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Lend-Lease Aircraft in the Fleet Air Arm

Part 3

n by Raul Hrubisko

Click here for part 2 of this article

Vought Corsair

By the middle of 1941 the Corsair, then a brand new fighter type, became available for acquisition through the Lend-Lease Act. In early 1943, the first batch of 95 aircraft from the early production F4U-1 series with "birdcage" cockpit canopy was delivered. These aircraft were designated Corsair Mk I.

I could obtain one Corsair Mk. I kit from Hasegawa (issued in the 1990's). To make the second Corsair Mk. I which was used by No. 15 Squadron RNZAF, I converted a Heller Corsair re-scribing the panel lines and making the early canopy.

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The Corsair Mk II had the blown canopy and later It also had provision to carry a drop tank or a bomb beneath the starboard and eventually also the port wing. To build this version I mainly used the Academy some Hasegawa kits. The latter conveniently came with special decal sheets which fitted by purposes.

For deployment of the Corsair Mk. Is and Mk. IIs, onboard the Royal Navy carriers it became necessary to clip the wing tips by 16 inches ( 40 cm) to allow the aircraft to be stowed with wings folded below deck.

The nine Corsairs in my collection represent all the camouflage schemes used in European and Pacific theatres.

Notably, one of the models represent a machine which took part in a combined operation providing fighter cover in company with Wildcat, Hellcat and Seafire leaving the Barracudas to engage and attack the Tirpitz at Kaaford Norway in April 1944.

The later Mk. III and Mk. IV Corsair versions were used only in the Pacific theatre. In July and August 1945 the Corsair operating from HMS Victorious and HMS Formidable carried the war to the Japanese mainland in a series of strikes in Tokyo area.


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Grumman Avenger

Deliveries of this Grumman torpedo-bomber to the Royal Navy began in August 1942. Originally named Tarpon Mk. I, the official name was changed in January 1944 to Avenger TR Mk. I. Later Grumman supplied the Avenger TR Mk. II and finally the Avenger TB Mk. III with new R-2600-20 engine an APS-4 radar in the under wing pod.

I used mostly Academy’s kits, but I had to rescribe the panels on upper and the lower wing surfaces. Using the same kit I also made the target tug RNZAF version with the markings from Aeromaster decal sheet.

I could also obtain a single Hasegawa Avenger kit (also from 1990s production) which included resin parts from Aires. I used this kit to build the TB Mk. III showing the torpedo beneath the fuselage. Also, I cloned this kit in resin to produce the RNZAF version.

Except for the TBM-1C FN914 which flew during the D-Day in anti-shipping strikes over the English Channel the rest of the aircraft presented here served in the Pacific area. The Avenger was one of the aircraft involved in the first British strike on Japanese home islands.




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Curtiss Helldiver

Deliveries of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, in British nomenclature called Helldiver Mk. I, began by the end of 1943, but totalled only 26 aircraft before ceasing in April 1944. The reason for this were unsatisfactory results of service tests at A&AEE. The RAAF used little quantities of this aricraft for training purposes only.

To make these models I used two kits from Revell which were originally Matchbox kits. I had to rescribe the surface detail on wing surfaces.

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Douglas Dauntless

The RNZAF was the main operator of the Douglas Dauntless with its No. 26 Dive-bomber Squadron. Nine Dauntlesses Mk. I arrived in UK in late 1943 but the results of the trial conducted in IAD Flight and RAE Farnborough were unsatisfactory, contrary to the good reputation that this aircraft enjoyed in the US.

One of the three Dauntless that I built was tested by the Royal Navy and the others two by the RNZAF. I used the Aeromaster decal sheet for markings.

Unfortunately I couldn’t buy the modern Hasegawa kit of the Dauntless and therefore had to resort to the Testor kit which is very bad. I had to undertake a series of modifications -  enlarging the fuselage by 5mm , producing new undercarriage doors, drilling all the holes in air brakes etc. Once I finally obtained a base for an acceptable model, I cloned it in three copies. 

 Click to enlarge images

Grumman Tigercat

It is nperhaps not widely known that two Grumman F7F-2N Tigercats were supplied by the US Navy to the Royal Navy for evaluation at the end of 1945, These machines received British serial numbers TT346 and TT349 but retained their US markings. I built the aircraft which went to A&AEE at Boscombe Down to test its suitability for carrier operations.

To make this model I used a Revell kit but I had to make some modification on the engines, fin and rudder.

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I'd like to extend my warm thank you to the following friends.
Pablo Zieger, for providing us with kits, information and support.
Jonathan Davis, for sending a lot of valuable articles and resin pieces like engines.
Luis Cid, for making the special decal sheet for some of our models.
Eduardo Barrera Oro, for helping us with kits, information and support.



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