A recent addition of mine is a nice example of the 'Singapore' Flying Boat. This example dates of March 1940, as the box code BW 10M 3-40 indicates. My Dinky Toys catalogue is presently fully up-to-date, so every new acquisition will be catalogued without delay from now on. May be you like the comment that I included the other day. Any correction, addition and/or suggestion in order to improve my description is welcome, as always. Kind regards, Jan.
This 1/217 scale model of the Short S.19 Singapore III Flying Boat was introduced in the June 1936 issue of Meccano Magazine, being both the first flying boat model in the Dinky Toys aeroplanes range and the biggest aircraft model up to that moment. A parallel issue was the no. 60m Four-Engine Flying Boat, no. 60m, a many-coloured variation. Flying boats were exciting and fashionable in those pre-war years. They enabled easy landing at lakes and rivers in areas still short of airports. The Singapore III was followed by another four Dinky Toys flying boats: no. 60r Empire Flying Boat, no. 63b Seaplane Mercury, no. 63 Mayo Composite Aircraft and no. 60w Clipper III Flying Boat (and related derived models in a different finish). No. 63 was not fully new, being a combination of an adapted 60r (63a) and 63b.
The box’s lid mentions a lot of noteworthy facts about this model and its real-world prototype: “This splendid model is a realistic reproduction of the Short ‘Singapore III’, one of the fastest British flying boats, which has four Rolls Royce ‘Kestrel’ engines giving it a top speed of 145 m.p.h. It is of the unequal-span biplane type, the upper wing being of 90 feet span and the lower one of 76 ft. The overall length of the machine is 64 ft. 2 in.
The machine is designed for long-range open-sea reconnaissance duties and coastal patrol work, and can carry sufficient fuel for a non-stop flight of 1,000 miles at cruising speed. It has been adopted by the R.A.F. and supplied to several General Reconnaissance squadrons. Short ‘Singapore’ flying boats are used by the R.A.F. Iraq Command, which is maintained to defend British interests in that country and to prevent invasion. They are employed also by the Far East Command, for important survey and reconnaissance work and for preventing smuggling of arms”.
The fuselage of this model, its triple tail included, consists of one single casting piece only. The rest of the model, however, is rather complicated because of the way the bi-plane is constructed. Both wings are fixed together by eight attachment points on top, two double struts on the outside, extensions of the floats below, and on the positions of the twin engine units. Whereas the wings (wingspan 126 mm) are tin plate, the struts and engine units are diecast zamak. The four twin blade tinplate propellers, initially bare metal, got the same silver finish as the rest of the model in 1939. The large R.A.F. roundels on the tips of the upper wing were tampo stamped for some time – just the red and blue, the white in between omitted – until they were replaced by red/white/blue transfers in 1939. Lacking a proper landing gear, a big roller was applied underneath, within the hollow fuselage, held by an axle, crimped on both sides outside the fuselage. Contrary to the no. 60w PanAm Cipper III Flying Boat, which is a(n incomplete) waterline model, the ‘Singapore’ is a full hull model.
In 1940 a part of the bow’s underside was ‘opened’, a simplification of the diecasting job and reduction of the quantity of metal needed. This adaption was officially recorded 10 October 1939. Three holes, a rectangular one in front of the cockpit, a round one in the centre, protruding through underwing and fuselage, and another rectangular one near the tail, represent the gunners’ positions, equipped with their 7.7 mm Lewis guns. In 1940 the forward emplacement was provided with a seat, probably a little ‘trick’ for a better performance of the die after the change to the bow below. The upper wing may show a gliding game hole, which appeared in 1937 and was discontinued in 1940. Consequently, the scarce battle grey finished examples of that later period show no gliding game hole. The roller was not present either immediately at the moment of introduction, but it was introduced soon, in the same year 1936: red, green or yellow plastic ones initially, replaced by a wooden green example in the course of 1940. The tin plate made wings are rather exceptional, but not unique. As the model often suffers from fatigue, friction between the wings and the diecast parts may occur, with resulting damage to the model. Scarce earliest examples do not show this problem as their cast parts are made of lead.
Set box 61 contains the Singapore III Flying Boat as the principal, biggest model, accompanied by no. 60n Fairey Battle Bomber and no. 60p Gloster Gladiator pairs. The civilian Four-Engine Flying Boat, no. 60m, was issued in many various colours: light green, red, dark blue, dark green, gold, silver and mid blue, with individual large size (and fictitious) registration numbers on top of the upper wings. The silver no. 60m was a look-alike of no. 60h, the registration number – instead of the R.A.F. roundels – making the difference. In reality there never was a civilian version of this flying boat, it served military purposes only.
This model, in whatever version, was not re-issued after WWII. The real-world ‘Singapore’ was obsolete as soon as it entered service already and during WWII it served as a trainer, except for some minor war actions in the Far East. The Short S.25 Sunderland, its prototype having made the first flight as early as 1937, replaced the ‘Singapore’ in a very short time.