Kit: HC1416 Hobbycraft Curtiss Hawk 75A
Price: £17.99 Available from Kingkit UK
Decals: Twelve Options
Reviewer: Richard Reynolds
Accessories: Kuivalainen KPE48008 photo etched parts for Hobbycraft/Academy 1/48 kit & Eduard EX169 mask for P-36 Hawk 1/48.
Finland operated 44 Curtiss Hawk 75 aircraft (A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4 and A-6 variants). Deliveries started on June 23rd 1941 and the last machine was supplied on the 05th January 1944. 13 of the aircraft were the Hawk 75A-6 sub-type, overhauled and supplied by Germany from captured Norwegian Air Force stocks. The aircraft were re-painted with RLM 71 Schwartzgrun upper-surfaces with RLM 65 Hellblau lower-surfaces. The remaining 31 aircraft were aircraft taken as war booty from the French Air Force at the fall of France in 1940.
The aircraft were given serial codes CU-501 to CU-507 (with Wright-Cyclone engine) and CU-551 to CU-587 (fitted with the twin-wasp engine). The Curtiss Hawk 75 was well liked by the pilots of the Finnish Air Force who gave the aircraft the affectionate name “Sussu” or “Sweetheart”. The Ilmavoimat achieved an impressive total of 190 1/3rd kills with the type by 58 pilots with the loss of 15 of their own.
Finnish Hawk 75’s initially carried four or six 7.5mm machine guns. As Soviet Air Force fighters improved, the armament was uprated to two .50 inch (12.7mm) Colt machine guns in the fuselage and four .303 inch (7.7mm) machine guns in the wings. These modifications were undertaken at the Valtion lentokonetehdas or State Aircraft Factory at Tampere. The Finnish Hawks were also equipped with Revi 3D or C/12D gunsight.
Surviving Finnish aircraft remained in service with the FAF aviation units HLeLv 13, HLeLv 11 and LeSK until 30 August 1948, when the last operational Finnish Hawks were put into storage. In 1953, the stored aircraft were scrapped.
The two top scoring aces on the Curtiss Hawk 75 were Kalevi Tervo with 15.5 kills and Kyösti Karhila with 13 kills.
Kalevi Tervo: Top scoring fighter ace on the Finnish Hawk 75
(1919 – 1943)
Vänrikki (2nd Lieutenant) Tervo began his career with the Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) when he was assigned to LeLv 30 on the 30th August 1941. He was first assigned to Fokker D.XXI’s with LeLv 30 before being transferred to LeLv 24 on the Brewster B.239, followed by a transfer to LeLv 32 on the Curtiss Hawk 75A and finally LeLv 34 with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G. He scored one shared kill with the Brewster B.239, 15.5 kills with the Hawk 75A and 7 kills with the Bf 109G. Tervo completed 150 sorties during the Continuation War.
Kalevi Tervo was killed in action in his Messerschmitt Bf 109G on 20th August 1943. He was decorated for his actions with the Cross of Liberty 3rd class, the Cross of Liberty 2nd class and was promoted twice during his short but illustrious career.
Kyösti Karhila: The last of the Finnish fighter aces
(1921 – 2009)
Kyösti Karhila was born on the 02nd May 1921 in Rauma, in south-western Finland. He volunteered for military service in 1939 and was accepted for fighter pilot training at the ISK (Ilmasotakoulu/Air Force Academy). On the 18th March 1941, Karhila was assigned to 1/LeLv 32 (1st flight, Squadron 32), initially flying the Fokker D.XXI followed by the Curtiss Hawk 75 from mid-July onwards. On September 19th 1941 he scored his fifth kill (a MiG 3) becoming a fighter ace at the age of 20. 2Lt. Karhila continued to claim victories with the Hawk 75 until 20th April 1943 when he was posted to LeLv 34, equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G.
Following his transfer, he was promoted to Yliluutnantti (1st Lieutenant). On the 04th May 1943, he scored a “double” kill on MT-214 and continued to score until the 22nd August 1943, when his flight moved to Helsinki-Malmi on city defence duties. Karhila was transferred briefly to HLeLv 30 on the 06th March 1944 until the 15th June when he returned back to HLeLv 34. On the 30th of June, he was re-assigned to LeLv 24, assuming command of the 3rd flight when fighter ace Hans Wind was injured. This promotion was considered unusual as Yliluutnantti Karhila was not a regular Officer with the unit.
With this second promotion came a new aircraft, MT-461 one of the formidable Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6/R6 ‘Gunboats’. Kyösti Karhila scored eight kills with this machine. With the close of the war approaching, Karhila was promoted again, this time to command 2/HLeLv 30 on the 21st of July.
Karhila resigned from the service on the 14th of October 1944, working as an air traffic controller for a year before becoming an airline pilot with Aero O/Y and later Finnair, rising to the rank of Captain and retiring from the airline as an Inspector in 1973. He flew charter airliners with Spearair and business jets until 1985 when he officially retired. Kyösti Karhila gathered 556 flying hours during the war and 24,000 after the war. He died on September 16th 2009 in Helsinki at the age of 88 as the last of the World War 2 Finnish fighter aces. F-18 Hornets of the Finnish Air Force performed a flypast over the city during the ceremony.
Kyösti “Kössi” Karhila flew 304 combat sorties, achieving 32 victories in total with 13 on the Hawk 75, 19 with the Messerschmitt Bf 109G. Unlike other units, LeLv 32 did not assign its aircraft to any particular pilot, however Kyösti Karhila scored 8 kills in total with Hawk 75, CU-560w (the ‘w’ indicates that the aircraft was fitted with a twin-wasp engine, however the ‘w’ was deleted when CU-560 went in for an overhaul).
The kit comprises 67 parts in soft grey injection moulded plastic, 8 parts in clear and an impressive decal sheet with markings for 12 aircraft. The latest example of this kit is packed in a sturdy end-opening box with attractive box art.
The kit provides a basic Twin Wasp engine plus all of the parts required to complete the model in Suomen Ilmavoimat service (5 examples), Armée de l’Air (5 examples) and Luftwaffe service (2 examples).
The moulding is clean and crisp with recessed panel lines and fabric control surfaces; the detail is somewhat basic but is improved with the addition of the Kuivalianen etched set.
The instructions are simple but straight forward and consist of 6 stages with each section containing an exploded-view diagram.
The parts were washed using a warm-soapy solution to remove the mould release from the kit and then dabbed dry. All of the parts were then sprayed with auto-primer from a rattle can. The interior parts were airbrushed with Humbrol matt 226 zinc chromate green. This colour has been a source of contention amongst aviation enthusiasts for several years as some believe that the Finnish Hawk 75 has a light aluminium or light grey interior and others suppose that the interior is zinc chromate. Kuivalianen settles this argument by supplying their etched set for this kit pre-painted in zinc chromate. I have to confess that my sources suggest that the interior is the former but for the purposes of this build, (and to not burden myself with replacing the etched set) I have settled upon the zinc chromate interior.
The construction phase began with dressing the seat with seat-belts, followed by the construction of the console which is a two-piece laminated unit. The cockpit furniture is further enhanced with foot pedals, trim wheel, throttle assembly, flap lever and various other dials and switches. The Revi gunsight is also included, it is recommended that a folding tool is used with this set as some of the parts are very small and require multiple “folds” to complete.
The completed cockpit fitted easily into the fuselage halves and whilst the fit was snug, it went together without any difficulties. Once the fuselage and wing sections had been constructed and left to dry overnight, both sub-assemblies were fitted and the horizontal tail surfaces added. The wing roots required some filler as did the fuselage spine.
The engine consists of four pieces, it is fairly basic but can be enhanced by adding your own copper wire push rods should you wish to do so. I settled for painting the cylinder heads black, and picked out the moulded push rods with silver paint.
Once the engine assembly had dried, the cowlings were fitted and the engine unit was glued to the fuselage. The airframe was then set to one side and allowed to dry over-night.
After drying for several hours, the Hawk was sanded down and given an additional coat of grey auto-primer.
Camouflage & Markings
I elected to model CU-555 “White 5” of LeLv 32 in spring 1942. According to Sotaamaulas/Warpaint by Stenman and Keskinen, Finnish Hawk 75’s were supplied by Germany in 1941 with RLM 71 Schwartzgrun upper-surfaces and RLM 65 Hellblau lower-surfaces. The Continuation War Yellow theatre bands were applied in Finland.
The airframe was pre-shaded using humbrol 33 black before the cowling, fuselage and under-wing bands were airbrushed with White Ensign Models ACLW21 Gelb RLM 04. The bands were masked off with Tamiya tape before the under-surfaces, undercarriage legs, doors and wheels were airbrushed using White Ensign Models ALCW03 Hellblau RLM 65. Once dry, the lower-surfaces were masked off before Humbrol 244 green was applied to the top-surfaces of the aircraft. The black identification panel was then airbrushed under the right wing and set aside to dry.
The masking tape was then removed before the Hawk was given a wash of thinned Windsor & Newton Ivory Black to pick out the recessed panel lines. Next the airframe was weathered with a primacolor Verithin Argent Metallique silver pencil. This gives the aircraft that “beaten-up” look as these machines were worked hard in Finnish Air Force service. Finally, Johnson’s Klear was airbrushed before the decals were applied with Micro-sol and Micro-set decal setting solutions.
The propeller tips on Finnish Hawk 75’s carrying the early RLM 71/65 colour scheme do not have yellow tips. This can be clearly seen from black and white photographs of CU-558 on page 46, Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, and “Sotamaalas” by Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen and of CU-560 on page 28, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 23, Finnish Aces of World War II by Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen.
The last part of the construction process consisted of fitting the undercarriage and doors, the tail-wheel, wing guns, aerials and pitot tube. A final coat of Johnson’s Klear was applied to seal in the decals and the build was complete.
Although a little basic, the outline of this model is accurate and with a few after-market accessories this kit can make an excellent example of this important aircraft.
- Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 5, Curtiss hawk 75A and P-40M, by Kalevi Keskinen, Kari Stenman and Klaus Niska, Stenman Publishing.
- Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 20 LeR 1, by Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing.
- Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 23, Sotamaalaus/Warpaint by Kalevi Keskinen & Kari Stenman, Stenman Publishing.
- Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 23, Finnish Aces of World War 2 by Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinnen.