In-Box Review
Sutton Farm Harness sets
Early "A" & "Q"
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

Station History

RAF Hornchurch was an airfield in the south of Hornchurch in what is now the London Borough of Havering. Known as Sutton's Farm during the First World War, it occupied 90 acres (360,000 m2) of the farm of the same name and was situated 14 miles (22.5 km) east north-east of Charing Cross. Although the airfield closed shortly after the end of World War I, ( 3 October 1915 31 December 1919 ) the land was requisitioned in 1923 due to the expansion of the Royal Air Force and it re-opened as a much larger fighter station in 1928. The airfield was ideally located in bomb alley to cover both London and the Thames corridor from German air attacks. It was a key air force installation between both wars and in to the jet age, closing in 1962. (info from Wikipedia free encylopedia.)

Harness Development

". . .The Sutton harness, apart from a select few aircraft, was used throughout the war, and just beyond. On the Spitfire, there were three distinct (though essentially similar) types, "M" "K" & "QK." The Hurricane had different letters, and I believe (haven't found any proof) that the different letters simply signified different lenghts of straps and/or different fittings.

The Sutton was invented during late months of the First World War, and might well have seen service in some of the later aircraft types, but I haven't gone back that far (yet.) Between wars it fell out of favour, though aircraft like the S-series of Supermarine floatplanes appear to have carried it. The Spitfire prototype was fitted with it, as was (probably) the Hurricane prototype.

The Sutton (or part of it) was designed to go through a slot in the back of the seat, and I've found confirmation of that on the Hurricane and Typhoon, but, possibly because the plastic seat was not as strong as a metal type, this does not appear to have been the case with the Spitfire, at least until 1944, and then from the Mk.VII onwards. Sorry if this is a little vague, but I'm still researching this aspect, and new items are continually turning up.

From what I've found, the Tempest did not have the Sutton, even though the essentially similar cockpit of the Typhoon did have it. Also, because the release system (which allowed the pilot to lean forward temporarily) was blanked off by the extra fuel tanks behind the pilot, the low-back IX / XVI & XIV had a "Q-type" harness, the "QL," which resembled a parachute box, but didn't need the pilot to clout it with his fist to release it.

In 1946, the Spitfire went over to another "Q-type," the "QS," which moved the thigh-straps back to the corners of the seat, making them hip-straps, and doing away with the strap behind/through the back of the seat. In 1950 the "QS" was modified to the "ZB." ( from Aeroscale member and alround good fellow Edgar Brooks.)

Kit contents

Lap belts ad shoulder harness set ups became standard issue on aircraft early in WWI. These were sometimes made from leather or most often leather and canvas combinations.

22 microtextile straps of various lenths.
36 Photoetch pieces.

The mircotextile straps appear to be a type of paper with a light fabric weave on the backside. These have to be cut out individually with very sharp razor blade (Xacto #11) chucked into a handle. Using an optivisor helps you get the cuts very clean. 11 straps per set and 17 harness fittings (PE) make up into a great representation of scale harness belts.

It is critical that you follow the kit instructions provided on the website. These come in the form an image of a completed set. Colour coordinations for parts are red and yellow. Extra parts are included incase you mis-step. The yellow strips representing canvas straps.

There is not enough material for a second complete set. Note use only Cyanoacrylate - Super Glue.

My experience taught me to nip the corners of the straps on each side at the ends to narrow the strap slightly. These help you slide on the anchor ends. These are items for the lap belts and items for the strap ends.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Highly detailed parts that build up nicely with effort. You will need to work with an optivisor or magnifying system. The set up seems easier to work with than the other comtemprary sets that I have seen from other companies.
Lows: Not for beginners that have little patience, optivisor and sharp blades. The intructions for only the "Q" type set are available on the website.
Verdict: Deliberate patience is a virtue here to get it right. But well worth the effort. easy layout.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 32008 & 32009
  Suggested Retail: $9.40
  Related Link: Website
  PUBLISHED: Jan 30, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright 2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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