Sunderland Mk. III
The Short Sunderland, one of the most famous seaplanes of World War II. It came into service toward the end of 1938, equipping the Royal Air Force squadrons of Coastal Command. The Mark III turned out to be the definitive Sunderland variant, with 461 built. Most were built by Shorts at Rochester and Belfast, a further 35 at a new (but temporary)[N 3] Shorts plant at White Cross Bay, Windermere; while 170 were built by Blackburn Aircraft. The Sunderland Mark III proved to be one of the RAF Coastal Command's major weapons against the U-boats, along with the Consolidated PBY Catalina.
As the U-boats began to use ‘Metox’ passive receivers the ASV Mk II radar gave away the presence of aircraft and the number of sightings diminished drastically. The RAF response was to upgrade to the ASV Mk III, which operated in the 50 cm band with antennas that could be faired into fewer more streamlined blisters. During the Mk III's life there were a large number of almost continuous improvements made including the ASV Mk IIIA and four more machine guns in a fixed position in the wall of the forward fuselage just behind the turret (developed on RAAF aircraft first) with a simple bead and ring sight for the pilot.
Offensive weapons loads increased too. The introduction of the hydrostatically fused 250 lb (110 kg) depth charge meant that additional weapons could be carried on the floor of the bomb room in wooden restraints along with ammunition boxes of 10 and 25 lb anti-personnel bombs that could be hand launched from various hatches to harass U-boat crews otherwise manning the twin 37 and dual quadruple 20 mm cannons with which U-boats were fitted.
This is the second Sunderland from Italeri, the first being the Mk I. a couple of years ago. My sample arrived in a very large corrugated box with a beautiful painting of a Sunderland on very choppy seas attempting a daytime rescue of a downed aircrew in a life raft. Inside I found six large sprues, a smaller clear sprue, a small photo-etch fret, a piece of thread, color instructions sheet and a large decal sheet with 6 options. All the parts were well protected in poly bags and undamaged. The parts exhibit heavy panel lines and rivets while the clear parts have weak detail. However, they have almost no flash or sink marks and are otherwise pretty decent. The brass photo-etch fret is very nicely done and has excellent detail. The decals appear to be very nice and have good coloring.
- RAAF, No. 10 Sqn., Mount Batten, G.B. May1943.
- SEAC, No. 230 Sqn., Koggala, Ceylon, October 1944.
- RAF, No. 461 Sqn Mount Batten G.B. July 1942.
- Aeronavale, Escadrille 7, Dakar, Senegal, 1943.
- RAAF, No. 10 Sqn., Mount Batten, G.B. early 1942.
- RAAF, 40 Sqn., Townsville, Australia, 1944.
Jumping in feet first and starting with the cockpit you have a choice of two instrument panel options. First you may use a decal over the raised detail or you can scrape off the detail and use the decal with a photo-etch face. I decided to forgo the photo-etch and was pleased with the results. The seats have photo-etch back supports plus harness belts and they build up nicely. The rest of the build up of the cockpit section went together pretty smoothly. I soon had the lower hold section assembled and I then attached them together with no problems. The anchor receives the thread and it looks very much like scale rope when stowed in the lower section. Next I installed all the small porthole windows in the fuselage halves. I think this area is the weakest part of the kit and caused me a lot of extra problems. I found the fit less than desirable and very loose. They are overly thick, uneven and most were badly dimpled. I finally just decided to fill in around each porthole with super glue and sand them smooth, maybe not the best choice on my part and maybe I should have just left them alone. The fuselage halves also have a few hard to remove molding lines/steps that need attending and rescribing. I then built up the bomb bay section and decided to leave the bomb doors opened. Then the aft gunners turret and forward nose gun turret were completed with no problems. The nose turret can be posed in the open or extended position. The aft turret received a few photo-etch enhancements. After adding the remaining parts to the interior I closed up the fuselage halves. More port hole windows were to be added at this point complicating the joint. Moving onto the wings, ailerons and tail pieces, they all went together satisfactory except for the landing light lenses. They are way undersized and are worthless. I wound up using thermo-plastic from a scrap blister package and made new ones. I then mated the wings to the fuselage, was less than satisfied with the fit and used quite a bit of putty to make them presentable. I then turned my attention to the bomb trolleys and bombs, even with the photo-etch upgrades these items appear toy-like at best. The outboard pontoons were easy enough but require rigging. The engines and nacelles are a bit tricky and proved to be challenging to align with one another. The exhaust pipes have photo-etch support stanchions that proved problematic leaving the modeler with a lot of guess work of how to bend them up correctly and proper placement. The top turret was next and it went together ok however, as with all the other clear parts, the detail is faint making masking them a guessing game. Building up the beaching gear and tail trolley-cart, these built up ok but the beaching gear will not sit on all four tires. I wound up cutting off the outboard wheels and fudging them into position. The trolley-cart gets the photo-etch treatment where it represents a canvas sling. After painting and decals I added all the antenna.
The Bottom Line
This is not a kit for the beginner and proved to be a very challenging build.
I would Like to thank Italeri, MRC Academy and IPMS for the opportunity to present this model.