by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Originally published on:
A most welcome recent release from Czech Master Resin [CMR] is the prototype Sea Vampire LZ551/G in 1/72 scale. CMR seem to be on a mission to produce as many version of the Vampire, the diminutive twin tailed fighter built by de Havilland, as possible.
As early as 1944, the Royal Navy was exploring the possibilities of using jet aircraft at sea, flying from aircraft carriers. The second prototype DH Vampire, LZ551/G, was allocated to the Royal Aircraft Establishment to begin trials in 1945 in the hands of the famous chief Naval test pilot, Lt. Commander Eric “Winkle” Brown. Before this however, the aircraft was “navalised” with such modifications as extended air brakes and flaps and the fitting of an arrestor hook for deck landings. Other improvements made during the trials were the replacement of the Goblin 1 engine with a Goblin 2, which was more powerful. The pitot tube was also moved from the fin to the port wing to avoid being masked during high angles of attack when landing on the deck of a ship. After some practice landings on a runway modified to simulate the deck of a carrier, Lt. Cdr. Brown made the first ever landing of a jet aircraft on a ship on 1st December, 1945, when he landed LZ551/G on board HMS Ocean in the English Channel.
Throughout 1946, a number of test pilots flew LZ551/G, making numerous landings on HMS Triumph. The tests eventually concluded that the Sea Vampire would be suitable for naval pilots. After further trials including a bad landing on HMS Illustrious in November 1946, LZ551/G was scrapped in 1947. However the aircraft was not broken up, but passed to de Havilland for disposal. De Havilland in turn passed it to the Imperial War Museum, who then passed it to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, home of Royal Navy aviation. The first ever jet to land on a ship is now preserved for all to see.
Source Chris Hughes.
Very sturdy box with reinforced ends. The illustration on the box cover is superb, definitely worthy of being hung up in your workspace. All resin parts are placed in multi cell plastic bags. Canopies, masks, decals and photo etched [PE] parts are sealed separately.
Approx 57 resin parts.
2 x vac formed canopies moulded in canopy closed.
1 x pre painted PE sheet created by Eduard.
1 x set of paint masks for the canopy.
1 x decal sheet.
6 x A4 pages of photo references including 31 black and white images.
6 x A4 pages of building instructions.
1 x A4 page of painting instructions.
Cockpit: there are some very fine cast detail, such as boxes and cabling on the inside of both fuselages where the cockpit is situated. The cockpit area is further enhanced with around ten resin and numerous pre coloured PE parts. Some of the parts are tiny and very delicate and will be very challenging to apply. The pre coloured instrument panel is a particularly fine representation of the real thing. The instrument panel is built up from three parts: the instrument fascia, the instrument faces and a resin back plate. The rest of the resin parts that make up the cockpit include a one piece rear bulkhead and floor, an excellent pilots seat to which you apply pre coloured PE harnesses and a beautifully cast spade grip control column. Also worth noting amongst the pre coloured PE parts are fuse boxes [they need to be folded], trim wheels and foot rests. The interior is mainly black in colour, the the Bakelite seat and the addition of the PE parts will add some colour.
Fuselage: is split vertically. The cut outs for the front undercarriage well will need the very thin layer of flash removing before installing the one piece undercarriage well. The front undercarriage well does not have a lot of detail just like the real thing. As the prototype is unarmed, the recesses for the cannon troughs and the spent cartridge chutes will need to be filled. The area where the wings locate has four holes for the four locating pegs in the wings. There is a hole in each fuselage halve where the air ducts for the engine are located. The mating surfaces of the fuselage particularly the lower edges will need a few swipes with a sanding stick to clean up the edges. The exhaust pipe for the Goblin 2 engine needs to be fitted before the fuselage halves are glued. The shape of the fairing above the jet pipe is nicely captured as well as the shape of the nose. Panel, fasteners and rivet detail are finely recessed as are the canopy rails. The overall shape of the fuselage looks superb. A look over both fuselage halves revealed a total of three tiny air bubbles in the resin, which will be very easy to fill.
Wings: the two one piece wings have very positive pegs to fit into the fuselage wing roots. A test dry fit of the wings to the fuselage reveals an excellent fit. The two air intakes for the engines are cast separately, which offers the advantage of more accurate depth to the intakes. This approach to creating a more realistic looking air intakes does mean that some care will be needed to ensure a good fit with minimum amount of blending into the wing, but I think it's worth it. There are two vanes to glue into each of the intakes. The main wheel and the flap interior wells are beautifully detailed with low relief frame work and actuating mechanisms. The joint for the tail booms is on the trailing edges of the wings. The flaps and the airbrakes can be displayed open or closed. The two part flaps are extremely thin and will need some care separating them from their blocks. If you decide to display your Prototype Sea Vampire with flaps down then there are four tiny PE flap actuators arms and a number of resin parts to fit in place and two resin actuators arms on the airbrakes. As with the fuselage the panel lines are beautifully done, crisp and recessed.
Tail booms and tail: Each boom is cast in one piece and includes the fin and rudder. The rudders have incredibly thin trailing. There is a stub that provides good support for the attachment of the boom to the wings. There is a small piece to detach to detach from the stub on the boom before joining. A dry test fit of the wing to the boom showed that there was an excellent fit. The one piece tail wing, which locates half way up the tail fin has four small pegs that fit into four small holes in the bullet fairings on the tail fins. The tail wing needs separating from it's block, but the contact area between the two is very thin, so the tail wing should separate easily enough. Again the trailing edges are realistically thin. There are two resin mass balances to be added to the under surface of the tail wing.
Undercarriage and tail hook: the undercarriage legs are cast in black resin and are possibly stronger than the resin used in the rest of the kit. The detail is very good, the front undercarriage unit is cast in one piece including the actuator arm, there is a little thin flash to remove. The wheels are rather nicely done, the distinctive twin raised tread of the front wheel is faithfully reproduced. There are PE spoked hubs to apply to the wheels as well as PE torsion links to the legs. The resin undercarriage doors have wonderful low relief detail cast on them. The arrestor hook can be displayed retracted or extended. If you decide to display the arrestor hook down the extended resin parts of the arrestor arms need to be cut off. The extended parts provide a positive fit into the fuselage if you display the tail hook down. There is a very thin layer of flash to remove before fitting.
Canopy and windscreen: the complete canopy and windscreen are vac formed in one piece. And the lovely folk at CMR provide two sets of clear parts. The framework on the windscreen looks good and I like the slightly blown appearance of the canopy. CMR provide paint masks for the clear parts.
Decals: the sheet is fairly small with roundels for three positions. The tail flashes are split to fit around the bullet fairings on the fin. The flashes are only applied to the outer surfaces of the fin. There are a few stencils to apply including the “no step” areas bordered by a red lines. Each decal is numbered for easy reference. Decals have very good colour depth a registration.
Markings: just the one set for the Prototype LZ551/G during the trials on the aircraft carrier HMS Ocean in December 1945. Upper colours are dark sea grey [FS 36173] and lower surfaces are sky [FS 34424].
Photographic references: amongst the many highlights that distinguish CMR products from other resin kit manufactures is the wealth of photographic information provided. With this release there are 31 good quality images in black and white. Many of them are of LZ2551 that is on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton. The photographer Gary Hatcher has been able to take close ups of the many features of the Sea Venom prototype such as wheel wells, the interior of the flap wells and cockpit, all the parts that modelers are curious about. There are also images of LZ2551 while conducting Carrier trials.
Instructions: the six pages of instructions includes some very fine exploded line drawings as well as a parts key with all the components numbered. There are very useful colour notes for the various internal parts such as the cockpit, wheel and flap wells. There are also clear instructions of what to do with the PE parts as some require some bending. There is a very helpful guide for applying the paint masks to the windscreen and canopy. The paint guide has four views of LZ2551, port and starboard profiles as well as upper and lower plan views. Included with the paint guide are instructions for placing the decal stencils.
I don't know if there are many Sea Vampires out there represented in 1/72 scale, but I have to say that this is the best looking Vampire I have seen in 1/72. Accurate in outline, the kit will reward the modeler that does not mind using resin with an outstanding model. I have no hesitation in recommending this kit highly. Nice one CMR