Trumpeter 1/48 De Havilland Sea Hornet NF. 21, 1952
The de Havilland Hornet/Sea 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 1/48 Sea Hornet Mk 3 around 2002. Despite that kit’s misgivings, I enjoyed building it so much that I thought I’d give Trumpeter’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: https://imodeler.com/groups/de-havilland-aircraft-company-100-years/forum/topic/1-48-trumpeter-sea-hornet-nf-21/
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!
9 additional images. Click to enlarge.