Author Topic: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale  (Read 1483 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The Grumman Martlet was one of the Royal Navy's iconic W.W. II fighters.



Less well-thought-of was its immediate follow-on, the Grumman Bartlett.



This also-ran began when the Royal Navy requested changes to the Martlet to improve speed, high-altitude performance, and pilot vision after suffering terrible losses in the Battle for the Faroes.





Grumman responded by enlarging the Martlet and adding an experimental new engine, the Wright R-3355 Mulitplex-Cyclone X of enormous power. The landing gear was also upgraded with a more robust assembly which retracted back into the wing. Pilot vision was improved when Grumman poached Brewster's chief canopy engineer who designed a glass-house style enclosure for the new Fleet Air Arm fighter.







The U.S. Navy showed little interest, not willing to gamble on an un-proven power plant. The Royal Navy, however, could not afford to be so choosy and quickly placed an order.



The new fighter was put through its paces for the Royal Navy whose own test-flight was abbreviated due to pilot hang-over.
After stumbling out of the plane and weaving back a distance, he declared it reminded him of a certain type of pear and from here on out, the aircraft would be known as the Grumman Bartlett.



Unfortunately, the Royal Navy's short-and-sweet flight masked the Bartlett's fatal flaw which would become all too apparent after the aircraft was taken into service.



It wasn't the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Wright R-3355 Mulitplex-Cyclone X engine that was the culprit.



It was the seat. Built on the cheap by shoddy sub-contractors, these often caused pilot hemorrhoids, especially on long missions. However, as there were no other modern carrier-borne fighters to be had, the Fleet Air Arm bravely soldiered on with their Bartletts.



The leading Bartlett ace was one Commander Fredrick "Iron Fanny" Fanshawe who is credited with 5.25 kills over the Aegean while commanding 1538 squadron aboard the HMS Preparation.



The Bartlett shown here was flown by  Lt. William "Chilly Willy" Childers of 1506 squadron and was known for the epic pursuit and downing of an enemy Wahl flying boat in the North Sea. Even though the Wahl was slower than the Bartlett by a factor of three, the chase took over four hours because of navigation errors.



After all that time in the air (and in that horrid seat), Lt. Childers had to be helped from the cockpit when he eventually landed on the HMS Uncomfortable.



The ship's surgeon stated the only thing saving Lt. Childers from permanent disability was the bitter cold temperature which apparently froze his kiester and thus lessened the injury his Bartlett's poor seat had caused.



Fortunately for the Royal Navy, Grumman continued to work on the design and eventually swapped out the experimental Wright R-3355 Mulitplex-Cyclone X with the tried-and-true R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone which would become famous in its own right. As would the new fighter, the Grumman Hellcat.



The Fleet Air Arm and its pilots couldn't be rid of the Bartlett fast enough and converted to the new Hellcat with whiplash speed. The Bartlett was removed from service and nothing remains of it today except for a long out-of-production conversion set and a few aging fighter pilots who still may not be able to sit quite comfortably.



Brian da Basher



« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 04:22:39 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 04:29:55 AM »
This all began with a 1/72 Academy Hellcat that showed up in a care package recently (thanks a million, hamsterman!). Isn't the box art great? I can almost see the Marianas Turkey Shoot!



What's inside the box is pretty sweet too, especially by Academy standards.



I've built a few Academy kits over the years and usually they're full of flash, poor-if-at-all-fitting and often short-shot. This was not at all the case here. The parts were well-molded and fit was good. No filler was needed. However, a bit of force was. Here's how it looked after I cut the fuselage to accept the Brewster Buffalo canopy. The rubber bands were key to getting not only the dihedral, but actually getting the wing roots to meet the fuselage.







After kludging on the new canopy, I looked for more mods. The aircraft is so large up front that options were limited. However, the engine and cowling from a P-47 seemed a good fit.



After that, it was off to the paint shop. The old hairy stick and a fair bit of Model Masters RAF Sky acrylic was used on the underside.



On the uppers, it was Poly Scale Italian Underside Gray and a home-made green mix. The canopy was tinted on the inside with Insignia Blue.



Decals were mostly from a 1/72 Airfix Mosquito except for the Royal Navy titles and numbers. I have no idea where those orphans came from nor can I recall where I found the character for the nose, but the victory marking is from a P-51 I think.



I had a lot of fun on this project which only took three days from start to finish.





Photographing and posting this took a bit longer because work has been busy.



Don't you hate it when making a living interferes with modeling time?





If you ever get the yen to build a Hellcat in 1/72 scale, I can recommend this kit. It's probably not as pricey as the Tamiyagawa kind and may not just fall together but it builds up nice if you use a trick or two.



Speaking of tricks, here's a couple of shots showing a trick of the light. I never cease to be fascinated at how this changes things.





Although maybe my models look better the less light there is...



I hope you enjoyed the Grumman Bartlett and reading a little more aircraft history that's fallen through the cracks.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 04:46:34 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 05:02:25 AM »
Top work Brian. Now I know why I'd not seen any Bartletts at airshows. If I'd known this history as a kid it'd put me right off warbirds!!! :icon_crap:
With warm regards from Whanganui, New Zealand

"Who said Kiwis can't fly...though this one can organise for a kit of the Fletcher FU24 to be produced!"

Offline pigflyer

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 06:53:17 AM »
Superb build BdB, and more terrific aviation history revealed. A truly wonderful reveal.
I do have a question though;

Quote,  'It was the seat. Built on the cheap by shoddy subcontractors, these often caused pilot hemorrhoids'.
Who contracts the builders of shoddy submarines to build aircraft seats? What an idiot.

(BTW, Wing commander Ian "Widge" Gleed used the cat Figaro character, destroying a swastika, on just about every
aircraft he flew. Three panels from separate aircraft flown by Widge, all showing the cat, are in the RAF museum.)  ;)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 06:54:55 AM by pigflyer »
If I don't plan it, it can't go wrong!

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Offline finsrin

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2017, 08:53:37 AM »
Oh sure,,, remember seeing pictures and story about Bartlett in a paperback or magazine back in the 60s.  Paint scheme and all.  Don't recall mention of seat problem.  Maybe it was still a "sensitive" subject.  Is one fine build. :)

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2017, 04:53:10 AM »
I understand that offering a captured enemy pilot a chance to sit in the cockpit was considered a war crime in some circles...
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline Tophe

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2017, 03:30:36 PM »
I was puzzled by the connection between a warbird and suppositories, but the text fully explains, thanks! This is the dark side of the Real World... ;) :-\ :)

Offline elmayerle

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Re: The Fleet Air Arm Grumman Bartlett - a Painful Tail in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2017, 10:24:47 PM »
I saw the name and I thought it might be named for a military ancestor of the president in West Wing but I like your derivation better.  Beautiful model and well combined bits.