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Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

The two decades between the First and Second World Wars saw major advances in all areas of technology. In military and civil aviation, flimsy wood and canvas biplanes and triplanes gave way to sleek all-metal monoplanes. The lumbering "land ships" of WW1 were replaced by maneuverable tanks and armoured cars. In this GB, anything that was developed and operated between 1919 and 1939 (but not WW2) is fair game.
Runs from 10 August 2019 to 26 January 2020.
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smeg1959
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Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#1

Post by smeg1959 »

In my opinion, “Between the Wars” throws up such an enticing raft of possibilities. Now I will own up and state that the candidates in my stash are almost exclusively post-1930. Whilst I’m still a multi-wing coward, there are a number of biplanes I considered; I’ve got more Eduard B.534 variants than I care to imagine, a couple of Armoury I-15bis and the Fiat pair of a Reviresco CR.32 and an F-Toys’ CR.42. In terms of monoplanes, I looked at the Mikro-Mir UT-1 trio but, of the decal options provided, only the “Hydro” version predates 1940. Resin possibilities included a KdK Caproni Ca.64 and a Fairy Curtiss-Wright CW-21B Demon, and I was very tempted to go non-military and build a DH88 Comet, the Don Schmenk casting of a Bryan Gibbons’ master. Indeed, if J-BOT had still been operational and I’d managed to secure some decals, this might have been the choice. However, I do have another resin build on the go, details of which I will upload at a later date. Only clue I’ll give is that it is an early Peter Hawkins’ kit and the specific aircraft being modelled missed the Interwar cut-off by a matter of months.

So at least initially, it’s down to three – the Armoury Bf109B and I-16, and the Mark I P-36. Mr Hawkins suggested splitting off the Spanish Civil War as a separate poll option but, as no-one voted for it, it is fair game and, unsurprisingly, several decal options for both of the Armoury kits fall into the SCW category. However, for my first (and, with all the extraneous crap pervading my life at the moment, possibly only) entry for GB10, I have chosen the erstwhile Hawk. True, most of the options provided by Mark I are of WW2 vintage, but there’s one which just squeezes in … an aircraft of the 27th Pursuit Squadron that participated in the National Air Races held at Cleveland Airport in 1939. Like similar events held in Europe prior to WW2, these races were less of a sport and more of an excuse to pit your latest potential fighter aircraft against those of your competitors. The USAAC also used it as an experiment in weird and wonderful camo schemes, often using some quite bizarre colours.
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - 1939 Nat Air Races Line-up.jpg
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - 1939 Nat Air Races In-flight.jpg
As you can see, no two were alike. Up front, I am not building the Mark I option of “Black 69”, which was probably the most photographed of the Hawks at Cleveland.
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - Black 69 Colourised Photo.jpg
Instead, it’s going to be “Black 67”, which happens to be one of the decal options in the Smer 1/72-scale kit. Don’t have the kit but I do have the instructions compliments of a Polish hobby site. How does it differ? “69” had a three-colour camo, comprising sand, olive drab and white. “67” has six! According to Smer, those colours are olive drab, white, bottle green, forest green, lavender and orange. Quite useful is a callout using Humbrol colours, even though it’s unlikely that brand will get a look-in on my build. I thought the orange might actually be sand, so I sought a second opinion. And what better than the Squadron/Signal publication “Air Force Colors Volume 1, 1926 – 1942” by Dana Bell. Personally, the cover artwork showing two 7th Bomb Group B-17D’s fleeing the Pearl Harbor attack is appropriate as I bought the book from a military museum in Honolulu during our big family holiday in 2013. When SWMBO let me go back to Pearl for a second time whilst she and the girls terrorised the local turtle population. Ah, the memories …

Sorry, where was I? The colours? According to Bell, Army Materiel Command issued a list of colours with numbers in 1938, the first such incidence of this in US military aviation: 25 White, 26 Sand, 27 Light Blue, 28 Sea Green, 29 Dark Blue, 30 Dark Green, 31 Dark Olive Drab, 32 Neutral Gray, 33 Black and 34 Rust Brown. He also notes that there were a further 6 colours numbered 35 to 40, inclusive. He speculates that “orange” was one of these but its number and official name remain a mystery. “Lavender” could well have been Purple, a colour used extensively in the early 1930’s; again number and name unknown. In summary, “Black 67” was painted Orange, Purple, 25, 28, 30, 31. Bingo!

Boy, am I going to have fun with the masking tape. :roll:
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#2

Post by BigReg »

I am watching this with interest.
David

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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#3

Post by cowleyi »

Ooooo fascinating...
Ian

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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#4

Post by F_IV »

Great choice!

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smeg1959
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#5

Post by smeg1959 »

With some of the elegant US aircraft that emerged during the '20's and '30's, combined with a vast array of esoteric paint schemes and markings, it's amazing we haven't seen more of these in any scale, let alone 1/144. What riches abound for a manufacturer if they decided to do, say, the P-26 Peashooter in 1/144?
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#6

Post by ajmm »

Very very nice choice. I may have to build one of mine too. Great thinking.

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smeg1959
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#7

Post by smeg1959 »

OK, kit is still in its original packing but, as I've been doing for recent builds, I have done a preparative profile for cutting masks (and with six colours involved, that's going to be a hoot).
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - Black 67 Profile.jpg
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#8

Post by BigReg »

Someone must have been sniffing glue when they came up with that scheme.
David

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smeg1959
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#9

Post by smeg1959 »

I’ve been admiring the progress of others during this GB, including David’s enviable mass production of RAF biplanes. Given the interminable delays starting my own build, I’m just thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t opt for a biplane too, as any attempt to speed through such a project would most likely end in tragedy for model and modeller alike. As it is, I’ve substituted struts and bracing for some tortuous masking, so insanity may yet await before I’m finished.

Anyway, to the Mark I kit. Whilst I’ve got a number in the stash, this is the first one I’ve looked at in any detail. And it’s apparent to me that it’s not just the country of origin that is a commonality between Mark I and JACH. The grey plastic is very similar in feel and appearance, and both companies seem to have an aversion to locating pins! For someone who has made as many resin kits as I have in recent years, no big deal, but I’d definitely steer any 1/144 newbie towards Platz, Eduard, Sweet, Revell (no, not the ancient MicroWings’ series) or Minicraft (with obvious reservations on some releases). If not quite to the standard of Sweet or Platz, the two identical sprues in the kit are neat enough in terms of surface detailing, although there’s evidence of flash particularly on wing leading and trailing edges that will require some judicious sanding. I’m sure that a few of the small parts could have been moulded integrally with the fuselage halves and the wings without loss of resolution, but this isn’t a criticism. Just means more care to avoid feeding the Carpet Monster with parts other than tailwheels!
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - USAAC Black 67 (01).jpg
Whilst reliant upon symbols like most multilingual instruction sheets, the Mark I example does include quite good painting info for individual parts, even if most colours are reported using generic names like “bronze green” (unlike Eduard, who cross-reference colours to the Gunze range). And the coloured profiles are definitely more informative than those provided by some manufacturers. As with Mark I kits in general, there’s more than one boxing covering several variants, so any parts not to be used in the specific kit are clearly indicated. The decal sheet is nicely printed with all colours in register and, having used Mark I decals before, should adhere without a problem. Saving me some work, the sheet includes the swooping eagle emblem of the 27th Pursuit Squadron which is needed for my multihued beast.
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - USAAC Black 67 (02).jpg
With the 262 and Hun now transferred to the Shelf of Shame to be revisited at a later date, what little modelling time I have at the moment will go to assembling this thing. Says he with neck firmly encircled by noose … :roll:
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Re: Smeg’s Curtiss P-36C Hawk (Mark I)

#10

Post by smeg1959 »

Technically, I should be writing chemistry practicals for my students but I’m desperate for a modelling fix after a prolonged hiatus away from the workbench. And after an hour or so, I’m recalling the comments Angus made about introducing his new son to modelling by avoiding kits from Platz, Sweet, GWM and Eduard to keep him firmly grounded on the expectations front. If the P-36 is anything to go by, this might be a good choice for young Kit provided his sanding skills are up to the mark, Angus. To say a modicum of reshaping is required is an understatement. Almost all the parts have some flash and the location of the sprue connections are often less than ideal, most notably the two at the front of the wing which literally merge into the characteristic round projections of the P-36/P-40 undercarriage compartment.

And the sanding doesn’t end there. More of that soon …

As the instruction sheet implies, the cockpit is a good enough place to start. I know there is a lovely third party PE set for the Mark I kit but I’m going with what’s in the box. As the rear bulkhead reclines at a fairly steep angle, if you assemble the cockpit completely then glue it into place in the fuselage (like I did), ensure that you have the angle right before the glue dries. The four parts were assembled and painted in zinc chromate primer (Lifecolor UA134 toned down with a little UA046 Neutral Gray; see below) with seatbelts added and various details picked out accordingly. The instrument panel is a decal on the Mark I sheet. Sorry, my mobile was still charging when I finished the cockpit, so the photo is one taken sometime later after the assembly had been glued into the fuselage.
Curtiss P-36C Hawk - USAAC Black 67 (03).jpg
Now to pacify those who would take me to task over the ZCP on a Curtiss aircraft, some clarification arrived at after my travels on the Web. According to noted author Dana Webb, the well-known “Curtiss Cockpit Green” was prepared by paint manufacturer Berry Brothers and introduced in August 1942 as an alternative to the usual ZCP and to counter shortages of aluminium (or should I say aluminum). Consequently, whilst later production of the P-40 featured this interior colour, as well as the Helldiver and the 200 P-47G’s built by Curtiss, there is no record of a P-36 ever being finished in anything other than aluminum up to 1938 then standard ZCP thereafter, usually with black added to the mix (from a model paint viewpoint, I found adding grey more controllable than straight black). Gives the yellow primer a distinct greenish tinge.

For the record, Mark I’s instructions suggested “Bronze Green”. Sorry, no cigar.
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