|NOTES:||Manufacturer apparently went tango-uniform after this product, but its currently available under the Smer label|
Let's see, how does the song go? "I am the eye in the sky, looking at you--oo--oo--I can read your mind. I am the maker of rules. Dealing with fools. I can cheat you blind..." (Sound byte from my elementary-school years--now it's going to be stuck in my head the rest of the day!).
Knowledge is power, and the potential power of aircraft scouting ahead of a surface fleet to detect the enemy's presence, strength, composition, and predict his movements was recognized very quickly by the US Navy, who strove to put this capability on all its capital ships from the nine-teens onward. The Curtiss SC-1 depicted here was the final aircraft in a long line that started in 1910 with Eugene Ely's pioneering flights on and off makeshift platforms in the Curtiss Model D.
Three decades later, under the pressures of world war and reeling from the tragicomic failure of their own SO3C Seamew, Curtiss engineers went swiftly to work in 1942 on a new design that would also replace it plus the far more trusty Vought Kingfisher, not to mention that earlier SOC Seagull--a fabric-covered biplane embarrassingly pulled back into service to compensate for the shortcomings of the "Sea Cow". The seaplane that emerged had a much higher performance--close to floatplane fighters of the period--as well as a reasonable offensive capability which included weapons racks on the wings, twin .50s firing forward, and even a waterproof internal bomb bay in the main float (this last being deleted in favor of additional fuel capacity).
Development was fast and smooth. Flight testing was complete in the spring of 1944, and deployment rosters show twenty SC-1s embarked in the fleet on eight ships by December of that year, all except four in the Atlantic Fleet. Such was the pace of war, however, that the aircraft would not see its first action until , in the Pacific with the invasion of Borneo. However, photographs taken of seaplane bases around the end of the conflict show them crowding the ramps. So once it arrived, it did so in force. Rosters at the end of 1945 show the type rapidly supplanting the two others representing over 50% total strength, with total succession complete by December 1946. 577 rolled off the lines in Columbus, including a few of an advanced version, the SC-2, distinguished by a circular cowl and clear bubble canopy.
However, the inherent hazards of seaplane operations on the open water ensured that all were out of service by 1950, replaced by Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky's wondrous and far more adaptable creation.
The SC-1 in 1/72: Prior to this, there was a good vac-formed kit produced by Formaplane in the late 70s, plus a short-run injection-molded product by Aviation Usk in the mid-90s, also reviewed on this site. While representing different molding technologies, as finished replicas, I don't know that any have a decisive advantage over the other two. More on this below.
The big, airy box with some attractive art of the subject in flight spills out the usual Two Grey Sprues and One Clear totaling 55 parts. Long run styrene, with very fine engraved lines on the fuselage and heavy ones on the wings. A nice, clear set of instructions which also include photos of the real aircraft and helpful line drawings of some details. A clean sheet of decals by Propagteam cover three options, one on landing gear and two on floats. Overall impression is favorable, except for a closer look at the uninspiring detail parts, and impression that will only worsen as the project commences.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
A good kit let down by those lame detail parts. I didn't really give it a full-hearted effort as I was looking for an easy project and lost some enthusiasm fraggling around with that issue. But the subject matter itself did grow on me as I built it; it's an attractive seaplane and the last of a distinguished breed, even if its combat service was brief. There are no real construction issues, so it would be an ideal first floatplane for a beginning modeler.
Recommended to those who don't sweat the small stuff.
Larkins, William T. Battleship
and Cruiser Aircraft of the United States Navy 1910-1949. Schiffer
Publishing Ltd, 2000.
Matt, Paul. Paul Matt's Scale Airplane Drawings, Vol.1. Sunshine House Inc, 1991.
There is also a very involved Ginter title, for those who want to go full-tilt-boogie on this kit.
22 September 2016
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