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Curtiss P-1A Hawk, Chilean Air Force, 1/72, W.I.P.

June 10 2012 at 9:36 AM
  (Login vieuxhomme)
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from IP address 24.148.88.242

Curtiss sold almost as many Hawk biplane fighters on export contracts as they did to the U.S. Army and Navy combined. Their first substantial export order for Hawk fighters was from Chile, for eight P.1 A and eight P.1B types.

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This project is something between a scratch-build and an extreme conversion. I will employ the wings from an Accurate Miniatures re-issue of the old Monogram P.6E kit (throughout the run of the taper-wing biplane Hawks, the appearance and dimensions of the wings did not change), and one or two other bits, with the rest scratch-built.

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Construction starts with the nose, by far the most complicated element. This piece is basically a box, which once assembles is filed and scraped and sanded to shape. In making it, an end-plate for the rear was cut from 1mm sheet, to 16mm x 10mm (a hair over-size to allow for clumsiness). Cheek-pieces of 2mm thickness were then added. These were roofed over at the top with a piece of 1mm sheet and a piece of 2mm sheet. Then a 1mm piece was cut to fill in the bottom between the cheek-pieces, and two sections of 2mm sheet were added to the front. After rough shaping, a 6.5mm circle of 1mm sheet was added at the front. The shape is 'interesting': there is the sort of a ghost of a normal streamline cigar-shape lurking within it, with a vee-motor sprouting out its top, behind something that always reminds me of a dolphin's forehead.

Next the fuselage sides are made.

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A template was made by taping a cut-out portion of the profile plan to a sheet of plastic and then trimming to shape. This was used to cut two duplicate pieces from .03"/.75mm sheets. These were taped together for final shaping to ensure similar results. The inner surfaces are scored to receive the stringer that bulges out the sides (and will be visible in part in the cockpit sidewalls). The inside is also heavily scored for bending to shape towards the tail.

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The fuselage side were bent at the scores, then fixed to the nose piece, and anchored at the tail by a plate. The bottom of the sides was trimmed away to allow for a bottom piece of .03"/.75mm sheet (this was only crudely shaped, glued on, and trimmed to match the sides).

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The final shape of the tail is put in by cutting off the last 5mm on the fuselage, replacing it with solid plastic, and sanding the final taper into it. The fuselage sides are blended into the nose, and given their 'bulge' in front from the stringer.

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There is a 'ship in a bottle' quality to doing interior work from the top, but it has some good points as a technique, and is unavoidable given the construction method.


I will be using a portion of the Ac/Min/Mngm kit for the front decking, as it will same time and trouble. It has been clipped to fit, and shimmed at the front to give it the proper level line. Here it is resting in place.


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It will be filed down a bit more, mostly at the top, and the rear of the nose-piece will be blended back into it. Actually, in the Curtiss vee-12 Hawks, the transition at this point was pretty awkward....

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Here is most of the interior before the fuselage is closed. Gun breeches are tucked in under the fore-decking.

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Here is the thing pretty much assembled. The exhaust runs are from .75mm rod. The lower wings are filled at the top to make up for root fillets moulded into the kit fuselage pieces. The turtleback is a solid piece, filed to shape. The tail surfaces are .375mm sheet. The radiator tunnel is assembled on the model.

Here is the assembly under a first coat of primer.

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Here is the model re-primered, after adding raised detail from strips of foil tape, adding radiator shutters, and landing gear.

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Here is a look at the landing gear, which is practically invisible at most angles on the model.

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Here is a good look at the radiator front.

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Wife has done wonders producing decals for me on this project (she is a true witch at photo-shop and manipulations). The national markings of the period had a different proportion than the modern ones, so some serious work was necessary. The tactical marking (or serial), and the Curtiss logo, have been applied. National markings will go on next week. The lacings are also her decal work.

Here is a good look at those of the decals already applied.

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Here is the upper wing on, with scratch-built cabane struts added. Interplane struts are from the P-6E kit, but the fairings on their ends hd to be removed; these wer not present on the P-1.

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