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Westland Wyvern S. Mk. 4

During WW II the Royal navy invented a strange breed of aircraft called the torpedo fighter. One TF, the Bristol Beaufighter was a success but it was converted from an existing aircraft. Another, the Blackburn Firebrand, was purpose built for the TF role but took the entire war to develop and still proved unsuitable for the job. The last of the breed was the Westland Wyvern.
It began life with the world’s most powerful piston engine, took years to develop and seven years later entered service with the piston engine replaced by a turboprop which saw the max speed reduced by 108 km/h. The Wyvern was an utter disappointment and never endeared itself to the pilots that flew it. It could not fly its intended mission as a torpedo-and attack aircraft because it was a single-seater with modest fuel load, no navigator, radar or bad weather equipment. As a fighter its sheer size and weight made it ineffective.
The ultimate version was the S.Mk. 4 which saw active service during the Suez crisis during which the RN lost one to ground-fire, however recent research indicates that it might have been downed by an Egyptian Mig flown by a Soviet pilot. Another was famous for the first underwater ejection by a pilot, after he had ditched. The S.Mk. 4 was powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Python 3 axial flow turboprop, rated at 2736 kW plus 536 kg jet thrust for take-off, driving a massive 8 blade contra-rotating Rotol airscrew. Span was 13,42 m, height 4.57 m, Armament comprised four 20 mm cannons, underwing racks for rockets and bombs, centreline rack for an aerial torpedo or fuel tank.
The Trumpeter Wyvern is typical of the Trumpy kits. It is festooned with rivets, however the panel lines are crisp and the kit is suitably detailed having gears to build a workable counter rotating prop. Cockpit details are acceptable seeing that not much is visible once painted black. However, I opted to replace the cockpit with an aftermarket resin set from Pavla. Wheel wells lack plumbing details and the rear wheel well is just an open hole. I selected to scratch build the rear wheel well and added plumbing, hydraulic and brake lining to the wheel wells and undercarriage.
Additional details were scratch built such as the vent behind the prop and in front of the engine intake. This was simulated by gluing a cross shaped piece of thin styrene strip that was placed inside a drilled hole. The navigation lights were drilled to simulate light bulbs, a dorsal and tail light from clear sprue was also added. All Wyverns, when carrying bombs, had an AS-68 ? APG-5 radio beam antenna added to the left wing. This was simulated with clear sprue. A dorsal antenna and two antennas under the tailplanes were made from copper wire. The underwing rockets’ pig tails were also made from copper wire. The RATO gear also received copper wire details and foil straps around the RATO gear. All flaps, ailerons and rudder were removed and re-positioned.
The model was painted in a light aircraft gray base coat. The Dark Sea Gray areas had the panel lines highlighted in RLM Schwarzgrau, panels were highlighted with Modelmaster Neutral Gray and oversprayed with a thin coat of Modelmaster RAF Dark Sea Gray. The Duck Egg Green areas had panel lines highlighted with Modelmaster Olive Drab and individual panels with Humbrol Sky and Matt White. This was oversprayed with Humbrol Duck Egg Green. The black and yellow invasion stripes were sprayed over a matt white basecoat. The white sealant around the canopy was simulated with nail art masking tape that comes in white 2mm width tape. Weathering was accomplished with Tamiya weathering kits, Doc O’ Brien’s and Humbrol Smoke weathering powders.

23 additional images. Click to enlarge.


40 responses to Westland Wyvern S. Mk. 4

  1. I always wanted to build one of these, Morne, but for whatever reason, never did. Yours sure turned out well – I like it. Very nice work indeed.

  2. Very interesting plane, first time I see it in the kit form built. This has to be one of the weirdest aircrafts ever made, and your model does full justice to its ugly shape.
    Very nicely detailed, yes sir, looks awesome

  3. An odd duck indeed, Morne. Beautiful work, I like it!!

    An old aviation saying goes – if it’s weird, it’s British. If it’s ugly, it’s French. If it’s weird AND ugly, it’s Russian!

  4. Very nice Morne. A great kit. I built mine with the wings folded

  5. Well done Morne! A unique aircraft indeed!

  6. Morne, your article is about a aircraft that was a failure and yet you have done a remarkable job of successfully representing the type. Seems like a oxymoron.

    I like the post shading around the fuselage and on the rockets used for take off. The close up of the cockpit looks very good. The painting is sharp,smart and crisp All in all “Well done” Well done indeed.

    Early powered Jet engine or turbo powered aircraft where slow to spool up or make abrupt power changes when landing and I am sure that the Wyvern wasn’t any different from the rest. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your gifts and talents.

  7. Thanks Stephen for the nice comments!! It is greatly appreciated. The next model on the list to complete is the Tamiya 1/48 Beaufighter that I started last year.

  8. Must be me. I never think of this as odd or obscure. I think it was one of the sleekest looking piston aircraft of its time, though admittedly it was about as effective as a doorstop in service terms. Still, just look at it!

  9. Hello Morne,
    Very impressed with the result of your Wyvern. It looks absolutely stunning.
    Also my compliments on some excellent photography. (Sharp in register)
    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  10. Lovely Morne – that’s my reference file for my 1/72 Trumpy Wyvern – though I think I’m gonna have to hang the torpedo off of it because…well, just because!

    I’ve always loved the look of the Wyvern, and even the Gannet, as very purpose-built designs, even if the Wyvern was a disappointment. There were some specs (take “heavy fighter” for instance) that just never seemed to make sense, and probably shouldn’t have been attempted. But hey – we got some cool modeling subjects out of air ministry/DOD experimentation!!

    • Thanks Greg!!. Can’t wait to see your Wyvern. The Royal Navy colors just suit this aircraft so well that it adds to its appeal. Yes the British had some very nice prop driven aircraft post WW II. The Wyvern, Fairey Gannet, Short Sturgeon and De Havilland Sea Hornet top my list of favourites.

      6 attached images. Click to enlarge.

    • If you hang the Torpedo, Greg, you can’t hang the rockets – it was an either/or proposition, given the weight of the torpedo. Also, they were hardly ever carried and only tested once. Just an FYI.

  11. Really Sweet Model. I like the added detail to the cockpit. Well worth that addition.

  12. Morne, lovely Wyvern! I was wondering how she’d build up, apparently quite well. I had the Frog 72nd, which I found fascinating. It must have been a sight to see when spooling up for takeoff, with the props spinning, the engine sound, and the exhausts looking like its namesake, a young dragon. Who wouldn’t love RN 50s aircraft? Be nice to have a Scimitar, though. Some day…

  13. Hi Bernard. Thanks for the nice comment. The Trumpy kit is a smooth build. Nothing to difficult. My love for the Wyvern started the day I saw a photo of one on a carrier deck being launched while the prop tips were generating vortices in a spiral around the fuselage as it was shot off the deck. I wish someone can do the Scimitar or Short Sturgeon!!

  14. I think it’s a cool looking aircraft, and a great build!

  15. I couldn’t put my finger on it initially, but from first sight there was clearly something special about this, Morne. I agreed with all of the comments but knew there was something else – and then it came to me! It looks so totally realistic! It looks like it could take off! Sensational work!

  16. Great looking aircraft (as our most of this era of RN planes) and a very special model, this livery really suits it.

  17. Morne, I’d have to say I’m not actually sure if this is an ugly airplane or something very cool looking , or maybe its more fair to say its in a class by itself, I mean after all, is it a jet airplane (being a turbo-prop), and is it single prop or muti-prop, after all it actually has two props (kind-of) ? Either way, this is a wonderful looking model. Very well done !

  18. Nice work here. Great finish, and I like you knew that the airplane carried rockets OR torpedoes, not both (a fairly common mistake with these).

    FWIW, this is only a “Trumpeter kit” in that they released it. It was going to be released by a company in Japan that went under before they could do the release, and the designer – having not been paid – took his work to Trumpeter. Without a doubt, it it the most accurate Wyvern out there.

    I once did one of these 30 years ago from the ID Models vacuform (the only game in town at the time). Had it on display at the LHS, and a Very Serious Modeler Indeed (actually the biggest muddling blowhard in S. Calif. modeling, whose “modeling talent” was later exposed as an ability to buy other people’s models and pass them off as his own) proclaimed it a “What If” model, that nothing like it had ever really existed. I enjoyed putting the issue of Air Enthusiast with the article on the Wyvern, open to the page, next to it after hearing that. (Yes, I do enjoy tweaking i****s)

    • Thanks Tom for your input. I must concur with your assessment of the “Trumpeter” kit. It is a damn fine kit that only need a few add on’s to build into a fine looking Wyvern. I always say that good research is the foundation for good model building. Like yourself, I like to get the finished model as close to the real thing. Albeit, I am still looking to build that mythical perfect model.

  19. What a wonderful build Morne !!! You don’t see too many of these built up at shows …………….

  20. Morne,
    This aircraft like so many British designs is so ugly it is beautiful. I mean this in a respectful way to the British. I have this kit and started cutting it off the spruces years ago then just shelved it. After seeing yours build in such a glorious fashion I may have to re-think my build. I doubt though, that I could come anywhere as close to the beautiful job you have done. I love it

    • Hi Frank. Thanks for the nice comment. The Wyvern might have an ungainly appearance but the sleekness of the design adds some allure to it. With your talent and skill level, you should be able to build a show stopping Wyvern. It is not a challenging build at all.

  21. Morne that’s a superb build & finish. I’ve seen the one at Yeovilton and it’s pretty d*mn intimidating up close !! – As for the ‘perfect model’, I hope I never build it, because then I’d have to stop and take-up crochet or home-brew…

    …no, I wouldn’t, been sticking my fingers to bits of plastic since I was seven, not going to stop now !!

    • Thanks Ian!! The Wyvern is aptly named and sure its size is impressive. That counter-rotating prop just rounds off that menacing look! I always strive to improve on previous builds and aspire to build that elusive “perfect model” according to my own standards. So hopefully the Wyvern is a step in the right direction. Next on the to do list is finishing my Tamiya 1/48 Bristol Beaufighter with lots of scratch built goodies.

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