Profile Photo
Eric Berg
47 articles

Trumpeter 1/48 De Havilland Sea Hornet NF. 21, 1952

December 30, 2020 · in Aviation · · 13 · 3.6K

The Hornet/ used wooden construction techniques pioneered by the Mosquito. The aircraft was to conduct Royal Navy Air Service long range fighter operations against Japan. The war ended before the Hornet reached operational squadron status although production began at the end of 1944.

The de Havilland Sea Hornet NF.21 was designed to fill a need for a naval night fighter. Production began in late 1948 and 48 were completed or partially built by November 1950. Special flame-dampening exhausts were installed and a second basic cockpit was added to the rear fuselage ASH radar equipment was placed in the rear of this cockpit, with the radar operator/navigator seated facing aft. At the front of the aircraft, the nose underwent a transformation with the small rotating ASH radar dish being housed under an elongated "thimble" radome. By 1955 all NAS Hornets were in the scrap yard.

This particular model is based on aircraft no. 485/Q that served with the 809 Naval Air Squadron on the HMS Indomitable, 1952. I had to make some homemade decals to make this work. I could not verify if the 809 squadron crest was applied to both sides of the nose but did it anyway. I might yank it off with tape because I now suspect it wasn't.

Classic Airframes put out their Sea Hornet Mk 3 around 2002. Despite that kit's misgivings, I enjoyed building it so much that I thought I'd give 's 2015 NF Mk 21 a whirl when it was issued. I should have done my homework and read what other modelers had to say. Turns out, the only thing accurate about this Trumpeter kit is the box art! FYI: none of the underwing stores, exhaust dampers, metal skinned control surfaces, proper treaded tires or angled windscreen as depicted on the box art are provided. Too bad the same Trumpeter artist wasn't put in charge of supervising the plastic parts inside.

After reading mostly negative reviews, I put this Hornet kit on the garage “donate” shelf and it sat there for at least 4-5 years. Several months ago there was a call-out on iModeler by Erik Gjørup for a de Havilland 100th Anniversary group build and so it was brought back from the dead being the only de Havilland kit I had. It turned out to be a lot of fun after all. The trick is to go at it knowing it's thoroughly screwed up before you start and plan accordingly.

Valiant Publishing's Airframe Album 8: “The de Havilland Hornet and Sea Hornet” by Richard A. Franks saved my life and is an invaluable must own reference for any Hornet enthusiast, so consider purchasing this first.

I attempted to correct the many mistakes Trumpeter made, but one can only do so much before saying the heck with it. You should know this kit is designed with the wing fold in mind and that is its Achille's heel as the attachment points are ridiculously fragile. Otherwise the overall parts fit is great. If you want to follow the journey of this build and find out what to watch out for and what you can and cannot fix, should you decide to tackle one of Trumpeter's three different Hornet kits, go here:

To quote Tom Cleaver who ended his 2016 review of this very kit over at Modeling Madness with this statement: “Remember that there is no “correct” kit of this airplane to be had. “Hornetness” is the best you can do.”


Happy New Year fellow modelers!

Reader reactions:
12  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

13 responses

  1. That is a very distinctive looking aircraft and I think you made an amazing job eric.

  2. Having followed this, you have definitely achieved the acme of "hornetness" with your result.

    The kit may be terrible, but the model is wonderful, and that has nothing to do with the kit and everything to do with the modeler.


  3. This is an extraordinary well made model, Eric!
    Yes, the kit has many inaccuracies, but you corrected everything you could.
    The result is a high quality model that sure looks like a Hornet.
    I had the pleasure to follow your build: it is unbelievable where the finished model started from.

  4. Spitfire and Mosquito aside, leave it to the British to build what has to be one of the ugliest aircraft I have ever seen. Not a reflection of your build which is very nice, I appreciate the hard and very nice work you put into the kit. It really turned out nice, I especially like the wings being folded up. I have no idea of the accuracy issues, I know from the included archive picture of the real plane that your model could not be mistaken for anything else besides that. Aside from the Hornet, the British also tried to convert the Mosquito to fulfill the role. The managed to make it ugly too (:

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  5. Very nice build, Eric.
    A not so often seen build of this Hornet.
    Although the kit is difficult, you turned it into something fantastic.
    Well done and Happy New Year.

  6. Love seeing these unusual types! Very nice.

  7. Amazing build Eric, it was great to check in on your progress with the GB.
    Very nice!

  8. Very nice looking model of a plane so ugly that only its designer could love it. Hard to believe it was a follow on to the beautiful Mossie.

  9. Contrary to what some have said above I think it's a beautiful looking plane, especially in these colours. Full marks for completing this kit and making it look as possible to the real thing. I enjoyed your WIP thread as well. Definitely liked.

  10. Thank you all for the positive comments.

    Walt B: that Mosquito with the thimble radar for a nose really pudges it out. Looks pretty goofy.

    Here’s to a better 2021 and more completed builds!

  11. Very nice! I really liked the Hornet - that is until I saw this thimble-nosed version! Wow - that really wrecks a good-looking airplane. Great model of an ugly aircraft!

Leave a Reply