De Havilland Sea Venom
RAN & French Aquilon
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Sea Venom model in 1/32 scale made by Meindert de Vreeze
Modelling report on...


The Revell 1/32 Sea Venom kit #4709 is the same as the originally released Matchbox Lesney PK-506 kit issued 1980. 

The 1/32 scale Matchbox Lesney kits were known as being very good, with good accuracy and shape. I was told that the dimensions of the kit (length and span) were pretty well ( within a margin of a couple of millimeters) and I am not surprised as Matchbox did make simple but accurate kits at the time. They had access to the real thing. 

Their detail level was limited however to keep costs down, but they are an excellent starting point to make a very good and detailed model. The same applies to the Sea Venom kit. 

OK, what is in the kit?

The instructions look like the original Matchbox ones, but Revell has improved them in some areas. 

The Revell kit has about 150 parts in white plastic. (The Matchbox kit's plastic has as some modelers may remember several colours, to help the younger modeler to get some colour on an unpainted model). 

So, exactly the same parts and sprues are found in the Revell kit, although Revell has cleaned up the mould of the transparent parts to remove tiny scratches. Well done!

In the kit there are parts to create some different variants: FAW 22 (FAA), FAW 53 (RAN), NF.3 (RAF). 

You get some variations on parts like the different wheelbay shapes, a flat or bulged double canopy and different stores and decals. You also get parts for a miniature Ghost engine for which you can leave the top access panels open.  The rear fuselage has two options as well.

The decals are of the usual very high Revell quality with versions for three planes: 
(1) Royal Navy 894 NAS (Albion 1960), 
(2) Royal Air Force 89 squadron (1955), 
(3) Royal Australian Nav 724 NAS op HMAS Melbourne (1962)
(The decals are not a complete copy of the Matchbox ones).

I purchased the Revell kit but in the “stack” I found also an old Matchbox kit. I decided to make two models simultaneously. Looking at possible markings and variants, I found out from an old Air International magazine that also the French navy used “all blue” Sea Venoms, called Aquilons (French for "Sea Eagle"). Several variants were deployed and the Aquilons differ in details from the British FAA Sea Venoms. It would be interesting to make such a model and would not require a very big kit modification.

For the other kit, making a RAN Australian FAW 53 would be nice. I saw one at a museum in South Australia and this looked a nice scheme. 

For this kit you are on your one regarding detailling as I could not find any add-on commercial sets from resin what so ever on the market. This modelling report will show you how I tackled these kits.

But, let's look first at some history of the real Sea Venoms

De Havilland Sea Venom 

The Royal Navy was interested in the NF.2 after carrier prototype trials went well enough. It lead to the development of the “navalized” NF.2. The first flew April 1951, designated "Sea Venom NF.20. It was generally similar to the NF.2, but with a strengthened construction and also an arresting hook fitted in an “upper lip” at the aft fuselage. 

The first of 50 production "Sea Venom FAW (Fighter All Weather) 20" flew March 1953. It had the  Ghost 103 engine, an AI.10 radar, and a clear-view canopy similar to that of  the NF.2A. The FAW.20 entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1954

Further improvements are always needed and the next version, the FAW 21, first flew April 1954. The tailplane extensions outboard of the tailfins were deleted and it got a Ghost 104 engine, Westinghouse AI-21 radar, a modified canopy with a bulged top to improve headroom, power boosted rudders and ailerons, nonskid brakes, and inflatable seat packs to assist in underwater escapes. 
Martin Baker Mark 4A ejection seats were fitted in the 100th machine; it is unclear if they were retrofitted to earlier production planes.  Of the FAW 21 167 planes were built. 

Next came in 1957 and 1958 the final Sea Venom variant, the “FAW 22". It was fitted with a Ghost 105 engine and an improved AI.22 radar. Also, many FAW 22s were adapted after delivery to carry DH Blue Jay (later Firestreak). Of the FAW 22, 39 planes were built. 

The Royal Navy FAA obtained a total of 256 Sea Venoms of all types. 

Also, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was interested in the Sea Venom. Several planes were ordered as the FAW 53, being the Australian designation for the Sea Venom, of which 39 built.
The navy had the carriers HMAS Sydney (formerly HMS Terrible) and HMAS Melbourne (formerly HMS Majestic). Hawker Furies and Fireflies were operated from these and later the Sea Venoms until 1970/ 1971 along with Gannets.

(premier jet embarqué sur un porte-avions français)

After the Second World War, the French Navy also worked on their naval power, modelling aircraft carriers like the Foch and Clemenceau. So a shipboard jet fighter was needed and in January 1951 the Aeronavale selected the Sea Venom FAW.20 as this British ship board jet fighter in development seemed promising. With De Haviland, arrangements were made for license manufacture by SNCASE (later Sud-Aviation). The French Sea Venom was given the name of "Aquilon , French for “Sea Eagle".
The versions were:
* Aquilon 20  (de Havilland kits / licensed)
* Aquilon 201 (single prototype, based on FAW.20)
* Aquilon 202 (based on FAW.22)
* Aquilon 203 (a single seater all weather fighter with American APQ 94 radar and a  single pilot). 
* Aquilon 204 (trainer model of the 202)

Introducing the Aquilon started with four "kitted" Sea Venom FAW 20 planes shipped from De Havilland. It was first flown in 1952 and about twenty "Aquilon 20" machines were built. 

Improvements on the Aquilon were desired however, and a single prototype "Aquilon 201" made by Sud-Est. It was based on the Sea Venom NF Mk.52 but with a Fiat Ghost 48 mk.1 engine and a new rear-sliding canopy. It also got ejection seats built by Sud-Est; (some sources claim they were a Martin-Baker design built under license).

The first “new all Sud built” production machine was the "Aquilon 202", flying March 1954 with a total of 25  planes built. It had an American radar and a Derveaux DRAX-4A radar rangefinder. It featured the ejection seats for both crew members and an adapted rear-sliding canopy with changed canopy frames. Also it got antiskid brakes and was powered by a Fiat-built Ghost 48 mk.1 engine. The armament consisted of the usual four Hispano 20 mm cannons in the lower fuselage nose.

The "Aquilon 203" came next, with 40 planes made. Based on 202, it was further modified. It got an American AN/APQ-94 radar and the radar equipment was so large that it demanded removal of the right seat, with now only the left seat for the flying pilot. The Aquilon 203 could also launch the Nord 5103 / AA.20 radio-guided AAM, with one carried under each wing. Later it was capable of firing R.511 semi-active radar homing AAM missiles and AS-20 air-to-surface missiles. 

Some Aquilons were later modified as "Aquilon 204" radar trainers and stripped of armament and fitted with the AN/APQ-65 radar. Removal of the armament permitted again the fit of the second seat for the trainee. They had probably also short stroke legs, so were only usable on land based fields.

French Aquilons operated aircraft from their aircraft carriers and land bases. The French Aquilons were generally out of service by 1960, but some remained in training roles for a few more years.

- All the production Aquilons retained the larger/original De Havilland FAW.20 overhanging horizontal tailplane with single trim tab. (The British Sea Venom FAW.20 had this extended tailplane, but the following mk. 21 and later marks had these deleted in the U.K. versions).
- The vertical tails of the earlier Aquilons as on early Sea Venoms were a bit pointier and had a pitot on the leading edge on the first planes.
- Fuselage access panels in the nose differ between early and later Aquilon variants.

S.N.C.A.S.E. 'Aquilon' type 202
Two-seater version with ejector seats, an American radar AN/APQ-65 and air conditioning.
Span:   13.07   m 
Length :   11.16   m
Height :   2.60   m 
Crew: 2
De Havilland 'Ghost' 48 engine 2270 kgp
Max speed :   945   km/h 
Armament :   4 Hispano 20 mm cannons
S.N.C.A.S.E. 'Aquilon' type 203
Single-seat version with an American radar AN/APQ-94 and equipped with racks for the air-to-air missiles.
Span:   13.07   m 
Length :   11.10   m
Height :   2.31   m 
Crew: 1
De Havilland 'Ghost' 48 engine 2270 kgp
Max speed :   945   km/h 
Armament :   4 Hispano 20 mm cannons

So some sources suggest that the Aquilon 503 was 0.06 m less long than the type 202, but it could not be determined if and how this was done.

Back to 1/32 model kits now.

For model 1,  it was decided to create an “overall blue” Aquilon 203 as it seemed quite common to the kit's FAW   22. And in addition, adding more detail would be nice. So it would get folded wings (option of the kit), an opened engine bay (option of the kit) and a scratch build opened up nose avionics bay and radar nose. 

For model 2,  the “standard dark sea grey and white” Australian Sea Venom FAW 53 was picked, a hatch would be opened in the nose to show some details inside. Otherwise, the model would be made with level unfolded wings but added details in the two seat cockpit.

So, before starting assembly, the opened up hatches were cut open in the main fuselage halves with a razor saw. Next, the major parts were separated from the sprues and re-scribed in some areas with an Olfa P-cutter. Please note that (Sea) Venoms had wooden fuselages that were covered with fabric. 

The building report will indicate the step numbers as shown in the instructions; the order will be changed however to ease assembly.

Steps 1 - 2
The intake ducts were simply assembled, but not a lot will be seen later on.

Steps 3 - 8
The Aquilon model would have its engine access panel opened, this needed adding detail in the engine area. With sprue and rod this was done. The basic Ghost engine is provided in the kit. 
(The RAN Sea Venom model would not display the engine, so it was not assembled for this model). 


Steps 9-10
Next, the kit's interior was tackled; it is basic but offers an excellent base for detailing which is well visible under the large open canopy. 
Sea Venom

I searched on the Internet through Google for pictures of the cockpit. Instrument panels were made from thin card with the dials and clocks drilled open. (later on I would put there decals for the clocks). 
The moulded trim wheel on the left side console was cut off and replaced. Some details like the control stick still to be fitted.

 .  ... Sea Venom cockpit, note the white plastic of the Revell kit
Cockpit details added were also some stringers the side walls and rods and details from sprue en the spares box. 

Also added were an extended floor (not yet seen above), seat floor rails and foot controls for the pilot in the lefts seat. The right seat on the Sea Venom was set a bit aft and lower and what was the area crampted!

For the Aquilon 203, the right seat was not to be installed as room was needed for avionics boxes and equipment. I did not have Aquilon cockpit pictures but “guessed” and added plastic from card and the spares box. I assumed a radar scope on the right but a similar cockpit instrument lay-out on the left.  The basic interior colours on these early jets were “typically black” so not a lot will be seen in detail anyway. 
   .... The old Matchbox kit with differently coloured plastic parts....

In addition, this Aquilon 203 has a different rear sliding canopy with a larger front transparent section. I would have to make a new canopy, more on that later on.

Step 12
The basic fuselage was now assembled as indicated in the instructions.

Steps 13-14
The 4 Hispano canon nozzles were drilled open in part #8 and plastic open tubings glued inside the part. Also, the aft  section of the nose wheel bay roof in part #8 was cut out and some depth added with plastic card. I kept the attachement floor section not to loose strength.

The RAN Sea Venom model had a right hand hatch opened up in the nose, to add some life to the model. The bay was detailed and a bulkhead added from card using the drawing from Air International. The nose radome was fitted.

Additional forward nose area hatches were opened up on the Aquilon model to show some extra detail later on. 

Steps 19-20
The Sea Venom rear tail parts were used on both models; (step 20 is not applicable)

Now, the entire fuselage and wing (root) sections were filled and sanded smooth. Do this BEFORE going further as you can now well handle the fuselage.

The area next to the jet pipe also needs some filler and card. I made the gap around the tail pipe smaller by making a small ceiling from thin card. 

As noted, for the Aquilon model, the engine would be displayed. If you want to do this on yoir Sea Venom, a similar approach can be followed. Not many pictures were searched on the details as Matchbox did research very well at the time.
  Aquilon model with engine (bay) details


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References recommended by Meindert de Vreeze

- De Havilland DH112 Venom and Sea Venom, Warpaint serie, no 44
- Air International Vol.39, page 81 (with history and drawings)
- Aeroplane Monthly, 1978, page 300


- Aquilon French photo website:

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Created this page January 21, 2008