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Mike

ROCAF Hawk III/BF2C-1 (18009) 1:48

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ROCAF Hawk III/BF2C-1 (18009)

1:48 Freedom Model Kits

 

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During the interwar period, Curtiss developed a biplane fighter bomber, the Goshawk, which initially had fixed landing gear and spatted wheels, and underwent a number of improvements, although it never really reached a satisfactory level of maturity and was little used.  The later Model 68 that became known as the Hawk III had a more powerful engine, improved .50cal armament, with retractable landing gear, and 138 were made, with just over a hundred purchased by the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF).  It saw action during the Sino-Japanese war, and was responsible for a number of kills during that period, until it became obsolete and was replaced by Soviet i-16s in the front line, allowing the type to soldier on as a trainer until 1941.

 

 

The Kit

This is a complete new tooling from Freedom Model Kits, and the initial boxing comes with a few extras that might not be seen in later editions.  The kit arrives in a pretty standard box with a dynamic painting of a couple of Hawk IIIs successfully tackling a Japanese bomber that is smoking badly and listing to port.  Inside is a nice print of the box art on top, two individually bagged sprues in olive green styrene, a clear sprue, a large nickel-plated fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two poly-caps, a resin pilot figure, two decal sheets, instruction booklet and separate painting guide for the pilot figure.  The decals and the figure are sealed within ziplok bags, which allows you to peruse these parts without worrying about them being exposed to moisture, which is a particular worry if your stash isn't in a warm dry location.  The detail on the sprues is very good, and the addition of PE parts for rigging, engine harness and other small parts all help to improve the realism of the subject matter.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit, which is simple due to the era of the aircraft, but could benefit from a set of seatbelts, although the rest of the moulded-in detail is excellent.  The instrument panel has recessed dials and a decal on one of the sheets, which fits into the 'pit, and is sealed into a robust tub to be added to the fuselage later.  The engine comprises a single bank of nine pistons, has a PE wiring harness, a set of push-rods, reduction housing, an exhaust collector ring, with a poly-cap in the reduction housing allowing the prop to be removed at will.  The exhaust stubs are all moulded separately to the ring, with recessed tips for realism, and a scrap diagram showing where each one should fit.  Special care in handling will be needed until it is safely installed, or you'll be gluing them back on again!  An engine ancillary assembly is built up and inserted into the front of the fuselage with the cockpit behind and a choice of three types of tail wheel unit, depending on which decal option you will use.  The underside of the fuselage is heavily recessed, so is added later after a little detail is installed, but at this stage it is important to drill four 0.5mm holes for the rigging in the sides of the fuselage, which can be done from the outside, as the locations are clearly visible.  The top cowling, a choice of side cowlings (again depending on decal option),  and an optional extended fairing for the Thai option are fitted at the front, and the tail feathers at the rear, each one via the usual tab and slot method.  A choice of PE or styrene actuator roads are added, and PE balance horns can be used to replace the moulded in bumps if you'd like to improve the detail further.

 

The engine is applied to the front of the fuselage, and the two .50cal barrels are threaded through the pistons, with PE brackets holding the muzzles in place, and a scrap diagram showing their correct positioning.  After this the cowling halves can be closed around the engine, and the seam hidden before painting.  Curiously, the next diagram doesn't show the engine during the install of the lower fuselage inserts, so it might be best to add these sooner than mentioned, in case they interfere with the exhaust stubs.  The lower wings are thin enough to be moulded as a single part each, and these are fitted at the roots with tab/slots, after which you can glue the interplane struts to the slots in the wings and top cowling, taking care to use the upper wing to align them while the glue dries.  The thicker upper wing is comprised of top and bottom halves with separate ailerons, and it too has slots to accept the interplane struts, as well as holes for the PE rigging.  The rigging parts have little pegs at the ends, which need bending to the correct angle, and should allow for quick, painless rigging for anyone that's phobic of doing it the manual way, and you are walked through the process over the next few pages, with plenty of scrap diagrams providing confirmation along the way.  Bracing parts are included for the wing rigging, which are again shown from two angles to make sure you put them in the correct place, which will again please anyone performing the task.

 

Your Hawk hasn't got its legs yet, and here again the modeller is assisted with plenty of scrap diagrams showing how things should be done.  The main struts each have three additional parts to the retraction mechanism, with the wheels each being two more parts split vertically around the circumference.  Two of the decal options have cylindrical chin-scoop intake between the wheels, and it's scrap diagram time again to show the correct location of the support structure.  The cockpit is only partially enclosed, and consists of a windscreen and movable aft canopy section, both of which are thin and clear.  The rear section has a thick lip at the front, so don't let that confuse you into thinking the rest is as thick, which should become evident after painting of the frames.  Two small bombs can be fitted under each wing, and a centre fuel tank is provided for the fuselage, which can be used or left in the spares box.

 

Resin Pilot Figure

Supplied in an heroic standing pose, with separate arms for detail, this gentleman is wearing a flight suit with a bulky fur collar and leather flight helmet typical of the era.  He has one glove draped over his hand, clasping them together while he looks up admiringly either at his own aircraft or something else above his eyeline.  His parachute hangs low behind him, and he has his helmet chin-strap open.  Sculpting and casting are excellent, and clean-up should be the work of moments, while construction will be easy due to the arms having square pegs moulded into the mating surface for a good strong bond and certainty of pose.

 

Markings

There are two non ROCAF options, plus eight ROCAF choices, and if you're so minded there are also a selection of large white codes to let you make up your own.  The larger sheet contains all the white codes and the ROCAF roundels/tail flashes, while the other markings are held on the smaller sheet with many more colours printed.  From the box you can make one of the following:

 

  • Royal Siamese (Thailand) Air Force, 1940
  • Argentinian Air Force, Squadron No.1 of Fighter Regiment No.2, 1938-39
  • ROCAF 1936-1940
    • 2101
    • 2401
    • 2204
    • IV-1
    • 2503
    • 41
    • 2405
    • Unmarked airframe

 

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The text for the ROCAF options is all in (I'm guessing) Taiwanese, so I can't provide any further information, and each airframe is the same apart from the large white fuselage codes and the occasional slogan on the tail or underwing.  Decals are included for the instrument panel, plus a further two dial faces for ancillary instruments below the main panel. Decals are printed anonymously, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin semi-gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The red of the Siamese option is very slightly offset on my sample with microscopic bleed of that and the darker blue here and there, but it isn't something that's visible to the naked eye, so not really work worrying about unduly.

 

 

Conclusion

An unusual subject matter that should prove very popular in their home territories, and should entice anyone looking for a good quality modern tooling of a lesser-known interwar biplane that has some interesting markings options.  Rigging shouldn't put you off due to the inclusion of the PE "wires", so what are you waiting for?

 

Available soon in the UK from H G Hannants, with a 10% pre-order discount applying at time of writing.
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Review samples courtesy of

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Just clicking the "Lke"  button isn't enough for me to express how much I appreciate such a well crafted review!!

 

Gene K

Edited by Gene K

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