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Westland Wyvern S.4 The mythical beast

How I ended up building this particular kit
I don't know if it is the double contra-rotating propellers, mid-fuselage mounted exhausts, or the huge tail fin, but something in its aggressive lines was compelling. After seeing models built of this beast of an aircraft, I wanted to build one too. Unfortunately, the options at the time were somewhere between slim & none. The only thing I knew of was the Dynavector vac-form kit (I was unaware of the ancient Frog kit back then). With no chance of finding one in the model shops, I had no choice but to wait. When Classic Airframes came up with a kit in 1:48, I was a bit disappointed to hear that it had a one-part spinner. In addition to the quite high price, I would have to face either cutting the spinner in two, or buying an after-market spinner. In my opinion, the double propellers just don't look right with the blades in a row. Then I heard of a Trumpeter kit in 1:72. After reading some favourable reviews, I decided to give it a try.

Looking inside the box
The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box typical of Trumpeter. Inside I found six sprues of styrene parts (one of them clear), the instruction booklet, decals, and a piece of acetate film (for the instrument dials). The plastic parts are finely moulded with delicate recessed panel lines (some are in fact a little too delicate, and could benefit from re-scribing) and are almost completely free of flash. Decals offer three marking choices (one of them with Suez stripes), look well printed, thin, and have minimal carrier film. The instructions refer to Gunze Sangyo paints, but this is not mentioned anywhere. There's no paint chart either. Some errors have slipped in as well. Step seven shows the internal canopy brace attached to the cockpit behind the seat, but it should be glued inside the canopy, as correctly shown in step 21. The decal sheet includes stencils for the propellers, but these are strangely not mentioned anywhere in the instructions or the painting guide. The wingtips should be fixed. Otherwise the instructions are fine.

As usual with aircraft kits, the instructions start with the cockpit. I recommend installing the seat and the instrument panel after painting. The ejection seat is made from ten parts, which is pretty unusual in this scale. It goes together easily. I recommend gluing parts C4 and C5 together before any other assembly, as they have no locating pins. These two make up the back of the seat, and if these are not correctly aligned, the seat will be crooked. No seat belts are included. I'm not aware of any after-market parts for this kit yet, so I modified a set of WW2 RAF photo-etched belts to make the harness. In 1:72, I think this looks right enough. Those yellow and black loops were also missing, so I made them from thin wire. The rest of the cockpit came together with no problems, only the side consoles required a little sanding to fit correctly. (See in-progress pic 01).

The instrument panel was the weirdest part of the whole kit. It's made of clear styrene, and acetate film dial faces that are supposed to be mounted behind it. The instrument panel is finely moulded, but for some reason, the dials are recessed on both sides. Because of this, the film dial face can't be seen through the clear panel. The inclusion of small photo-etched fret with seatbelts and an instrument panel would be nice. I didn't use the acetate film, choosing to just paint the clear panel black and painting some details to the dials with white. I used black as the main colour for the cockpit, as well as the fuselage sides - dry brushing with black grey highlighted the details. Red, blue and green as well as steel were used to pick out the numerous buttons and other details.

While the cockpit was drying, I built the propeller assembly. The engine cowling was also built at this stage. The instructions tell to attach the propellers to the engine cowling, but I kept the props separate to ease painting and protect them from damage. I painted the spinners with Vallejo's cavalry brown (982) and propellers have the traditional black blades with yellow tips, plus one small stencil decal per blade (number 6 on the sheet). These aren't mentioned on the instructions for some reason.

Next, I closed the fuselage halves. The tail landing gear must the attached at this point. It was first painted black and then drybrushed with steel. The mountings of the rear landing gear and engine cowling are thoughtfully engineered so that they fit only the right way. The cockpit has tabs that fit into slots in the fuselage halves. (See in-progress pic 02).

I had to trim about one millimeter from the edge of each mounting tab to get the cockpit fit correctly (trim only the tabs - the cockpit itself fits perfectly.). The locator slots are nice and long so no measuring needed here. I also thinned the tabs a little. After a few minutes of trimming, I could close the fuselage. There were no gaps, but a little putty was required. I also attached the arrestor hook at this stage.

Then came the wings. The kit features an option for folding wings, but I built mine with wings extended. The wing halves fit together well, but fitting the completed outer wings to the mid section was trickier. The outer sections of the wings are angled upward, and the left section required styrene sheet to get a proper angle. (Look at the last page of the instructions for a head-on view of the plane for the angle. The tailplane dihedral is also visible here). Airbrakes and landing flaps were also attached at this point. My only major complaint regarding the wings is the rocket mounting holes. If you want to have clean wings (like I did), you have to fill the holes. That was easy to do with styrene rod and super glue, but why they aren't flashed-over, like on the middle section, I really don't know. (See in-progress pics 03 & 04.) Note the filled rocket-mounted holes, styrene sheet shim in the wing joint, and the only pin-ejector marks that required filling).

Next I built the main landing gear and cemented it in place. (See in-progress pic 05). Fit was again good, but to get them fit deep enough in the mounting holes, I had to file the gear legs a little shorter. The landing gear doors were also glued on now. The instructions show the inner gear doors open, but I glued them shut, following the box art and a review in FSM. That review (in this year's October issue, by Chuck Davis) also pointed out that the drop tanks on the wings should be mounted on the fixed portion of the wings and the wing tips should be fixed, as they were foldable on early Wyverns only.

The canopy and horizontal stabilisers were added next. I masked the canopy before gluing, to protect it from glue stains. (See in-progress pic 06.) The spinner and exhausts are mounted temporarily with white-tac) The spinners and exhaust were mounted temporarily with blu-tac) The forward canopy has no frame on the bottom edge, and unfortunately it's connected to the sprue right there, so be careful when cutting. The horizontal stabilisers have finlets that were glued on before attaching to the fuselage. At this point I glued on the numerous tiny antennas, but left off the clear wingtip lights and fuselage windows as well as the exhausts. The pipes are molded solid so I opened them by first drilling to holes and carving the rest with a hobby knife. (See in-progress pic 07) This is easy to do and greatly enhances the appearance of the model. They were then painted black and drybrushed with Citadel's Tin Bitz and Boltgun Metal acrylics.

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About the Author

About Eetu Tahvonen (Emeritus)


A real beauty, well done Eetu
OCT 30, 2005 - 08:14 AM
Nice artical Eetu, makes me want one in my collection. I would have to go the 1/48 route though and although outside my sphere of real interest it does look pretty cool and would look good next to my Skyraider Thanks, more please Mal
OCT 30, 2005 - 08:28 AM
Good review of a good kit - I really enjoyed making mine.
OCT 30, 2005 - 09:07 AM
Hi Eetu! Well done article! Thanks for sharing it with us! Like Mal, the Wyvern is not in my "timezone", but after seeing your feature I'm tempted to give it a try... in 1/48 scale though. After all I have a F4U-7 in Suez Markings in my collection, so why not a Wyvern! Thanks again Eetu for the feature and Rowan for the editing work... Jean-Luc
OCT 30, 2005 - 08:47 PM
my first thought on seeing that article was "i want one!" it looks as if i wasnt the only one to think that either, wyvern campaign anyone?
OCT 31, 2005 - 05:32 AM