Review: Halberd Models 1/48 Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk
The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk, was the largest, fastest, most heavily-armed single-engine scouting-observation seaplane ever used by the U.S. Navy, with a top speed of 313mph and armament of two .50 caliber machine guns in the wings. It was also the last of the catapult-launched scout-observation seaplanes that began naval aviation, replaced by 1949 with the now-ubiquitous helicopter.
Following the failure of the SO3C-1 Seamew, Curtiss submitted the Seahawk design in response to a Navy Bureau of Aeronautics request for observation seaplane proposals on August 1, 1942. A contract for two prototypes and five service test aircraft was awarded on August 25. A production order for 500 SC-1s followed in June 1943, prior to the first flight of the prototypes.
While the SC-1 only had a crew of one, the pilot, a bunk was provided in the aft fuselage for rescue or personnel transfer. To use this, the pilot was forced to get out of the cockpit and stand on the wing while he pulled the seat and rear cockpit bulkhead forward to open the rear fuselage. He had no way to pull a survivor out of the water up onto the wing and a person in that compartment could not get out in an emergency unless the pilot stayed with the airplane to open the rear of the cockpit. This rescue passenger capability was never used operationally.
The aircraft had a turbo-supercharged engine, which was unnecessary due to the fact it was never intended to be flown at altitudes above 2,000 feet. The turbo-supercharger was responsible for several engine problems. The aircraft was equipped with an autopilot that was later found to cause crashes on landing when it engaged accidentally. With the autopilot turned off, it was very difficult for the pilot to fly the airplane while consulting navigational maps or operating the radio, which took his attention away from flying the airplane.
Of the 500 Seahawks produced by the fall of 1944, only some 79 saw fleet operation aboard ships during World War II. The Seahawk first went aboard the new battlecruisers USS Alaska and USS Guam in October 1944. These airplanes were removed from ships in 1947-48 as helicopters were entering service.
The Seahawk was extremely maneuverable in the air and they were known as “Quarterdeck Messerschmitts” aboard the cruisers and battleships on which they served.
The kit was produced in a run of 350 offered through Halberd's facebook page. Limited production continues, if you order a kit from their website; each time they get ten orders, they cast the kits and send them on.
Sinifer produced a resin 1/48 SC-1 in the early 2000s that was fairly basic. Several 1/72 SC-1s of varying quality and accuracy have been produced as limited-run kits.
This all-resin kit by the Ukrainian company Halberd Models is the best all-resin kit I have ever seen. Surface detail is competitive with what Eduard does in injection plastic. All parts are clean the production design is simple and construction is easy. The fuselage and min float are hollow-cast, while the wings and tail surfaces are one-piece.
Decals are provided for four different aircraft in tricolor or post war glossy sea blue finish.
You will need to insure that the slots the wing and stabilizer parts are fitted in are completely clear of any excess resin, to insure good fit.
The cockpit is painted Interior Green with black instrument panels and I used Eduard photoetch seatbelts rather than the kit photoetch belts.
Once the engine is assembled, you will need to sand it down around the outer edge in order for it to fit inside the fuselage halves. Do not worry about losing detail; you can't see anything in that area of the cowling where the engine fits.
When you attach the wings, be sure you have cleaned up the attachment tab to get a good close fit of wing to fuselage. You want to fill the seam that runs through the wing flap on the lower side; if you are careful with assembly, this will be the only place you use any filler.
DO NOT attach the wingtip floats until you have painted the model and decaled it. These are one-piece items, and the pylons the floats hang from are brittle and once assembled in place will be easily broken with handling during construction. (Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
The rear clear panels of the canopy were removed in service to reduce vibration of the canopy when open in-flight. I used a razor saw to cut out both, then replaced the centerline structure with Evergreen plastic.
Painting and Decals:
I airbrushed the model freehand, using Gunze-Sangyo Mr. Color lacquer-base acrylics. After applying the decals (I did the model as one of the early ones assigned to USS Alaska (CB-2). I applied clear flat finish to give the look of an airplane lightly covered in saltspray, which was the normal condition of these aircraft that were carried on their catapults at sea.
Final finish and Assembly:
I finished off by attaching the canopy in the open position. The casting of this part is sufficiently “off” that you cannot successfully attach it closed; it isn't really right in the open position either, due to this mistake, but when open the problem is less apparent.
This is the best all-resin kit I have ever done (and I have done several all-resin kits). It is easy to assemble and the final result will look good sitting next to the highest-quality injection-molded plastic model in your collection. While this kit is expensive, “every penny is on the screen” as we say in Hollywood. Highly recommended.
Review kit courtesy of all you book buyers.
What an excellent build and great article. The information on the areas to watch out for was very interesting. The prototype is a fascinating example of creating an aircraft which unnecessarily exceeds the role for which it is designed.
Nice work, Tom. Your salt spray weathering looks spot on. That’s gotta be one heavy chunk of resin.
@j-healy - It definitely is!
Excellent build, Tom, fantastic painting and weathering. Amazing article, too!
This is an awesome Seahawk, Tom @tcinla
Thanks for the article which is very informative and a pleasure to read.
The landing gear, as shown in your build, was that used for parking the aircraft on land or could it really be used for take off and landing?
Parking on the ramp.
Excellent and inspiring build.
However, if it is expensive, I will not be tempted.
I thought long and hard too, then I got a nice Royalty check from Osprey and decided the universe was telling me I deserved a treat.
Very beautiful build! The worn look suits the plane well. I like seaplanes, there is something about them.
An absolute build review as usual Tom @tcinla
There’s been a lot of attention over this kit and reading your build it’s well deserved it seems.
Great paintwork btw!
Nice work overall, Tom.
I agree with your comments in regards to Halberd's resin quality and crisp detail. Their PA-48 Enforcer I recently posted was of the same quality. I may have to break out the wallet for this kit as well. Thanks!?!? LOL
@tcinla - Great write up as always Tom. The build, painting and weathering all look incredibly realistic!
That is a real beauty! You paintwork on this one is fantastic.
Tom, @tcinla, I had not really heard anything about this plane prior to seeing it here. Thanks for the history of this unusual and good looking plane. I don't know, but to my eye, this is one of your better builds. It looks to me you got everything just right. The colors, the weathering and a solid build. Well done!
When you start with great material and pay attention, things have a tendency to "go right."
That is an absolutely beautiful build.
Fantastic weathering and a great article to go with it.
Thanks very much for it.
Congrats Tom. This is your best paintwork I've seen. The Halberd kits are fabulous. I've got their Bf 109W conversion which I hope to get to this year
Fantastic build and an interesting story.
Exellent build and painting!
Great work on this Tom @tcinla, your paintwork and weathering bring it alive. Thanks for sharing the bits of history as always!