Here is my Monogram P-36 with modified cowling. I had thought I had it done before, but had forgotten I was putting in slightly opened cooling gills. Doing that would have been easier if I had not already put on the propeller and the radio rigging....
This model is marked as a P-36 of the 51st Pursuit Group HQ Flight in the summer of 1941, well past the type's heyday in USAAC service. As delivered to the Army late in 1938, the P-36 was a first rate flying machine, boasting a light wing-loading and well-harmonized controls which provided excellent manouverability, particularly at higher speeds. But it was a poor warplane. Its lack of armor and self-sealing tanks was typical for the time, but its inadequate initial armament owed to Army procurement policy. Due to the limitations of available radial motors, the P-36 could not be developed much further without radical change. This was promptly undertaken, with the Twin Wasp radial being swapped out for an Allison V-12 on an early production example, an alteration which produced the prototype of the widely employed P-40.
The Curtiss P-36, like its rival and stable-mate the Seversky P-35, served essentially as an operational trainer in the USAAC. For experienced pilots in first-line Pursuit units of the General Headquarters Air Force, the P-36 provided transition training from open-cockpit wire-braced types to fully modern aircraft. Then, as the P-40 and other types became available to these units, the P-36 aircraft they flew were passed on, with some becoming part of the equipment of new formations, and others going overseas to units still flying obsolete machines, or directly to new school units.
The 51st Pursuit Group was one of many units freshly formed at this time. It was activated at Hamilton Field in California, along with several other formations, in January, 1941, and then in June moved south to March Field. Among the grab-bag of aircraft these new west coast expansion units flew initially were P-36 hand-me-downs formerly with the 20th Pursuit Group. Although generally described as being equipped with the P-40 at this time, the three squadrons of the 51st PG had no more than twelve P-40s between them at the start of December, 1941. Elements of the 51st PG were shipped out to the Pacific shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, intended as reinforcement for the Philippine garrison, with personnel to marry up with equipment already en route there. Events overtook this plan, and the 51st instead was soon deployed to India, operating both there and in China throughout the war.
In this build, I did one major correction to the old Monogram P-36 kit --- I widened the nose and cowling to something closer to accurate section and dimension. Built up 'as is', the cowling is strongly oval, rather than not far off round. This is because the thing is much too narrow. At its widest, the kit cowling is 16mm, while the diameter of a Twin Wasp motor scales down to 17mm in 1/72, and of course some allowance for clearance must be added on top of this. The correction is not too difficult. Basically, the fuselage haves are scored just in front of the wing roots; the forward portions once removed are joined, with shimming to make the front 1.5mm wider and the rear 0.5mm wider; a new cowl front is made, with the 'frog's-eye' gun fairing from the original piece slotted in; when the fuselagee halves are joined, a 0.5mm shim is put in at the very front; then the nose is replaced on the assembled fuselage. Here is a link to the full process:
I ran into some problems with clear bits and poor paint coverage, which soured me on the project, so I simply used the kit landing gear pieces as is. These leave room for a lot of improvement. Still, this remains a great old classic kit, and having several of them, I intend to do a couple more, one with a Cyclone motor (an even wider cowling), and another Twin Wasp example to put under foil as a USAAC machine in Panama.
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- Joined: September 9th, 2004, 3:43 am
Thanks, Graham.gcarter17 wrote: A lovely result from all the work you put in here OM. Another nice clean build.
This one chalks up to experience, but does look good on the shelf. The correction is something I've thought about doing for a while.
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