The Curtiss A-12 Shrike was developed from the earlier A-8 of the same name. The most obvious differences were the fitting of a radial engine and a redesigned fuselage, with the pilot's and observer's cockpits situated much closer together.
The A-12 entered service with the USAAC in 1933 and served in various roles throughout the 1930s. Despite it's increasing obsolescence, a number were still on charge at the beginning of WW2 and at least nine were stationed in Hawaii at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Czech Model's A-12 is, not surprisingly, based on their A-8 (Kit # 4811) and shares a number of parts in common with the earlier kit. The kit combines 31 short-run plastic parts with no less than 93 resin details, plus a white-metal tail wheel and vacuformed canopy.
The plastic parts are cleanly moulded in pale grey plastic. The wings and tail-planes are identical to the earlier release, but the fuselage, engine cowling and wheel spats are all new. Panel lines are finely engraved but, as with the A-8, a couple of lines need re-scribing here and there The surface finish is generally very good and, while there is a little flash on some parts and one or two small sink-marks, clean-up should be quick and easy.
As with most short-run kits, some of the smaller plastic parts are a little basic - e.g. the plastic machine gun simply bears no comparison to the resin alternative supplied.
A quick test shows the new fuselage halves fit together well and all the panel lines match up around the fuselage. The wing / fuselage joint will need trimming a bit, but the cross-section and chord look a good match. As far as I can tell from the test fit, the length and span look pretty accurate.
The resin parts supplied are mostly superb, with excellent detail and casting. Construction begins with the cockpit, which is made up of 23 pieces and should look absolutely stunning when complete. The sidewalls are very thin, so not too much thinning will be needed, but the floor and decking are moulded on a hefty block which must be removed. The seats have moulded on belts, while the radios and instrument panel have great detail.
The engine is almost a kit in its own right, made up of 39 pieces. The single-piece crankcase is superb and attached to this are separate two-part cylinders and push-rods. Obviously, this assembly will require care and plenty of patience (and I haven't had a chance to see how well the cowling fits), but the result should be spectacular.
The main-wheels are unchanged from the earlier kit and, as before, are the only disappointing resin parts; the plastic alternatives are, in some ways, superior.
The kit supplies an alternative tail wheel, neatly cast in white-metal.
Czech Model supply an excellent vacuformed canopy, along with a spare in case of disaster... The frames are crisply moulded and the canopy is very clear.
Instructions, Painting and Decals
The instructions are very well drawn and clearly laid out. Czech Model give colour notes at each stage of assembly.
Decals are provided for three aircraft - two USAAC and one Chinese Air Force machine. The schemes are neatly illustrated in the instructions and shown in colour on the back of the box. FS equivalents are given for each colour. The US aircraft should look particularly spectacular with yellow wings and either Olive Drab or Blue fuselage (gloss finish - not matt as stated).
The decals themselves are excellent; very thin, with the bare minimum carrier film and printed perfectly in register.
Czech Model's A-12 Shrike is pretty much everything you can ask for in a short run kit; a subject which is unlikely to ever be touched by the "majors", good fitting basic parts, plus great resin details and decals. As with most short run kits, it isn't suitable for beginners, but modellers used to dealing with resin parts should have a field day with the cockpit and engine. Czech Model's A-12 one of the nicest short-run Golden Age models available.
Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample.