Author Topic: Suez War Kittiwake in 1/72, Rod Lewis' warbird WA232  (Read 596 times)

Offline KiwiZac

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Suez War Kittiwake in 1/72, Rod Lewis' warbird WA232
« on: January 14, 2020, 04:54:55 AM »
FB.2 WA232/N232RL
Airfix 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Academy 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr

Upon retirement in June 1960 the stripped airframe of FB.2 WA232 was purchased by the Duxford Parish Council, which repainted the aircraft into the type's last scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey over Sky with roundels and it was placed on poles in a playground near Duxford airfield.

Airfix 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Airfix 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr

The aircraft was enjoyed by countless children for nearly three decades before it was decided the airframe had deteriorated and become unsafe. In October 1988 Mark Hanna of Duxford-based warbird collection the Old Flying Machine Company offered to purchase the Kittiwake and replace it with a fibreglass replica. Accordingly the old navy bird was lifted from its perch and the OFMC imported a replica produced by Transavia in Australia, which was painted in more colourful Suez War markings and installed in mid-1989.

Some restoration work was carried out on WA232 however it was overtaken by other projects and was placed in storage by 1999. Mark Hanna was tragically killed after a landing accident in OFMC's Hispano Buchon on September 28 that year and his father Ray progressively scaled-down the collection over the following years (New Zealand-born Ray, one of the original Red Arrows and an icon in the UK warbird scene, died in Switzerland of natural causes in December 2005).

Offered for sale in May 2011 the Kittiwake was purchased by Texan oil magnate Rod Lewis and shipped to New Zealand for restoration by AvSpecs at Ardmore, arriving in September 2012. As the airframe had been gutted before being put in the playground and the Hannas had accumulated only a small amount of spares, a worldwide hunt for parts ensued to make sure the aircraft was returned to stock condition.

Academy 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Academy 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Academy 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Academy 1/72 Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake by Zac Yates, on Flickr

Its first flight at Ardmore was January 01 2015 in the colours it wore during Operation Musketeer during the Suez War. It made its airshow debut at Classic Fighters Omaka that Easter, afterward being shipped to USA. It went on to win several awards at the 2016 EAA Airventure at Oshkosh and now flies from the San Antonio, Texas base of Lewis Flying Legends.

***
This is a different one. The playground version is the ancient Airfix 1/72 P-40E which was one of the first Kittiwakes I built in 2005, which I tried to weather and decided would look at home in a playground. I just drilled holes and superglued toothpicks into it yesterday to represent the mounting poled. The restored version is the Academy 1/72 Curtiss P-40M/N kit with markings from an Xtradecal Sea Fury sheet and my decal library, cannon from my spares box, and Airfix Firefly Mk.V prop and spinner courtesy of a kit a friend sent me. This build is a more recent one, using a kit generously sent to me by a friend at another forum and the weapons are from an Airfix 1/72 Typhoon.

I hope you enjoy this addition to the Kittiwake story!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 08:38:36 AM by KiwiZac »
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 elmayerle

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Re: Suez War Kittiwake in 1/72, Rod Lewis' warbird WA232
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2020, 08:44:09 AM »
Beautiful work and plausible story!!  The playground one looks as beat up as the T-33 that was in a playground near where I grew up here in Texas.

Offline Camthalion

  • The man has done a pink tank...need we say more?!
Re: Suez War Kittiwake in 1/72, Rod Lewis' warbird WA232
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2020, 10:23:05 AM »
very nice

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Suez War Kittiwake in 1/72, Rod Lewis' warbird WA232
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 11:31:10 AM »
Whoa, that is one heck of a load-out!  Love the grungy playground finish  :-*
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