Well-known Polish aftermarket producer offers three wide-ranging sets of PE improvements for Academy, Hobbycraft, and Signum P-36, Hawk-75, and early P-40 kits in ’48 scale. I first came acquainted with their sets while I was in search for the aftermarket sets for my AM’s Yak-1b build, and was very pleased both with the quality and the range of their PE aftermarket sets. I decided to give them a try for the intended Hobbycraft Hawk 75 build, so this was an opportunity to steal a look and see what they have to offer. Having in mind the popularity of the Curtiss Hawk and wide range of modeling possibilities, this in-box review might be potentially interesting to other builders as well. At this time I won’t delve into the history of the aircraft itself or specific kit issues, but I promise to provide you with the full build info in one of my next build logs.
PART offers three potentially interesting PE sets to a P-36/H-75/P-40 fan. They are:
- S48-073 flaps
- S48-074 canopy frames
- S48-075 interior and exterior detail set
All of the sets come in a small plastic bag with protective cardboard sleeve, and are accompanied with a detailed instruction sheet.
The set contains two frets of PE parts for the landing flaps. There are no less than 40 parts that enable you to build extremely detailed and accurate flap boxes, and pose the flaps in open position. Although it is a rather comprehensive set, you will need additional styrene strips that are not provided in the set. The flaps themselves are not of an origami-like style, which you may have become familiar with the recent Eduard PE flap releases, and will require both patience and experience in handling the more complex PE sets. However, the set comes with rather detailed and illustrative instruction, and the installation shouldn’t pose a major problem for an experienced builder. I didn’t have the opportunity to test fit the parts against the kit yet, but this information will be provided in the feature build on Aeroscale. The instruction sheets also advise you to aid your build with an eye pointed to the various publications, like Walk around Nr.8, in detail & scale Nr.61, MBI, and the Monografie Lotnicze Nr. 61, 62, 63, 64. I am sure that the Hawk fans have at least one of the above; if not, the web is still the open source (and use it wisely).
The canopy frames set is the smallest of the three sets. The concept of PE canopy frames is relatively new to me, but I’ve seen several builds – as far as I can remember, it was a Hurricane build – that utilized a PE frame set of the same manufacturer. The end results, I must admit, were rather pleasing, but I guess it does require some knowledge and practice, especially to shape the fine curves of the canopy frame. Although the smallest, with approximately 15 parts in total, this set will probably be the most challenging due to a number of bends and presses that you are about to make in order to achieve the exact shape of the canopy. I don’t know about the other kits, but invested patience might prove rewarding, since the original kit part is rather poor. As with the previous PE set, you’ll need some estra material that is not provided in the kit, i.e. the clear foil. However, the manufacturer provides you with three templates, which make the cutting of the foil significantly easier.
The last set is the biggest an the most elaborate one, and covers a wide range of interior and exterior details. There are about a hundred PE parts on two PE frets, plus the acetate instrumental panel film. The four-page instruction sheet, like with the all previous sets, is very informative and comprehensive. As it was already mentioned, these are not beginners’ sets; you’ll need some knowledge and some help from the muse, but invested time and effort will surely be paid off. The parts provided in this kit – even if you decided not to use the other two sets – is enough to greatly improve the pit of the working horse. The improvements basically cover all of the problematic areas, at least with the Hobbycraft kit, including the details on the port and the starboard cockpit frames and consoles, instrumental panel with a multipart rudder pedals, entirely new PE seat, and the seatbelts. How detailed the parts are, it is best illustrated with the rudder pedals; you can almost read “Depress pedal to release parking brake”, which is the text stylized on the actual PE parts! Not that anybody will be able to see it, but still a very nice touch.
The second range of the PE improvements cover the engine cowling, with individual engine cooling vents, two exhaust cowling rings, and the multipart carburetor scoop. This should significantly improve the overall impression of the cowling, which might be even more upgraded with the installation of an aftermarket resin engine.
The third range of PE improvements is designed to bring life and extra detail to the undercarriage compartments, the front and the rear landing gear legs, covers, and the wheel hubs. This includes a range of PE parts that are well designed, but require some bending and shaping in order to be installed properly. Again, it is difficult for me to provide you with more useful details without test-fitting or building, but I will definitely pay closer attention to the undercarriage during my future build. However, the range and the number of PE parts provided for this subassembly is quite convincing in light of the possible effect to be achieved with the improvements.
The fourth and the last area of the PE improvements covers the whole range of external details, from the port side first aid compartment access panel, that can be posed in open position, various fuselage access panels and hatches, aileron and trimmer details, antennae connectors, etc. And the last, but not the least, you get a small “Curtiss P-36 Hawk” PE inscription plate, which could be painted and glued as a final touch to your presentation base.
The PART provided us with a well-researched, nicely executed, and comprehensive range of detailing options that will greatly improve sometimes less detailed, but still very popular kits in the quarterscale. I am no expert for the Academy, Hobbycraft, or Signum P-36, H-75, and P-40 kits, but you shouldn’t be an expert to recognize the potential in these sets. You may not want to use all of them, especially not the canopy frames set, but you are still confronted with a fine range of possibilities that will give your kit a sense of gracefulness and finesse. However, if you decided to use them all, please be reminded that these are not beginners’ sets; if you are not terribly attracted to PE or you have no experience working with it, you are advised to search for a number of readily available resin sets instead. Yet, with some extra patience and invested skill you might greatly improve and further detail your beloved P-36, H-75, or an early P-40 kit.
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