Building the Hobbycraft P-36 / Hawk 75

Links to old reviews
P-36 "Cleveland Air Races"
Brazilian Hawk 75
Finnish Hawk 75
Hawk gallery

I'm a fan of the P-36/Hawk 75 aircraft - if you couldn't tell by the number of them that keep showing up on these pages. In 1/48 scale, you really only have one choice for an accurate P-36. This is the Hobbycraft kit (also reboxed from Academy.) This is actually a series of kits - some cyclone, some twin wasp powered, some fixed gear.  A quick outline of what's there:
Kit box
Part #
Variants Notes
P-36 Pearl Harbor Defender

Twin Wasp
USAAC, Brazil
Reboxed by Academy
French Hawk 75

Twin Wasp
Two French aircraft
Same plastic as above
Curtiss Mohawk

One British, one Chineese, one Peruvian
ONLY a Mohawk IV. For I, II, or III, use one of the other two kits above (French or Pearl Harbor.)
Hawk 75M/N/O

One Siam (Thai,) one (or two) Chineese, two Argentinian
Underwing cannon included, as well as side window "blanks" and a different wing bottom.
Allied Hawk 75

Dutch (NEI,) SAAF, Peru, China

(Note that there's some question as to the accuracy of the Cyclone engine - it's a single row radial.) You're not limited to these particular variants, they're just all that's given markings for in the box.

The Hobbycraft (HC) kit is accurate in outline, but has its share of faults. None of these faults are particularly difficult to overcome, and some are purely a matter of bad instructions.

For starters, the instructions would have you place the instrument panel far too far aft in the cockpit, sticking out under a "T" shaped support frame. That frame doesn't always exist in the real aircraft (it does in French hawks, for instance - it's used to support some reflector sights) and the instrument panel is under a coaming. Add to that the pain the panel can be when trying to fit it into a fuselage half, and you see an obvious problem.

In addition, the cockpit is somewhat sparsely detailed, and the instructions would have you try to line things up at specific angles with no real reference.

I've modified my build assembly to make things much easier. If you use an aftermarket resin cockpt (a True Details set used to exist for the P-36 - a P-40B/C cockpit is available, and the layout is similar... there's also a set from Legends) or Eduard's  photoetch set, follow their instructions.

Step one is to paint the interior. Most aircraft are going to have a laquered natural metal cockpit - it's possible that later aircraft had interior green, but most period shots I've seen (including the 27pg war games schemes) indicate natural metal inside. Given that it's a laquer coat, plain old silver paint from a "rattlecan" should work out fine.  Spray the seat and other interior pieces, as well.

Once that dries, add whatever photoetch you may need to to the sides, pick pieces out with paint (such as the radios and throttle - in black, the map case (I think that's what it is) in some brownish-tan color. There's not really a LOT of color in here. Also a lot of the detail is quite flat - some may want to build it up with plastic card or the like. The deatil that should be in there is really quite simple, and would be a good place to "cut your teeth" on basic scratchbuilding.

Let all that set and dry, then glue the fuselage together. Yep, that's right - the cockpit isn't in it yet. Glue the instrument panel and its support together, as well - you may want to add some small blocks of plastic here to simulate the machine gun butt ends that stick into the cockpit slightly. Let all of this dry. The instrument panel is black, and if the few color pics I've seen (restored a/c at the Air Force museum) are to go by, the rudder pedals hanging down should be zinc chromate (yellow, not green.)

In the meantime, glue the seat and ITS support together. The seat isn't entirely accurate, but it's pretty close - you'd actually want to thin it slightly, and add two cutouts for the seat belts to come through the back (note that on many, like the photos of the one in the USAF museam, the belts could have worked their way out and been flipped over the back of the seat, as well.) Use your favourite method (decal, tape strip, photoetch or resin aftermarket belts) to add shoulder harnesses and lap belts.

You can (pretty much have to) add the control stick and side stick (if memory serves, a sort of backup pump for hydraulics) to the cockpit floor at this time. The floor of this kit is pretty sparse - the aircraft at the AF museum has a rather "flat" floor, but still has SOME detail on it (what looks like a cap of some sort, as well as a hose.) Other pictures I've seen show this area much differently - an almost nonexistant floor, with "slats" running under the rudder pedals (and the bar on front of the control stick running forward.) Best to use your own judgement (or scratchbuilding skills) if you want to detail this area. Detail for both of these floors can be seen in P-40 Warhawk in Action, pt.1 - page 17 shows a more "vintage" set of shots, while later the AF museum P-36 shows the "flat" floor (which honestly looks more like it had metal bolted over it, and STILL has more detail than the Hobbycraft flat-slab floor.)

If you want to add any detail behind the seat (and behind the bulkhead,) this is the time to put it in. It's not all that visible, though.  Your next step is adding the bulkhead - it fits right in, and lines right up with the rear "hump."
The instrument panel, if you have the backing support glued to it, is easy to locate - Hobbycraft would have you put the back of the support to the rear of a small ridge - if you put it in *front* (towards the front of the aircraft) of that ridge instead, the instrument panel is located properly.  (In other words, it shouldn't be sticking out into the cockpit.)

Add the seat assembly to the floor, and let it match up to the bulkhead you added. It will just sit inside the wing roots. You can run a bead of glue along it and along the join with the bulkhead. Let dry... and the cockpit is done.

The wing assembly comes next - and generally fits together without a problem. Pay attention to the P-36/Hawk 75 variant you're building to determine which and how many of the holes and/or shell eject chutes to open up.  The wing generally fits decently to the fuselage - I do use masking tape to snug it up and give it some dihedral, which  is normally just enough to close gaps. There always seems to be a gap on the bottom wing, though, where it meets the front fuselage. The only thing I can find for this - as no assembly "tricks" fix this without messing something else up - is the use of putty.

(In the tables below, lowercase letters are used where there may be confusion with numbers in the designation.)

P-36 variants - Hobbycraft kit wing openings
P-36 variants
Wing guns   Which holes to open
None None
Standard USAAC model.
1,100 HP R-1830-25
Engine testbed, converted P-36A (38-20). Reconverted to P-36A.
Inner Round hole (shell eject "bucket") R-1830-17
38-85 testbed, 30 from last of P-36A order built as P-36C
Both Rectangular holes
174th P-36A converted (38-174) with four .30 cal in wing. Later nose armament changed to two .50 cal.
Both Rectangular holes
147th P-36A (38-147) with four .30 cal MGs each wing. Nose .50 inoperable.
Underwing cannon* Round hole
38-172. One 23mm Madsen cannon under each wing.
Both Rectangular Cyclone
See note below
YP-37 (Hawk 75i)

Allison inline
13 built for service test
Hawk 75J

Turbo-supercharged Twin Wasp
Not built
Hawk 75K

1200 Hp Twin Hornet
Not Built
Hawk 75P

Allison Inline
Hawk 75R

Standard engine
Supercharger mounted under nose, intercooler under trailing edge of the wing. Refitted with Cyclone, used as demonstrator with NX-22028 markings
Hawk 75S / XP-42

P&W R-1830-31 (Twin Wasp)
Fourth P-36A (38-4) for cowl streamlining and (later) flying tail experiments, retained by Curtiss, used by NACA. Washable camo used for 1939 War games.

*XP-36F - This was tested with two underwing 20mm Madsen cannon. If you want to model this variant, get the fixed-gear "Export Hawk 75" kit. The same armament was used on the Hawk 75N in that boxing. You CANNOT easily modify the underwing shell eject buckets - they're too deep and too short. (Hasegawas ME-109G underwing cannon look right, too.)

**P-36G is also the Hawk 75A-8, and can be built in USAAC, Norwegian, or Peruvian colors. Has ring and bead sight, as well as the "football" ADF antenna on the spine. Also has the "cranked" pitot as opposed to the straight one. NO OTHER USAAC P-36 had this pitot tube, or the ring-and-bead sight.

Export model Other names Wing guns Engine User Notes
75A-1 Mohawk 1 Inner Twin Wasp as P-36A French, RAF
75A-2 Mohawk II Both Twin Wasp French, RAF
75A-3 Mohawk III Both Improved Twin Wasp French, RAF
75A-4 Mohawk IV Both Cyclone French, RAF
? Cyclone China One built

Twin Wasp
Norway, Germany, Finland


Netherlands East Indies


Norway, USAAC, Peru
ADF "Football," short wheel pants. USAAC as P-36G. Ring/Bead sight, no internal gunsight

Iran (to Britain)
Britain took over before delivery to Iran. Sent to India as Mohawk.

Note also that these tend to have the "forked" or dual pitot tube - Hobbycraft has them equal length, but from photos, the top one should be much shorter.

These ignore the fixed-gear hawks...

Other name
Wing Guns
Model 75H
Hawk 75
Demonstrator (China, Argentina)
Two built - Natural metal - presented to Claire Chennault (NR-1726) . Argentina - NR-1276 - in Argentinian markings. 300 lbs of bombs underwing.
Model 75M

112 made, production version of 75H - most destroyed in China

Siam (Thailand)


Three per wing
30 shipped, 200 made under license in 1940

As a final note, on photos of twin-wing-gun hawks, you should drill out the center hole anyway as it appears open in many photographs.

The horizontal tails tend to need to have the bottom of their opening shaved slightly to get a good, flush fit without a step. Watch the alignment fore and aft. When everything's lined up, a spot of superglue can keep it in place, or just a good liquid cement. For almost any aircraft that has tail stripes, I'd stuggest leaving the horizontal tail off until it's painted - even if you have the Hobbycraft decal, since they tend to be oversized and need trimming. If you do a Brazilian aircraft with the tail stripes, it's easier to mask without the tail in place (stripes arent' provided.) Same for the Free Norwegian forces.

There's also the tailwheel - either the "bump" for the external, non-retracting tailwheel, or the doors. Find a flat surface and some 360-ish grit sandpaper, and sand this puppy down a little. Sand the rear of the assembly, too. Yes, it'll make you use putty to close a gap. Yes, you'll use LESS putty this way - without doing this, it seems the tailwheel area takes a good bit of force or fiddling to fit.   If you're building an aircraft that had retracts, some stretched sprue or cut card should go in as a "scissors" to connect the doors.

Moving to the front - The cowl is an interesting area. Hobbycraft would have you install it right away - and for most aircraft, that's a perfectly fine suggestion. However, they'd have you put the engine together and keep it installed inside the cowling.

No need. I've gotten to the point where I leave the engine out until I'm done painting. On the Brazilian P-36, I left the cowl off entirely so I could paint it yetllow as well - yet I still assembled them ahead of time, without the engine. Why do I do this? To be honest, if I don't have to mask something, I don't want to. Leave the cowl off.

Ahh, but how do you get the engine in such a tight fitting area?

Cyclone powered - No sweat, It fits perfectly in through the front. You may have to turn it slightly, but not much, and it locates positively on the front of the "peg" that sticks out.

Twin Wasp powered - OK, you can sweat a little here. The trick is to get the cowl together, sand the seam out (this isn't an "if it's needed" item - it is needed) and leave the cowl off. Put the locating standoff on the front of the fuselage - you'll want it there, securely.  Get some silly putty for when you paint to help hold the cowl on. When the paint dries, remove the cowl, slip the engine inside the cowl - it'll have to be sideways - then turn it and press against the front of the cowl. Put the glue around the edge of the cowl, and on back of the engine. Press the cowl, and engine, into place (the engine will move back.)

The next thing to look at is the prop.  Most Hawks are going to have a natural metal prop with a black backside (to avoid the "strobe light" effect on the pilot.) Some may have been retrofitted with all0black props, but the metal is a safer bet.

Now for the spinner. Hobbycraft gives you two sorts - what I call the "bullet" and "lug" styles. The bullet style looks just like that - a bullet shape. The lug is a "stepped" front.  It's hard to give specifics on who had what - you really need to look at references. From what I've seen, the fixed gear Hawks all had the Lug style, the USAAC P-36A and Cs all had the Lug style, the French aircraft had a mix, and Norwegian Hawk 75 A-8s/P-36Gs had the "bullet" style. I dont' know if it's a fairing that went over the lug or not. Finnish aircraft, being a "hand me down" of captured aircraft from the Germans, had a mix as well. If you don't have a picture and the generalizations above don't help, I'd go with the lug style.

Moving back from here, we hit another area of Hobbycraft vagueness - the exhausts. Three types are given - a fairing, a "short" and a "long" exhaust pipe. Problem is, there's one more sort that HC doesn't give you, that's often seen on USAAC aircraft. I call it a "swept long" stack - very much like they cut the pipe at an angle. From what most USAAC (and other Twin Wasp powered aircraft) I've seen looked like, though, they were used in conjunction with the fairing. If you do a French aircraft, or one of the 27ps Cleveland Air Race schemes, use the fairings and you'll be safe. Cyclone, retractable gear? Use the shorter stacks. Not sure where the longer stacks come in - I haven't seen them sticking out all that prominently on most pictures. I admit I tend to use them on the fixed gear "simplified" Hawks, though. (This at least is backed up by pictures of the remaining Thai hawk 75, though.)

Moving back, we get to deal with the wing. I have yet to have the front of the wing not have a gap. Putty is your friend.  The back of the wing, as well as the wing top fairings, fit nicely - I apply the glue to the wing, not the fuselage, so it doesn't get forced up and into the seam.  The wheel wells tend (for me) to be left silver, as do the inside of the gear doors.

Gear doors are another place to check your references. Some hawks have the "full" lower gear doors, some have "shorts." (Obviously this doesn't matter with the fixed gear hawks!) USAAC aircraft tend to have the full doors, that cover part of the wheel.

The gear wells - Eduard makes a photoetch set for this, rather cheaply (the "Zoom" set.) It can help a great deal. As for "What's that odd wheel well surface" in the main wells (where the wheel itself would rest) - that represents the canvas cover that would fit in there to keep mud and dirt out of the wing structure. If you wanted to be a masochist, you could probably cut the top off the wheel well, create a new top, and represent the wing structure (which isn't that hard - spanwise stringers were visible inside.) I just paint the cover a khaki-ish color.

The wheels and landing gear legs... oh, what fun. Again, with Eduard's Zoom set, you get more detailed scissors for the retraction arms. Hobbycraft gives you vaguely shaped piecesof plastic. The round edge (yes, they do have a shape) goes on the highest, widest ring of the leg - you'll have it right if the lower edge's angle meets up with the surface of the wing properly.  Two per landing gear leg.

The wheels are poorly shaped - and I have yet to see any that didn't have a seam down the middle. Still, I use them instead of True Flat Details wheels... Your choice. Again, the Zoom set gives you more detail here. Some wire could also be run for brake lines, if you want the extra detail.

The gear doors are an interesting assembly. Hobbycraft actually assumes they'll need sanding to fit - they are partially right. The top of the "first" gear door (the innermost, on the top of the gear leg) sometimes needs a little help getting in. There's a small crescent door that completes the fairing - this is NOT flat against the wing bottom! It should actually angle down slightly - think hinged at the front, with the "points" riding down the inside gear door. Last comes the "short" or "full" wheel gear door, turned with the gear.

Can you assemble them in the "closed" position? Possibly. I haven't tried it, though, and the gear well looks somewhat shallow to me. Maybe if you slice the top off of the wheel well (before assembling the wings, of course.) Of course, you have to deal with the tailwheel doors yourself....

Oh, if you're wondering about the strange rectangular lump farther out, they're actually bomb racks. The Hawks could carry up to 300 lb of bombs on the wings. Yes, they were small bombs, and rarely carried. (I've seen all of one picture, with 20-25 lb bombs.)

Turning over the aircraft, one of the last pieces to worry about is the canopy. This is a four piece (or six, depending on if it's open or closed) assembly. The two rear quarter windows fit in easily and tend to stay flush. Some of the fixed-gear hawks have plastic inserts to put here - if it doesn't fit right, it's on the wrong side.

If you use an open cockpit, two plastic inserts are given to raise the sides of the cockpit walls. I have yet to get these to fit with the windscreen in place, and tend to trim off about 1/8 inch. I'm still not completely sure how Hobbycraft wants to use these things - it takes a little trial and error to get right.

Finally, the windscreen. Hobbycraft has misinterpreted the windscreen - there is NO front framing on the windscreen! There's wire supports inside the windscreen, yes, but Hobbycraft has turned these into framework on the outside. Just don't paint them - use the windscreen with the smaller frame and "bump" up at the crest, and you'll be OK.  Hold off installing the ring and bead sight until you're done painting the aircraft - the pieces not only risk being broken, but interfere with masking (and removing masks.)

As for who used the ring and bead, and who didn't, don't put it on any USAAC aircraft except the P-36G. It seems to go on all the fixed gear Hawks, as well as French and Finnish hawks - essentially, it's a "check your references" item again.

The final piece - the antenna. Hobbycraft gives you a few things to stick in the hole in the spine - a tall "blade" antenna, and a two-piece ADF "football."  The first seems to be exclusive to French hawks - I haven't seen it elsewhere, except captured aircraft (Most Finnish aircraft, like CU-580, and some German cyclone powered, like CQ+ZA, seemed to have them - given the multiple sources of these captured aircraft, though, not all will ). The second is specific to the Hawk 75 A-8 (Norwegian, Peruvian, and USAAC P-36G.)

So what do the rest use? Wire.  There are two ways to simulate this using thread or thin wire. (Stretched sprue might work, but you'll have to glue everything together. I don't think it'll take some of the sharp bends.)

The "got to be accurate" way -

Drill a hole on the panel line of the wingtip, a bit forward of where the wingtip lights are. (There's actually a small piece of metal the wires join to on the real aircraft - photoetch or card might work here, as well.) Also drill a hole on the right side of the fuselage, behind the pilot's quarter view windows, and another in the front of the tail.

What you're going to simulate is this - a wire comes out of the tail. The antenna runs from the wingtip, to this wire, to the other wingtip, with another wire heading into the right side of the fuselage.  (I've got this planned out, I just haven't gotten ambitious enough to do this....) You may want to do the tail wire before putting the fuselage together, just to give it a good anchor.

Loop the thread you'll use for the wire around. Glue the loose ends together and secure. Put a sewing needle in the other end, and twist tightly. Coat with super glue, so you have a wire with a small loop at the end. Add a drop of white glue a little ways from the end to simulate the insulator. Leave the needle in the loop.

Get a long length of thread. Thread through the needle. Use the needle to pull the thread through the small loop. If you haven't finished the kit, wind it up carefully and get it out of the way so you can build and paint.  When ready, glue one end of the thread to the hole drilled near the wingtip of one wing. Allow to dry. Tighten up  (reasonably) the entire assembly - this wasn't super-taut, but it wasn't just flopping about the place either. A slight sag seems to be right, according to pictures of the P-36 in the AF museum. Attach the other end, glue, let dry. Add drops of white glue a short ways up from the wingtips on the wire to simulate insulators.

Attach a length of string to the hole drilled into the fuselage. Run up to meet the wire coming from the right side - it's not perpendicular. It meets perhaps 1/3 of the weay from the tail.

Sound like a lot of work? Well, here's the cheap (or cheat) method I tend to use:

Drill the same holes in the wingtips. Cut a small vertical notch in the vertical tail, near its leading edge. Build, paint the model. Slide a length of string into the notch. Superglue. Let dry. Attach the ends to the holes drilled in the wingtips, one side at a time. Let dry. Add drop of glue near wingtip. Add line coming from fuselage side. Done.

I actually glue the line slightly onto the surface of the wing as well - as mentioned, there's actually a small plate inboard of the panel line the wire attaches to, and without photoetch, this simulates it more effectively than you'd think. Not more than about 1/8 inch, at most, should be on the wing.

Now... go forth and build Hawks.