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Fairey Swordfish Mk.II

by Ian Robertson


Fairey Swordfish Mk.II


Tamiya's 1/48 scale Swordfish is available online at Squadron




After passing by opportunities to purchase Tamiya's expensive 1/48 Swordfish I was lucky enough to receive it and the associated photoetch (PE) as a birthday gift last year. I decided to build my kit as a Mk.II version that served with No. 1 Air Gunnery School in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 1943. There are no aftermarket decals for this particular aircraft, but apart from the nose art it was not difficult adapting decals from other kits. My inspiration for this project was an often used port side profile of the aircraft (and because it was Canadian).



Tamiya's 1/48 Scale Swordfish


Tamiya's Swordfish is a highly detailed kit in the style and quality that we have come to expect from this manufacturer. Despite the complicated look of the aircraft and parts in the box, it is not difficult to build. Not surprisingly it is more time consuming to build than a typical monoplane tail dragger, but this is due in large part to the amount of detail in the kit.



Having said that the kit is easy to build, I must confess to having a bit of trouble getting the wings attached properly. I credit this to my own folly rather than a deficiency of the kit; none of the reviews I've seen for the Swordfish have indicated any problems with fit.

The upper wing comes in three sections: left, right and a center piece that anchors above the fuselage. The lower wings fit into wing roots that emerge from the fuselage. During construction the upper and lower wings are connected securely via struts that align easily into slots on the wings. No problems encountered at this point. However, when I went to plug the right wing (both upper and lower sections) to the fuselage assembly I was forced use a lot of pressure to make the fit work. Crrrraaaaack! - the two pieces that make the lower wing split under the stress, as did one of the struts.



To add insult to injury, the PE bracing on the inner strut popped out with a definite "twang" and sat there dangling from the upper wing. Once I regained my composure the problem was fixed without too much difficulty using CA glue and mini clamps. Oddly enough the left wings went on with little difficulty, so I remain puzzled as to the problem. Perhaps a number of small errors on the right side manifest in a large error. In any case, I see no problem with alignment in the finished model, although the stress on the wing and CA glue remains (I wonder if it will ever give way? Just to be sure I'll keep my glasses on when I get close).


Using Tamiya's Photo-Etched Set

The PE is not included with the kit, much to the chagrin of many modelers. I used the PE sparingly on my model, mainly because I just couldn't get it to fit properly (again, my technique is likely to blame, not the kit). I used the PE for the gun sight, torpedo aiming bars, engine detail, and the cross bracing on the outer wing struts.

For the cross bracing on the inner struts I used 0.25 x 0.5 mm styrene strips. I opted to use stretched sprue for the wing bracing and tail bracing (including the additional control wires for the elevators and rudder), both because I could make the sprue taught and I was unhappy about the bulky appearance of the PE bracing wires*it looked out of scale to me. Would I recommend the PE? Yes, it made a big difference in the areas I used it. Moreover, some may have better luck installing it than I did, and if the scale doesn't bug you then it may be a good option.



I made a number of minor modifications to convert the kit to a Mk.II. Using Tom Cleaver's article on the Aircraft Resource Center web site as a guide, I removed the starboard wing light, sanded the ribbing off a portion of the lower wings (the Mk. II had metal skin on the lower wings as reinforcement for rocket and bomb fittings), and I used the kit's alternative cowl, pitot tube and breather tube (that hood ornament on the nose behind the engine). I also modified the oil cooler slightly by adding some details not present on the Mk I. However, I did not alter the oil cooler's size even though it is somewhat larger in the Mk.II. No changes were made to the cockpit, although Tom Cleaver identifies minor changes there as well.



Painting and Decals


The paint and decals were added prior to attaching the wings to the fuselage. Using Polly Scale acrylics I applied a standard camouflage scheme of extra dark sea grey and slate grey over sky type "S". The yellow fuselage markings were painted and then masked prior to adding the camouflage. The metal parts of the cockpit interior were painted RAF interior green, except the raised tread plates on the floor which were painted flat aluminum. I used "doped linen" paint (Polly Scale) for the inside fabric covering in the lower recesses of the cockpit. The linen was then treated to splotches of red-colored chalk pastel to simulate the red dope applied to linen surfaces. The cowl ring was painted using an 4:1 mixture of metallic grey (Tamiya acrylic XF56) and dark copper (Tamiya acrylic XF28). The torpedo was painted scale black with a copper nose (similar to the Mk.II Swordfish display at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa).


National markings were applied using the decals from the kit, although no underside roundels were added. The letter "J" was obtained from spares. The serial number "HS 275" was put together from a combination of dry transfers (HS) and spare decals (275).

The nose art was produced by hand. I painted the white background and then drew the cartoon character by hand using a black "gel pen". The word "wimpy" was also applied with a gel pen.





Most of the talk about this kit surrounds its cost. True, it is unusually (cross your fingers) expensive, and I received mine as a birthday present because I was unwilling to fork out the bucks myself. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this kit will occupy you longer than say, for example, a Hasegawa Bf109 or Tamiya Spitfire Vb (which sell at about half the price), and it will make a decidedly unique addition to your collection. Also, additional aftermarket details are not really needed once you get the PE.

My Swordfish certainly stands out on a shelf filled with WWII monoplanes. Just something to consider.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Text, Images and Model Copyright 2001 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 15 December, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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