I’ve always heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I’ve been beholding this kit for a month now as I’ve worked on it, and I keep coming to the same conclusion.
Fairey’s Barracuda was one ugly airplane.
While there have certainly been aircraft that looked far more odd, and a few even uglier, I can’t think of any that actually went into production. It kind of makes me chuckle, picturing some designer at the Fairey headquarters, sitting back from the drafting table and thinking “Yeah, baby- that is the airplane!”
Despite it’s looks though, it served well. Used as both a torpedo and dive bomber, it took part in the April 1944 attack on the Tirpitz. Serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific, the Barracuda uglied it’s way through WWII. IN fact, it served in the Fleet Air Arm until the mid-1950s. Proof that you can go far on something other than looks.
Still, I picture the Seafires and Sea Hurricanes sitting in the hangar bay making fun of the Barracuda.
But I’ve always loved the underdog. So when Agapemodels forum member Kevin Johnson (MIFlyer) offered to send me Planet Models’ 1/72 resin Barracuda TR Mk. V (for free!), how could I resist?
Planet Models’ kit was very nice. If your familiar with resin kits, it falls between the typical Anigrand kit, and a kit from Czech Master Resin. The parts are well cast, with virtually no pinholes or mis-cast areas. Casting blocks were simple to deal with for the most part. The resin was “just right”- not too soft or too brittle.
Cockpit detail was not bad, with some sidewall detail, reasonable seats, and even a fire extinguisher. I added some foil belts to help the seats out a bit.
The canopy was an injected canopy- no battles with my arch-rival and nemesis, Mr. Vacform Canopy, thankfully. It was reasonably clear, though slightly wider than it needed to be. Be prepared- masking this canopy is a time consuming task. Not too many odd curves or shapes, but there are 36 sections to be masked. So be patient.
The instructions aren’t crystal clear about how to align the various cockpit floors and bulkheads in, but I found out that with some test fitting, it all went together logically. I used some modeling clay to hold things together, and after a few fittings realized that there was really only one way it all went together right- and it just fit. Again, patience is the key.
Once the cockpit is secured in place, the fuselage should fit together well. On my example, I did do some light sanding on a flat surface to make sure the mating edges were as flat as possible. With a little extra CA (Super glue) applied along the join, some light sanding will have everything smoothed out.
The wings do not have any alignment tabs or pins. A diagram is provided in the instructions to show the angle of wing dihedral. On my kit, though the wing and fuselage had a nice fit, the angle was off, giving the wings a distinctive droop. I carefully sanded the wing root at a slight angle until I had it set right. I probably could’ve used some shims too. In any event- be careful. I was worried I would sand away too much, but I managed to get it reasonably close.
With the wings on, I added the tail planes and their struts, and the Barracuda was ready for paint.
I really love the FAA colors of that time period- the sky undersides, with dark slate gray and extra dark sea gray on top. I used Tamiya piant for the undersides, and Pollyscale for the uppers. I decided to go for a rahter weathered look, and used various oil washes with white, yellow and raw umber. I did the washes in blotches, tryig to acheive a patchy, random weathered look. I liked the results, actually. In past weathering attempts, I’d tried pre-shading, post shading, blotching, various shades of a base color. This time, it was simple. Paint on the main colors, then just slap oils around until it looks a mess, dust them off with a dry brush after they have a few minutes to dry, and you’ve got a dirtied up finish. (Or that’s the theory.)
(Oh yeah…. I added the decals before the weathering so they’d get dirtied up too.)
I finished the kit off by adding the last bits…. props, antennas, landing gear, oddities that they are.
In the end, it was…. well, ugly. But fun. 🙂
The trouble with the Barracuda is, even when you do a decent job of building, painting and finishing, you sit back and think “Well, it’s still one ugly airplane.”
If you’re looking for a fun, unusual kit to satisfy the resin urge, take a look at Planet Models Fairey Barracuda TR Mk. V. Just don’t look too long…. it might hurt your eyes. 😉