Oxford Diecast 1/72nd scale 72SW001 Supermarine Seagull / Walrus A2-4 RAAF (RAF Museum Hendon). Buy online at Flying Tigers.
The Supermarine Walrus was a British single-engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft designed by R. J. Mitchell and first flown in 1933. It was operated by the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and also served with the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). It was the first British squadron-service aircraft to incorporate a fully retractable main undercarriage, completely enclosed crew accommodation, and an all-metal fuselage in one airframe. Designed for use as a fleet spotter to be catapult launched from cruisers or battleships, the Walrus was later employed in a variety of other roles, most notably as a rescue aircraft for downed aircrew. It continued in service throughout the Second World War.
The first Seagull V, A2-1, was handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1935, with the last, A2-24 delivered in 1937. The type served aboard HMA Ships Australia, Canberra, Sydney, Perth and Hobart.
Walrus deliveries to the RAF started in 1936 when the first example to be deployed was assigned to the New Zealand division of the Royal Navy, on Achilles– one of the Leander-class light cruisers that carried one Walrus each. The Royal Navy Town-class cruisers carried two Walruses during the early part of the war and Walruses also equipped the York-class and County-class heavy cruisers. Some battleships, such as Warspite and Rodney carried Walruses, as did the monitor Terror and the seaplane tender Albatross.
By the start of World War II the Walrus was in widespread use. Although its principal intended use was gunnery spotting in naval actions, this only occurred twice: Walruses from Renown and Manchester were launched in the Battle of Cape Spartivento and a Walrus from Gloucester was used in the Battle of Cape Matapan. The main task of ship-based aircraft was patrolling for Axis submarines and surface-raiders,and by March 1941, Walruses were being deployed with Air to Surface Vessel (ASV) radars to assist in this. During the Norwegian Campaign and the East African Campaign, they also saw very limited use in bombing and strafing shore targets. In August 1940, a Walrus operating from Hobart bombed and machine-gunned an Italian headquarters at Zeila in Somalia.
By 1943, catapult-launched aircraft on cruisers and battleships were being phased out; their role at sea was taken over by much improved radar. Also, a hangar and catapult occupied a considerable amount of valuable space on a warship. However, Walruses continued to fly from Royal Navy carriers for air-sea rescue and general communications tasks. Their low landing speed meant they could make a carrier landing despite having no flaps or tail hook.
The Walrus was used in the air-sea rescue role in both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The specialist RAF Air Sea Rescue Service squadrons flew a variety of aircraft, using Spitfires and Boulton Paul Defiants to patrol for downed aircrew, Avro Ansons to drop supplies and dinghies, and Walruses to pick up aircrew from the water. RAF air-sea rescue squadrons were deployed to cover the waters around the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Over a thousand aircrew were picked up during these operations, with 277 Squadron responsible for 598 of these.