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In-Box Review
148
Supermarine Seagull Mk. II/III
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The Supermarine Seagull amphibian was first built in 1921. The prototype was modified from the earlier Seal, and production began a year later with 25 Seagull Mk. IIs built for the Royal Navy. A tropicalised version followed in 1925 as the Mk. III and 6 were supplied to the Royal Australian Air Force, with one other for Japan.

Although the numbers produced were small, the Seagull served usefully as a fleet spotter with a crew of 3, and was the first British aircraft to be catapulted. In Australian service, the aircraft carried out a number of photographic reconnaissance surveys over Papua, Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

The kit
Silver Wings' Supermarine Seagull impresses from the word go. I've never been lucky enough to see one of their kits before, so I was knocked out by the care which had gone into preparing it for the tender mercies of the international post, protected by cut-to-size sections of expanded polystyrene in a sturdy package. The kit's box itself is very attractive and, importantly, good and sturdy (all too often, otherwise very fine short-run kits are let down by a flimsy box) and, inside that, everything is sealed in zip-lock bags and further protected in bubble-wrap pouches.

I couldn't resist starting with a quick peek at the instructions and thought "Oh, that actually looks surprisingly simple!", and then I started unpacking the parts... and the the zip-lock bags just kept coming and coming... Eventually, no less than 17 bags sat in front of me, containing:

171 x grey resin parts
2 clear resin windscreens
14 x resin struts cast with metal cores
6 x copper pins
2 x small sheets of styrene
Vinyl painting masks for 2 x colour schemes, with a small supplementary sheet of decals

The casting throughout is excellent. Most of the larger parts have already been removed from their pour-stubs, and the overall finish is fantastic. The original aircraft was built with a sealed and polished wooden hull, so the kit is correctly devoid of any planking or panel lines. The wings and tail have a beautifully rendered fabric effect that should look lovely when painted. There's a little whispy flash around some of the very small parts, but the detail is excellent.

Test fit
The first real surprise is that you can actually do a test fit on a model like this! In fact one has already been partially done for you, because the fuselage/hull arrives taped together. The fit is excellent and, removing the tape, you can see why - the halves are cast with locating pins. After pausing to admire the internal detail (more of which later) it was time to turn to the wings and, again, they have locating pins. Each is built up of 3 sections and the line-up is very precise. The lower wing sits firmly on top of the fuselage thanks to a pair of substantial locating pins and, while I certainly don't expect this to be a kit that "builds itself", the good design does look very encouraging indeed.

A few details
The interior of the fuselage halves is very nicely detailed for the pilot's cockpit and the gunner and wireless operator's stations, with neatly modelled ribs and stringers. A pair of bulkheads close off the aft section and floors are provided. The pilot gets a seat with a cushion, control wheel and rudder pedals, throttle, plus an instrument panel with a separate compass. The aft compartment is less comfortable - the crew had to make do with sling-type seats - and there are a number of items such as an anchor, fire extinguisher, ammunition drums, boxes and a document case to add. The rear Lewis Gun is finely detailed and attaches to a 5-part mount.

The Napier Lion engine is beautifully detailed, with a very impressive main casting onto which attach numerous smaller details. There's a choice of radiators and exhausts as appropriate to the British or Australian engines - and the exhausts feature hollowed-out pipes. The engine fits into a mount that sits between the wings on the lower centre-section on a cat's cradle of struts.

Struts? This is a 2-bay biplane, so there's plenty of them! The wing construction is probably too complex to be suitable for newcomers to biplanes, but the metal-reinforced struts are a real plus. To keep everything lined up while drying a jig is definitely to be recommended. The instructions show the lower wing mounted on the fuselage and then building up from there, but the fit is so positive I'm tempted to follow an alternative path and build the entire wing structure, complete with the engine, as a separate unit, rig it and only then attach it to the fuselage. The instructions include a useful full-size diagram showing the dihedral, and a large and clear guide to the rigging and control cables.

Instructions and painting
The assembly guide takes the form of a 10-page A-4 booklet, printed in colour with simple but clear illustrations. Notes are in English throughout and colours are keyed to many of the details.

Two colour schemes are featured and illustrated with colour profiles and monochrome plan views:

Supermarine Seagull Mk II, N9647, 440 Flight, HMS Eagle, 1924/25
Supermarine Seagull Mk III, A9-2, 101 Fleet Co-operation Flight, RAAF, Richmond, 1927

Decals are only provided for the maker's data on the engine side panels, all the other markings are supplied as vinyl painting masks. These are cleanly die-cut and, although challenging and certainly more time consuming to use than decals, promise a superior result - particularly on the silver-doped wings where carrier film would show easily. Nevertheless, I can't help thinking that many modellers would prefer to at least have the option of conventional decals. No instructions a given for the masks, but it should almost go without saying that you should paint the wings panels before assembly, and the fuselage as a separate unit before joining them.

Conclusion
Silver Wings' Seagull is a stunning kit! The presentation and casting puts it firmly at the cutting edge of resin production and, while definitely not a kit for beginners, the good design and engineering should make this a thoroughly buildable project for modellers with a bit of experience of resin construction and biplanes. It's obviously not cheap, but hand-cast kits of this high quality can't be - and the sheer amount of labour that goes into the pattern making, casting and overall production in a project like this is quite astounding (I can vouch for that in my own small way, having made a range of conversion sets back in the early days of resin). This is a real connoisseurs' model that fully captures the glory-days of early flying boats and will be by far the most complex biplane I've yet tackled, but I'm itching to get started. Highly recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.

SUMMARY
Highs: Well designed, superbly cast and beautifully detailed. Vinyl painting masks for a pair of attractive colour schemes.
Lows: I think the inclusion of conventional decals would appeal to many modellers unused to masking insignia.
Verdict: Silver Wings' Seagull is among the finest resin kits I've been lucky enough to see. Experienced Golden Age and flying boat enthusiasts should relish the challenge it offers, and the results should be a show-stopper.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48-001
  Suggested Retail: 133.00 Euros (Modelimex)
  PUBLISHED: Dec 31, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.85%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 93.00%

Our Thanks to Silver Wings!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2018 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

Ah thanks Rowan for the review, thats one more hole filled in the FAA in 1/48. Now just a few more between wars and I'll be happy, oh and a Scimitar.
DEC 31, 2009 - 03:31 PM
Great subject but talk about cost-prohibitive! Thats $162 USD.
JAN 01, 2010 - 02:23 AM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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