Author Topic: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale  (Read 253 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" was a license-built version of the more famous Westland Wyvern.



Unfortunately, these aircraft were ordered during an age of austerity under an ill-fated, contentious government.



Westland Western Australia was one of the country's more storied manufacturers, starting out building Avro 504s on license under the name Westland Aerocraft Western Australia. This was often abbreviated which led to much confusion.




The company became Westland Western Australia shortly after lengthy "Cease and Desist" letters arrived in the post. This change was quite cleverly spun in PR as a "Modernisation Programme".



The firm's technical expertise and experience mass-producing American Thunderbolts during the war made the future appear quite promising. Sadly, this promise would fail to be kept.



The aircraft while re-worked and produced locally still showed some of that famous Westland panache` but obvious native Australian engineering influences cannot be ignored.



Because of cut-backs, many economies had to be made, starting with cutting back the enormous and quite costly fin and rudder into something far more cost-effective.



The canopy, while still a bubble-top, was a new design using sub-standard recycled beer bottles instead of the pricey perspex mandated in the original specs.



The Wallaby was fitted with a standard 4 blade prop because the signature Wyvern contra-prop was considered an unnecessary extravagance.



The tail hook was beefed up in the hope this would cure the aircraft's propensity to deck-loop.



However the penny-pinching move with the most negative downstream effect was replacing the "money-is-no-object"  Armstrong Siddeley Python with the far more economical Armstrong Siddeley Sydney "Assp". This indigenous engine was a half-baked hybrid between a radial and a pure turbo-prop known as a turboed-radial-prop.



The Assp engine was so unsuccessful that it never had another practical application and its failure forced Armstrong Siddeley's Sydney concern into receivership.



Speaking of receiving, the Wallaby was initially recieved quite well by the RAN when it entered service. However, good-will for the type quickly eroded once flight operations commenced and pilots realized just how impotent the new fighter-bomber was. It could barely get off the deck carrying a combat load and even then ceiling was limited to only 2250 cm metric or about 75 feet, hardly optimal.



Once the Wallaby's lack of a performance envelope was reported in the Australian press, this caused the demise of the government which never had a good relationship with the media to begin with.



The aircraft is shown here wearing tail code ZZ which is less an identifier and more an indication of the type's somnambulance. Supposedly the Assp engine sounded like it was snoring when the fuel mix was set to lean for long-range cruise.



The number 114 on the nose suggests over one hundred of these carrier-based barges were built.



Oft derided by crews as the "Wallow Bee", RAN brass chose to interpret this epithet as "Well, I'll Be!" and forced the Wallaby to soldier, err sailor on far longer than it should have.



At least it was a handsome aircraft because it followed the design maxim that it is better to look good than to feel good.



It wasn't poor performance that would ultimately doom the Wallaby but a new, even more tight-fisted government that resorted to extreme measures enforcing fiscal responsibility.



Of course, such punitive policy was bound to lead to public protest.





But public protest would be to no avail and the Westland Western Australia Wallabies were withdrawn from service and scrapped.



Nothing exists of this on-the-cheap ship-board fighter today except a short-run Red-in-the-Face Roo kit which is no longer available either in stores or on TV the Tele. This Wallaby model is depicted gamely lofting a torpedo, a mission best accomplished in the imagination.



However, memories of this RAN also-ran linger to this day in the nightmares of those pilots who flew the woe-begone Wallaby.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 02:33:23 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2019, 03:04:21 AM »
This all started when the Big Gimper came to my rescue on a recent build. While I didn't end out using the parts he sent, having them gave me the confidence to go ahead. Well, along with those parts, he generously sent what he calls his "leavings". Included was a lovely bagged 1/72 Frog Westland Wyvern minus that famously huge contra-prop.



Mr Gimper does indeed know me well and understands such little things like that rarely stop me. You see, I had the rear engine part from a Skyraider he sent to fill the gap. Here's a mock-up.



Next, I wanted to fill those exhaust holes to counter any see-thru effect. A few bits of crimped plastic drinking straws were used.



On top, I swapped out the kit canopy for a 1/48 P-40 drop-tank half which fit with the new, shorter fin & rudder.



Here's how it looked after the main coat of paint (Model Masters Gray Primer acrylic) was on. I also did the exhausts in Jet Exhaust.



The prop is from a P-47 and is just placed there. I like to think of this as an "All Gimper" build since he sent me everything except the prop, straws, paint, decals and tiny part below.



While getting ready for the second color, I noticed I busted off the tiny tail hook. I used part of a staple as the fix.



I deliberately made it "wrong" but I think the more robust look is very Australian.

The second top color is a custom medium gray. The canopy was painted Model Masters Insignia Blue and given a shiny top coat of Liquitex Acrylic Artist's Medium. The guns and engine were given custom mixes.



Those lovely Red Roo roundels were sent by Bill (thanks a million, amigo!) and the rest of the decals were spares but the ZZs were from a Mike Grant sheet intended for Canadian subjects. Oops.



The torpedo was from Mr Gimper and I kept it "as-is" only painting the pylon to match. I think this wonderful little weapon shows some fine modeling chops and it's like getting a famous autograph so I'm thrilled to use it.



I was once again able to employ my Airfix stand with great delight.



Before I forget, here's a couple of "money shots", U.S. penny for scale.



I've been working on this over the last few days and I had a blast the whole time.



I'd like to thank Mr Gimper for his kindness and generosity, not only in providing most of this build but also for suggesting the back story include lovely Wawa, Ontario: population 3700 and 1 big goose.

I hope you enjoyed the Wallaby and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if the so-called "experts" refuse to believe this RAN also-ran ever really ran.



Brian da Basher


Online Old Wombat

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2019, 09:26:49 AM »
Certainly weren't any in the RAN FAA Museum when I worked there in the mid-80's, although there were some parts in the spares shed which may have come from a Wobbly ... sorry Wallow Bee.

 ;) :smiley:
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline kitnut617

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2019, 11:44:07 PM »
That definitely puts a different slant on the Wyvern Brian,  very nice  :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Offline apophenia

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 03:53:40 AM »
Love it! Great build and a typically hilarious BdB backstory  :smiley:

BTW: Did you mean to say "woe-begone Wallaby"? Or was it 'Wollongong Wallaby'?
"And loot some for the old folks, Can't loot for themselves"

Offline Robomog

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 06:22:51 PM »
Nice build Brian, it's amazing that something simple like changing the propellor can alter the whole look of an aircraft.

Mog
>^-.-^<

Offline Dr. YoKai

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2019, 11:39:25 PM »
By Saint Wollamaloo's  winsome winking Knickers!*  Nice bit of visualizing, Brian - makes me want to dig out the one I've got in my stash.

*Reputedly a common expression in NSW. The origins are obscure.

Offline buzzbomb

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Re: The Westland Western Australia "Wallaby" - a RAN also-ran in 1/72 scale
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 03:42:58 PM »
LOLS  great work Mr Basher