Jump to content

1/32 Fleet Air Arm Sea Vampire F20

thierry laurent

Recommended Posts

Hi guys,


I tought I really needed to stop polluting Iain's Vampire threads with all my comments and show some pictures!


Actually, that Sea Vampire story started in a weird way. I'm not really interested in the RAF Vampires and more particularly silver-doped postwar planes. And if I really like FAA birds, I do not really like the two-seater Venom/Sea Venom because of the round black nose that, to me, looks like the nose of a Looney Tunes dog! I like the RAF Venom single seater but as you know, there is no kit. So, I did not really consider such kits seriously but was somewhat interested in the Infinity kit. I really love all those Eastern short run kits that are like big Classic airframes kits!

Then, a friend who's building two 1/48 Vampires asked me if I had no information about Mexican Vampires. He knows I have a huge library. I knew that I did not have a lot of things to help him and quickly looked after online references. I was browsing the Interweb and found that picture:




Wow! I was hooked! THIS was different. With the short wings, larger flaps and the longer fuselage, the look is clearly streamlined and loosing that egg-shape! And if you add to that the Sky/EDSG scheme, I did not hesitate a single second and ordered the Infinity kit. Still not a Hawker Sea Hawk but close!


However, I soon realized the path to build that Sea Vampire was not an easy one. First, the Vampire documentation is quite limited when you consider the service use, the number of air forces and the different variants! I was shocked when I realized how few books had been published about that plane. Moreover, with regard to the F20/F21, this is far worse! You have the two/three classical pictures showing the quite crazy belly landing tests made by Eric Brown but few service pictures and no good walkarounds. Moreover, there is no good plan showing the top! The "Vampire" aeroplane special magazine is the only reference in which I found a bunch of some correct pictures of Sea Vampires on deck.


So, I hesitated somewhat. The first F20 were not really navalized. They were just Sky/EDSG-painted Vampires. And this means no need to do crazy cuts and scratchbuilding complicated parts.




Nonetheless, I really loved the one showed on the CyberHobby box and decided to have a try! Some days ago I had purchased one set of Sea Venom decals from an australian garage company as the Berna decals are OOP everywhere. Moreover, I finally got a Revell Sea Venom for less than 40 euros. So, I thought this could help for the rear fuselage and the decals.


We will have a look at that.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the first issues I found was the cockpit design. The way the kit has been made results in a major assembly problem: the fuselage seam and the air intake side are visible close to the middle of each cockpit side wall! Ouch! Not the best idea and how to paint that? :please:



I pulled my hairs a lot to find a solution and considered various options. I think the one I found is probably the most appropriate one. To avoid the seam issue and fill that rear void, extending the upper fuselage looked to be the best approach. But there were two issues to consider. First, this had to be done in a way still allowing the easy assembly of fuselage halves. Second, everything has a double curve (that egg-shape!). Finally, after many dry assemblies, I decided I would work with half-a-millimeter plastic card. This would be rigid enough to avoid issues with the glue and withstand handling while being souple enough to be shaped to reproduce the curves! At least I had a plan!




I started with two strips on each side. An horizontal one (45*5mm) was glued on the internal edge of the upper fuselage. Then a smaller one (+/- 27*2.5mm) was added to join the rear of the horizontal one with the rear of the fuselage side. They were crushed a little bit before glueing to reproduce the relevant curvature. Then,I let that assembly dry with clamps for two hours. Finally I simply cut smaller pieces of the same sheet to fill the remaining void. When dry I added some putty. This is not yet fully ended but you get the idea!





Problem solved!






No problem to close the fuselage!




Issue 1 solved! ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another minor kit issue has been solved by Infinity: the turbine front has molding blemishes.




By the way I loved so much that kit that after having worked on the F3 conversion to the F20, I got the FB5 as I found it for the lowest price I had seen. Hopefully, with the help of my Sea Venom kit this will become one day the fleet air arm stablemate: the T22 Sea Vampire two-seater. Quite similar to the Sea Venom but without the dog nose!



But that is another story! I simply mentioned that because the molding issue was not identical on both kits! The first one was worse than what you see on the picture. This explains why Infinity included that resin part not mentioned in the instructions.




However, very frankly, when you see what is actually visible on an assembled kit, I thought I would simply clean the plastic part with a scalpel blade. This was quicker for an acceptable result.




As you can see, I do not try to save glue when assembling the major parts! I like relying on old-fashioned styrene glue in tubes. If you're not used to it, it can be messy with kind if spider web thread glued where you do not want it to be! However, with a little bit of practice, this gives rock-solid seams and eases noticeably the seam filling. No more ghost seams with that technique!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another small issue is the main landing gear walls. Actually they had holes but the kit just give round depressions and here and there the molding is so-so:




This needs drilling. However, I realized soon this was not be sufficient as the parts are thick as Russian armor plates! To solve that I used a ball-shaped grinding tool. To avoid any plastic melting issue, I did not use my power drill. I did it manually. More time-consuming but less risky business!




At least this gives you something looking like metal sheet. By the way, the assembly is not very easy. I took a lot of time to clean the parts but in spite of all my efforts, the seams are far from being acceptable as such. I will have to go back to such areas with Magic sculpt!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then, I had a look at the air intakes! Jeez, how are people cleaning them in 1/48th scale?!?




I had to use all the types of "sanding weapons" I own to get a reasonable result. If ONE part deserves to be offered as a resin accessory, this is that one! No need to say, you will need to be very patient to get a smooth air intake. The parts are quite good and the assembly is OK but the shape is the issue and I'm afraid this would be valid for any large scale Vampire kit!




By the way, I did not add part B12 before glueing the halves and as you can see I assembled the halves before adding them on the fuselage part. This was a deliberate choice to ease handling and sanding. Note you CANNOT add as such part B12 after assembling the intake. I had to cut one of the side legs, glue the part and then add the cut leg. I added the part inside the air intake, not on part E5. However, it is recommended to dry fit the intake over E5 to be sure the B12 peg will be correctly positioned on the center of the turbine when you will finalize that assembly later. You will also see that the part does not join correctly with the intake vertical walls. If you're paranoid, you can solve that with epoxy putty. Personally I won't as you do not really see the end of the intake. In any case, getting a totally smooth intake to be painted with silver is for sure not going to be a quick job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then, the exhaust: another thing to solve. For whatever reason it is not possible to insert correctly the exhaust chamber and the exhaust tip between the fuselage rear ends! :hmmm:


Hopefully, the parts are thick enough to withstand heavy sanding!


So you've to go from this:




to that:




The exhaust tip also required sanding. Otherwise, it is protruding far too much.




This looks better:




Note I also thinned the inside of the fuselage rear end.

Last, the design of the exhaust chamber parts could have been better but if you work cautiously you can get a quite acceptable result and, again, this is a not really visible area:




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now the guns!






The pictures shows the fuselage lower half OOTB. You can see the major seam to remove (i'm still scratching my head to understand why it is not on the part edge...?) and the location of the guns. There is clearly an issue with the external ones. Normally the front of the hole of the external gun is starting right when the rear edge of the internal one is stopping. There should be no overlap! I filled that with plastic rod and when rick solid I will drill new holes close to 2mm further. Note the rear end of the rounded stenghtening plate must also be moved backwards. I'm considering thin vynil tape and surfacer layers to sand to replicate correctly that feature.




We will come back to that area later!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While still assessing what I will do with the too blunt nose (sanding? cuts?), I had a look at the Sea vampire specificities.


Globally the mark got:

- an arresting hook (requiring a small change on the cockpit port side)

- a reshaped rear fuselage

- modified flaps

- different light configuration


With regard to the last point, here's what the kit is giving:




I filled them as the light moved forward in an oblong panel. It looks two small round panels were located on the same rectangle. Globally, this will look like this (the new light location being the circle with the cross):




This also show the two wing panels I need to sand before scribing the new flap side ends.




This is the OOTB transition between the fuselage and the wings. This was clearly different on the Sea Vampire. That transition was located higher. That area needed to be cut and sanded before recreating the higher fairing.




So, after having cut the rear fuselage end, I cut the exhaust section and glued it on the lower fuselage. This eases solving the exhaust problem and the new rear fuselage will be built over that. this will result in a stronger assembly and easier conversion. This also explains why the top was sanded to give room for the new top fuselage.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

And to end that series, we will have a look at the tough part: the rear fuselage with the hook sting-shaped cover.


Initially I hoped I could use the Sea Venom rear fuselage. When I received my kit I already knew this would not be possible as the rear end width is 7mm larger on the Venom! Ouch! :blink: I knew the type used a larger engine but was not aware of such a difference!


To say it short, I finally used various sections of plastic parts and card to rebuild the fuselage. This is not that easy because there are not tons of pictures and I quickly saw there was a double curvature in side view! This is a slope from the center fuselage, then a kink before that final section over the exhaust. For that reason, I made the extension with four different sections.




The pictures are not great to show the shapes but the white plastic does not help.


This shows the kink:




This area is still in WIP mode but the hard step is behind me! The area is actually made of curves going in all directions. So, I'm just hoping to get something acceptable, not something that will be 100% accurate! :whistle:


I also worked on the hook fairing to be added later on the rear tip:




This is the current status! B)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Alain Gadbois said:

Excellent work Thierry! Already taking shape and it is looking great.

How are you planning to de the markings?

Also the Sea Vampire T22 looks like just any other two seater, ie without any naval modifications. 



Thanks Alain,


The decals will come from various sources including the Sea Venom I recently obtained. The Revell decals are not great but usable. I will also do some of the decals with my laser color printer.

You're right with regard to the 'admiral barge'. This was just a T11 with minor cockpit changes. For whatever reason two-seaters were not navalized to be used on deck.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...