Blackburn Roc & Skua
The Blackburn Skua was the Fleet Air Arm’s first monoplane and its first dedicated dive bomber. Its derivative the Roc was the only turret fighter to see action with the Royal Navy. This book charts the development and service history of the two aircraft, through the difficult specification process, reaching squadron service on the eve of war, the baptism of fire in the Norwegian campaign of 1940 and eventual second-line use. It is illustrated with period photographs, many of which have rarely been seen before, and colour images of the surviving fragments of Skuas in museums. It features superb colour artwork illustrating a large number of the colour schemes the aircraft wore during their short history, and detail diagrams from official manuals as well as scale plans. It is an essential reference for naval aviation enthusiasts and scale modellers. The book includes many first-hand accounts from the men who flew in and maintained the Skua and Roc, describing never-before heard experiences of the aircraft in action.
TMMI 166 2010-02-22
Modelar 1/2008 - Czech magazine 2010-02-22
Model Airplane International 2/2008 2010-02-22
Model Aircraft Monthly, March 2008 2010-02-22
Flying Scale Models 2010-02-22
Aeroplane March 2008 2010-02-22
IPMSUSA.org 2010-02-22Reviewed By Robert Allen, IPMS# 39155
The Blackburn Skua dive bomber/fighter is not an easy aircraft to sum up. Often regarded as an example of the type of obsolescent aircraft that Britain's Fleet Air Arm was handicapped with at the start of World War Two, it actually has several significant accomplishments to its credit. It was the first British fighter to destroy a German aircraft in the war; the FAA's first ace of the war, Lt. Bill Lacy, scored all his kills flying the type; and the Skua's sinking of the German cruiser Königsberg during the Norwegian campaign marked the first major warship to be sunk by dive bombing. As Matthew Willis points out in his superb book, "the Skua's story is one of unrecognized achievements, a machine that was greater than the sum of its parts."
The book is divided into four distinct sections. The first tells the development story of the Skua, and its stable mate, the far less successful Roc turret fighter. The second gives the complete operational history of both types, drawing on both contemporary documents, and modern day interviews with surviving Skua and Roc aircrew. The third is a magnificent collection of detail photos and drawings, many taken from the manufacturer's archives. The final part is a 32-page color section containing photos of the Skua wreck in the FAA Museum, color stills from a Norwegian WW2 home movie detailing a crash-landed example, and 33 profiles drawn by Kjetil Ĺkra.
Willis' text is informative and well-written, not at all dry like so many books of this type, and the personal recollections of Skua and Roc crew make interesting reading. He goes into detail about the decisions taken that left a two-seat dive bomber with inferior performance to land-based fighters as the FAA's prime fighter (in a nutshell, it was believed they would never be forced to fight land-based fighters), and corrects several long-held assumptions about both types, often naming the books in which the faulty information appeared. In particular, he shows that the Roc did indeed see combat action, both in Norway and over Dunkirk, where one shot down a Ju 88 for the type's only kill.
For a modeler wishing to build a Skua or Roc, there is an amazing amount of detail included here. There are 1/72nd scale drawings of both aircraft, including those of a Roc on floats, a sight hideous enough to scare anyone. The detail drawings and photos give enough information for the cockpit and gun mount to be fastidiously modeled. One minor complaint is that the color profiles, while well drawn, appear a bit washed out. The Trainer Yellow on the Skua target tug, for example, is far too close to lemon yellow rather than the deeper, brighter hue it actually was. Nevertheless, the profiles show just how many different color schemes these aircraft appeared in during their careers. Perhaps the most interesting is the Roc in Finnish markings - 33 were earmarked to be sent to Finland in 1940, and were actually painted in Finnish colors, but the Winter War ended before they could be dispatched, and Britain ended up keeping them. There are also two rare photos of the Finnish aircraft.
It's hard to see how this book could have been done any better. It provides a huge amount of information about a neglected but important aircraft, and the writing and photos are first rate. If you want to build a Skua or Roc, or just read about them, this is the only book you'll need.
IPMS (UK) magazine 01/2008 2010-02-22
SAM 2010-02-22by Keith Sherwood
I reviewed Special Hobby¹s Blackburn Skua Mk II "Norwegian Campaign" kit for the last issue of SAM and soon found out that, reference-wise, there was very little out there. This has now been rectified by a great new addition from Mushroom Model Publications, which I have no hesitation in recommending.
This latest volume appears in MMP's Orange range, consisting of 160 pages with just over 100 black and white photographs, and over 30 in colour. The cover photograph alone solved a couple of queries I had regarding the Special Hobby kit. Many of the photographs I had never seen before and will be of great use to anyone modelling Special Hobby's kits, or indeed anyone else¹s. Many pages are devoted to the various colour schemes applied to the aircraft (decal manufacturers please note), which include no less than 32 colour side-view drawings as well as detailed diagrams from various official publications, and also some scale plans too. MMP has even managed to track down a few cockpit photographs. Some of these are in black and white, but again they clear up a couple of points regarding the kit.
The offering also features some personal accounts from Skua and Roc crews, which add greatly to the book¹s overall appeal. All in all, this is a great addition to an ever-popular range, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
3rd at Amazon.co.uk Military Aircraft popular list 2010-02-22
Book of the Month in SAMI, January 2008 2010-02-22
JP4 - Italian aviation magazine. 2010-02-22
10th at Hannants' bestsellers list 2010-02-22
Hyperscale.com 2010-02-22Reviewed by Brett Green
Murphy's Law strikes surprisingly often in the modelling world.
A few months ago I was scouring for Blackburn Skua references as I was building the new 1/48 scale Special Hobby kit. I was especially interested in the recess for the bomb cradle, the bomb swing crutch and the cockpit interior. There was very little published information available at the time.
Naturally, now that I have finished the model, Mushroom Model Publications has releases a very useful reference for both the Blackburn Skua and Roc in their Orange series. This book amply answers the questions that I had.
The Blackburn Skua was an idiosyncratic aircraft. Designed for the British Fleet Air Arm to perform as both fighter and dive bomber, it suffered from numerous potentially fatal design flaws.
Nevertheless, the Skua was rugged, a good dive bomber, easy to land on deck and held the honour of being the first British aircraft to claim an aerial victory in World War Two. The victim was a Dornier Do 18 shot down by two Skuas on 26 September, 1939. Skuas were also responsible for the destruction of the first Axis capital ship of the war, sinking the German cruiser Konigsberg in 1940.
By June 1940, Skuas on board HMS Ark Royal in the Mediterranean were the first British fighters to encounter, and to be shot down by, enemy Vichy French fighters.
The last Skuas were withdrawn from front line service on the HMS Ark Royal by April 1941. Despite its peculiar assignment and underwhelming specifications, several Aces scored more than five victories in the Skua.
The Roc was less ambiguous in service, and might be most accurately classified as misguided. It was fascinating regardless, with its cumbersome rear turret. The fact that it was unsuccessful is perhaps less surprising than the fact that it flew at all!
The author, Matthew Willis, starts with a description of the concept and development of the Slua, followed by specifications and development of the Roc. Next comes a description of the Skua's involvement in the Norway campaign of 1940, then other service areas including Dunkirk, the English Channel and the Mediterranean. Second line duties and further proposed developments are also covered.
Pages 114 to 141 provide contemporary wartime detail photos, factory drawings and a walkaround of several remnants and a preserved example.
This title is rounded out with 33 colour side profiles of the Skua and Roc in a good selection of colours and markings.
Once again, Mushroom Model Publications has provided a one-stop reference for an important but oft neglected aircraft type.
This title will be interesting to all Royal Navy aviation and RAF enthusiasts, but is especially helpful to modellers due to the detailed reference photos and line drawings, plus the inspiration of the attractive artwork.
The timing is terrific for the 1/48 scale Special Hobby kits too!
InternetModeler.com 2010-02-22Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl
The Blackburn Skua is an aircraft that has been poorly covered in aviation literature, generally relegated to a small part in the overall history of the Fleet Air Arm during World War Two. This newest title from Mushroom Model Publications corrects that oversight with what is very likely the most thorough book on the type currently available. As expected from the Orange Series in MMP's line of books, this is a comprehensive history of the aircraft, including development, design, and operations.
Originally designed as a two-seat fighter, the Skua actually came into its own as a dive bomber, where, when used properly, it proved itself quite well. The Blackburn Roc, a turret-fighter developed from the Skua, was far less successful, although it did serve operationally, and even flew from a carrier, contrary to popular belief. The operational record of these types makes for some very interesting reading, as these aircraft flew missions during some well-known raids, including the sinking of the Königsberg and the disastrous attack on the Scharnhorst. The author has clearly done extensive research here, and it shows, with the text both informative and a great read.
Complementing the thorough text are copious photos, easily the biggest collection of Skua and Roc photos in any one source. Adding to this are the usual high quality 1/72 scale drawings showing the Skua and Roc in all its chunky glory. These drawings are supplemented by diagrams taken from the manuals, and a series of photos show the potential future of the Skua, highlighting the recovery of Skua wrecks in Norway. Rounding out this book are the usual series of color profiles showing the various schemes worn by the Skua and Roc.
This book forms an invaluable addition to any Fleet Air Arm library, and is a welcome history on one of the more obscure aircraft of the FAA.
Air Modeller issue 15, Dec/Jan. 2010-02-22
ModelingMadness.com 2010-02-22By Scott Van Aken
This book is on two very similar aircraft, the Blackburn Skua and the Roc turret fighter that was developed from it. The Skua was the FAA's attempt at combining a fighter with a dive bomber and for the job it was originally intended, it would have worked quite well in those terms. However as it was utilized, it was never really given much of a chance as a fighter and its dive bombing abilities were not truly appreciated, despite its successes in that area. Instead, it was hurried out of FAA duties by 1941 or so by the Fulmar, itself not a very good fighter, and relegated to second line duties. Too bad as the FAA had a quite capable dive bomber had it decided to keep it for that role.
The Roc was an adaptation of the Fulmar into a turret fighter. Like the RAF's Defiant, it was not much of a success, though unlike what many think, the Roc did see active service and serve from the decks of the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers. This is because each Skua squadron was assigned a Roc or two and they undoubtedly saw action during the Dunkirk evacuation along side their Skua contemporaries.
This book carries on in the usual vein of Mushroom Model Publications books with an opening section that includes a full history of the Skua, then the Roc with all its differing variants. Then there is an operational history section covering its various combat actions and later usage. Throughout all of this are a number of photographs of various aircraft, many of which have not been published before. In the next section, which is generally a details section, the book has had to rely on contemporary photos and drawings as there is not a complete Skua or Roc in any museum. There are some artifacts, such as a complete cockpit section and the remains of one pulled from the water. There is also one that has been recently found in a Norwegian fiord that appears to be quite complete, but that has still to be recovered and full restoration started.
The final section has 17 pages of full color profiles of various aircraft. For the modeler, there have been a number of kits in 1/72 and 1/48 scale so the types are available should you wish to have a miniature on your shelves.
In all, another superlative book from the folks at MMP and one that you will find both fascinating and useful.
Cybermodeler.com 2010-02-22By Ray Mehlberger
This new book by Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) is in their usual 9” x 6 ½” soft-cover format that they use for their books on aircraft subjects. It is 160 pages long.
This latest book in the MMP “Orange Series” is about the Skua and Roc, two British naval aircraft with poor reputations. In the case of the Skua, undeservedly so, as this book explains. The design and development of both types is described in detail, and their service histories related. On the few occasions where it was used properly, the Skua proved to be a very effective dive-bomber, and it also operated as a fleet fighter, though with less success. However, it was available, and flown with great skill, when more appropriate aircraft were not to be found. The Roc turreted fighter had even less success than it’s RAF equivalent, the Defiant, but as this book shows it DID fly on operations and WAS operated from a carrier, contrary to previous claims.
The Blackburn Skua was the Fleet Air Arm’s first monoplane and it’s first dedicated dive-bomber. Its derivative, the Roc, was the only turret fighter to see action with the Royal Navy.
The book charts the development and service history of the two aircraft, through the difficult specification process, reaching squadron service on the eve of war. The baptism of fire in the Norwegian campaign of 1940 and eventual second-line use. Many of the photos have never been in print before. The photos show fragments of the surviving Skuas in museums. The book also includes many first-hand accounts from the men who flew in and maintained the Skuas and Roc, describing never-before heard experiences of the aircraft in action.
The book is profusely illustrated with 82 black and white wartime photos, 21 black and white photos as walk around shots, 25 color photos of a very derelict Skua that is due to be restored (walk-around type), 17 1/72nd scale line drawings of Skuas and Roc’s, a drawing of the upper camouflage layouts used on Rocs (not to scale), 2 data tables, 10 drawings out of tech manuals, 23 color side profile illustrations of Skuas in various camouflage patterns and 8 of the Roc (a couple of these showing it on pontoons). These range from bright pre-war colors to more prosaic target-tug markings.
On the final page of the book MMP mentions that there are 2 recent 1/48th scale models by Special Hobby of both the Skua and Roc.
With luck we may yet see a complete Skua airframe being restored.
On the back cover of the book MMP announces the upcoming titles of 3 other aircraft books: “The Hawker Hart Family”, The Potez 63 Family” and “The Henschel Hs-126”.
This book is an invaluable and timely reference source for aircraft enthusiasts and scale modelers.
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Skrzydlata Polska 2009-04-07
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