I first reviewed Special Hobby
's Skua when it was originally released back in 2007 (see HERE
). That proved a rather frustrating experience, not through any real problems with the kit, but because it arrived in such a poor state. The trouble was that the sprues were badly packed and had rattled around in a box that was simply too big for the job, resulting in a lot of parts adrift and broken in transit.
So, it was a major relief when I received the sample of the re-release to find that the box is much more compact this time around and, crucially, the clear parts are bagged separately. And the result? - no breakages, and just one part had come off its sprue.
The kit is a straight re-release of the original, right down to the decal options. Seeing as it was produced with semi-short-run technology and the model is now 11 years old, I was expecting some signs of its age, but it actually holds up very well against current releases in this genre. If anything, the new sample is better than the original, because the slight warping of the fuselage halves which I noticed before is absent this time around.
The exterior surface finish is nice and smooth, with neatly engraved panel lines across most of the airframe, plus a convincing fabric effect on the control surfaces. I noticed a little roughness here and there on some of the smaller parts, so you'll need to do a bit of extra preparation compared with a mainstream kit, but that's something that anyone used to building kits of this type will take for granted.
This time around the fuselage halves line up very neatly and don't need any coaxing to close. The horizontal tail clips neatly in place after removing some prominent ejection pin marks, but its trailing edge could do with thinning down a bit for a more true-to-scale appearance. Conversely, the rudder is nice and thin.
The wings assemble neatly enough and the joints between the outer panels and the wing-root stubs close up nicely, but I did hit gaps where the wing-roots join to the fuselage. I fitted the floor, but that didn't help, because it sits higher than the wing roots. Adding a couple of spacer bars below the floor could make a big difference and save having to resort to filler.
A Few Details
With the kit essentially representing the state of Special Hobby
's art as it was 11 years ago, it's no surprise to find more extensive use of resin and photo-etched parts than would probably be the case if the company were to design the kit from scratch today. (I found it interesting to re-read my original review, where I slightly bemoaned the fact that the kit didn't make use of resin parts for the cockpit - which had been pretty much standard practice for short-run kits hitherto. A decade or so later, it's the new norm for kits of this type to be almost entirely plastic, with superdetailed resin alternatives released separately as aftermarket upgrades.)
In the cockpit, this means a classic photo-etch film instrument panel (in my opinion, far more effective than most moulded efforts), plus etched straps for the rudder pedals and seatbelts for the pilot and gunner. The cockpit itself looks like it will be nice and "busy", comprising over 40 parts in total.
The engine is almost all resin, with separate cylinders to attach to the crankcase and individual exhausts that lead forward to the cooling ring. That means 31 parts in total.
The one area that is definitely different from what you'd see in most modern kits is the inclusion of resin for the mainwheel wells. These were usually a cause of frustration, because they were a signal for heavy sanding before they stood a chance of fitting. Amazingly with the Skua, they install with no sanding needed at all (which presumably means they are shallow compared with the real thing), so there's no need for veteran limited-run modellers to groan at the sight of them.
The observer/gunner's Vickers K is resin and looks very delicate - probably the fiddliest item in the kit to clean up.
Instructions & Decals
The construction guide is printed as a neat 12-page A5 booklet in colour throughout. Assembly is broken down into 14 stages, and the sequence suggested is refreshingly logical. The diagrams are clear and well-sized, with colour call-outs for Gunze Sangyo paints throughout.
Decals are included for a trio of aircraft that flew from HMS Ark Royal in Britain's ill-fated attempt to defend Norway, all three being shot down during the attack on the Scharnhorst on July 13, 1940:
A. Skua Mk.II, "F", s/n L2963 of 803 Sqn. FAA
B. Skua Mk.II, "A6A", s/n L2940 of 800 Sqn. FAA
C. Skua Mk.II, "Q", s/n L2991 of 803 Sqn. FAA
have revised their painting instructions since the original release, replacing "Mixed Grey" with the standard Extra Dark Sea Grey.
The decals are printed by Aviprint and appear to be excellent quality, being thin and glossy, with minimal excess carrier film. As with the original release, the boxtop shows Type B (red/blue) upperwing roundels, whereas the painting guide and decals have Type A (red/white/blue) roundels. Both styles seem to be correct for this transitional period, so it is advisable to find as many references as you can for any specific airframe.
I'm really pleased to see Special Hobby
's Skua re-released, particularly since it's still in such fine shape. You'll see that I've scored the re-release higher than the original. This is because the kit is much more carefully this time, added to which it's priced lower this time around (even more so if you take inflation into account).
While Special Hobby
's Skua certainly isn't a beginner's kit, anyone with experience of limited-run models should have no trouble and will thoroughly enjoy the challenge it offers. The Skua is an important, if often overlooked, subject that deserves a place among any 1:48 collection of FAA models.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE