You've heard of "Murphy's Rules for Modeling," right? One of the axioms is: "Once you have completed an old, tired kit, a brand new one will be an-nounced." Sure enough, I had no sooner finished Fujimi's retread of its old 1/72 scale Hawkeye (Workbench Reviews, September 2008) when Hasegawa announced this brand-new kit for early 2009.
With the benefit of about 40 years of technological advancement over its predecessor, Hasegawa's kit outshines the former in every aspect. Fine recessed panel lines, good interior, excellent landing gear, and the option of lowered flaps bring modeling the Hawkeye into the 21st century.
This issue is the "Hawkeye 2000" with its eight-blade propellers. Hasegawa has already released an additional Hawkeye in Japanese markings with four-blade props.
Building the kit was trouble-free, but there are a lot of parts to produce the finer details. The cockpit interior is good. I forgot to add the overhead console to the clear canopy, but when the model is finished, it won't be noticed. The canopy is clear and thin - so thin that my sample had a crack extending through the pilot's forward window. (I tried to hide the crack with the windshield wiper.) The nose cone also is molded in clear to reveal the landing and attitude lights inside.
The only part that didn't fit well was the belly, which has a large, flat, circular fairing. The casting's width is just slightly less than that of the fuselage, so the step between them is obvious. I found the instructions' drawing for the main-gear assembly a bit confusing, but once the parts are dry-fitted to the nacelles the fit is clear. Hasegawa suggests adding 30 grams of weight to the nose to balance the model, but I opted to lower the tailhook to serve as a tail prop.
Assembly took about six hours, and painting another four. The overall gloss gull gray scheme was easy, but then I had to mask for the Blue Angel blue tail group and the flat black deicer boots on the tailplane and the wings' leading edges. The inside surfaces of the flaps and flap wells were painted red. I found the flaps didn't sit right when extended and would have required more work to get them right.
Decals took another six hours, as there are so many of them. I'm glad Hasegawa provided the prop-blade leading edges and tip markings as decals; masking them would have been tedious. The decals are well printed, sufficiently opaque, and really attractive. I suggest applying the propeller warning stripes around the fuselage before adding the extravagant eagle markings on the forward fuselage. There's a gap in each eagle tail for the stripe, and if the eagle isn't lined up properly the stripe will have to be applied crooked to match.
Final assembly included adding little blade and loop antennas all over the airframe. Then came the time to add two ultra-tiny pitot tubes to the nose in front of the windscreen. They don't have pins or holes, and so must be glued to the painted surface. I held the first one in fine tweezers and carefully dipped its base in gap-filling super glue, brought it over to the model, and "plick!" it vanished. I didn't bother trying to install the other one.
Finally, builders of 1/72 scale U.S. Navy aircraft (and several other air arms) will enjoy an up-to-date kit of the Hawkeye. Now, what to do with my stack of Fujimi kits?
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