Hobbycraft 1/48 Hawk 75A "Blitz Hawk"

KIT #: HC1415
PRICE: $29.95 SRP
DECALS: Ten options
NOTES: Legends P-36A cockpit


The P-36 Hawk (or Mohawk in British Service) was originally the Curtis Model 75, Curtis’s entry into a 1935 USAAC fighter competition.  It flew against the Seversky P-35 which was selected as the winner.  Later, the P-36 was ordered as well as the USAAC had doubts about Seversky’s ability to produce enough fighters.


The P-36A used by the USAAC was equipped with one .30 and one 50 caliber machine guns synchronized to fire through the prop arc while later versions had different armament configurations up to and including two .50 calibers firing through the prop and  four .30 calibers mounted in the wings.


By the time WW2 began, the P-36 Hawk was already considered obsolete due to the rapid advancements in aerodynamics and engine technology.  However, it was purchased in large quantities by the French to compliment their slowly produced domestic fighters.  The Hawks acquitted themselves well in air combat during the “Phony” War and then the German invasion of May 1940 but most if not all the Hawk equipped squadrons fled to North Africa just before the German/French Armistice to escape capture.  Later the French Hawks fought against US Navy fighters till the French North African leadership ceased all combat operations against the Allies.  It was one of the few fighters that was flown by both sides during the conflict as Finland (ally of Nazi Germany for most of WW2) used ex-French and ex-Norwegian machines with great success against the Soviets.


Pearl Harbor Defender

On Dec 7 1941, carrier planes of the Imperial Japanese Navy caught the US Pacific Fleet and “Hawaiian” Air Force literally asleep at the switch as they bombed Pearl Harbor and surrounding air fields.  It was not exactly a shining day for US forces as unprepared ships were sunk at anchor and many planes were destroyed on the ground in large part because they were parked too close together as senior officers were more paranoid about sabotage from Japanese Americans than air strikes by Imperial Japanese forces.


Among those startled out of a sound sleep was Lt Phil Rassmussen of the 15th Pursuit Group based at Wheeler Airfield.  During the brief lull between the first and second waves, he strapped his service pistol over his pajamas and ran out to find an undamaged fighter to jump into.  Number 86 was the first plane he found so he strapped in and took off to defend Pearl.  His plane was among six that got off the ground that morning.  He attacked IJN planes from the second wave and shot down a Zero, but the Japanese shot up his fighter plane to the tune of 200-500 bullets (depending on who tells the story) and shot off most of his rudder, tail and tail wheel.  Pearl Harbor was the only time USAAC P-36s fought in combat.  Phil Rasmussen would later fly combat in the Southwest Pacific Theatre and ended the war flying P-47s from Ie Shima over Japan with a total of three kills during the war.  He retired from the USAF in 1965 and died in 2005.




See Scott’s excellent preview of the Hobbycraft kit.


One of the weak points is the cockpit.  I bought the Legends P-36A cockpit to improve the detail.  It did do that, but it had its own problems as described later on in this review.



It all began with the cockpit.  As mentioned earlier the HC provided cockpit is rather weak so I had purchased a Legend P-36 cockpit.  The parts were washed and then sprayed TS-30 Old Silver because the early USAAC P-36s had aluminum lacquer color in the interior instead of the more familiar interior green.


The Legend cockpit detail is much better than the simple cockpit that HC provides, but I had a rather difficult time with it.  It fit into the cockpit with no issues, but then I tried to install the instrument panel with rudder pedals and it didn’t fit.  Why?  The instrument panel is too big for the cockpit.  Being a stubborn sort, I kept trying to find ways to jam that instrument panel in with the rudder pedals.  None of them worked except my solution to cut the pedals off.


Otherwise the assembly of the fuselage went okay.  It was at this point when I realized that doing a foil covered plane was not a good idea for me and stopped because I had a near impossible task trying to get the foil to not crease on a curve.


I resumed building the plane after it sat on the Shelf of Doom for six months.  The wing assembly proved to be a pain in the butt for me.  When I slapped the wing onto the fuselage I found there were some large gaps that needed to be dealt with.  Lots of sanding and filling everywhere the wing and fuselage met.  I used Mr Surfacer 500 first then filled in the rest of CA glue.  I sanded it as smooth as I could but it took several attempts to get every smooth enough for an NMF.


The engine was easily assembled and the cowling was glued together.  After the engine was painted metallic grey and grey I then added the engine to the fuselage and the cowling over the engine, Several other detail parts were added before painting.  At that time, I thought the engine was a little deep but I didn’t think it would be a problem.


Previously, I had cut out the gun chutes on the wings.  I did not know at the time the P-36A had only two guns in the cowling and none in the wings.  Chastened, I filled and sanded (and sanded and sanded) in the gun ports I had cut out.




Originally I wanted to build this model as a tribute of long trashed models of my childhood so I decided to do the markings of Philip Rassmussen’s 86.  As mentioned earlier in the review my initial plan was to cover it with foil to get that polished look without the headaches of using NMF techniques did not go well.


It turns out that I was building even more frustrating models so I decided to go back to the P-36A.  I cleaned off all the foil glue residue, assembled it and prepped the model for painting NMF.


I first sprayed on Tamiya Fine Primer and discovered that I did miss a few spots with my sanding.  Grrrr.  It took several tries to get the surface smooth done to my satisfaction as the silver paint highlighted flaws in my sanding.  I then sprayed on a couple of coats of TS-30 Old Silver.  Once dry I began to polish the surface to make it smooth using sanding cloths.  During a polishing session the top left wing seam broke off which I had to repair and only added to my frustration.


After a week of frustrating work and headaches, I finally got the paint smooth enough for my satisfaction.  Next I polished the surface using Hawkeye/SNJ Metal polishing powder.  The excess dust was wiped off with a damp rag before I masked off and sprayed on the flat black antiglare panel. 


I did a little bit of internet “research” to confirm the color scheme for 86 because the color profiles I had seen showed no red band around the cowling but the Hobbycraft Box did.  Despite my love of red planes, I decided against this and trusted the color profiles to be correct.


The polished silver prop, main wheels and other bits including the canopy (which was masked off using Tamiya tape) were painted at the same time.  Afterwards the rear side of the props were given a coat of anti glare paint (Tamiya Hull Red) while the wheels were masked off using Tamiya tape and painted flat black.


Lastly I masked off the rest of the plane except the fabric moving surfaces of the wing and stabs and then sprayed on AS-12 from the can to emulate the silver doped fabric.  Unfortunately the pictures do not capture the subtle difference in tone but it is there.



These are the newer HC decals so they went on without too much trouble and some MicroSet.  I should be thankful these didn’t have too many stencils as the decal placement guide was almost nonexistent.  I didn’t need to provide a gloss coat as the paint was super smooth--it had better be considering the amount of work and sweat and cursing that went into it!


I did trim a little bit of the tail decals and used Solvaset for the more stubborn ones, but no other issues.


Weathering and Final Coat

I refrained from weathering at all.  From what I understand, the planes were maintained very well and kept in very good condition.



The landing gear was installed, but I was easily confused by what was provided.  Based on walk around photos of the USAF’s P-36, I used the cut down louvers and had to cut part of them off so they would attach to the landing gear as they interfered with the oleo struts!  The HC instructions say “?” which summed up my feelings on the situation.


I also discovered that the Hawk’s engine is too deep in the cowling or I screwed up somewhere because the prop shaft was too short and could not sit in the engine.  I had to trim off the spare prop hub, glue it into the mounting hole and then CA glue the prop.  As a general rule I like to leave my props free to spin so this was kind of disappointing but it fit the childhood memory narrative because I ended up gluing the prop in place on the AMT (?) kit and then snapped it off when I forgot I had.


The rest of the parts went on the plane okay except for the gunsights.  They turned out to be more of a pain than I imagined they would have been.




Despite some issues with the cockpit and the engine mounting plus some self inflicted ones like ham handedness, I am happy with my trip back in time to build the model to the quality my nine year old self imagined he could build but couldn’t due to lack of skills and most importantly, patience.


The HC Hawks are decent kits with some issues like weak cockpit detail and vague/confusing instructions, but with some work will turn out fine in the hands of the average modeler.  I strongly suggest that you do some research to find out what options you need and what you should discard.

Dan Lee

October 2011

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly , please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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