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Curtiss-Wright AT-9 Jeep (DW48043) 1:48


Mike
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Curtiss-Wright AT-9 Jeep (DW48043)

1:48 Dora Wings

 

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Curtiss-Wright designed the AT-9 as an advanced two-engined trainer for new pilots to learn how to fly the new high-performance twin-engined bombers and fighters that were coming into service, such as the B-25 Mitchell and P-38 Lightning.  As such it was aerodynamically unstable to mimic their characteristics, and was ideal for teaching candidates that were previously only trained on single-engined airframes.  Its prototype was made from a tubular framework covered with fabric on the fuselage and wings, but for the production machines, a metal stressed skin was substituted, giving it a sleek look.  The Lycoming R-680-9 engines were mounted low on the low wings, which gave the pilot a good view from the cockpit, although the thick frames on the side doors reduced that a little, but they were relatively underpowered, so the aircraft couldn’t break 200mph even at full throttle, which gave plenty of time to get out of the way.

 

Around 500 of the AT-9 were made, and they gained the nickname Jeep in preference to the official name ‘Fledgling’, and a further 300 of the improved AT-9A were made with more powerful Lycoming R-680-11 engines, and new hydraulics that were improved over the original.  Production ceased in 1943, and once the airframes were out of service, they weren’t offered to the general public as they were considered a little too twitchy for inexperienced civilians.  As a consequence, there is only one complete example in existence in the US, which was rebuilt by using the parts from two incomplete aircraft, with another partial airframe at Pima that they are hoping to restore at some point.

 

 

The Kit

This is a brand-new tooling from our friends at Dora Wings, who continue to create unusual, interesting subjects in the major scales.  This one is 1:48 of course, and arrives in a small top-opening box that contains seven greenish-grey sprues of styrene, a clear sprue in a Ziploc bag, two Photo-Etch (PE) sheets, printed clear acetate sheet, vinyl masks (not pictured), all in another bag with a card stiffener.  The instruction booklet is A5 portrait format, printed in colour, with colour profiles on the rear pages to assist with painting and decaling.  I built their P-63 Kingcobra when they were a fledgling (unintentional pun!) company, and this tooling is a very crisp-looking model, with plenty of detail and extras that improve the detail still further.  It’s great to see their progress over just a few years.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with highly detailed pedestal and lower centre consoles, plus PE and styrene detail parts, all of which is installed on the cockpit floor along with the twin control columns and seats, adding PE lap belts to each one.  The instrument panel can either be made from a styrene backing with PE lamination and acetate instruments, or a styrene panel with moulded-in dials that you’ll need to make your own dials for – I know which on I’ll be using!  The panel is fitted out with rudder pedals and a coaming, which is suspended from the front bulkhead that fixes to front of the cockpit floor, and has a rear bulkhead with fire extinguisher added to the rear.  There’s no other detail on the rear bulkhead, so if you’re going for open doors you might want to add something there.  I’ve done some searching briefly, but haven’t come up with anything useful yet.

 

The fuselage halves make an appearance, as they are skinned inside with detail inserts, and the fuselage is thinned out where the inserts go so it doesn’t increase the thickness too much.  The canopy is also fitted with the overhead console, which locates on two depressions in the clear part, after which you can close up the fuselage halves, add the nose cone, the canopy and the two side doors open or closed, P-39 Cobra style.  The flying surfaces are made in quick succession, the main planes having a full-width lower and two upper halves plus ailerons, while the elevators have separate fins with each one fitted to the fuselage on two pegs, along with a two-part rudder, offering lots of potential for offset to give your model some extra visual interest.

 

The main wheels are each made of two halves, and their struts have the main leg, separate oleo-scissors, and three-part top sections where they join the bays.  The bays are each made from two curved sides and a narrow roof, with triangular PE webs added to the sides, and the struts inserted into holes in the roof.  They are put to the side while the twin Lycoming engines are made up, with the nine pistons depicted with push-rods, exhaust collector and a PE baffle layer for each one.  The main gear bays are inserted into the engine nacelles from underneath, then closed around by the tapered cowling parts, and each nacelle is fitted with a circular firewall that has four holes pre-drilled for the engine mounts.  The engines have their M-shaped mounts and exhausts added, then they are glued to the firewalls to be closed in by the top and bottom cylindrical cowling sections and the front cowling ring, plus a small insert under the engine that forms the intake.  The two-bladed props have four additional parts added to detail them, then the small parts such as aileron guides, clear landing lights in the lower wings, tail wheel and pitot probe are all glued to the airframe.

 

 

Markings

There are four options included on the decal sheet, with some interesting variations in colours that should appeal to many without resorting to any aftermarket decals.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • 41-12043, 556th School Squadron, crashed May 27, 1942
  • 41-12059, Lubbock AAF, 1942-3
  • 42-56947, Randolph AAF, 1942-3
  • 41-11978, 338th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group, 1944

 

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Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

I’d not heard of this cute little trainer before, and now I have, I like it.  It has just the right combination of strange and sleek to hit the spot for me, and the detail is nicely rendered.  It’s the Olive Drab over grey option that I fancy.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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I didn't know Randolph AFB operated these so many years ago. That's the markings I'll chose for my AT-9.

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7 hours ago, SAT69 said:

I didn't know Randolph AFB operated these so many years ago. That's the markings I'll chose for my AT-9.

 

The base attribution is incorrect; a prefix 'MO' would indicate Moody AAF and a suffix 'M' Altus AAF. I have the flight log for a pilot who trained at Randolph in 1941/42 and there were no AT-9s there at that time. When they did start being used at Randolph (1943?) they had 'G' and 'H' prefixes. He did go on to fly AT-9s at Ellington AAF however; the latter base appears to have used 3-digit numbers but no code letter.

 

So I suspect that the aircraft depicted as Options B and C in the Dora Wings sheet were photographed at the airfields stated in their instructions, but were not based there. Further, the badge for option C is the badge of Eastern Flying Training Command; Moody (in Georgia) came under this organization but not Randolph (which was a Central FTC base).

Edited by Sabrejet
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