More Dive Bombers
In a previous article, I presented my collection of 1/48 model dive-bombers that served with the Navy in WWII (SBC-3, SB2U, SBD-3, SB2C-3). In this article, I go back in time from there to the mid-1930s to present two aircraft that were the forerunners of the Curtiss SB2C.
Curtiss F11C-2, BFC-2, Goshawk Hawk II
Curtiss BF2C-1 Goshawk, Hawk III
The Curtiss F11C-2/BFC-2 Goshawk served the U.S. Navy from 1934-1938. Up to this time, the Navy had been repurposing existing fighter aircraft in the light dive bomber role. The Goshawk was the first aircraft designated as 'BF' for bomber/fighter from the factory. It had fabric-covered metal construction with metal-covered control surfaces. It was a light dive bomber that could carry 500 lb bomb in center line with bomb crutch to keep bomb out of the propeller. The Navy "high hat" squadron retained BFC's until February, 1938.
Though the Goshawk did not see combat with the U.S. Navy, the Chinese Nationalist Air Force received 52 F11Cs as Hawk IIs and fought against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The model: My BFC-2 is a Lindberg F11C-2 from 1965. It’s a bit inaccurate because the light bomber version had a turtle back behind the cockpit and a partial canopy, but I didn’t have a lot of choice in models. I built it OOB, only adding exhaust manifolds to the engine using solder wire painted brown, and I opened up the handholds on the ends of the lower wing. The model has only a seat for a cockpit, but I’m not much of a scratch builder, so it is what it is. The fuselage is painted with Vellejo Air aluminum overlaid with Testers clear gloss laquer. The tail is Testers enamel white. The top wing is Testers yellow with a bit of Testers orange mixed in. The decals are from Yellow Wings. I was a bit disappointed with the Yellow Wings decals, as the blue of the stars was not solid color, but appeared to have small pinholes in them.
The BF2C was originally denoted as the BFC-3, but since it had retractable landing gear, a different engine, and metal-framed lower wing, it was relabeled BF2C-1. It was delivered to the Navy in 1934 but served only a few months with VB-5 on USS Ranger because of problems with the landing gear.
BF2C's (designated Hawk III) served in the Republic of China's air force in WWII against the Japanese through 1937, and as night fighters until 1940.
The model: The airplane is a fairly recent kit from Freedom Models. Freedom Models mainly offers 1/48 scale modern jets from the Republic of China Air Force, but also include this old biplane because of its use in WWII with the ROCAF. It is a very nice model with lots of details, including photo-etched rigging and other small parts. After building a couple of old kits like the Lindberg one described above (with few small parts), when I got to this one, I had some difficulty dealing with the photo-etched rigging – so much so that if I were to build this model again, I would revert to my tried-and-true fishing line approach. The rigging on my aircraft is, consequently, incomplete because I simply messed up the photo-etched parts too much.
Like the BFC-2 above, I painted the fuselage with Vallejo aluminum with Testers clear lacquer. The tail is Model Master Willow Green, and the top wing is Vellejo Chrome Yellow. The decals are left-over Yellow Wings BFC-2 insignia and SB2U squadron letters. I managed to successfully butcher the “BFC-2” to create the “BF2C” for the tail letters – but don’t check my BuNo’s very closely!. The only modification I made to the model out of the box was converting the three-bladed propeller of the ROCAF version to the two-bladed prop of the U.S. Navy version. I’m still missing an arrester hook, which I’ll add when I find one. The details on this model would go a long way toward updating the Lindberg one (i.e. cockpit, canopy, proper bomb racks), something to keep in mind if I want to take another shot at building these models.
17 additional images. Click to enlarge.