Walrus with wings folded
Wings folded back for storage in a ship’s hangar

They’re most famous for the Spitfire, but Supermarine mostly made flying boats. The Supermarine Walrus was an amphibious reconnaissance aircraft, carried aboard Royal Navy capital ships and cruisers during the Second World War. Many were also operated directly by the Royal Air Force. The Royal Australian Air Force and the Argentine Navy had examples in service as well.

Supermarine Walrus with landing gear extended
Warlus with landing gear down

The King George V class ships each carried a pair of Walruses, until their aircraft handling gear was removed during their 1943—44 refits. The Walrus Mk.I used a metal hull, fully riveted. The Mk.II used a wooden hull, and had a noticeably different shape around the bow. As far as I’m aware, ships of the KGV class only ever carried Mk.I units. Both marks used a composite wood/metal/canvas construction for the wings. I never got around to building one during my original build of HMS King George V. Having just completed the full reworking of the catapult system however, it seemed like the ideal time to start!

Supermarine Walrus model

Walrus with landing gear retracted
Warlus with landing gear up

Despite the rather ungainly appearance, the Walrus proved to be a very successful aircraft, and surprisingly robust. The planes were capable of performing water landings with their landing gear down. During ship service, where launch was via catapult, they would often operate with no landing gear fitted at all. I have chosen to include it here, and have ensured that it is fully functional. Accurate plans seem hard to come by, and there are some visual inconsistencies if one looks closely enough. I chose to accept these, thus allowing the gear to function correctly, and all major elements to appear in approximately their correct locations.

At this stage, most of the major exterior modelling is complete. I have also begun fleshing out a basic interior for the model, which is fairly well visible through the canopy. The only major area left that I have yet to tackle in any way is the Bristol Pegasus engine. This is carried in a nacelle pod, mounted slightly off-axis between the wings.

Warlus interior - unfinished
A look into the interior – still unfinished!

Obviously there are several other details still missing, such as the tail plane supports, and various fixtures on the wings and fuselage. After that, there will only remain the UV unwrapping, and working out the appropriate colour schemes to use! The Fleet Air Arm Museum have already been kind enough to check through some of their records for me to identify some serial numbers most likely attached to King George V and Prince of Wales during the times in their careers I wish to depict them. Unfortunately, this information seems sketchy, at best!

Further Reading

For anyone interested in the Walrus, or its more imposing bigger brother the Stranraer, I strongly recommend the book Supermarine Walrus and Stranraer, by James Knightly and Roger Walsgrove. I think there is a revised edition in the works.

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