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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.

21 responses to China bird…The last biplane Hawk

  1. Silk purse from a sow’s ear. This is my kind of modeling. Very well done.

  2. Excellent work, Bill….nice job indeed (and on the “hangar doors” as well).

  3. Bill, the heading photo looks real.
    I’ve been interested in one of these since I saw an article years ago about converting the Lindberg Goshawk, using parts from a bunch of other now classic kits. Waaay above my skill level, then.
    I have the book, also. This is factory fresh, before they stripped some of them down for combat. Fascinating stuff.

  4. Really nice. I gotta get that book.

  5. Great work, Bill, obviously inspired by your interest in the subject. I’m scared to show this to my Chinese friend in case he asks me to make him one too!

  6. That is one nice looking Hawk Bill.

  7. Very very nice work. Love it. 🙂

  8. a beauty…love the color

  9. Real “Terry and the Pirates” stuff! Pre- Flying Tigers, when Chennault was advisor to Chaing, and “foreign advisors” were selling their wares. I-16s (Russians) CR-32s (Italians) our folks (Shrikes, B-10s, Northrups) All flown by mercenaries and the politically connected albeit less than skillfull Chinese. Quite a story.

  10. Bill, great looking subject and interesting story, too. You don’t mention the rigging. As I’m something of a rigging geek can you give me more details about materials and process? I have a special box in my head where I keep things marked ‘gauges and tension strengths….’

    • Rob the “rigging” is .015 steel wire, I have used a couple of times before on 1/32 stuff. It may be a tad thick for scale but is easy to work with, bends and comes back to straight, and makes nice “doubles”. The locations were marked by Hasegawa (after checking refs of course) these were drilled thru at the ( hopefully) appropriate angles. The fuselage ones were nice as I could make the wires nice and long for easy installation. After the wires are in, a dab of white glue and that’s it. Getting the ones under the top wing was a challenge but the bending ability came in handy here. The damn spreaders are a bugbear of mine, still looking for ways to get these right. On this one I cheated again and just laid them on top and of course it looks sloppy again. Can’t win ’em all.

      • Thanks, Bill. I’ve started using Gaspatch Models turnbuckles which are superb. Some on the market have a fiat profile but the GP versions are properly cylindrical, albeit tiny.

        I’ve also used the stainless wire but only on particular projects as I find it has some peculiarities that doesn’t suit some rigging layouts.

        Cheers for getting back; another OCD box ticked 😉

  11. Good-lookin’ model, and a great story behind the project! Some fine detailing/correcting you did as well. Well done!

  12. Great job! A steel wire as bracing wires – general super!

  13. Thanks heaps for the comments guys. And all positive!

  14. Wow, another Koppos masterpiece. Glad to see you building planes again (though your targets are excellent and different from the run-of-the-mill). Beauty of an engine, delicate underwing stores, great finish & rigging too.

    Keep ’em coming!

  15. Bill,
    All I am going to say is that I am indeed impressed. Your work is exceptional


  16. Great modelling and a good read, impressive work, Bill !

  17. Impressive biplane Bill! Well done sir. 🙂

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