by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Boulton Paul Balliol was a two seat advanced trainer that served with the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm. The original Air Ministry Specification called for a three seat aircraft, the third seat was for an observer. The Specification also called for the new advanced trainer to be powered by a turboprop engine. After a re-evaluation the Air Ministry changed the specification to a two seat advanced trainer powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The first prototype first flew in on 30 May 1947 powered by a Bristol Mercury radial engine. The second prototype first flew on 17 May 1948 and was the first turboprop powered aircraft in history.
The Sea Balliol T.21 was equipped with folding wings and and arrestor hook for deck landings. The Sea Balliols served with 781 squadron at Lee-on-Solent and 1843 Squadron Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve [RNVR] at Abbotsinch. Boulton Paul Built thirty T.21's for the Fleet Air Arm, the last one was delivered in December 1954. Some remained active at Abbotsinch until September 1963
The sturdy top opening box has a fine illustration of a Sea Balliol flying very low over the sea. Inside there is:
-2 x grey plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-13 x resin parts.
-1 x fret of photo etched parts.
-1 x decal sheet.
-1 x instrument panel printed on a small acetate sheet.
-1 x 10 page construction and painting guide.
Although everything is contained in one large bag, there are smaller bags containing the resin parts, clear plastic parts and another small bag contains the photo etched fret, decals and acetate sheet.
Cockpit: is made up from a number of multimedia parts. The cockpit floor, instrument panel base, rudder panels and roll bar are made from plastic. The seats, control sticks, avionics box behind the pilotís seats, and two side control consoles are resin. The photo etched parts includes seat harnesses, foot straps for the rudder pedals, throttle levers, and the instrument panel face. Some of the photo etched parts do need to be folded before installing. I am a little dubious about the size of the seat harnesses, they look oversized. There is some excellent raised detail, including ribs and boxes on the inside of the fuselage halves in the area of the cockpit. There are positive lugs on the interior of the fuselage halves to aid the positioning of the floor. A raised ejector mark right next to the locating lug for the floor will need removing. All the components for the cockpit with the exception of the instrument panel sandwich fit onto the cockpit floor. The instrument panel is made up from a plastic part, acetate film and a photo etched part. There is no real detail on the acetate film that represents the instrument faces, which makes its use a bit pointless. It may be worth ignoring it to make life easier. The photo etched panel looks very good. There is no colour guidance for the cockpit parts but itís a safe bet it will be mostly black. All in all this should look a stunning office with everything you will need contained in the box.
Canopy: is thin, clear and one piece. There are eighteen panes so there will be a bit of time spent masking these out before painting. There are a couple of photo etched windscreen wipers to add, probably best done using PVA glue.
Fuselage: is split vertically and the fuselage halves are full length. Special Hobby has decided to create the radiator chin separately and is made up from two plastic parts. The resin radiator is detailed; the honeycomb grille in front and behind is nicely represented. The dorsal spine is moulded entirely on the portside fuselage. The recessed detail on the fuselage surface is very well done. There are no locating pins or holes to help with alignment when gluing the two halves of the fuselage, which is common practice with limited run products.
The impressive looking four bladed prop, well they must have been after the Harvard, has separate blades, spinner and back plate. Special Hobby have made the task of aligning the blades simpler with square profiled attachment points fitting into square cut outs in the spinner back plate. The exhaust stacks are separate one piece items that would benefit from the ends drilling out.
There are some photo etched parts to add to the rear fuselage to replicate the various devices to deflect the arrestor wire from the rear wheel. The arrestor hook is a separate plastic part.
Wings This release allows the builder to depict the Sea Balliol with extended or folded wings. The inner and outer wing sections are made up from two pieces. If you are displaying the model with folded wings, then the spar on show are made from resin. All four spars have good detail and they fit well in the recessed areas around the wing fold joint. Some care will be necessary removing the spars from their resin blocks. The instructions for the attachment of the folded outer wing to the inner wing is very vague. The way the instructions suggest attaching the wings will result in a very weak joint. Special Hobby have kept pretty true to the wing joint detail, the hinges on the real thing are very small if you look at images of the Sea Balliol housed at RAF Cosford Air Museum. Special Hobby has included a couple of plastic sway braces to add some re inforcement to the joint.
The airbrakes and the main undercarriage bay look particularly well done featuring low relief detail. The upper wing halves have very positive looking stubs for locating into the fuselage. There are a few raised ejector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the wing some of which need trimming to ensure a good fit. Included on the clear plastic sprue are covers for the two wing tip lights and two landing lights situated in the wing leading edges.
The stabilisers are both one piece featuring sharp trailing edges.
Undercarriage: the main wheel oleos feature some good detail, including the spring shock absorbers. The torque links are separate parts. The three spoke main wheels are one piece and feature some fine details including the air valve holes and bolts. The fixed tail wheel is one piece and features some good detail.
Dry fit: reveals generally well fitting parts. The fit of the tab on the main wings into the fuselage is a bit loose. There are some prominent raised ejector marks on the wing inner surfaces that need trimming to achieve a good fit. The only challenging part will be to disguise the fuselage/wing joint in the main wheel bay. The canopy fits very well.
Markings: there are four schemes included with this release:
WP328/971 operated by the Maintenance Test Pilots School, RNAS Abbotsitch. This aircraft was withdrawn from service in 1963. This aircraft is featured on the box cover.
WL717/563-BY RNAS Brawdy, 1957.
Wl723 JOAC [Junior Officer's Air Course], 1957. This aircraft was used for carrier landings trials and there is photographic evidence of it on a carrier.
WL715/931-P HMS Triumph Aircraft Carrier Flight, 1953-1955. This aircraft was slightly damaged during landing aboard the carrier due to a malfunctioning right undercarriage.
All aircraft are painted aluminium overall and not left natural metal. All aircraft have yellow bands around the rear fuselage and stripes on upper and lower wings. The paint scheme for WP328/971 looks the pick of the bunch. It features orange outer wing panels, nose and rear stabilisers. The rudder and ailerons were left painted aluminium.
Decals: are printed by Aviprint and have very good colour strength, registration and definition. The larger roundels on the upper are two pieces; the central red area is a separate decal. The complex pattern of the wing walk area is included on the decal sheet.
Decals are numbered on the sheet and the instructions, which is particularly helpful for some of the smaller stencils.
Instructions: the ten pages with many black line drawing illustrate the build process very well. The grey tone painting instructions are very clear. Also included are scrap illustrations of the prop, showing the location of the decals for the manufacturers logo.
This is a good looking kit of the Balliol and great to see Special Hobby tackling some of the lesser known aircraft. Although itís a limited run kit, it should be well within anyoneís skill level if you have tackled a few injection kits. The resin and photo etched parts are a great inclusion. Not the most handsome aircraft ever, but it does have bags of character. The colour schemes and the wing fold option will certainly add interest. Nice on Special Hobby.