Supermarine Walrus, Airfix 1/48 (A09183)

Supermarine Walrus, Airfix 1/48 (A09183)

The Walrus story began in the mid-20s when Supermarine built an improved Seagull III seaplane (Walrus' ancestor), already been sold to the australian naval arm. Seagull V (soon changed name to Walrus) was developed as an amphibian (with retractable landing gear), also based on australian orders. First flown on June 21, 1933, the Walrus was initially ignored by the British Air Ministry, despite been designed by the same man who created the Spitfire: R.J.Mitchell.

However by mid-30s it became the first british squadron-service aircraft to incorporate a retractable main landing gear, a fully enclosed cockpit and an all metal fuselage/hull. Finally it became the standard Royal Navy FAA (Fleet Air Arm) amphibious reconnaissance aircraft, catapult launched from cruisers or battleships. It also served with the RAF, RAAF, RNZN & RNZAF.

It was the most numerous british-built seaplane and 750 units were totally produced, almost equaling the numbers of Short Sunderland!

Of all the british warplanes, Walrus was the least modified or converted. Its shape remained 100% unaltered throughout the War, unlike other types of aircraft which changed radically from successive improvements and modifications.

The single 620hp Bristol Pegasus II M2 radial engine was housed at the rear of a nacelle, mounted on four struts above the lower wing and braced by four shorter struts to the centre-section of the upper wing. This powered a pusher, four-bladed wooden propeller. Behind the cockpit, there was a small cabin with work stations for the navigator and radio operator. Armament usually consisted of two .303 Vickers K machine guns, one in each of the open positions in the nose and rear fuselage; with provision for carrying bombs or depth charges mounted beneath the lower wings. Like other flying boats, the Walrus carried marine equipment for use on the water, including an anchor, towing and mooring cables, drogues and a boat-hook.

When Great Britain entered WWII, Walruses were originally used to spot and identify german warships. This role proved to be increasingly dangerous, as they often fell pray to the german fighters, especially in closed seas, such as the Mediterranean, where Luftwaffe enjoyed air superiority for a long time. From 1943 until the end of the War, the presence of Walrus on british warships began to decline considerably, leaving space for mounting more anti-aircraft weapons and radar antennas.

The role which it really excelled in was Search & Rescue, saving hundreds of downed aircrew lives.

The new Airfix kit

Packaged into a sturdy box, the new Airfix kit will survive even the hardest deliberate postal abuse or strains. Inside we find five runners/frames of light grey plastic and a single frame of clear parts. A 24-page instruction manual is included, breaking down the build into 108 constructional steps/stages, which are very explanatory with different colors and clear to follow. Airfix has designed the Walrus to be displayed with the wings either folded or unfolded, so in order to build the model with the extended wings option you only need to follow the first 89, as the last 19 steps concern the folded wing option. However, it is welcome (and very practical) that despite all the internal fuselage detail the kit comprises 157 parts only!

Humbrol code numbers are noted throughout with reference to paint camouflage and all interior colour.

Panel lines and rivets are all superb and very finely engraved. This time Airfix avoided the heavy recessed lines, which many modellers do not like in some of their new tool kits.

Inside the fuselage, the various frames and other constructional elements are fully reproduced: Very detailed pilot/co-pilot seats with many supportive frames, instrument panel (with a decal for the instruments), compass, control column, rudder pedals, additional crew seats, navigators table and equipment like cable/hose pulleys are also provided. Almost everything else is included here, such as detailed duckboards, bulkhead frames with lightening holes, radio operator compartment, rear upper cupola hatch/gunner position, forward observer/gunner position, rope winch, anchor, fire extinguisher, drogue case, and a rolled up, deflated life raft and blankets.

There are a lot of annoying -and highly visible- ejector pin marks among internal fuselage structural detail, but not much will be visible once fuselage parts are glued together, so you will not need to eradicate these marks, unless you intend to show significant interior detail. A little acrylic, easily removed filler (without need of sanding) can be used to remove these marks if necessary. Alternatively, strips of thin plasticard can be glued to cover them.

Separate ailerons, rudder & elevators are provided, together with shallow pre-drilled rigging points in the wings. Strut positions are also very clearly marked for easy and sturdy assembly.

Engine detail is excellent, with the engine itself being moulded with very fine cooling fins, and the external pod being detailed with very fine rivets.

Wheel options are weighted and un-weighted with nice engraved lines on the tyres tread. Machine guns are very thin and feature exceptional detail.

Eight small bombs, two bigger bombs (or two depth charges) are provided for 12 underwing racks. Should you wish to add these, then the locations are moulded ready for you. If you don’t wish to fit them, then blanking plates are supplied for that purpose.

Two canopy options are offered. One of these provides for a fully closed cockpit canopy, and the second is moulded whereby the upper glazing is slid backwards, and the port side window is separate and can be posed. Really nice and smart, giving the modeller less trouble for more detail! Moulding of canopy is absolutely nice and clear, with thin parts and well defined framing lines that will make masking an easy process (Eduard masks are also available).

The thin and well printed decal sheet provides markings and many stencils (plus a decal for instrument panel) for three schemes:

Walrus Mk.I, No.276 Squadron, Royal Air Force Harrowbeer, Devon, England, 1944

Walrus Mk.I, No.700 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Sheffield, 1941

Walrus Mk.I, Royal Australian Air Force, Australia and New Guinea, early 1943

Colour profiles are included for all three options plus a very helpful and large diagram with three-view and 3D rigging instructions.

In conclusion…

The new Airfix Walrus in 1/48th scale is a really nice and extremely well detailed kit. No comparison with the old Classic Airframes/Special Hobby kit – this is a lot better, even without the resin and PE parts. If you've ever dreamed of building a Walrus in this scale but you were afraid of the complicate nature of the subject, Airfix has done the job all too easy for you, despite the small count of 157 parts. Highly recommended!

You can order this kit online here

Yoy can browse and download the kit instructions here

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