Norfolk Online Newsletter FREE content

Big Tim Histroy - PITCAIRN ISLAND ON A MODEL BOX

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Some years ago I wrote this article for another publication, and while delving into my John Tay for the last three weeks I came across it and decided to rewrite it for Norfolk.  Anyway, I love building scale models (as I may have mentioned once or twice during these articles).  I started off building ships, but have since primarily focused on airplanes and such.  I have bungled a lot of times in the pursuit of my craft (pretty much like my writing).  Many years ago while building one of my little warships I accidentally shoved a hobby knife through my thumb, and yes it was extremely painful and left a nice scar on it even today.  Well this week I’ll talk about a model subject that actually crosses over with Pitcairn...guess what?  It’s not a Bounty.

            

In 2011 I saw this “new” kit of a Supermarine Walrus (a British amphibious plane from the World War II era) by the model company Airfix. Since it was going cheap I leapt at the chance to get my hands on it (usually I collect the Luftwaffe, but I do branch out every now and then).  The box art was of a Walrus being chased by a couple of Mitsubishi Zeros between two islands.  At the time I didn’t look too closely, but me and the wife stopped by a magazine shop on the way home and I found the monthly Airfix magazine with the artwork on the cover (it was also the centrefold).  Picking it up I noticed something...one of the islands looked VERY familiar.  So I looked closely, recognizing the landscape, houses, trees...and it struck me.  It was Pitcairn Island, only flipped horizontally.  Then I remembered something about the history of Pitcairn and it all came together.

            

On August 4th, 1937 the HMS Leander visited Pitcairn and the other three of the Pitcairn group.  Aboard was a Supermarine Walrus that was launched over all four of the islands and photos were taken (getting copies of those photos are on my to-do list).  As an aside, my Great Aunt who is still alive and living in Auckland now, was a little girl at the time and she and her father were tending the gardens up near Gannets Ridge when the Walrus roared past.  For the Pitcairners it would have been fascinating, since back then it would have been the first plane to fly over the islands (during the war a German Arado 196 flew over Henderson and perhaps Pitcairn).  It definitely had an impact on her because she remembers it so clearly, even describing the weather and mentioning small details on the plane itself (she said it did a low pass...awesome!).  I have since showed her the pictures from the Airfix box and she nodded and recognized Pitcairn, but she said that the Walrus was fairly accurate looking but it was the wrong colour.  You see, in reality it was a silvery colour and not camouflaged.  It was fascinating listening to her talk about the plane and her memories of the Leander’s visit.  The event was also memorable enough for a postage stamp to be made to commemorate the event.

            

As for the plane itself, soon after leaving Pitcairn it crashed in Wellington harbour with no loss of life due to the landing gear still being down when it landed, and the wreck was hauled aboard the Leander, deemed a total loss and pretty much scrapped.  The model I received was deceptive, since the box was new, but the model itself came from a mould made in 1958 and hence the reason it was so cheap.  Drat, now I want to find a proper Walrus model!

            

So I am wondering if it was just a fluke that Pitcairn was on the box of the reboxed Walrus?  Neither option given in the build represents the Leander’s Walrus (both dating from 1945 and beyond).  I have emailed the artist but received no reply so I can only speculate.  But I do have a piece of Pitcairn in my model collection that is not the Bounty.


PICTURE 01:  THE MAGAZINE CENTREFOLD...CHECK OUT THE ISLAND ON THE LOWER LEFT.

 

PICTURE 02:  NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.  AFTER ZOOMING IN AND FLIPPING IT HORIZONTALLY, YOU SEE ITS PITCAIRN.



Go Back

Recent Posts



Categories


Archive



ADVERTISERS

Next