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Academy 1/48 Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-36

By Michael Benolkin

Background

These two aircraft were designed, built and operated during the mid-1930s. Many of these aircraft were in service during the opening days of World War Two. What is especially interesting is that BOTH of these aircraft were the basis of two of the most famous fighters from WW2.

Alexander de Seversky, a Russian immigrant to the US, formed an aircraft company within four years of his arrival. One of his first US projects, the Seversky P-35 first flew in 1935, and would serve in the peacetime US Army Air Corps as well as being exported as the EP-1 to Sweden. In fact, only 60 of Sweden's 120 ordered EP-1s were delivered, the rest were pulled into US service when the possibility of war loomed on the horizon. Two thirds of the USAAC's P-35/EP-1 fleet were lost during the Japanese attacks on the Philippines in December 1941. In the interim, improvements made to the P-35 led to the P-43 Lancer, and ultimately the P-47 Thunderbolt. The Seversky Aircraft Company had become the Republic Aircraft Company.

Competing against the P-35 for a USAAC contract, the Curtiss Aircraft Company entered the P-36 Hawk. Curtiss already possessed a respectable history of aircraft production in the US, and the P-36 was the monoplane development of the biplane Curtiss Hawk. The P-36 also flew for the first time in 1935, and while unsuccessful in its competition against the P-35, a re-engined P-36A was bought by the USAAC. In addition to the US, Curtiss exported Hawk variants to France and the UK (designated the Mohawk). In the opening days of WW2, the Mohawk proved equal to the Luftwaffe's Bf109D. In the meantime, Curtiss continued development of an improved Hawk. By mating the P-35 airframe with an Allison V1710 liquid-cooled engine, the first P-40 was born. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Kits

SEVERSKY P-35

 

 

 

CURTISS P-36

 

 

 

Academy is releasing two new kits in their 'between the wars' series - the Seversky P-35 and the Curtiss P-36 Hawk. Based on the Hobbycraft kits released a number of years ago, these kits feature sharp molding and recessed/scribed panel lines. Free of flash, the parts trees in both kits are also free of sink marks and ejector pin marks in visible places. The plastic is molded in light grey with very clear canopies/transparencies.

Like the Hobbycraft kits, these kits are rather spartan in the cockpit detail department, but are laid out such that the scratchbuilder/superdetailer will have a clean palette to work with. Details are limited to seat, seat frame, floor, aft bulkhead, control stick, gear extension lever (P-36), and instrument panel with rudder pedals. Aftermarket detail sets for the Hobbycraft P-35 and P-36 should be adaptable to these kits as well.

The P-35 has that huge window on the right side of the fuselage, but lacks any interior detailing to 'see' through thewindow. Again, a good reference book and some Evergreen plastic strips will solve this problem as well.

Conversely, the P-36 features the canvas barrier molded in the wheel wells (used to keep the dust/debris out of the wing). Nice job of molding! The engine detail is simple but effective. While the cooling vanes on the radial engines are not represented, by the time you get some good detail painting done on either engine and install it inside of those tight cowls, you'll never notice the vanes.

The overall fit of both kits is very good. It doesn't look like seam filler will be required if care is taken during assembly. The only potential problem I foresee is the underside wing/fuselage joint on both kits, but this will be little more than a touch of cyano gap filler and some sanding/polishing. The plastic that Academy uses in their kits responds well to Tenax, so a little care and patience will render a seamless flying machine.

The P-35 includes markings for a USAAC and a Swedish AF example. The P-36 also has USAAC markings provided, as well as markings for a camouflaged French AF machine as it appeared in the winter of 1939-40.

Summary

These kits are good additions to Academy's growing list of aircraft subjects. The molding is nicely done and they will provide a nice kit straight out of the box, or provide the advanced modeler with the basis for a masterpiece. I recommend these kits to modelers of all skill levels.

My sincere thanks to MRC for these review samples!




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