G-Class (6)

I was fortunate to see four of Ivan’s Solents flying together at the Chilliwack pond in 2012: Ivan’s 98”€ version and Luke Middleton, Rick Bell and Colin Dick’s 82”€ versions. Colin’s was actually Ivan’s build, so both of his models were flying that day. I collected a plan of the big one from Ivan and drew it up as a 100”€ C-Class, just to be slightly different but Bart83 beat me to it with his superb “Caledonia”€, a laser-cut kit no less, in the spirit of the smaller Solent plan. By some quirk of arithmetic, the C-Class’s bigger brother, the G-Class also comes out at 98”€ span at the same scale as Bart’s C-Class (1:16.5) so in a fit of enthusiasm I drew up the G to the same size as Ivan’s big Solent.

I used the 1:40 drawings by Len Whalley (available via Brian Cassidy at the excellent 
Seawings website).as a basis. They only have a few sections, so I was forced to draw up my own by interpolation and “cut and fit”€ but the end results should look about right. You can tell a lot from photos that isn’t apparent from the 3-view and I was also able to draw in the wartime turrets and fairings as well as the post-war tail cone from a variety of sources.

In 1938 Imperial Airways asked Short Brothers to build a larger version of the C-Class Empire flying boat in order to carry two tons of mail and freight non-stop across the Atlantic. The span was increased by just over 20’ and the fuselage and tail surfaces were enlarged in proportion. The general shape remained pretty much the same: perhaps the major change was the elimination of the second step on the planing hull, very much in the style of the Sunderland, which first flew in 1937. Funding was provided by the Government on the understanding that if war broke out, the aircraft would be impressed into the RAF. 

The boats were:

G-AFCI Golden Hind, impressed as X8275, then with BOAC. Last flight in 1948, broken up in 1953.

G-AFCJ Grenadier (changed to Golden Fleece, impressed as X8274: lost at sea off Cape Finisterre after double engine failure)

G-AFCK Grenville (changed to Golden Horn, impressed as X8273, then with BOAC. Crashed at Lisbon on a test fight)

The first aircraft was delivered in 1939, but very soon all three were impressed into 119 Squadron RAF, having been fitted with two upper and a rear turret, bomb racks and other military equipment. After 119 Squadron was disbanded in 1941 the remaining two boats were returned to BOAC and converted to utility passenger aircraft, the turrets being removed but the tail fairing retained. Golden Hind survived the war, was stripped of her military modifications, given an extended tail cone, revised window arrangements and fully furnished for the passenger role, eventually being retired in 1947

There are at least four colour schemes available for Golden Hind: 

As built in 1939 for mail and freight. (Aluminium overall with Imperial Airways civil markings, very much in the style of a C-Class boat).

119 Squadron RAF 1939 - 41: with ASV radar as convoy escort. (Dark sea grey and sea green upper surfaces and light grey lower surfaces camouflage (?), with RAF markings)

BOAC 1941 - 45: conversion to 40-passenger role (camouflage retained, civil markings in  either black or red (!) lined with white, underlined red white and blue. A big Union Jack behind the cockpit and “Golden Hind, British Airways London”€ above the BOAC Speedbird in the name location). Edit - it also appeared with BOAC wartime serials with the faired rear turret in aluminium overall.

BOAC 1945 - 47, upgraded to 24 passengers. Original rudder and revised tail cone. (Aluminium overall, civil markings, Union Jack on fin, Golden Hind, the Speedbird and BOAC€ markings)

Whether the camouflaged versions were overall DSG and SG (as it seems from photos) or had light grey under surfaces (as was standard) or had aluminium under surfaces (as apparently was normal for civil aircraft in military service) I don’t know.

The whole build can be seen at the RC Groups thread here.

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