parts being mostly sheet cast. There are a few pin size bubbles in some parts, but for me, these are mostly hidden by other detail etc.

 

A small number of parts seemed to have a little debris in the castings, such as a few wooden splinters, and fine grit. Luckily, they are in places which won't be seen, and either way, this is quite easy to remove/hide.

 

I have a slight issue with the clear parts in this kit, as there is a flaw across the main canopy. HPH has assured me that that will soon be here and I will then insert the image here.

 

So what else is in this pack?

 

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Well, apart from a Belgian chocolate, which my wife appropriated, there is a set of HGW textile seatbelts, specifically designed for this release. The belts themselves are comprised of a microfibre material which you scrunch with the fingers, then straighten out. This helps give a realistic sag. You can also weather the belts with oils etc. All buckles are supplied in photo etch form.

 

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TWO photo etch frets are included, produced by Eduard. The colour fret not only contains the layered instrument panel, but also the radio equipment faces and cockpit placards, to name but a few parts. The larger fret carries parts for MG ammunition drums, such as the drum faces and handles. These are an option, as the detail is already cast, but I do prefer the PE alternative. Other parts on this fret include bomb racks and accessories, cockpit instrument detail, exterior detail such as window frames, brackets and plate detail, and also some canopy frame detail. If you like attaching PE, you won't be disappointed here.

 

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A set of masks, cut into vinyl sheet, is also included. There are quite a few panels to mask, so this is a welcome inclusion.

 

HPH provide their instruction manual in digital format, on a CD. The disc contains the instructions in both Adobe Acrobat format, and in JPEG too. The instructions are scalable, and can be blown to full screen size easily, as well as being very high quality. The manual is 45 pages, with the first 34 pages being lent to the model kit itself, followed by a number of pages of colour images in a walkaround, and finishing with the two schemes being supplied in glorious, digital high resolution.

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An overview of kit parts starts the manual, with all constructional stages being illustrated by photographs. A good number of photos are annotated to include detail on pinning parts, applying PE etc. The seatbelts have their own drawings at the places where you will need to assemble and install them. My only criticism of the instructions is that some things are installed, such as equipment within the hull, and then it is suggested you fit other internal constructional hull detail. It is obvious that some things are better being installed before others, contrary to the plan. Remember to work ahead several stages.

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A full set of rigging drawings are included, but you will need to provide your own rigging material. The manual, as mentioned, contains many images of the Walrus, to help with your detail and painting work. Please also consider 'Supermarine Walrus & Stranraer', from Mushroom Model Publications, which has some excellent images of the interior to help you with this seriously impressive area of modeling. Paint call-outs are given throughout construction, but not with any specific manufacturer codes. You'll need to check that all important reference, both in your manual and in your own books.

 

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A single decal sheet is included. Decals are nice and thin, and have minimal carrier film. Colours look authentic, and everything is printed in perfect register. No stencils are included, but the footprint walkway marks are included, as are a number of walkway bars too. The two schemes included in this release are:

  • Supermarine Walrus Mk.I, Royal Navy, HMS Sheffield, 1941
  • Supermarine Walrus Mk.I, Royal Navy, 1700 NAS, HMS Ameer, 1945

Conclusion
Absolutely stunning. I love it! It's been 30 years since I had my last 'fix' of Walrus, and my passion for this aircraft hasn't diminished in that time. Not only is there now a 1:32 kit, but one with so much detail that I really feel very, very spoilt. Apart from a few faulty parts I snagged, which are now being replaced, there really isn't much to fault here. There are some constructional quirks which you'll need to check as you go, and in light of that, I have to say this is a kit which you really should NOT tackle as your first resin build. If you are used to resin ,then you'll have immense fun building a massively detailed model of one of the prettiest seaplanes ever to fly. Pricey? I think in comparison with other resin kits, this is well pitched. It's not a massive model, but it also is no shrinking violet.

 

VERY highly recommended.

 

Our sincere thanks to HPH for supplying this review kit. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

 

James H

 

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Nice stuff Jim! So when are you planning to build this one!

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A Great review James and I will be getting one of these :)

 

Just one little thing, and it doesn't detract from anything, but I don't think that the canopy masks are cut in "kabuki" tape, they look like they are vinyl, probably "Oramask810", look on the back, is there a grid? and you might just see a part of the name? It could be of a little significance as Oramask does shrink back a little after cutting (ask me how I know!) I use it for some applications but not for items such as aircraft insignia, because of this issue. The shrink back is in proportion to the size of the cut element, and sometimes in one direction only so, if its small it won't be an issue. This shrink back can take only 24hrs, but sometimes quite a bit longer. I found a different material that doesn't have the same problem. What I'm saying is that although these canopy masks may have been cut accurately they may not, now, fit perfectly.

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Ok! The great models and reviews have to cease!  .......ok, not really  :lol:

 

I hate to see how much this is going to hurt my back pocket, because I am thinking this will be my first resin kit.

 

Thank you VERY much for the awesome review! :D

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I was actually looking at one of these at the Yeovilton model show on Saturday but the proprietor only took cash, I didn't have £152.00 on me! (£139.00 is the price it should be at he current exchange rate, so it was a bit expensive. I will be getting one of them though, its my birthday in March :)

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Mal

 

To be fair to Paul, his price is the best you'll get in the UK. Hannants have it at £189.99 + postage. He almost always has the best prices for HpH and Silver Wings amongst others. I think you'd need to factor in HpH's not insignificant P+P rates to get a more reasonable comparison (I think Nick was quoted £20+ for just a Spitfire detail set).... 

 

Just saying....

 

Matt

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