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Czech Model 1/48 scale Curtiss SO3C Seamew

Kit: No. 4817
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Czech Model, from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $49.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 43 parts (14 resin), decals
Pros: Good decals, good external detail, well-done resin parts
Cons: Poor fit, thick clear parts, some warping, no seat harness, no prop shaft
Curtiss factory workers nicknamed the angular SO3C Seamew floatplane the "'Reluctant Dragon' ... reluctant to take off and always draggin." In service with the U.S. Navy for only a few months beginning in July 1942, they were withdrawn and replaced by their predecessors, freshened Curtiss SOC Seagull biplanes.

The kit's gray plastic, resin, and clear parts are separately bagged. The instructions include a brief history, parts map, exploded-view assembly drawings, and color and marking profiles. The decals appear thin and in register, but the white background for the "War Junk" legend was missing on my sample.

The plastic parts are highly polished and have good recessed panel lines, which line up well from one fuselage half to the other. Some of the mating edges on the upper and lower wing panels and on the vertical fin required filing and sanding. The True Details resin package, featuring a detailed, inverted Ranger engine (that's mostly hidden in the completed model), also provides fine parts for the cockpits. However, I had trouble getting the pilot's cockpit floor to fit between the fuselage halves and never found a satisfactory solution. The aft cockpit was problem-free. Alignment ledges for the cockpit parts were found only on the right fuselage half.

The front of the nose is provided in both plastic and resin, but neither captures the complex curves of the full-scale aircraft. If you want to reshape the nose, you'll need to do so after assembling the spinner and propeller. My sample's spinner was larger in diameter than the space provided for it on the propeller, so I mounted it to a piece of sprue, chucked it in a motor tool, and sanded it down to fit. I fashioned a propeller shaft then reshaped the nose for a smooth transition to the spinner.

Fit problems plagued the mounting of the horizontal stabilizers, canopies, wings, and main float. Each wing ended up with a different and rather severe dihedral, the main float wanted to tilt to the left, and the canopies didn't fit into their openings. The wheels for the beaching gear were molded off-center.

I airbrushed my model with Model Master enamels and Testors clear gloss for decal application. The decals went on fine with Micro Set. Two marking choices are provided, but I just had to do "War Junk" with the tri-color camouflage and red-surround insignias.

My completed model measures about 21/2 scale feet too long and about 6" too wide, but the aircraft's odd shapes disguise the inaccuracies. My primary reference was Naval Fighters Number 47 The Reluctant Dragon - The Curtiss SO3C Seagull/Seamew by Steve Ginter.

Considering the fit problems, only experienced modelers will have success building it. I spent nearly 40 hours on my attempt.

- Al Jones


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