The Hawker Sea Fury was the last piston-engined aircraft used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and a strong argument can be made that it was the fastest piston driven fighter. It can trace its history back to the Fury biplanes of the thirties. Renowned British aircraft designer Sydney Camm was responsible for the lineage from biplane Fury to Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest and Sea Fury.

       In 1942 the Royal Air Force wished to have a lightweight Tempest that could travel the distances involved in the Pacific theatre of operations. Hawker proposed removing one wing bay on each side of the fuselage to shorten the wingspan, the fuselage was redesigned so that it was fully monocoque and the cockpit was raised to give the pilot better visibility. This reduced weight proposal, it was hoped, would improve maneuverability against the nimble Japanese Zero. The Air Ministry was impressed and wrote specification F.2/43 around this Tempest Light Fighter concept. The new airplane for the RAF would eventually be called “Fury” after the famous biplane fighter of the Thirties. Three prototypes were proposed P.1018 built around the Sabre IV engine, P.1019 around the Griffon engine and P.1020 with the Centaurus radial engine. Within a few months Sydney Camm had convinced the Admiralty that a navalized Fury would meet specification N.7/43 for a new carrier based fighter.

       There were to be six Fury prototypes. In September 1944 NX798 flew with a four bladed Rotol (Rolls-Bristol) propellor and rigid engine mounts holding its Centaurus XII engine. LA610 next flew in November 1944 with a Rolls-Royce Griffon 85 motor and a six bladed contr-rotatiing propellor. LA 610 was eventually re-engined with a Napier Sabre VII engine, which developed 3,400 to 4,000 HP. This aircraft reached an amazing 485 miles per hour. The first Sea Fury prototype, SR661, flew in February of 1945. This aircraft had a stinger type arresting hook but lacked folding wings. A Bristol Centaurus XII engine driving a four bladed propellor powered SR661. SR666, the second Sea Fury Prototype, flew in October 1945 powered by a Centaurus XV on improved shock mountings turning a new Rotol five bladed propellor. SR666 also had hydraulically folding wings.

       By this time the war had ended and the Royal Air Force no longer felt the need for a piston engined fighter as jet fighters were in production. The Royal Navy did however pursue the Sea Fury. The first production Sea Fury F Mk X flew in September 1946. There were problems with the tailhook during carrier landings, but these were resolved and the Sea Fury was approved for carrier landings in the spring of 1947. 50 Mk Xs were built and first flew with Number 802 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) in May 1948. The Mk 10 was meant to serve as an air superiority fighter, but piston engined aircraft were fast being supplanted by the newer jets in this role. The Sea Fury FB 11 was optimized for the ground attack role in which it excelled. Eventually 650 airframes were produced to this mark.

       The FB.11 served with British Commonwealth forces in the ground attack role throughout the Korean Conflict. A MiG-15 was shot down by a Sea Fury on August 8, 1952. Lieutenant Peter “Hoagy” Carmichael was leading a flight of Sea Furies and Fairey Fireflies on a train busting mission when they were jumped by eight MiGs. Using the superior maneuverability of the Sea Fury at least one of the Russian made jets was shot down.

       The Sea Fury FB.11 would serve as the Fleet Air Arm’s primary fighter-bomber until 1953 and the arrival of the Hawker Sea Hawk and Supermarine Attacker. The Sea Fury would also serve with the armed forces of Australia, Canada, Burma, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Morocco, The Netherlands and Pakistan.

       The subject of this model is Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 TG119, one of 74 aircraft that were transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. It was manufactured at Hawker Aircraft Limited in Kingston, United Kingdom and was shipped to Canada aboard the HMCS Magnificent in May 1948. Starting in 1949, it served with No. 833 Squadron, later known as VF 871, at HMCS Shearwater, a land base in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It was retired from the service in 1956 when it was purchased by Bancroft Industries Limited of Montreal who later donated it to the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa where it is on display.

       To represent this aircraft a Trumpeter Hawker Sea Fury FB.11, 1/48 scale kit, item # 02844 was purchased. This kit was an easy build. All the interior required was the addition of strips of paper to represent the seat belts. Very little sanding was needed to get the seams to disappear and the recessed rivet patterns were very easy to bring back with a sharp pointed scribing tool.

       Once the kit was assembled Gunze Sangyo H331 Dark Seagray was applied to the fuselage, tail plane and wing upper surfaces. Once dry these areas were masked off using a new discovery, Tamiya Masking Tape. Then Testor’s Model Master Medium Sea Gray was applied. The nose cone required making a paper template and painting a series of individual triangles to get the design right.

       I was lucky enough to find a decal sheet that had very similar markings to what was needed. XTRADECAL sheet # X48061 carries decals for Royal Canadian Navy Sea Fury # 117. To make the subject aircraft Model Decal sets 34, 35 & 36 Post War RAF Serials were needed.


       Aeroplane Monthly - May 2008 – Database Article Feature

       Wikipedia article on the Hawker Sea Fury

       Hawker Sea Fury Fleet Air Arm aircraft profile article on the Hawker Sea Fury FB.11

       Canadian Aviation Museum's article on Sea Fury TJ119

       Wikipedia List od Sea Fury operators

       Royal Navy Historic Flight on the Hawker Sea Fury

       Vectorsite article on the Hawker Tempest, Typhoon & Sea Fury

       Warbird Alley Article on the Sea Fury

       Plane Crazy Article on the Sea Fury

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