China bird…The last biplane Hawk
The Osprey “Aircraft of the aces” series of booklets has caused me lots of inspiration (and work) over the years, and the new release #126 “Aces of the Republic of China Airforce” is the latest. For years I intended to convert Hasegawa’s 1970 Classic 1/32 U.S. Navy Curtiss BF2C-1 Carrier plane into the Curtiss export version, the Hawk III, due to my interest in the aircraft of the Sino-Japanese conflict. Many interesting 1930’s designs saw combat here due to China’s propensity to buy from all over. When I saw the cover of this book with the Hawk in action on it, With a bunch of photos I had never seen inside, I knew it was time.
Curtiss’s end-of-the-line biplane fighter, with it’s weird retractable landing gear, had always been interesting to me, especially since it saw real combat. Flown by some of the better, earlier Chinese pilots, it gave a good account of itself even if already obsolete. Hasegawa’s ancient kit isn’t too bad at all, detail being good enough and fit/quality also. So as not to make this really long I will just make a list of changes/ Mods…
1)The engine cowl on the Hawk III export was wider in chord and more rounded. After much search I found the top part of a toothpick holder to be very close and the right plastic. Lucky, lucky. Sand and fill, sand and fill…viola.
2) Hawk III had a three-blade prop, stolen and modded from an old Revell P-40.
3) the exhausts were individual, hollowed styrene rod bent as per references.
4)The interior was bare, I made new side walls, seat, and added throttles, levers map case, etc. and wine foil seat harness with wire buckles.
5)Fill in arrestor hook recess under fuselage and remove flotation panels from under top wing.
6) Fix Hasegawa’s incorrect aileron struts and add underwing fairings for same.
7) I was working from a pic in the book showing a shiny new Hawk with all the trimmings which included a set of “landing lights” underwing. My belief is these were actually spotlights for nightfighting, which several nations were experimenting with. These were made out of resin 1/48 bombs.
Color was overall a very dark green, I used Model Master dark green. Genius, eh? The pic showed a high shine so I used Floquil gloss which is VERY glossy but takes FOREVER to dry so I waited a week. Of course this machine used large upper wing Chinese stars, for which there are no decals, so it was time to start cutting and masking. Ditto with the side numerals which denotes the leader of the Fourth Fighter Group. This aircraft was used by several pilots to knock down 4 or 5 Japanese raiders, before it was lost in Combat in January 1938.
Finally the shiny Hawk pic was in front of a tidy set of hangar doors, so I tried to reproduce these on a poster board with pencil, and the picture itself. I think I did all right.
A tribute to those Chinese pilots, first to fight the Japanese in a largely forgotten, but deadly, part of World War Two.
I recommend this book to anyone with an interest, the research and information within is amazing, and finally come to light.
16 additional images. Click to enlarge.