Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawks
I have seen the last remaining F9C Sparrowhawk before, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy/NASM, but for some reason on my last visit, with my Bro-in-law (thanks Kurt, had a great time), I felt inspired to build this classic USN aircraft.
Jumping on that inspiration, I researched the kit options and decided on the 1/32 Williams Brothers kit.
This is a kit from the 1970's so I knew I was in for a “classic, non-Tamiya”, type build but myself being a “classic” builder I decided to forge ahead. Because the Yellow Wings decals set includes full markings for three separate schemes, and to really go above and beyond and make it a real build adventure, I decided to build two of them...the USS Macon, displayed at the museum and the USS Akron, where my daughter lives.
In the 1930's the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk was produced to be a parasite aircraft, launching and retrieving from rigid airships while airborne. Two airships, the USS Akron and USS Macon, were built and intended to be used by the US Navy for airborne coastal defense and fleet scouts.
A total of 8 Sparrowhawks were built.
On April 4, 1933 the USS Akron crashed, off the coast of New Jersey, during a storm, killing 73 crew members. None of the 6 Sprarrowhawks were on board this day and were transferred to the USS Macon.
Two years later on Feb 12, 1935 the USS Macon crashed off the coast of California with 2 crew members killed and losing 4 Sparrowhawks.
This ended the Navy's use of rigid airships as long range scouts for the fleet.
The Sparrowhawk on display at the NASM is the last remaining of it's kind and was fully restored in 1974.
The USS Macon's and it's four F9C's resting site has been surveyed, documented and made a National Marine Sanctuary.
For a more detailed history of the airships and aircraft:
Earlier this summer, with my daughters, we went to see (more like they humored Dad in going with me) the USS Akron's docking hanger, still standing in Akron, Ohio. Unfortunately you can not go onto the property but it's still an impressive structure from a distance.
After getting a few photos we stopped at a nearby antique shop where I happened to find an old newspaper about the USS Akron crash. That was too coincidental not to purchase and will make a nice backdrop for the display case.
Williams Brothers, 1/32, Curtiss Sparrowhawk
Yellow Wings Decals, F9C Sparrowhawk
HGWModels, 1/32, WW2 USA Fighters Seat belts
Scratch built Cockpits
.015 dia Music Wire was used for the Rigging
Scratch made Nav Lights
Scratch built Antenna Tripods, also using music wire.
Scratch built Gun Sights
Fundekals, FD99002, Black Stripe Decals, used for the red and blue outlines.
AK Real Colors, RC221, ADC GRAY
MR. Color, 329, Yellow, FS13538
MR. Color, 327, Red, FS11136
MRP True Blue, FS15102
Tamiya, XF-16, Flat Aluminum
I would not recommend these kits to an inexperienced modeler but despite the age of the kits and the work required, they do end up being a nice representation of this one of kind aircraft.
For me these builds included a lot of reference material, test fitting, putty, sanding, masking, dealing with fiddly parts and most of all patience and determination (times 2).
Overall enjoyable builds and I'm happy with the results but now I'm ready to move on to the next builds.
Thanks for checking them out.
Until next time, as always KEEP IT FUN!
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.