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Tamiya Swordfish

n model by Guy Baillie
n text by Martin Waligorski


The Fairey Swordfish was designed in 1932, deep in the biplane era. When the Swordfish entered service with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in 1936, it already looked like a refugee from another age. By the time war broke out in 1939, everybody knew, officially or otherwise, that the Swordfish was obsolete. By 1945, the Swordfish was still in service; amazing as it may seem to look it became one of the most successful naval strike aircraft in history. 

Its exploits are legendary; let's just recall the crippling of the Italian fleet in Taranto in November 1940, after which the Italian Navy never recovered; Malta; the Bismarck, Sharnhorst & Gneisenau; Battle of the Atlantic; and so on. A total of 2,391 aircraft were manufactured. The last Swordfish squadron was disbanded on 21 May 1945.

Guy Baillie built this beautiful quarter-scale Stringbag from the Tamiya kit. The model was built out-of-the-box. Guy finished his Swordfish in the colors of 825th Squadron FAA, a machine flown by Lt. Commander E. Esmonde. 

Tamiya has certainly created one of the best kits ever with this Swordfish. Prior to it's release, there were only one 1/48 scale Swordfish kit available - the elderly, inaccurate SMER offering, and a few modellers ever expected another kit of this ungainly-looking aircraft. And what a kit it is. Everything is beautifully detailed, and goes together without any hassle. 

Surface detail is excellent with restrained fabric effect and crisp recessed lines separate panels on the forward fuselage. Other surface details like folding steps and fasteners are raised. The cockpit is finely detailed including the tubular fuselage frame, seat harness, and other stuff.

Wings may be displayed at full span or fully folded. The kit includes even photo-etched parts (at extra cost) for the rigging. There are also 1/48 scale templates for the camouflage pattern.

The sheer number of parts (over 200) to be assembled sets this kit is as far as it gets from a Sunday shake-and-bake project. The two sprues with external ordnance feature alone over 90 parts for bombs, smoke floats, flares, rockets and a torpedo.

Judging from these photos, the Tamiya kit is worth it's (admittedly very high) price and can be turned into a show-stopper without any additions. Still, it does require skill and patience to do it full justice! Especially noteworthy in Guy's model is the superb paint job.

The presented model won the Highly Commended award at the IMPS Open 2000 national competition in Stockholm, where the photos were taken.

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