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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Matchbox Walrus Mk-1

An early 1970's Matchbox 1/72 scale three colour kit (PK-105) of a Supermarine Walrus Mk 1.

The aircraft depicted on the box lid was carried on board the Royal Navy ship HMS Sheffield in 1938. The kit also includes decals for an RAF aircraft from 283 Squadron stationed in Italy during 1944.

The Walrus (originally called the Seagull V) was developed in response to a request from the Royal Australian Navy for an aircraft which could be carried aboard their cruisers and launched by catapult with a full payload.

The aircraft, designed by R J Mitchell (who also designed the Spitfire), was first flown in June 1933.

When flying from a warship, the Walrus would be recovered by touching-down alongside, then being lifted from the sea by a ship's crane. The aircraft's lifting-gear was kept in a compartment in the section of wing directly above the engine - one of the Walrus crew would climb onto the top wing and attach this to the crane hook.

The aircraft was usually armed with two .303 Vickers machine guns - one in the nose and one at the rear. It could also carry up to 760 lbs (340 kilos) of bombs or depth charges.

Twenty four aircraft were delivered for service on Australian cruisers including the Canberra, Sydney and Perth between 1935 and 1937.

Further orders followed from the RAF and other overseas Air Forces and Navies (see below) and eventually 740 aircraft in total were constructed.

The Walrus' main intended use was a gunnery spotting aircraft during naval engagements but this only happened on handful of occasions. It's main use was as a patrol aircraft, helping to locate enemy submarines and surface raiders. It was also used by the RAF as an air sea rescue aircraft around the British Coast, in the Mediterranean and India.

By 1943, catapult-launched aircraft on cruisers and battleships were being phased out, having been superseded by advances in radar technology.

Apart from the RAAF, Fleet Air Arm and RAF, Walruses saw military service with various forces around the world including the Irish Air Corps, RCAF, RNZAF and Soviet Naval Aviation.

Post war, aircraft saw service with the Argentinian Navy, the French Navy (Aviation Navale) as well as with the Egyptians and Turks. A few aircraft found civilian use aboard whaling ships operating in the Antarctic which had been fitted with ex Navy catapult equipment. Some others were used for carrying passengers in places such as Canada, Norway and Australia.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay here.

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