Anigrand Craftworks’ 1/72 Curtis XP-60

A few weeks ago, I’d taken a look at the parts included with Anigrand Craftworks’ XP-60. Though I have quite a few kits waiting in the stash, I was looking forward to building my first resin kit, so I moved it to the top of the build stack.

And I’m really glad I did. This kit has been a blast!

The Curtis Wright XP-60 was one of those footnotes to WWII aviation history. Originally started as a replacement to the P-40, it went through several versions of “X” aircraft, none of which “showed enough promise to warrant production”. And as the Wikipedia article on it says, “the plane was considered a failure by all.” Ouch.

I’m a sucker for the underdog, every time. I decided that I’d give the XP-60 another chance, if only on my display shelf, to wear the colors of an operational fighter plane.

Plus I’d get to build a kit. I know- who needs an excuse? 🙂

I’d read on quite a few forums that the first step in a resin kit is parts cleanup and washing. This turned out to be good advice. Despite more than a few places where parts had lumps, bumps or other protrusions, taking care of them was simple. Using my sprue cutters, I clipped away the offending areas easily, and a few swipes of the sanding stick brought everything under control. After a good scrubbing with some dish soap and a toothbrush- not too vigorous though, everything was ready to get started.

Most parts had some excess resin, and a few holes, and even a bubble. Nothing that could not be cleaned up in a few minutes, and certainly not a distraction from the kit.

The cockpit has minimal detailing- only a seat and control stick are provided. That’s not meant as a criticism- if you’re going to have the canopy buttoned up, only careful examination up close would show a lack of detailing. I’d planned on opening the canopy up though, so I rummaged through the spares box and found some photoetch for a Spitfire and a Thunderbolt. I searched the ‘net for days to find a picture of the cockpit, but finding none, I decided that I’d just sort of make things up. I glued in some bits and pieces for sidewall detail, added rudder pedals, and had a seat ready to pop in once I closed up the fuselage. Turns out that my plans for the canopy would change…. more on that later.

Closing up the fuselage requires a little planning. As there are no alignment pins, and resin is joined with “super glue” (or CA… Cyanoacrylate), make sure you have a plan of attack before you start. The engine must be glued in place in one half of the fuselage before joining, so that helps to align the sides. After several test fits, I put a small drop of CA near the front of one side, and aligned the fuselage halves, holding them together. Once this set, and the alignment was correct, I carefully put a drop of CA in the gaps that were left, letting the capillary action draw the CA (I used thin CA) into the gaps. Next time I do this type of resin kit, I’ll probably use thicker (or gap filling) CA, as it should be easier to control.

Once the fuselage was together, I went over the seams one more time with a bead of CA to fill any gaps, and once dry, sanded it down smooth. I added the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, again using CA to fill the gaps, along with some Mr. Surfacer 1000 to tidy up some holes and air bubbles.

The wings were cast as single pieces, interlocking together into one unit, which joined quite well to the fuselage. Again, CA played a big part in the process of joining the wings, closing the small gap between the pieces. It took several test fits of the wings and fuselage, with some sanding here and there, to get both units joined together. Once glued in place though, the fit was very nice, and the design of the parts left practically no gap.

After adding the air scoop underneath the fuselage, I did some final gap filling and sanding to prepare the surface for painting. I started by pre-shading the entire plane with PS Grimy Black. Next was PS U.S. Neutral gray on the undersides, sprayed in successive coats, each layer lightened a bit with PS White to provide surface variation and shading effects. The same technique was used on the top, using PS O.D. Green.

The final stages started with paint chipping, using a silver Prismacolor pencil. After chipping various panels and areas, I sealed everything in with several coats of Future, lightly sprayed on with the airbrush. After giving that plenty of time to dry, I started applying decals.

As I’d mentioned earlier, the XP-60 never made it into production. The markings that came with the kit were fairly boring. So I decided “What if…?” and decided to give it the markings of an operation P-47 squadron early in the war, imagining what it would have looked like if the XP-60 ever went into production. I used Aeromaster set 72-188, Debden Jugs Pt. I. These markings represent various P-47s flown by the 4th Fighter Group. I did use the S/N on the tail of the actual XP-60E, just for fun.

After decaling, I added the various parts left- propeller and hub, landing geat and tail wheel, gear doors, pitot tube and antenna. I had to scratch make the gear doors, as I somehow managed to lose the kit doors. And I substituted the tires and tail wheel from an Academy P-51, as I thought those parts looked a bit better than the kit supplied ones.

Then came the canopy.

I’ve never worked with a vacform canopy. Several people gave me some very logical sounding tips to work with cutting tghe canopy out from the mold. All sounded logical. And I’d ordered and extra canopy, so if I messed up I could start over. So every thing would go smooth, right?

Right?

Turns out I should’ve ordered four or five.

Now, I can’t blame Anigrand, really. Though the casting of the framework was not very prominent, the areas to be cut were quite clear. The only problem was that I simply could not get the hang of cutting the canopy. I tried filling it with modeling clay to give some substance to cut against. I used a brand new #11 x-acto blade. I did everything other folks advised. And my ham-fisted carving ruined the canopy. It looked awful.

So I started on canopy #2. It turned out better, but still looked mighty hacked up. I finally got it to the point that it mostly fit. It doesn’t look very good at all. I may get brave and order another canopy and try again…. but maybe not.

Painting the canopy turned out to be a problem too. The lines cast on the canopy are very faint on the outside…. for some reason they’re actually more prominent on the inside. So after several attempts at masking with everything from blue tape, modeling tape and Bare Metal Foil, I finally decided to paint a few canopy lines on by hand and leave it like it was.

Defeated by a vacform canopy….. sigh. Like I said, I don’t think the problem was the canopy, just my lack of experience. My plans to open up the canopy went…. out the window, so to speak. 🙂 I’ll probably go back and correct it- some day. I decided to leave it as is and move on.

Finishing of the plane with some Tamiya Smoke ofr exhaust and gun stains a coat of PS Flat, I added the canopy and called it done.

Aside from the canopy, this was a fun kit. It stretched my modeling skills, and it was fun to come up with the “what if” part of the build. Resin was not as difficult to work with as I’d thought it might be, and despite needing a bit of cleanup, the simple layout of Anigrand’s parts made assembly fairly easy. If you want to tackle a resin kit, I’d recommend checking out the XP-60, or any of Anigrand’s kits.