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 Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72

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pmmaker

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Location : Somers, Connecticut, USA

PostSubject: Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72   Mon Feb 20 2017, 11:48

HISTORY:

Flown initially in prototype form in 1931, the Curtiss SOC Seagull was operated extensively by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard as late as 1944. Its primary role was that of a scout-observation plane. The SOC Seagull replaced the older Vought O3U Corsair bi-plane. The Seagull was a single-engine scout observation biplane aircraft, designed by Alexander Solla of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the United States Navy. Designed with interchangeable floats or wheeled undercarriage, the aircraft served on either battleships or cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. When operating as a seaplane, returning SOCs would land on the relatively smooth ocean surface created on the sheltered side of the vessel as it made a wide turn, after which the aircraft would be winched back onto the deck. When onboard, the wings folded back against the fuselage for storage. When based ashore or on carriers, the single float was replaced by a fixed wheeled landing gear and tail hook (for carrier operations).

Curtiss delivered 258 SOC aircraft, in versions SOC-1 through SOC-4, beginning in 1935. The SOC-3 design was the basis of the Naval Aircraft Factory SON-1 variant, of which the NAF delivered 64 aircraft from 1940.

The first ship the SOC was assigned to was the USS Marblehead in November 1935; by the end of the decade, the SOC had replaced its predecessor throughout the fleet. Production came to an end in 1938. By 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U Kingfisher and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation SO3C Seamew. The SO3C, however, suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The Seagull, despite being a craft from an earlier generation, went on to credibly execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions.

Through the first six months of naval service, the SOC was known as the XO3C-1. The designation was changed to SOC when it was decided to merge its scouting and observation roles. The SOC was not called the Seagull until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in addition to their alpha-numeric designations. The name 'Seagull' had earlier been given to two civil Curtiss aircraft, a Curtiss Model 18 and a Model 25; both converted Curtiss MF flying boats.

When the SOC had been replaced by the OS2U Kingfisher, most remaining airframes were converted into trainers, and were used until 1945. But in a strange twist of history, with the failure of the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, many SOCs in second line service were returned to frontline units starting in late 1943 and most saw service aboard warships in the combat zones for the rest of World War II. This is one of the few instances in aviation history where an older aircraft type that was retired or sent to second line service, replaced the new aircraft type that was supposed to replace it.

pmmaker















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pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72   Mon Feb 20 2017, 11:48

This kit is the first of three I have just completed.



This 1/72nd scale kit is an example of one of the earlier releases in the Hasegawa / Minicraft range. Released and re-released over several reincarnations, this kit shares 95% of its parts with a companion kit that includes the floats.

This particular kit is equipped only with wheels. In terms of detail, it is well done with nicely raised panel lines, cockpit detailing including two rather poor crew figures, and a fairly good fabric representation on the wings. The kit does have some mold flash and slight sink areas, but overall, the molding is sharp. The one-piece canopy is a bit thick thick and slightly foggy, but a coat of clear acrylic really improves it. All the wing struts are one piece parts that fit into large slots in the wings which make aligning the top and bottom wings rather easy.

The instructions are rather simple with a written step by step construction sequence to go along with the drawings. The painting guide instructions are rather basic so they are not really helpful. Here, the box art is a better guide to painting the aircraft and placing the decals and rigging. The kit supplied decals are for an aircraft assigned to the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia prior to the December 7th Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The kit decals are well printed and a bit thick which can make them a bit tricky to use. Though they are quite old, they still worked rather well – no need to be a “decal snob” here unless you want to model a different scheme. My only issue with the decals was that the white on the national insignia was a bit translucent so the yellow of the top wing does show through a little bit.

My build is straight out of the box. The only change was to substitute the kit supplied crew with a couple of crew from the spares box. The fuselage was painted using Testors chrome silver in a spray can. The top wing is hand painted with Testors yellow and the red tail surfaces and cowling using Testors gloss red. Rigging is .015 music wire cut to size and glued.

Though not currently readily available through most on-line hobby retailers, this kit isn't that difficult to find at swap meets, brick-and-mortar shops and on eBay. You can find them going usually for $10 or so.

pmmaker

PICTURES:



















______________________________________________________
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pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72   Mon Feb 20 2017, 11:49

The 2nd model of my SOC-3 Seagull trifecta is a float plane flown from the Cruiser U.S.S. Phoenix.





Like the previous build, this model is built straight out of the box and the older, but quite acceptable kit decals were used. Painting was through Testors Chrome silver spray and Tamiya acrylic enamels.

Crew on this one are the HM 72nd crew figures.

pmmaker






















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pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72   Mon Feb 20 2017, 11:50

And lastly, the final Seagull build in my trifecta.  This was the same kit as the previous model, but I was able to find an alternate set of markings for another Hasegawa Seagull kit:





I'm rather fond of the ivory white / black color combination which I find attractive on a yellow wings scheme.

As with the other two builds, this one was straight out of the box.  I used the kit supplied crew.  The only changes were the addition of the underwing pylons and light bombs.

A really nice addition to my collection and of the three, the one I like the most.

pmmaker





















______________________________________________________
The Mad Hatter: "Have I gone mad"
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pmmaker

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PostSubject: Re: Of Wheels & Floats: The Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull in 1/72   Mon Feb 20 2017, 11:51

And lastly, my SOC-3 Seagull family photos:





pmmaker

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