Building the Curtiss Ugly Duckling
The first 48th scale kit of this aircraft I owned years ago was an all resin kit, and the name of the manufacturer now escapes me. I know I traded it off quite a few years back. I also know the real aircraft was a real dog, and the Navy hated it for justified reasons, but there was something about the look of the plane that really hit my hot button. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So when Czech Model brought out an injected 48th scale plastic kit with resin interiors, I knew it was time to visit this weird seaplane once again.
According to the kit fact sheet, this aircraft was named the “Reluctant Dragon” (“reluctant to take off and always dragging”) due to its poor engine performance. Designed to replace the successful SOC Seagull on battleships and cruisers, the Curtiss SO3C-1 Seamew had problems with engine cooling and stability from the beginning. After wind tunnel changes to correct some of the issues, we now have this somewhat interesting aircraft.
Only 200 were built for the US Navy, and when the navy increased its fuel requirements, it no longer could be water launched with a full fuel load. In addition, the flexing of the float in rough water allowed the propeller to slice into the top of the float, which was not acceptable. These issues along with numerous accidents resulted in a withdrawal from the fleet after just two months off service.
Kit construction was uneventful, mostly building it out of the box. The wings attached with a butt fit rather than tabs, so I installed some brass tubing just for strength. Unfortunately, they chose to mold the canopies closed and the clear pieces were fairly thick. I felt the nice resin cockpit detail needs to be seen, so vacuum formed canopies were needed. The resin rear gun came broken in the kit, and was replaced it with a metal one from my parts box. The beaching gear was a little too simple, and as I has some good reference available, a bit of scratch building was in order. The decals went down without any problems. My one complaint was the name “War Junk” was supposed to be in white rather than the red outline provided. There is no weathering done on the model, as it wasn’t in service long enough to acquire much service wear and tear.
4 additional images. Click to enlarge.