by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Curtis A-8 Shrike attack monoplane appeared in 1931. Following successful tests, the USAAC ordered 13 production aircraft. The Shrike was very advanced for its day; a monoplane with an internal bomb bay, with an in-line Conqueror engine driving a 3-bladed propeller. Its heavy forward-firing armament of 4 x .30 calibre guns was carried in the undercarriage spats.
Production of the A-8B was cancelled in favour of the Cyclone-powered A-12, which featured further refinements. The original A-8s soldiered on throughout the 1930s and were still performing second-line duties at the beginning of WW2.
The ModelCzech Model's new Curtis A-8 Shrike shows a huge leap in quality over their previous kits. Every aspect of this release has undergone a "make-over", from the box-art, through the instructions to, most importantly, the short-run plastic parts.
Kit contents: 31 plastic parts, 44 resin parts, plus vacuform canopies and markings for two aircraft.
Plastic PartsThe main parts are moulded in mid-grey plastic and match the quality of the best of the short-run kits being produced today. The parts are virtually flash-free, with just a couple of sink marks to fill. A quick test-fit shows that all the major parts fit together well with minimum clean-up, but the wing / fuselage joint will need a little extra care to look good.
All the panel lines are engraved and the detail is excellent. A couple of soft areas betray the kit's short-run nature, but these will only take a minute or so to rectify. The wings are very thin but, despite this, are perfectly straight. The full-span lower surface will ensure the correct dihedral. There are a few ejector-pin marks on the inner surfaces, but these don't interfere with assembly and the trailing edges will require just a quick swipe with a sanding-block to look great.
The detail on the smaller parts is a little basic - the propeller is OK, but wiill certainly benefit from a clean-up, while the plastic machine-gun is very basic compared with the resin alternative supplied.
Resin Details & Clear PartsThe highlight of the kit is a great set of resin parts. The quality is mostly excellent, and the set includes a couple of alternatives to the plastic parts; weighted tyres and a diferent style machine gun. The casting is almost flawless, but a couple of the smaller parts in my example were broken in transit - nothing major, but a little extra care in packaging could have avoided this.
The cockpit parts are exceptional, with beautiful detail throughout. The instrument faces are detailed and the seats have moulded-on lap belts. The sidewalls are wafer-thin in places, so care will be needed in assembly. It will take a full build to assess the fit of the resin interior parts, but I almost take it for granted that a degree of sanding and adjustment is needed to achieve a satisfactory fit in a kit of the is type.
The only disappointing resin parts are the wheels; these are rather lumpy and show where filler has been applied for a 'weighted' look.
A pair of vacuform canopies is supplied (plus spares). These are well moulded and clear, but will still be improved by a dip in Future/Klear. The windows behind the cockpit are moulded solid and it's up to you to drill them out and glaze them, if you wish.
Instructions, Painting and DecalsThe instructions are clearly illustrated and include a useful reference photo of one of the aircraft featured on the decal sheet. FS equivalents are given for many of the colours, but the Olive Drab is indicated as matt paint, whereas the original finish would have been gloss overall.
Decals are supplied for two aircraft in identical schemes of the 37th Attack Squadron circa 1934. These are are well printed, in perfect register and appear very thin. There is a discrepency; the decal for the checkered fuselage band has a black border, instead of white as shown in the reference photo supplied.
ConclusionCzech Model's Shrike is an excellent model. The good fit of the basic parts and the high quality of the resin details make this an excellent choice for anyone tackling a short-run kit for the first time. Thoroughly recommended for all fans of Golden Age aircraft.
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