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Supermarine Walrus Mk. I

by John C. Valo

 

Supermarine Walrus Mk. I

 


Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Walrus Mk. I is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

The legendary Walrus really needs no introduction; many are the stories of this flying boat's achievements.

Classic Airframes recently released a beautiful, albeit challenging kit of the Walrus in 1/48 scale. The kit itself is in the traditional CA mix of well molded plastic main parts and superbly rendered resin detail parts. Markings for four aircraft are provided in the kit, and CA has also released an aftermarket decal with four more marking schemes, which provide some beautiful modeling possibilities.

An extensive assembly manual is provided which helps to clarify a number of building challenges, but experience is necessary to tackle this kit.

 

 
Construction

 

To cut to the chase, if you are inexperienced, impatient, or if you have recently quit smoking, this may not be the kit for you. On the other hand, if you have experience with limited run kits, especially biplanes, go for it - just take your time.

On the plus side, the beautiful resin interior fits very well with nothing more than the usual cleanup necessary - I had no problems having to reengineer anything to fit. The assembly of the main injected parts also goes quickly and cleanly. The fabric detail and scribing are both excellently executed.

 



The real challenge of this model lies in getting all the fiddly strutwork in the right place at the same time! This is the first place where I deviated from the suggested assembly sequence. After studying the instructions and parts, I elected to build the model as a series of subassemblies, namely the fuselage/empennage/lower wings, upper wing, and the nacelle and associated strutwork.

After finishing the assembly of the fuselage, I made an assembly jig from foamcore board to hold the fuselage perpendicular as I attached the lower wings and stabilizers.

 

 

As my photos show, it's pretty quick and dirty, but it did the job. Vertical extensions forced the upper wing to align with the lower wings, which match each other in planform. I swapped the interplane struts from the instruction part callouts, my positioning being as follows: Right rear - part 23, Right front - part 27, Left rear - part 25 and Left front - part 28. This seemed to be the logical relationship relative to the strut lengths and taper. I drilled out the locating holes on the undersurface of the upper wing and upper surface of the lower wing for a more positive fit of the struts. After assembling the entire upper wing and pre-drilling holes for rigging wires in the tiny resin fairings, I glued the interplane struts to the lower surface of the upper wing only, while the wing was secured in the assembly jig. I then attached parts R11 under both wings - the instructions only call out under one, but it should be both.

The nacelle of the Walrus (which, because of its uncanny resemblance to a familiar barnyard animal, I soon referred to as the 'Pig') is offset five degrees from the centerline of the fuselage, but you are on your own to align this on the kit. This unique characteristic provides the single most challenging aspect of assembly, as the Pig is suspended between four rather substantial lower struts and four rather insubstantial upper struts, plus a cobweb of rigging wires. After much head-scratching, I used double-stick tape to hold the four lower struts temporarily to the fuselage/lower wing, then used small pieces of tape to hold the nacelle itself to these struts. I then placed the upper wing/strut assembly in place, and thus began the macabre ballet of trimming and aligning the lower struts to place the Pig in its proper position. Once this was achieved, I used Contrail strut material cut to appropriate lengths to make the upper struts. Once all of the struts were glued into place, I removed the upper wing. I then elected to rig the Pig (so to speak) at this time and used both stretched sprue and nylon sewing thread to represent the wires.

 

 

Although I believe some of these wires may have actually entered the wing or fuselage proper on the actual aircraft, attaching them to the strut ends on the model made the Pig a complete subassembly of its own, and quite frankly, you really can't tell the difference. Note that in the nacelle rigging diagram in the instructions, the arrows pointing 'forward' are reversed. As all the rigging is symmetrical, this isn't a problem.

At this point, all the subassemblies were painted with PollyScale acrylics (my favorite), decaled and weathered before the final assembly. The decals are as usual printed by Microscale, and worked great. Note that the painting support for the upper wing/strut assembly was disposed of soon after decaling was complete. I attached all of the interplane rigging wires to the underside of the upper wing before assembly, to eliminate as much aggravation as possible.

The actual final assembly was really quite an anticlimax, as everything basically clicked together. Attaching all of the various rigging wires was a challenge, but not really more than usual for any biplane, thanks to 'rigging the Pig' beforehand.

The engine and unique propeller assembly went without a hitch, and they look great.

The landing gear provided in the kit is accurate, but very weak. I drilled holes in the top of the main gear struts and inserted small lengths of bent brass rod. These in turn were inserted into holes drilled in the fuselage at the strut attachment points. I also added two very small reinforcements between the main gear struts and fuselage. While not 'to scale', they helped to keep the landing gear from collapsing.

 



The kit provides a two-piece rear hatch cover, but it doesn't correctly represent the articulation of the open hatch. I simply cut off half of the circular section and replaced it with clear styrene, glued at the proper angle for the open hatch. The vacuformed canopy fit beautifully. Two exquisite little Vickers 'K' guns completed the project.

 

 
Conclusion

 

OK, I suppose it's time for the Big Question: Is this kit worth buying?

Big Answer: Absolutely!

The Walrus is by far the most challenging kit CA has ever released, but the challenges lie in the design of the actual aircraft, not so much in the execution of the kit.

If you don't have too much experience with biplanes, perhaps you may want to buy the kit and set it aside until you feel confident about tackling it. Otherwise, I recommend this kit. It is complex; it is time-consuming, but the end result is truly worthwhile.

 
Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by John C. Valo
Page Created 29 January 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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