So this is my next project. I’m building another aircraft my father might have flown—a Hawker Hurricane IIB that was on the complement of No.71 Operational Training Unit, Ismailia, in the first few months of 1944.
It’s actually quite difficult to track down details of aircraft at Operational Training Units. A few pilot’s logbooks have made it on-line, but they’re either the wrong dates or list aircraft other than IIB’s. And the Operations Records of most training units have yet to be digitized, so they’re not available on-line, and in any case rarely mention specific details of aircraft flown. I have one photograph, from the Haynes Hurricane manual, which shows a IIB at Ismailia in late 1943, giving me some idea of the appropriate markings:A copy request to the National Archive brought me some relevant pages from the Operations Records for 71OTU, and from them I tracked down exactly one appropriate aircraft, courtesy of Lieutenant Hanson (SAAF), who on 2nd February 1944
… whilst carrying out his cockpit check on the ground, selected undercarriage ‘up’, causing the aircraft, Hurricane BN.173, to collapse. The resultant damage was Cat.I to airframe.
So BN173 was at Ismailia when my father was there, training to fly Hurricanes. The aircraft had originally been used in the Western Desert by 274 Sq. RAF and 1 Sq. SAAF, was transferred to 71OTU in time for Lt Hanson to have his minor mishap, and then seems to have served the rest of the war there, being Struck Off Charge at the end of May 1945, just after training stopped at 71OTU and just before it disbanded. A helpful poster over at Britmodeller tells me that BN173 was coded A-5 in late 1944. Given that the Hurricane in the late-1943 photo above is coded A-14, I have confirmation that 71OTU was using squadron code “A” and numerical aircraft codes in my relevant time span.
So I’m building BN173 A-5. The kit is from Hasegawa, and so has many of the same features (good and bad) as the Hurricane IIC kit I built previously. I’ll largely discard the decals that come with the kit and apply my own custom markings to match my best understanding of how this aircraft would have appeared in early 1944.
I’ve spoken before about how kits I buy on E-bay always seem to come with surprising extras, and this one was no exception—when I opened the box, I discovered a discontinued version of one of Eduard’s large photoetch detailing sets inside. So that decided me on another open cockpit model, using the spare vacuform canopy I got from Squadron when I built my previous Hurricane.
I have to say the Eduard set was a lot more fun to use than the Aires resin-and-photoetch cockpit I used previously. The Eduard parts build on to the Hasegawa kit components, which makes assembly into the fuselage much easier—no internal engineering with broken matchsticks this time. And they’re also lovely. Here’s the assembled instrument panel:
About 15 parts have been attached to the basic Hasegawa frame, there.
Here are all the cockpit components, detailed and ready for assembly:
And the cockpit cage before adding the seat and inserting into the fuselage:
Eduard also includes some detailing for the side walls of the cockpit, which are a little difficult to photograph. Here’s the starboard side, with the fuselage assembled. I tucked a sliver of folded paper into the map pocket, just for fun:
And the port side:
The big Eduard kit also provides an array of bits and bobs for external detailing, including something that had irritated my slightly in my previous Hasegawa build. In the real aircraft, the cables that control the rudder emerge from fairings in the fuselage and attach to a lever arm on the rudder. In the kit, the rudder and fuselage come as a single part, and the fairings, cables and lever arm are all moulded together without much detail—they resemble nothing so much as a splint that would prevent the rudder moving. Here they are on my IIC kit:
This time, I cut away the central part of the moulding, to reconstitute the fairing and lever arm, scribed in panel lines, and added the control wires from Eduard. Here’s the kit, pared away, filled and scribed:
And the wires in place:
I also cut away the moulded radiator flap from the kit, and replaced it with Eduard’s metal version, so that I could model the flap in the open position, as it appears in the Ismailia photograph:
This also involved added some internal struts and actuator levers (built from 0.5mm brass rod) and an Eduard photoetch stay on the air intake:
Assembly of the fuselage and wings was easier this time, because I was putting together nothing but kit parts, instead of the uneasy mixture with a resin cockpit and wheel bay I had in my Hurricane IIC build. But the engine cowling was still a challenge to fill and smooth, to obscure the midline seam without obliterating moulded detail.
Priming showed up a couple of problems along the wing leading edges which responded easily to a little more filling and sanding. So here she is, ready for the camouflage pattern to go on:
So far, so straightforward. We’ll see how long that keeps up.