Modelling the Blackburn Skua -Part 1. List of Kits issued over the years
Click here for Part 2 - Notes for Modellers
Modelling the Blackburn Roc | Home page | Skua Home | Skua Page Listing
(Note that there is similar list of models of the Blackburn Roc on the "Modelling the Blackburn Roc" link above)
FROG - 1939.
The first model kit of the Skua was in Frog's very early "Penguin" series of the late 1930's. Contemporary with the Skua. Below are two photos of a fantastic pristine example from Peter van Loon.
You can visit Peter's web site at www.frogpenguin.com
FROG - 1964 (Reissued by Novo, Air Lines, Chemetic, Donetsk TF, Revell, Eastern Express, Ark Models)
Back in 1964 Frog issued a 1/72 scale model of the Skua. exactly the same mould has been used to produce the same product under the name of Novo, Air Lines, Donetsk, Chematic, Revell, Eastern Express and most recently by Ark Models. Back in 1964 it was a bad representation of the Skua and the same holds true today, their having never been any effort to correct the many errors. To list them...
1. The wings and tailplane are both incorrect, being much narrower in chord than they should be, thus the wing area and tailplane areas are much too small.
2. The fuselage bottom aft of the wings is represented as a flat area with no effort to represent the wing fillets.
3. The rear gunners canopy is represented as if the machine gun protruded through the canopy itself. It did not, it sat in a trough in the upper fuselage and could not be used until the rear canopy was swung back.
4. There is no recess for the bomb (and no bomb) and no bomb crutch.
5. There is no effort to reproduce the "V" frame arrestor hook.
6. The front pilots windscreen is represented as a rectangle, in fact it was virtually triangular with the broadest part at the top of the canopy.
The dotted lines represent the size of the wings and tailplane in the Frog/Novo/Chemetic/Revell/Eastern Express kit
Even allowing for the age of the model these are amazing inaccuracies. The most glaring problem of the undersized wings and tailplane can be cured with a replacement set made in resin by either Magna models or Final Touch Products , both of which also provide a vac-form replacement canopy.
picture above is of a masterful reworking of the
standard Frog model with corrected parts by Bernard Le Guenno -
to show what can be done with a lot of hard work.
It is a reproduction of one of the Skuas involved in the sinking of the Königsberg.
You can follow Bernard's build of this Skua by <clicking here> . Bernard had to do a lot of research for the project, including the scratch-build of a 500 pound SAP bomb.
Also see Kim Elliots build of the Frog model, correcting the wings and tailplane, on the modeling madness website <click here>
Airwaves released a set of etched brass accessories for the kit. A large number of the parts are for detailing the cockpit. They include a seat for the rear Observer/TAG which is completely wrong (there was only a rudimentary bench in the back cockpit of the Skua, no seat. There are some fine cooling gills, zap flaps and undercarriage doors, albeit the undercarriage doors include some extra sections that completely cover the wheels., this was only the case on the first Skua prototype (K5178), and even then for only a short period. The doors also miss the characteristic "bulge" adjacent to the wheels.
Shown above is the black and white artwork used in the original press advertising for the Frog model Skua when it was first released in 1964.
Above: box art for the Revell offering. The Revell version introduced improved decals.
The box art for the Air Lines incarnation of the kit, the same artwork was used for the Novo release.
Above: Box art for the Eastern Express version, the same box art is used by Ark Models.
I am aware that S MODEL issued a 1/72 scale resin model of the Skua, but have never seen a photo of it. If anyone can provide further info please contact me.
A magnificent 1/48 scale resin and white metal model of the Skua was issued by Warrior models in Poland. When this was first released it was at the cutting-edge of what was possible in resin and was very welcome to anyone who wanted to make a model of a Skua, having only had the poor Frog mould available beforehand. It has lots of interior detail and the overall lines seem spot on. The bomb recess is in the right place, being well aft and not going forward of the main wing spar.. The windscreen in front of the pilot is triangular, as it should be. The wing fillets do not look quite "right" to me, but at least the underpart of the fuselage rear of the bomb recess is curved rather than flat. The bomb crutch is slightly the wrong shape. The one thing that lets the kit down when first released was the decal sheet included with the kit which was hopeless and seems to have been made for another kit entirely. However Warrior then bought out an add on replacement set of decals (cat No D 48001) which is excellent and enables a whole range of different Skuas to be represented.
At the end of 2002 Pavla had released a 1/72 injected moulding kit of the Skua. It has no less than 4 decal options. A silver Skua of (L2887) from 803 Sqdn in 1939, camouflaged L2953 from the attack on Mers-el-Kabir, camouflaged L3048 of 803 Sqdn 1940 and L3007 in "tiger stripe" target towing livery. It has some very fine resin parts. Can I stress that this model is not from the old Frog mould - It was a completely new model. The outline of the wings is spot on, The bomb recess is in the correct position, and the bomb crutch is the right shape. Very welcome is the addition of a nice resin representation of a 500 lb SAP bomb. The only very minor flaws in an otherwise outstanding model are the wing fillets which are not quite right (see my pencil diagram above for the correct cross-sections), the undercarriage leg covers which do not have the correct "bulge" in them and the inclusion of a "seat" for the rear Observer/TAG (the rear cockpit had a "bench" rather than a seat).
Box art for the Pavla "Octopus Range" Skua has some impressive side-view profiles.
The image above is of an excellent model built from the Octopus kit built by Bernard Le Guenno of the Skua to achieve the Fleet Air Arm's first aerial victory of the war.
You can follow Bernard's build of this Skua by <clicking here> .
SPECIAL HOBBY 1/48
In 2007 "Special Hobby" issued a limited edition injection moulded 1/48th Scale Skua with Resin parts. It was released in two versions "Silver Wings" and "Norwegian Campaign" , the box art and decals being different for each. The kit has to be applauded in this scale and enables you to make a 1/48th scale Skua much more easily than with the resin Warrior version. However it does have a few fairly minor issues. The bomb recess is too far back (it should start directly behind the wing spar) and the wrong shape , being more like an inverted bathtub with curved edges rather than straight (see photos below). The undercarriage doors are also not quite correct, being the shape required for the Blackburn Roc, not the Skua (see the diagram in the notes section below) . The bomb crutch shape is completely wrong (again see photo in the notes section below). Also there is a solid bulkhead provided between the rear cockpit and the fuel tanks which was just not there in the real aircraft (again see photo below).
Click here for a review of the Special Hobby 1/48 scale kit by Rowan Bayliss
Review of the Special Hobby 1/48 scale kit by Brett Green
SPECIAL HOBBY 1/72
Special Hobby then in 2009/10 followed up their 1/48 scale release with a version in 1/72 scale. Like the 1/48 scale version it was released in two versions, "Silver Wings" and "Norwegian Campaign", each version uses the same box-art as the 1/48 scale version. Again it builds into an excellent representation of the Skua. Special Hobby have taken the opportunity to fix all of the major issues with the 1/48 version, the bomb recess is further forward and of the right profile, the bomb crutch is correct, and the main undercarriage doors are also correct for the Skua. So this is by far and away the best model representation of the Skua out there. Only two errors are left. First is the inclusion of a solid bulkhead between the rear cockpit and the fuel tanks; just leave it out, Second is the position of the small undercarriage cover plate when the u/c is extended (section "B" in the diagram in the notes below).
Above, the Box art for the "Silver" Wings version of the Special Hobby 1/72 kit.
A comprehensive article on building the 1/72 scale Special Hobby Skua written by Brian Derbyshire appeared in the May 2018 edition of "Scale Aircraft Modelling".
Some Pictures of other Skua Models
This magnificent 1/12th scale Skua (above)belongs to Øyvind Lamo, who runs the Operation Skua Website. Øyvind did the colour scheme, the model was built for him by Arild Kjaeraas who runs Profiles Norway.
Showing what is possible with a lot of skill and attention to detail the photos above are of two Skua models built by Tony O'Toole. One is L2991 as featured on the "Skua Colours" page. The other is a Skua target tug .
Here's a handsome rubber powered balsa model of a Skua in Target tug livery courtesy of Kevin Lehnert of the Alamo Escadrille Flying Aces Squadron #26. It is based on a kit plan from the early 1940's. "Dime Scale" models of this class compete to stay in the air longest and the added dihedral of wings makes it more stable.
Part 2 -NOTES FOR MODELLERS
If you are building a model of the Skua the following photos and diagrams will be of use.
If using a phone or tablet to view these pictures please turn your device to horizontal "landscape" mode.
Underside of the Skua (Flight magazine photo ref 17171S).
It's important to realise the Skua had a recess under the fuselage to hold a single bomb (some internet forums claim that this recess could be covered by a plate when the Skua was not required to carry a bomb, but I've never seen any photographic evidence for this). That recess was well back and started immediately to the rear of the main spar. The bomb was provided with a hinged "crutch" to swing it away clear of the prop in a dive-bombing attack (the crutch was removed when not required).. Each side of the bomb recess had a small "bomb-bay" covered by doors used to house smoke-floats. Because of the way the fuselage sat on top of the wing the trailing edge of the wing was well below the fuselage and had to be mated to the wing with an extensive "wing fillet" to reduce "interference drag". This gave the undersurface a very complex shape (not unlike the Supermarine Spitfire which also had extensive fillets). The Blackburn Roc did away with this complex shape, replacing it with a simple "flat bottom".
This view of the Skua illustrates the way the fuselage sits on top of the wing and then tapers towards the tail requiring large "fillets" to merge the two together with the underneath of the wings having to adopt a subtle "inverted gull" aspect near the roots.
The above sketch shows the underside of the Skua. Note that the bomb recess is well aft and does not go forward of the main wing spar. Also note the way the V frame arrestor hook sits inside the wing fillets. Only the very first batch of Skuas off the production line had landing lights on both wings.
The Skua had "Zap" flaps which doubled as dive-brakes . As they came down the front of the flap moved back in the recess. This kept the centre of gravity in the same place and meant the Skua did not need to be re-trimmed when operated.
No model of the Skua or Roc gets the undercarriage covers completely right. The diagram below was prepared by Brian Derbyshire to illustrate the configuration. Note in particular panel "B" which ends up at right angles to the airflow once the u/c is extended. Also note there was a subtle difference between the undercarriage of the Skua and the Roc.
Not a Skua, a Roc, but it clearly shows the two small panels marked "B" in Brian Derbyshire's diagram above which pop open when the undercarriage is extended, at right angles to the airflow like two tiny flaps or air-brakes. It also illustrates the "flat bottom" of the Roc and you can just make out the gunner's trapdoor exit.
Look at the photo above of Skua L2867 taken at the Blackburn factory airfield at Brough next to the Humber. It is important to understand that the undercarriage legs of the Skua are vertical when the aircraft is on the ground.. This means that once the aircraft is in the air they look "raked back" slightly. This is not the way most WW2 tail-wheel aircraft sit on the ground and catches out many modellers. You can also just make out the cable to release the anti-spin parachute running down the fuselage. A very fine detail hard to reproduce on any model.
Another view stressing that the undercarriage of the Skua was upright.
Here is a
photo of a recovered Skua bomb crutch from
Unfortunately Special Hobby got the shape wrong on their 1/48th scale Skua (put right on the 1/72 version).
Here is a the rebuilt Skua Cockpit from the Norwegian Aviation Museum at Bodo as it was displayed at a reunion of surviving Skua crew at the FAA Museum Yeovilton in 2006.
Of particular note is the joystick, it is in two parts, the top half only goes side to side and is mounted on top of the thicker bottom half that goes back and forwards. The whole thing is surmounted by the usual circular "spade grip" with firing button and wheel-brake handle. The top of the joystick is almost level with the very top of the instrument panel, which makes you appreciate just how high in the cockpit the pilot sat and just how large an aircraft the Skua was. Imagine yourself sitting with your feet on the rudder-bar and you'll appreciate how vast the cockpit space was.
One thing missing from the cockpit is the reflector gunsight. There seems to have been two different ways of mounting this, illustrated by these two photos.
Pavla kits are imported into the UK by Hannants, 159 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HR You can buy online at www.hannants.co.uk
Model Aircraft Monthly, Vol 6 Issue 10 October 2007. Has a series of articles on the Skua, including a very extensive potted history of the type by Tony O'Toole. This is illustrated by a really nice selection of photos, including colour shots of L2991 and a page full of shots of L2942. There is also an article by Tony O'Toole on building the 1/48 Special Hobby Kit.
A good reference on modelling the Skua is an 8 page article by Neil Robinson in the June/July 1978 edition of "Plastic Aircraft Models International" magazine (issue 22). Well worth looking out for ebay.
Matthew Willis's book on modelling the Skua and Roc is published by Mushroom Model Publications. It is an outstanding work with lots of original research.
This is a link to pictures of a superb scratch built Skua on another site.
Kingkit - the place to find that hard-to-find model
Fleet Air Arm Special Interest Group
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