"THE LAST OF THE FEW"
Model Subject:Curtiss CW-21 B "Demon"
Most of the aircraft bearing the Curtiss name were products of the Curtiss Airplane Division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. A few, however, were products of the St. Louis Division of the parent company, one such being the CW-21 "Demon". The philosophy of this design was to produce a lightweight interceptor, which possessed a high rate of climb. The CW-21 had a climb rate of nearly 5,000 feet per minute, hence its promotion as a "Mile-a-Minute"" interceptor. The St. Louis Division used their CW-19R two-seat trainer as the basis for the design.
Like other successful Curtiss designs, the CW-21 was built with export in mind. The first flight was made in January 1939 and in the same year China ordered 35 examples, of which 32 were to be shipped as components for assembly in China. Powered by a 1,000-hp Wright Cyclone R-1820-G5, the CW-21 was armed with two machine guns, one of .30-caliber and the other .50-caliber and mounted in the upper fuselage. The main legs retracted rearwards, to lie in fairings under the wings.
A further 24 improved examples designated CW-21 B were ordered by the Netherlands for the Dutch East Indies. These aircraft featured an improved landing gear, which retracted inward and flush under the wing. The armament was changed to two .50-caliber machine guns in the upper fuselage. Some Dutch examples possessed four machine guns in their CW-21 Bs, which had two field supplied .30-caliber guns mounted in the wings and firing outside the propeller arc. The model represents this type of CW-21 "Demon", but I did not install any wings guns.
Of the 24 CW-21 Bs received by the Netherlands, only 17 were in serviceable condition by the time of the Japanese invasion of the East Indies in January 1942. They were quickly overcome and decimated by the overwhelming odds and the Dutch were forced to surrender on March 9, 1992. Although they never got near any Japanese bombers, they shot down four Zeros in the first two confrontations, with the Dutch losing eleven CW-21 Bs. By March 1st the Dutch had only three CW-21 Bs in serviceable order. My model represents CW-357, one of the last defenders of 1st Patroulle (1st Patrol), 2-VLS-ML-KNIL ; 2nd Jachtafdeling (Fighter Squadron) of VliegtuigGroep (Aircraft Group) of the Miltaire Luchtvaart van het Konninkijk Ned Indisch Leger (Netherlands East Indies Army Air Service). A black and white photo of the real aircraft appears underneath the heading. Two examples of the CW-21 B were captured by the Japanese and one example was found in Singapore after the surrender. The decals for this aircraft in Japanese marking are included in the kit.
Additions, modifications, etc.:
The interior is as complete as you want it to be, with photoetched sidewalls, radio boxes, instrument panel, rudder pedals, throttles control, gunsight, and seat belts. I only wish they had done the seat in photoetch as the injection seat is far too thick. I thinned it quite a bit and had to replace the seat adjustment rods with new ones from copper wire. An acetate gauge panel is included and cut and aligned properly with the photoetched panel, with a white styrene backing piece makes it spectacular. The interior was painted interior green, with throttle, radio boxes, and instrument panel painted flat black. The seat was painted bright silver and the adjustment rods steel. The white styrene backing piece was painted flat black once the glue had set. Various data and control placards were done with Reheat Models' decals.
Hooray! MPM finally gave us a usable engine. The only thing missing was some engraved cooling vanes. I had to clean it up quite a bit, particularly between the cylinders. The end product, however, produced a very reasonable Wright Cyclone. I couldn't help adding some ignition wires from very fine phone pickup wire and a collector exhaust from non-flux solder. The engine was painted engine gray and the cylinders brushed in oxidized aluminum. Push rods were brushed in semi-gloss black and gear case bolts dry brushed in silver. The gear case was given two coats of clear gloss and a data placard from Reheat Models. The exhaust collector was brushed flat black, followed by burnt iron once the black had dried.
The exterior was very well done, but like all MPM kits the engravings were very shallow. I deepened the engravings at the control surfaces and cleaned out a few that had little raised blots across them. By far the worst fitting part of this kit is the cowling piece. Once the fuselage halves were cemented together and the engine glued in placed, I cemented the cowling piece. It was grossly oversized (better than being undersized though). I had to spend a whole evening at the workbench getting the cowling piece sanded back to the fuselage contour, rescribe, touch-up glue, sand some more, rescribe, touch up, sand…Well, you get the picture. I cut the canopy in two by very carefully scribing out the two sections with an X-acto #11 blade. This took about an hour, so it's not for the impatient, but a razor saw would simply cut too much plastic away. I just had to show off that interior. I cut two machine gun ports from 23-gauge hypodermic needle to be inserted in the final assembly into the predrilled holes in the cowling and fitting between the cylinder banks. These were left unpainted, but given a coat of clear flat.
The propeller was painted semi-gloss black and Curtiss Electric Logo decals from IPMS Spruce Goose were used. The propeller hub was brushed silver, after gluing the six tiny rods from .020 styrene rod. The prop lastly received a coat of clear flat. The instructions would have one paint the spinner flat black and I first painted mine this color. But when I found the photo and saw that it clearly shows that the spinner should be a very light color, which I deciphered as white. I removed the spinner (it just presses onto the prop) and the flat black paint from it, then repainted the spinner with three coats of reefer white.
Yes Virginia, Caz does do landing gear on 1/72 aircraft. The gear bay is closed off, but one would wish for a little photoetched dress up to go along with the cockpit etched sheet. At the price we have to pay for MPM kits in the United States, this would be nice touch. The gear doors were molded as one piece and cutting them out was a slow go. The two small split doors on the strut cover are particularly tough. I positioned mine with small strips of masking tape and secured the doors with super glue. The struts were very well done excluding the usual flash that must be cleaned off and sanded. I added some fine wire to each strut for ease of painting and attachment in the final assembly. The wheels were the same. I painted the gear bays and interior surfaces of the doors zinc chromate green. Struts were painted silver and shadowed in black. Wheels were painted tire black with the wheel centers brushed light gray. Tires were given a moderate mud wash.
The pilot was taken from some Preiser Miniature Figures in 1/72 scale (Art.Nr. 72508). The figure was done using a small head with a Kapi hat and two arms cut to match the pose I wanted. These were cemented to a torso from a crewmember in the set. The figure was primed in light gray and brushed in acrylics before receiving an ink wash and highlighted in pastels. He was lastly given a coat of clear flat to seal the pastels, with the shoes given a brushing of semi-gloss clear.
Painting and decaling:
The forward canopy was masked in Bare-metal foil and cemented in place. The entire canopy was too wide, but I managed to heat bend the forward section enough to get a reasonable fit. It stretched the Bare-metal and I had to remove the first mask and do another one. I left the rear canopy wider as it made it fit the rear sliding section better. I did temporarily glue it closed with Elmer's for painting and cockpit masking. After getting the canopy in place it was given two coats of interior green. The exhaust opening was masked with tape and the wheel bays with damp paper towel (less lint than tissue). The cowling opening was masked with index card stock cut using a circle template as a guide. The mask is cut slightly oversized, split to the center, and made conical like a Chinaman's cap.
The entire model was primed in light gray (A/N602). Masks were removed from the wheel bays and exhaust opening and the under surface was masked. The upper surface was first sprayed earth brown. For this I used USAAC Olive Drab, which matches FS 30118 and is much browner than the olive drab that replaced it during World War II. I ran off some enlargements on my scanner to match the upper wing camouflage and some one to one copies of the fuselage for its pattern. Watch those instructions! I think they have the earth brown and olive green colors patterns reversed, i.e. what they tell you to paint earth brown should be olive green and visa versa. The kit cover art and two more art prints I could find bear this out. I also have two black and white photos and the darkness of the monographs seem to show this also. I found this out the hard way. After cutting masks for the brown and covering them for the green, I noticed that the masks were covering the dark color of the fuselage and wing, which should be the dark olive. After examining the two color prints and black and whites, I removed the masking, ran some more copies and recut to mask where the instructions called for olive green. All looked well after that. I made several color palettes to test various dark greens for the olive green on the box art and color prints. The closest I could find for the match was Italian Dark Olive by Polly Scale, so this was used.
After all masking was removed save the canopy's; I gave the model two coats of clear gloss. The kit decals were used throughout, but having already assembled many East European kits and knowing that Propagtem decals are always translucent, I ran a copy of the decal sheet and cut some templates for the triangles on the fuselage and under surface of the wings. From these templates I cut triangles from white trim film and applied these and let them dry before I applied the National Insignia triangles. Boy was I glad I did! When I tested the small triangle oven the dark green where the white stripe is, there was a very noticeable difference in the orange between the green and white paint. Once I placed it over the white, everything looked okie-dokie. I'm glad I did the same for the two under wing triangle Insignia as these were also translucent, when matched against the white triangle and light gray paint. Curiously the white call numbers were opaque, but MPM gives one another set of call numbers and they could have been overlaid had the first set been translucent, however, I found this was not required. I only used setting solution for the thin decals and they settled down wonderful. After the decals dried, I gave the model another coat of clear gloss. A coat of clear flat followed this, after I had inked in the control and access panels. The aerial wiring was done with smoke-colored invisible thread using small drops of Kristal Kleer for the insulators. The attachments for the aerial wiring were done by wrapping phono wire around a sewing needle until I got the size I required. These were cemented into predrilled holes before painting. Navigation lights were done with small Waldron-punched disk of Bare-metal foil covered by Kristal Kleer and painted clear red, clear green, and clear white where required. After the masking was removed from the canopy, it was polished with Meguire's Mirror Glaze #3 and the clear portions given a coat of FUTURE.