Build Report: Hobbycraft 1/48 Hawk 75

hobbycraft-1-48-curtiss-hawk-75-chinese-markings-cover

Once in awhile, you start working on a kit, and something about it just grabs you. It doesn’t have to be the most advanced or detailed kit. But some quality, some undefinable “x factor” makes it really stand out. That is the experience I had building this Hobbycraft Hawk 75.

I’d seen a photo of someone else’s build on Facebook. Assuming it was a kit conversion, I inquired about it, and was surprised to be told it was just an out of box Hobbycraft kit. A quick trip over to Ebay and I had one on the way to me.

The kit itself is very simple. Nice casting, decent but minimal surface detail. The cockpit is basic, with just enough bits and bumps to be presentable. It’s an older but very buildable kit.

But it had me hooked. I didn’t know why. (I still don’t, to be honest.)

Assembling the cockpit is simple. I replaced the seat with an Ultracast seat designed for early P-40B/C models, with a wide lap belt and no shoulder harness. I didn’t have any research to back it up, but simply thought it might have been used. In any event, it looked good. The rest of the cockpit was basic- stick, flap lever, a simple IP with rudder pedals molded in. I painted it all US interior green. Aluminum would probably have been the correct choice, but frankly I find that color boring for interiors…. so I used some artistic license. I did mount a small piece of plastic on the rear bulkhead of the cockpit to make gluing the seat in a bit easier. I also closed off the big gaping hole in that bulkhead.

The assembly of the kit was about as easy as you could want. The fuselage halves fit together just fine. The wings fit nicely together. The fit of the wings to the fuselage was good. I added a few beads of Mr. Surfacer here and there to hide glue seams, but for an older kit, the overall engineering and fit was quite good.

The Hawk 75 was a low cost export model of the P-36, and to save money, it had fixed landing gear. The kit comes with several options for wheel spat configuration, so be sure and check the instructions and reference photos to find what is correct for your marking scheme. Also, some versions did not have the rear windows installed, so you may need to use the provided parts to close up that area too.

The gear spats are simply glued on the the lower wing surface, but placement is easy. If you sand down the pegs for mounting the tires (or tyres… 🙂 ) a bit, they can be fitted after painting.

I had decided to finish the kit in Chinese Nationalist Air Force markings. For the lower surfaces, the kit instructions called for light gray, but some research indicated that the aircraft may have been supplied in a bare metal finish, and the paint added in CHina. The undersides may not have been painted at all.

I thought that was a good enough reason to try out my new bottle of Vallejo Metal Color Aluminum. It’s an acrylic metal coat. I was looking forward to try it, because I have never been able to make Alclad work, so I have been averse to building any NMF aircraft. I hoped that this new Vallejo product would work.

I was quite happy with how it performed. It sprayed on very nicely, and I thought it looked very good. It does require good surface preparation. I used Tamiya Fine Primer, and it worked well. I only used one color- Aluminum- so it looks a bit monotone. But the Metal Color range has several options, so adding some variation would have been easy.

I did test out how well it held up to masking. If you don’t use a primer, the Metal Color paint has no adhesion. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I used a piece of masking tape and lifted off virtually every speck of it. However, when put it over a good, smooth coat of primer, it had very, very little pull up. The one area it did pull up was the place on the wing where I normally hold a model, so I think it may have simply been the oil from my hands that did it. Where it counted- the masking for the upper paint demarcation- did not have any problems.

I definitely recommend giving this product a try. If you already get good results from Alclad- stick with it. It is more convincing. But if you’ve had problems with Alclad, or just want to try an acrylic, give this one a shot. You will get very, very good results.

The uppers were painted with Tamiya XF-58 Olive Green. I don’t know if this was the correct color, but I am certain it was the color I used. 🙂 The kit decals were used, and while not the best decals, they behaved well enough with Solvaset. I added some basic fading and shading and a panel wash of artists oils, and called this one finished.

The kit won’t win awards for surface detail, or for detail period. It’s a basic simple kit. Yet it was probably the most fun I’ve had with a build in a while. I guess the simplicity of it, and the novelty of it, really made it something special. It’s certainly not the typical build you’ll see presented.

The kit can be found pretty easily on Ebay, and comes with markings for this Chinese version, a Thai version, and two Argentinian options, including a nice NMF finish. I highly recommend this kit!