Pro Resin 1/72nd Curtiss P-1A w/Xtracrylix Paints and Yellow-Wings Decals

By Matt Bittner

Background

The P-1A was an improvement over the P-1, itself being production versions of the XPW-8B. The two major changes the P-1A had over the P-1 was the improved D-12C engine, along with the fuselage being three inches longer. 25 were ordered, being delivered April 25, 1926 until October 5, 1926.

My research into the "Early Hawks" initially led nowhere - aside from the one book I owned, the In Action on Curtiss Army Hawks. However, later on in the model construction I found all references and are listed at the bottom of this article. It just goes to show that no matter how hard you think you've looked for references, there is always more out there. Sure, there aren't as many references on the Curtiss Hawks as there are for Mustangs, but by digging just about anything can be found.

The Build

There were forces conspiring against me on this build. First, I botch the faux radiator and have to replace it with one from the F6C-2 I have. Next, the top wing took five rounds with the airbrush before it was finally painted - four of those five times being stripped before the next round of paint. Finally, I had a devil of a time with the rigging. It just wouldn't go on, no matter what happened. Someone, somewhere didn't want me to finish this model. But I persevered - amongst much blue language!

For a detailed look at what exists in the box, be sure to visit my First Look, back in December 2004. Yes, I do tend to take a lot of time building models. A definite problem of mine, especially when trying to build to deadlines. Ah, well.

Construction naturally starts in the cockpit. The nice thing about the Pro Resin Curtiss' is their complete cockpit, out of the box. Very nicely done and nothing else needs to be added. Photoetch seat belts, photoetch - and clear acetate - instrument panel, etc. Sure, anyone could super detail anything, but out of the box the cockpit is more than complete.

After spraying the inside of the cockpit aluminum and gluing all parts together the fuselage can now be assembled. Don't forget the faux radiator grill that goes in the front of the radiator, as well as coming up with something for the backside of the radiator. It's nothing but a "hole" if you don't, and could be noticeable. Since I didn't have all the references listed gathered when I started the kit, I had no idea what that area looked like, so I glued in a piece of sheet plastic, angled up, painted black. Good enough to hide the hole, but if you're into the details be sure to find some pictures of this area as it is unique. Another addition I did was to add some sheet plastic behind the holes for the exhausts. This way I could add the exhausts during final construction without fear of them falling into the fuselage.

Now that the fuselage is assembled, construction continues with adding the lower wing and the tail pieces. The only trouble I had here was one of the lower wings kept snapping off, but once I applied LOTS of CA, it stayed in place.

Now to the painting. I used Xtracrylix for the first time, and once I figured out it was best to use their own thinner, was glad with the paint (XA1112 Olive Drab and XA1213 Yellow RLM 04). In fact, I plan on purchasing more of it as I'm quite pleased with how it looks, and how it adheres. I did prime the kit prior to painting, but that didn't seem to matter. On those areas that I didn't thin the paint with their thinner, it still chipped off. In fact, some of the primer chipped off as well. What did I mention in my first paragraph? I upset one of the modeling "gods".

Okay. Paint is on - after a few coats with the Yellow/Orange and I'm ready to apply the decals. Words of advice: if you can, somehow, someway, replace the Pro Resin decals. While this is quite difficult with the emblem and letters/numbers for this particular aircraft, definitely do with the insignia. One delay I made with this kit was waiting for the release of the Yellow-Wings insignia decals (#72-001). I was hoping to replace both sets of insignia decals with the Y-W examples but alas, their smallest is not small enough for the lower wing of the Hawks. So, those were replaced by trusty, old Micro/Superscale insignia decals. I also replaced the "U.S. ARMY" on the underside of the lower wing with Micro/Superscale ones. Pro Resin decals are very difficult to work with, won't conform over the smallest bump, and are very brittle. Also, they're quite thick. I was lucky enough that Draw Decals came to my rescue with the aircraft stenciling on the mid-fuselage sides. Not only are the Pro Resin bad (as I mentioned above) but the font is all wrong as well. (Thank you Draw Decals!)

The Yellow-Wing insignia decals went down wonderfully. Using my usual method of adhering decals with Future, I was left with no visible decal edges and they conformed to all surface irregularities. If I had to complain, my only complaint with the insignia decals are they are just a tad translucent. The only way I noticed this is I did my usual oil wash on all the panel lines before adding the decals, and you can see the black oil through the decal. Even with this, it's still not a problem as you can't see the yellow of the wing through the insignia - just the black "panel line".

As I mentioned I did a black oil wash over most parts, plus I did a lighter green oil drybrush over some of the raised surface details, giving them a "highlight". I haven't finished the weathering yet, though, as I want to use watercolor pencils to give more definition to the wings' surfaces.

Truth be told, I used all but two parts with this kit. The two parts I couldn't use - thanks to "hamfisted Bittner" - were the two struts connecting the upper wing ailerons to the lower wing. I ended up cutting these too short, so had to use Strutz! as replacement pieces. Other than that, everything is out of the box.

I decided not to add the extra, under-fuselage gas tank for two reasons - first, because I didn't want to, and second because I couldn't get it to fit. When I acquired all the references, it occurred to me that the tank didn't fit flush on the real thing, so that point is moot! Keep this in mind when building a Hawk with the external tank.

Although I'm not 100% sure it's an accurate color, I decided to paint the fire extinguisher (on the port side of the fuselage, right behind the cockpit) red, primarily to add a splash of color to the olive-yellow/orange paint scheme. I will weather it a little to tone it down, but I do think it adds a bit of interest.

Conclusion

All in all a very decent kit, and it looks great. I've been wanting to build a P-1/P-1A for years, and just was too lazy to cut out one of the Rareplanes Rarebits fuselage conversions. Now I don't have to, as the Pro Resin kit fits the bill. The Pro Resin P-1A has pushed me to build more Curtiss Army Hawks, and once I finish the LF Curtiss Y1A-18, the LF P-1C is next, followed down the road by the Pro Resin Curtiss P-6E. I want to also purchase another P-1A and finish it as a P-1 - easy to do, as three inches in 1/72nd is practically nothing.

My thanks to Pro Resin for providing the review kit. Thanks go to Roll Models as well for supplying the Xtracrylix paint. In addition, I can not leave out Draw Decal, saving my tushy with their agreeing to print me new stencil decals. Finally, thanks to Yellow-Wings Decals for the insignia decals. Even with the small translucency problem, I can whole-heartedly recommend their decals.

References

  • Curtiss Army Hawks In Action, Squadron/Signal Publications
  • The Official Monogram US Army Air Service and Air Corps Aircraft Color Guide Vol1, 1908-1941. Monogram Aviation Publications
  • "Early Army Hawks", Skyways No.5, Jan. 1988
  • "Details - Early Curtiss Hawks", Skyways, July 1999

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