Saunders-Roe Firebolt F.1

Started by CammNut, August 01, 2016, 05:05:30 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


As the Cold War heated up at the end of the 1950s, Russian bombers became increasingly aggressive in probing UK airspace over the North Sea. Because the English Electric Lightning was still in development and could not be fielded quickly, the British Air Ministry moved to protect Royal Air Force bases from attack by rapidly acquiring a point-defense interceptor for homeland defense.

The Saunders-Roe (SARO) SR.53 was selected. This was a small mixed-power interceptor, with a powerful rocket motor for rapid interception and small turbojet for return to base. Named the Firebolt F.1, the aircraft re-equipped Royal Auxiliary Air Force units responsible for base defense beginning in 1960. Each was armed with a pair of de Havilland Firestreak heat-seeking air-to-air missiles.

For those of you unfamiliar with the SR.53, it was conceived to meet an Air Ministry operational requirement for a ramp-launched, rocket-powered interceptor that was originally inspired by the Me 163 rocket fighter. The eventual specification called for a Mach 2-plus mixed-power fighter able to take off and land conventionally.

The SR.53 first flew in 1957 and was powered by a de Havilland Spectre bipropellant rocket, throttleable between 8,000lb and 2,000lb of thrust, with a 1,640lb-thrust Armstrong Siddeley Viper turbojet as the get-home engine. The rocket was mounted in the lower aft fuselage, the turbojet in the upper fuselage just behind the cockpit. The rocket burned kerosene, the same fuel used in the turbojet, with hydrogen peroxide oxidizer.

The requirement for which the SR.53 had been designed was rendered obsolete by both the development of surface-to-air missiles and advances in jet engines, and only two prototypes were built. One was destroyed in a crash. But in whiffland, when the Bears come hunting' we go shooting', so in my backwater of the multiverse the cute and quite competent SR.53 got to see service...

On to the model. This is the Urusus repop of the ancient Airfix 1/72 kit. After endless cajoling, wheedling and whining, my friend David gave me one of his kits for my birthday. So I thought I had better make a special effort on it. It's a simple kit showing its extreme age, but the shape is okay - the forward fuselage a little bit long and thin, maybe. The canopy had to be reshaped to slope downwards - perhaps the most glaring shape issue with the old Airfix kit.

I added the lumps and bumps that are visible on the real aircraft, tidied up the gear and tail a bit, fitted a pair of tailpipes into the gaping holes, and used lots of decals to give it a more operational look. I used bits of decals to approximate the complex array of holes in the speed brakes. I fitted external tanks for added interest, my rationale being extra fuel would be needed to extend flight time on training missions. Decals are from multiple sheets.



Very nice, well done.  Like the addition of the external fuel tanks. 

Dave "Sandiego89"
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA


Another good one.  It probably would need drop tanks to have had any kind of operational range anyway and they certainly look right on it.   I'll have to look at my stash again and see what else I can spare for you to work your whiffy magic on!



Don't let ageing get you down, it's too hard to get back up


Nice! I like the blue fin, looks great.  :thumbsup:



- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..


Ohhh I like that. Very nice finish to what I know from personal experience to be a 'rough' kit (I wont re-show mine as it doesn't compare well!  ;D) Good looking markings as well

;D Well Done Sir!  ;D
Oh to be whiffing again :-(


Very nice indeed! :thumbsup:
Never seen much of this fighter, isn't this the same as the smaller one on the right side of the forum's logo?
"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"


This is really good :thumbsup:

Dogfighterzen: the SR.53 was a research aircraft and the predecessor to the P.177 seen in the logo. Two were built and flew (in an all-white scheme).


Thanks folks. And, yes, the little SR.53 was the predecessor to the TWO aircraft featured in the site logo. The bigger on is SARO's design for the Air Ministry's F155T requirement and the smaller one (still a bit bigger than the SR.53) is the SR.177 - I have the Freightdog resin kit of that one


Lovely work!

The earliest SR.177 drawings are quite similar to this - it was initially purely a "production SR.53" which eventually ended up rather different.
Paul Martell-Mead / Overscan
"What if?" addict


That really does look the business, well done  :bow:
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.


A splendid job done on a really ancient kit, and the 'operational updating' is superb.  :thumbsup:

I saw, and heard, the RW SR53 at Farnborough in the 50s and it was astonishingly fast and UNBELIEVABLY loud with the rocket motor firing!  :o
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)


Captain Canada

Wow did you ever hit that one out of the park ! I like the part where the crying and whinging pays off lol. That was sure nice of him to gift it to you, especially so you could build it and share it with us !

:wub: :thumbsup:
CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?


Very nice. Love the little backstory and I just wish this was available in 'Strike Fighters'. Hard to believe that the SR.53 originally stems from a 1952 requirement for a rocket aircraft fired off a ramp and then landing on a skid! How very Luft '46!