by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The aircraft fell victim to the cut-backs in the British defence industry following WW2 and took 6 years to reach service. By that time the design was already being overtaken by more modern types - the Admiralty rejected a proposal for a swept-wing development based on Hawker's P.1052.
Nevertheless, the Sea Hawk (or simply Hawk, as it was often known in service) proved a popular aircraft and served with distinction during the Suez Crisis, where it demonstrated excellent ground-attack capabilities in the face of heavy ground fire.
The KitAn injection-moulded 1/48 scale Sea Hawk has long been high on modellers' wish lists, so the announcement of Classic Airframes' kit caused a lot of excitement.
The model is produced using "short-run" technology and is aimed at experienced modellers. Although this is made clear on the instruction sheet, it would be better if this was also printed on the box. 42 parts are supplied in grey plastic, with 18 resin pieces, an etched fret and a clear canopy. Decals are provided for 4 aircraft.
The plastic parts are quite cleanly moulded with a smooth finish. The sprue attachments are small and there is very little flash evident. Surface detail consists of finely engraved panel lines. There are a couple of places where some re-scribing will be necessary and some minor flaws put right.
The gun ports are very poorly represented - just shallow dents, which will need drilling out to capture the look of the originals. Under-wing stores are a bit disappointing, consisting of just a pair of drop-tanks.
Test FitThe fuselage is split into 4 parts, with the forward section and wing roots split horizontally and the tail split vertically. This enables Classic Airframes to produce an alternative "tall tail" for the Mk. 100 & Mk. 101. The outer wing panels are separate to allow the model to be built with the wings folded.
Bearing in mind that this a short-run kit, the forward fuselage halves fit together reasonably well, but there's inevitably a long seam down the sides of the nose, which doesn't coincide with a panel line. There are no locating pins and the lower part in my example is marginally wider than the top, but the join will be supported by the resin cockpit tub. compared with photos, the tip of the nose looks like it should be a little more rounded.
The rear fuselage halves were a real shock, being badly warped in my kit. Thankfully, the tail-plane fits very well and helps clamp the parts together, but getting the halves straightened and joined smoothly to the forward section is likely to be a major job - and will really make or break the look of the finished model.
The wings and tail are well moulded - thin and straight. There are some ejector pins to remove, but they should look fine with the trailing edges thinned down a bit. The fit of the wings is fair - the section and chord match the centre section quite well, but they will need careful assembly to blend in smoothly with the roots.
As far as I can tell from a dry fit, the kit seems to match published dimensions for length and span very well.
Detail PartsThe resin parts are excellent - cleanly cast with fine detail. The cockpit tub is a hefty block which fits neatly into the upper fuselage. The detail on the side consoles and throttles is excellent and will repay careful painting. Smaller items like the control column and gyro gun-sight are also neatly done, but no rudder pedals are included.
The instrument panel is supplied as etched metal with a backing film.
The ejector seat is single resin piece with etched details, including the harness, firing handle and foot-rests. The colour of the harness is shown as beige, but a reference photo seems to show rather thicker straps coloured pale blue.
The main wheel-bay is another big casting which fits perfectly and should add plenty of strength to the centre section. The detail is very nice, with plenty of pipes and cables, but photos of the original show there's scope to add even more. The intake liners fit well and are augmented by etched splitter plates and vanes. The jet pipes are fine (but rather shallow).
The resin main wheels have good detail on the hubs, but the plastic legs look very basic and lack scissor links. The tyres are "unweighted".
The wing fold inserts are supplied partly as resin, partly etched and should look good with some extra cables etc. to "busy things up".
Cockpit CanopyClassic Airframes supply a crystal-clear injection moulded canopy, but it isn't separately bagged and mine was scratched by the other plastic parts. It is moulded closed and is quite thick. It doesn't sit correctly on the rear decking, resulting in a noticeable step. Opening it carefully with a razor saw will help overcome this.
The canopy doesn't quite capture the shape of the original; it seems rather flat in profile and it also lacks the distinctive bulged appearance - which is understandable because it would have required a complex multi-part mould to achieve this.
Instructions & DecalsClassic Airframes supply generic instructions to cover all their Sea Hawk versions. The drawings are well done and notes point out where extra trimming and dry fitting will be necessary. Basic colours are indicated throughout and FS equivalents are given for the camouflage colours. The finish should be gloss, not matt as indicated by the FS prefixes and the IPMS cross-reference lists -4424 rather than -4504 for Sky.
Microscale decals for 4 schemes are supplied on two sheets and are really superb. The subjects are 3 Royal Navy aircraft from 804, 806 and 897 Sqns and a single Dutch aircraft of 860 Sqn, R.N.N.A.S.
The 1st sheet contains national markings, squadron badges and some stencils and warning markings. The registration is perfect and even the tiniest text is legible. The 2nd sheet contains serials and a full set of "Suez Stripes", including some spare patches.
ConclusionClassic Airframes' Sea Hawk can undoubtedly form the basis of an impressive model, but it's definitely something of a curate's egg. The excellent surface detail, resin parts and decals are overshadowed by the basic fit problems - which have knocked down the overall rating accordingly. There's always a chance I was unlucky with my example, but I can only go by the parts in front of me. If the problem with the fuselage is sorted out, add 2 to the score. As it is, I can only really recommend the model to experienced modellers who are prepared to take on a major challenge.