Author Topic: The Curtiss YF9C-2XL Super Sparrowhawk - A (Sky) Hook of a Tale in 1/72 Scale  (Read 496 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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While never built in great numbers, the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk holds a place in aviation history as the famous U.S. airship-based fighter.

Built in even fewer numbers and utterly forgotten today is an aircraft it inspired, the YF9C-2XL Super Sparrowhawk.

Envisaged as a more streamlined, modern follow-on to the F9C, the YF9C-2XL Super Sparrowhawk was the first U.S. Navy aircraft to feature a fully retractable sky hook and tail wheel.

Flight testing proceeded apace and the Sparrowhawk prototype successfully hooked on to the Navy airship U.S.S. Bacon and was again launched from it a moment later.

The U.S.S. Bacon and its YF9C-2XL were slated to take part in Fleet Problem LXXVIII in the Bering Sea in the spring of 1935. Accordingly, the Super Sparrowhawk was given temporary war games camouflage.

The YF9C-2XL was launched for a scounting mission and later spotted the "enemy" fleet but was forced to return to the U.S.S. Bacon to make a report in person due to radio problems.

Unfortunately, while hook-on tests had been flawless off the coast of sunny San Diego, no one had reckoned on the effects of a colder climate on the aircraft's complex systems.

The Super Sparrowhawk's skyhook failed to deploy due to ice in the hydraulic actuator and the YF9C-2XL was forced to make an emergency landing on the "enemy" carrier U.S.S. Saratoga. This was the first documented incident of a U.S. Navy scout reporting enemy movements directly to the enemy and it was considered quite an intelligence breakthrough at the time.

Since the new fighter was proposed as a modified F9C-2 but had less than 6% parts commonality with the original Sparrowhawk, Congress refused to fund production and the prototype was the only one ever built. The lone Super Sparrowhawk was soon scrapped after being tested to destruction as an uninstructional airframe.

Despite its brief historic role, a lack of documentary evidence prevents the so-called "experts" from being hooked by the Curtiss YF9C-2XL Super Sparrowhawk but some of us know better.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 06:27:49 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Camthalion

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Awesome work Brian.  Love the Sparrowhawk

Offline Brian da Basher

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My latest victim is a vintage 1/48 Hawk Laird Solution racer a friend sent me recently (thanks a million, hamsterman!). Since this was a bagged kit, there's no box art, but you've got to admit that bag is something.

Research shows this kit first sold in 1962, practically the dawn of styrene models. This one was molded in gold plastic so one can easily replicate the black and gold racing scheme. Of course, mine was going to be a little bit different.

After a quick dive into my spares, I discovered a 1/72 P-40 canopy and P-36 prop were a pretty good fit.

Welcome to a 1/48 - 1/72 scale-o-rama!

It was a natural to make this one with retractable gear like an F3F using wheel halves but I've always been fascinated by biplanes with cantilever wings that don't need interplane struts, so I decided to save the kit struts for another day.

Of course, something would have to be done about the lack of armament. Ends snipped off landing gear struts came to the rescue.

I also added exhaust stubs cut from this great plastic tubing Mr Fontaine sent me a while back (thanks again, Jeff!).

After this, it was time for painting. The old hairy stick was trotted out and the model given an overall base coat of acrylic Model Masters Gray Primer. Italian Gray and Medium Gray were used for the camouflage.

The canopy was tinted on the inside with Insignia Blue. Black was used on the tires, engine and cowl with the gun barrels and cylinders picked out in cheap craft-store metallic. The tail hook was given a coat of Aluminum and the exhaust stubs some Jet Exhaust. The rudder stripes were painted with Insignia Blue, White Primer and Insignia Red. Decals were all left-overs.

Total build time was about a week but this was stretched out to a couple of weeks since things kept getting in the way. Before I forget, here's the "money shot" (U.S. penny for scale).

I hope you enjoyed the Curtiss YF9C-2XL Super Sparrowhawk and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if you're not really hooked just yet.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 06:19:49 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Congratulations on another outstanding build!  Nice little what-if you put together from a vintage kit. 
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I must admit though, that gold plastic is nice looking too.  Maybe some black racing stripes...
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Offline Frank3k

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The plane looks fast - especially without struts and the set back cockpit.

The gold plastic looks cool, though.

Offline pigflyer

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Brilliant stuff, I am working on a SB4C Helldiver whatif that looks closely related to this bird. Won't be as good as this tho.
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