Monday, December 21, 2015
Chinese Curtiss Hawk II
With the arms race for our Back of Beyond games continuing, I felt it was time to get some air power for my Chinese forces. I wanted an aircraft that wouldn't look out of place in the warlord era, but could also serve double duty for early WWII. As such, I thought a late 20's/early 30's biplane with an open canopy was my best option. I looked online at the Nationalist's aircraft inventories, and thought a Curtiss Hawk II would fit the bill nicely. The Hawk II was the export model of the Curtiss F11C Goshawk, which was introduced into China in the early 1930's.
The next step was finding one in 1:48 scale. Unfortunately, there are currently none in production, so I had to go to the second hand market. On eBay I found kits from several manufactures, but Lindberg seemed the most common and the cheapest. Old kits can be hit or miss, but I found one for $15US (including shipping) and thought it was worth taking a shot. Note: The box calls it a 1/4 kit rather than 1:48.
From the musty smell, yellowing decals, and original $3 price tag, I suspect my kit was produced sometimes in the 60's or 70's. The kit had been opened and the seller said the stand was missing, but that all the other parts were present. I found that wasn't quite the case, with the pilot and spreader bars for the support wires also missing (support wires are not included). However, these were easily dealt with using the bits box.
The kit itself was actually rather good for wargaming purposes, despite its age. I had no warped parts, the flash was minimal, and everything seemed to fit rather nicely. The details aren't really on par with modern kits (for example, the cockpit just consisted of a simple chair), but there is enough to look good on the table. I can't comment on the accuracy compared to the real thing, but again, it will look good on the table.
The build was relatively straight forward, and I liked that the wings came in upper and lower halves, allowing me to hide the terminus for each wire within the wings. The only really tricky part was adding the spreader bar to the wires. However, it was more of a modelling challenge than an act of frustration.
As my kit had decals for an American navy craft, I had to track down some Chinese decals. Nobody is currently making Hawk II decals in this scale, but Bestfong produces 1:48 Gloster Gladiator decals that work. The aircraft number will now obviously be off, but I figure the odds of someone spotting that are pretty small.
The decals are nicely printed but also a bit thicker than I'm used to seeing. As such, I really recommend using Micro Sol or something similar on them as the set in order to help them contour to model. They are also highly glossy, so you'll need to hit them with some flat finish. The trickiest items to work with during the application was the tail stripes; they come in two big rectangles that you have to hand cut in order to get the right shape for the rudder. That alone took me almost 20 minutes of work (including some touch up paint), but I am very happy with the outcome.
For the pilot, I used a Copplestone half figure that I had lying around. He's not my favorite out of the the pilot set ( I'm not a fan of the German pilot helmet), but he was the only one I could fit into the cockpit.
I still need to build a flight stand for my Hawk, but have test fitted it to my other one and I think it looks good in the air.
My final verdict is this is a fun, pulpy-looking aircraft that looks great in the Back of Beyond, and the Lindberg kit is a perfect fit for a wargaming model.