HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
CURTISS SOC-3 "SEAGULL" of VO-3, USS CALIFORNIA BB-44 c. 1938
by George Grasse
LONE STAR 1:48 SCALE RESIN KIT LSM 40560 OF THE CURTISS SOC-3, U. S. NAVY SCOUT-OBSERVATION AIRCRAFT
LONE STAR MODELS CURTISS SOC-3 BOX ART
CURTISS SOC THREE-VIEW DRAWING
|This three-view drawing was taken from the Wikipedia article of the same name.
THE CURTISS SOC-3 MODEL TO BE BUILT
This photo shows Curtiss SOC-3, BuNo
2-O-9, VO-2, USS CALIFORNIA (BB-44), in 1938. I prefer
the section leader, BuNo 1071, 2-O-7, which will have a solid true
blue cowling and true blue section leader's band around the
(Photo credit: internet photo number 014436)
VO-2 Squadron Insignia which appears in the photo above just above the lower wing root (photo credit Dana Bell, Aircraft Pictorial #3, OS2U Kingfisher, Classic Warships Publications)
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #1
12 September 2015
|THE BEGINNING: The cockpit interior components are quite good and plentiful at least in filling up the area. I want to add more scratch-built parts, e.g., wiring, boxes, small instrument panels, before closing up the fuselage. Ginter's book on the Curtiss SOC Seagull has quite a number of interior fuselage photos and is recommended when building up the cockpit area.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #2
14 October 2015
|COCKPIT WORK AND FUSELAGE JOINING: The kit's cockpit interior components plus several others, both scratch-built and spares, have been added. The fuselage halves were not quite a tight, solid fit. The floorboard area was impinging on the left fuselage half and this required a lot of "trim and fit" steps. When the upper halves were held, the bottom did not meet and vice-versa. Finally, when enough trimming was done, I started the fuselage joining process by first super gluing the front end only and holding it together with heavy rubber bands. When dry, I glued the rear end together and held it with heavy rubber bands. The seams were filled with "Green Putty". A second coat of putty was required in a few places as shown at the upper left. In other places, the finish was smooth. I used a coat or two of thin, hand-brushed primer to better see how the finish turned out. This is shown on the rear fuselage.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #3
12 September 2015
|ANOTHER VIEW OF THE FUSELAGE JOINING
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #4
16 October 2015
|FUSELAGE PRIMED - RUDDER ADDED: After several iterations of applying putty and sanding the seams, the fuselage is ready for priming. A light wiping of fine steel wool over the primed surface removed any primer burrs and dust. The rudder was glued in place. I must have sanded a bit too much off the top of the vertical stabilizer and now I have to sand off the bottom of the rudder to make it flush with the fuselage.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #5
17 November 2015
|WINGS AND TAIL ATTACHMENT: The lower wings and the horizontal flying surfaces were drilled to accommodate a brass pin where they contacted the fuselage. Each part was held against its position on the fuselage and a pencil mark was made on the part and the fuselage where the pin would go. This has to be exact so there are no overlapping surfaces. Super glue was used to bond the parts to the fuselage.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #6
1 January 2016
|INITIAL PAINTING: Starting off the new year by painting the SOC Seagull. All of the coats of different paints on the model in the photo above are not final coats. As you know, fabric covered areas were painted in an aluminum pigmented dope and then varnished, a technique first advanced by the French in World War 1. This proved to be the best protective coat for fabric against the damaging rays of sunlight. Metal covered areas were painted in "Naval Aviation Gray" which was a light gray that blends well with the aluminum fabric at a distance. This model will represent "2-O-7", the third section of Observation Squadron 2, USS California in the mid-to-late 1930s. Other sections of VO-2 flew on the USS Oklahoma (first section) and USS Tennessee (second section). See the "Curtiss SOC Seagull Painting Palette" at of this article.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #7
5 January 2016
|ENGINE AND COWLING: The engine has been detailed as far as can be seen with the cowling on (detail that cannot be seen isn't worth the effort). The cowling is a two-piece affair most of which is the cowling proper which has a smaller diameter curved front piece. The seam required filling and I used a relative new product (at least to me) made by Deluxe Materials in the UK called "Perfect Plastic Putty #BD44 (40 ml tube). By far, the best quick acting plastic putty I have ever used. It dries within two hours, does not shrink, and is paintable right after sanding. Excellent product! The true blue cowling color denotes the flight leader of Observation Squadron VO-2's third section which flew from the USS California. See my comments below regarding this paint.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #8
6 January 2016
|MAIN FLOAT: The main float is a solid-cast resin component and somewhat intimidating at first and that's only because of the attachment to the fuselage. Of course, my preferred brass rod and tube struts were going to be used here simply for maximum strength to hold the float onto the fuselage. I began by drilling out the float and fuselage holes which were all marked on the components except for the rear fuselage location. No matter here because it was easy to locate the holes using available drawings. Next, I cut my first piece of brass rod, stuck it in the left forward float strut hole and measured the distance and comparing it to 1:48 scale drawings. After a little bit of trimming, I had the first strut rod done. Because I did not control the depth of each drilled-out hole, I had to measure each one separately. No problem here because it went quickly. I fitted the float to the fuselage to make sure of alignment front, rear, and sides. The next step was to make the strut covers from brass tubing. I used Albion Alloys Ltd MBT18 brass tube, 1.8mm OD, 1.6mm ID. This step took much more time with cutting, fitting, trimming, re-fitting, etc. for each main float strut. In the end , I won! The struts shown above were brush-primed. Later, after the wing floats are attached, all will be rigged with .005 monofilament thread.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #9
23 January 2016
|WINGTIP FLOATS: The kit's wingtip floats are solid-cast resin parts with location holes for the support struts. I used the Ginter Curtiss SOC Seagull, Naval Fighters Number 89, page 128, and several photos, to build my own struts using the brass tube and rod method. So, each strut was customized. The kit comes with a shaped "land carriage" body to which I added four Minifigs 25mm wagon wheels with brass rod axles with plastic supports. I then completely reviewed all of the fuselage and float details that would have to be completed before the top wing attachment was addressed. I came up with 24 details which will be addressed in the next few panels.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #10
4 February 2016
|FIRST STEP, WING ATTACHMENT: Since I make my own struts from brass tubing and brass rod and I generally attach the top wing to the fuselage struts first, this photo shows the rear fuselage brass rod inserts in position with the correct gap vis-a-vis the the wing clearance to the canopy front. This took a couple of trial and error fits and cuts.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #11a
3 May 2016
|BRASS STRUTS AND RIGGING, RIGHT SIDE
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #11b
3 May 2016
|BRASS STRUTS AND RIGGING, LEFT SIDE
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #12
4 May 2016
|DECALS APPLIED: The model represents the third section leader (2-0-7) of the 2nd Observation Squadron, USS California. The wings U. S. insignia (not shown in this photo) were taken from a 1:48 scale Seversky P-35 kit. The propeller stripes were hand-painted. All of the other decals are from Yellow Wings set for the Curtiss SOC-3 (YW48046) except the squadron insignia which came from the Yellow Wings' Vought OS2U set (YW48033).
FINISHED PHOTO #13a
7 May 2016
|LEFT REAR VIEW - Details added: The projection under the "2" is the extension tube for the trailing antenna. Barely visible are the "flying" antenna wires - two wires from the stabilizer to the upper outer wings and one lead wire to the cockpit.
FINISHED PHOTO #13b
7 May 2016
|RIGHT REAR VIEW - Details added: The circular object under the canopy mid-section is the copper loop antenna mad from brass rod. Barely visible is the "Lift Here" decal just under "NAVY".
FINISHED PHOTO #13c
7 May 2016
|LEFT FRONT VIEW - Details added: the red propeller warning stripe is a slice from a red decal sheet and hand-painted a brighter red. The wire rigging is all new .005 monofilament thread that replaced the .006 fishing line that caused warping problems. Note the antenna post on the upper left wing. Barely visible is the front gun sight projecting through the pilot's windscreen.
FINISHED PHOTO #13d
7 May 2016
|RIGHT FRONT VIEW - Details added: The four-wheeled land trolley is provided in the kit but without wheels. I have a small stash of Minifigs 25mm Napoleonic War front wagon wheels that seem to look appropriate.
FINISHED PHOTO #13e
7 May 2016
|LEFT SIDE VIEW - Details added: The front of each wingtip float has a hand hold made from brass rod.
FINISHED PHOTO #13f
7 May 2016
|RIGHT SIDE VIEW - Details added: at the top of gunner's turtle deck is a small white light that was made from a drop of two-part 5-minute epoxy.
(My paint swatches don't reproduce well enough below. See also footnotes)
|Vallejo VC0989 Acrylic Sky Gray
|Misterkit MKFC01 French WW1 Aluminum
|PollyS Fantasy Colors 501432 Dragon Blue a
ANA 614 b
PAINT PALETTE FOOTNOTES
|I still have a large collection of paints I have used over the last 40 years and PollyS Fantasy paints are among them. Dragon Blue is a close match to the Yellow Wings True Blue third section leader's colors. I want to make sure the cowling true blue matches the fuselage band and wing chevron decals.
|This paint was used as touch-up for the top wing which was spray painted, first, in Tamiya spray TM85046 Light Sand and, second, in Tamiya spray TM85034 Camel Yellow because experience with Camel Yellow by itself over a primed surface yields terrible coverage with several coats needed and then the finish is not good.