Pavla 1/72 Culver PQ-14

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $
DECALS: See review
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run with etched brass and vacuformed parts.

HISTORY

One of the earliest known remotely controlled aircraft operated by the US Navy and Air Force was the Culver PQ-14A. Incidentally Joel Hamm who built two interesting Culver drones and appears under the section P of the reviewed kits has already submitted a lot of information about the Culver. The purpose of the Culver drone was to train anti-aircraft gunners and also as a safely training aircraft when pilots go solo. The Culver aircraft was developed by small Culver plant located at Columbus in Ohio. This design was a development of the prewar Cadet sports plane into a full size radio-controlled aircraft for both the US Navy and Army Air Force during the war. The Culver Company eventually moved to Wichita, Kansas to expand to a larger facility for the entire production of the type.

The principal problem with the early Culver drones was that their maximum speed was 116 mph. This was unrealistic during the war years when the attacking fighters could be three times that of the target aircraft type. The Model NRD was developed with changes that included a higher aspect ratio wing, larger control surfaces to improve performance and maneuverability and with retractable landing gear. The Culver NRD always had a single seat cockpit for ferrying and testing duties. 75 PQ-14A were developed and ordered for full service trials. Finally the USAF acquired 1,433 examples which were later called Q-14A. The last version produced in April 1946 was the Culver TD2C-1 that was contracted for the Navy which received 1,201 examples; a heavier version was later built as YPQ-14B. 1,112 examples of the PQ-14B were ordered for training duties.   

Following that the Culver Company dedicated the entire production to commercial enterprises. After the war a number of Culver drones were converted to civilian sports plane. The type was much admired by those who flew it for its pleasant characteristics during flying as well for its ease of maintenance that it needed. Two aircraft are known to have survived and these are located at the Pima museum in Tucson Arizona and at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio respectively.

THE KIT

The Culver is an injection moulded kit released under the brand name Pavla and this ranks among the smallest that one can find in the 1/72 scale range. The Czech Company produced the kit as a short run type. All the parts which are moulded in light grey plastic have a certain amount of flash and sometimes rough edges. Careful trimming and cleaning however produces the correct shape and is fun building in spite of its size. I found that the sprue ingates or attachments are rather large and detaching the components could be a problem and may cause breakage. So it is recommended to remove parts from sprue using an exacto saw. The few panel lines that exist on the actual aircraft are also scribed on the fuselage and wing parts that come in light grey plastic. Along with the kit comes a brass fret which includes the rudder pedals, landing gear oleo hinges, pitot tube, seat belts and straps, nose wheel door, tiny aerials besides other small parts. The cockpit is vacuum moulded and two of them come back to back, one being spare in case it is needed. The instrument panel is a photo-type printing on clear plastic sheet. This is glued on a plastic backing also supplied.

CONSTRUCTION

 While the instructions are good, reference to parts location diagram differs from that shown for location of parts on the sprue. This can delay in locating some parts. There are two small exhaust parts that are fitted to the lower sides of the cowling that one has to make his own. This I did using a 3mm long bits of hollow surgical needle. The aircraft is definitely a tail sitter and it was a real feat to find space to fill with tiny strips of lead pieces to go inside the limited space of the cowling. These were held in place with a drop of Kristal kleer. In the end one can just manage. The decals are of good quality printed by Propagteam and provide for three aircraft. I opted to do the Navy TE2C-1 that appears on the box cover. This is an overall bright insignia red with white contrasting lettering and post war US insignia that was based at Pensacola. Alternatively one can build the Culver as a 1941 USAAF orange yellow scheme with a respective insignia or a post war USAF version.

CONCLUSIONS

 This is a tiny model that needs careful assembly but in the end it will make a contrast kit and the type I added to a drone section of my collection In fact it looked quite small when placed to a drone QF-80C (an Airfix modified kit) in USAF markings, built some time ago. Pavla Czech Company should be commended for selecting these out of the ordinary subjects in their list of accurate scale models.

Carmel J. Attard

January 2006

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