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Tom Cleaver
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Dora Wings 1/48 P-35

January 15, 2022 · in Aviation · · 14 · 1.7K

The Airplane:

The was a military development of the SEV-3 three- seat amphibian, designed by Alexander Kartveli, Seversky's chief designer and was Alexander P. de Seversky's first aircraft. The SEV-3 flew in June 1933 and was developed into the Seversky BT-8 basic trainer, of which 30 were ordered by the Army Air Corps in 1935. It proved manifestly underpowered and was quickly replaced by the North American BT-9.

The second prototype SEV-3 was completed as a two-seat fighter, the SEV-2XP, powered by a 735 hp R-1820 Cyclone with fixed landing gear in aerodynamic spats.When the Air Corps announced a competition for a new single-seat fighter in 1935, Seversky sent the SEV-2XP, expecting it to win despite being a two-seater. However, the aircraft was damaged on 18 June 1935 during its transit to the fly-offs at Wright Field; some people think this was intentional, since Seversky had in the meantime learned about the Curtiss Model 75, which was a single-seater with retractable undercarriage, The competition was delayed while Seversky was allowed to “rebuild” the aircraft into the virtually-new SEV-1XP, a single seater with a retractable undercarriage and a more powerful 850 hp R-1820-G5 replacing the SEV-2XP's engine. The SEV-1XP arrived at Wright Field on August 15 for a successful evaluation, though the Cyclone failed to deliver its rated power and the SEV-1XP only reached 289 mph, not the 300 mph advertised by Seversky.

Protests from Curtiss delayed the formal flyoff between the two competitors until April 1936, with both Seversky and Curtiss taking the opportunity to improve their aircraft; in the meantime Vought entered the V-141 while Consolidated came up with a single seat version of the PB-2. The SEV-1XP now had a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-9 "Twin Wasp" and a modified vertical stabilizer and was now the SEV-7.

The new engine also failed to deliver its rated power only reaching 738 hp and top speed was again well below 300 mph. While the SEV-7 was more expensive than either Curtiss' or Vought's entries it won the competition and received an order for 77 P-35 fighters and spare parts equal to eight airplanes on June 16, 1936 at a cost of $1,636,250.

The first production P-35 was delivered in May 1937, and delivery of 76 was completed in August 1938. Unhappy with Seversky's slow delivery of the P-35 and sale of 2PA two-seat fighters to the Japanese Navy, the Air Corps ordered 210 Curtiss P-36s that summer.

Seversky continued to develop the design with the hope of selling more to the Air Corps and export customers. The SEV-1XP was turned into a single seat racer, the S-1, which took 4th place in the 1937 Bendix Trophy race, in which the S-2, a similar aircraft built for Frank Fuller took first place. The S-2 also won the Bendix in 1939, placed second in 1938, and portrayed the "Drake Bullet" in the 1938 film “Test Pilot.”

The Kit:

Hobbycraft made a P-35, P-35A and Seversky racer in the early 1990s, which were, until the release of this P-35 kit by and their J-9/P-35A, the only plastic kits of the Seversky fighters available. The kits were not Hobbycraft's best, and this kit, which is thoroughly accurate and very well-detailed, turns them into the doorstops they have aspired to be for 30 years. Other P-35 and P-35A kits have been released in 1/72 by Special Hobby. Special Hobby's 1/72 kits are accurate, though they are not easy.

This kit differs from the previously-released J-9/P-35A in having the shorter fuselage of the P-35 and other detail difference such as the mounting of the machine guns in the nose. Decals are provided for P-35s flown by squadrons of the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, 1938-40. The clear sanopy is provided in sections but can only be accurately assembled in the closed position.


Like the MB 152, this is a “high-end/limited-run kit.” Pay attention to the latter and you will achieve the former.

The instructions are very good and I had no trouble in assembly by committing the radical act of actually paying attention to the instructions. I used kit parts only, other than Eduard pre-war US lap belts. Do not use a shoulder harness with this model, because US military aircraft before World War II were equipped only with lap belts.

With care in cleaning up parts, the model assembles nicely if you take your time and test fit test fit test fit. I had to trim the elevators so they would fit to the horizontal stabilizer so I could droop them, sanding off just a bit of the inner edge to get things to open up enough to move them. The engine took some fiddling and I ended up using Evergreen rod for details since the parts are really fragile and getting some of them off the sprue is close to impossible.

Be sure to put that baggage compartment door in place before attaching the fuselage halves together, because you have to trim it to fit and you want to be able to work it from both sides to get it to fit right.

The wing and fuselage sub-assemblies fit nicely. I rubber banded the wing around the tips to bring it in tight against the upper fuselage joint. When it set, all was in proper position and I didn't have to use any filler.


I used the kit-supplied masks for the canopy.

I gave the model an overall coat of Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black, thinned 50-50, for a primer coat then airbrushed Vallejo Aluminum overall. I painted the fabric control surfaces with Vallejo White Aluminum.


I used the kit decals to do the airplane of the squadron commander of the 27th Pursuit Squadron of the 1st Pursuit Group. The kit decals are printed in Ukraine and are first-rate, melting into the surface detail with an application of Micro-Sol.

Final Assembly:

I assembled the landing gear and attached it, then attached the prop and the pitot tube.


This kit thoroughly eclipises the Hobbycraft kits. It is accurate, and easy to assemble if you take your time and clean all the parts thoroughly. The result is a really first-rate addition to my Golden Age of Aviation model collection. Highly recommended to modelers experienced with limited-run kits.

Reader reactions:
12  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

14 responses

  1. Good looking P-35 Tom.

  2. Nice work, Tom. It looks like a great kit.

  3. Another great model and equally thorough "historical" section, Tom!
    Thanks for the kit info, another Dora Wings winner here!

  4. Fantastic build of this little aircraft, Tom @tcinla
    Read your very informative article on Modelling Madness yesterday as well, great history writing of this aircraft.
    Another beautiful eye-catcher on the shelve.

  5. Beautiful! This fuselage shape has something to do with it. A bit anti-areodynamic, it's surprising that he accelerated to a speed of 300 miles per hour! I once heard the opinion about this machine as a good school trash 🙂 Did these machines take part in any combat action? I'm not sure, but I guess in Stockholm there is one in the museum, as an export version? What was the armament of this aircraft?

  6. Excellent work on a highly interesting aircraft, Tom! Very well done!

  7. Nice looking build, Tom.

  8. Nice work, Tom. Sleek looking build and another great write up.

  9. Nice work, Tom. It looks like a nice kit.

  10. It looks almost like an "eggplane" version of a Thunderbolt! A very interesting subject and a great finish, too.

  11. Very interesting plane and story. I must see the test pilot film now. Quite a cast With classical actors during a heroic time.
    My film library grows proportionally with the kits ! Thank god i have a spare room to put it all in !

  12. Very nice - that's a stumpy-looking aircraft, isn't it? I may need to get one of those Special Hobby kits to add the P-35 to my collection.

    • In the 30s, making an airplane "short coupled" was a way to increase speed. The downside was it affected controllability, so you see a short-coupled airplane like the early P-40s getting a "stretch" in the rear fuselage later in life for stability.

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