Author Topic: The Republic XP-41D Dragoon - All's Well(es) that Ends Well(es) in 1/72 Scale  (Read 695 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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The Republic XP-41 was an almost forgotten link in the P-47 Thunderbolt chain.

Even less well remembered is another prototype developed in parallel with the XP-41, the XP-41D.

The Seversky P-35 was the U.S. Army Air Corps' first all-metal, monoplane pursuit with retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit. Even if performance was disappointing, it was the first modern aircraft to enter American service prior to W.W. II.

In early 1939, Seversky became Republic Aviation and the firm was approached to develop an even more advanced fighter under the designation XP-41. Republic, hungry for a government contract, came out of a brain-storming session with a few competing concepts.

The company decided not to take chances and assigned engineering teams to the most promising of these and while the B & C teams were floundering, the first team working on the original XP-41 design charged towards the finish line. Almost un-noticed, the D team kept plugging along and was catching up fast.

While the original XP-41 concept that started it all would fly first, the XP-41D wasn't far behind and it was better. The Air Corps' placed an order, but Congress only authorized funding for the initial XP-41. Records were fudged and the money was actually spent on XP-41Ds which Republic christened the Dragoon.

Despite being intended as a high-altitude interceptor, poor time-to-altitude performance led to disgruntled crews calling the hapless prototype the "Draggin'" which soon became "Draggin' A**". However, the Air Corps had committed to a service-test batch of four aircraft which were duly delivered as the Summer of 1939 came to a close.

After the XP-41Ds were run-up at Wright Field, they were flown to Dwight Field in rural Western Pennsylvania. The severe weather this area is known for was seen as a good test for the new planes.

The lead XP-41D's engine seized on take-off and another one crashed en-route. Of the two that survived the flight, one was used as a hangar-queen to keep the other one flying. This lone XP-41D Dragoon provided the sole air defense of nearby Clinton.

Heavily armed for the day with four 15 m.m. cannon in the wings and two .60 caliber machine guns in the nose, the Dragoon certainly looked the part. By October, it was undertaking regular patrols.

The timing was very lucky because before the month was out, a mistaken repeat of a famous radio drama would entirely up-end the country.

Even though public panic was fairly wide-spread across the nation, the U.S. Army Air Corps proved up to the task and chased many reports of unknown, potentially hostile aircraft.

The fact that no Martians attacked Clinton during their invasion is testimony to the potency of this pursuit aircraft.

Sadly, no more XP-41D Dragoons would ever be built as it was soon over-taken by technological advances. This remarkable aircraft's career was brief and ended in utter ignominy, much like Orson Welles. Mr. War-of-the-Worlds-2X was virtually unemployable for years after the 1939 broadcast debacle and was forced to take on projects of decreasing stature as his star waned.

Still, like the infamous auteur,  for one shining moment the modern, all-metal Republic XP-41D Dragoon showed potential even if the so-called "experts" insist it all must come from the mind of someone who is quite un-Welles.

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 10:17:41 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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This all began with a vintage 1/72 Hasegawa N1K2 George a good friend sent me recently (thanks a million, Hamsterman!). You've got to admit that box art is something! Hasegawa was rarely surpassed in this area back in the day.

Even though this kit comes from that land that time tried to forget known as the 1970's, it's a little gem and even has recessed panel lines which seems pretty advanced for that era. While the 'pit is a bit simple and details aren't very complex, it builds up quite nicely unless you over-imbibe and swap out the kit engine and cowling for one from an Aoshima/MPC Curtiss P-36.

I was stunned how well that fit after I cut a sliver off the front end. So stunned, in fact, I had another drink.
To further obscure things, I added a new rudder & fin filet cut from card. I also replaced the kit's comically-small tail wheel with a larger, semi-retracted one.

Here's how it all looked before the first coat of paint.

I knew I wanted to do one of those inter-war silver schemes, so a little prep was needed with some Model Masters Primer Gray.

Then I fortified myself for the main event which starred the old hairy stick and a lot of Polly Scale Silver standing in for NMF.

The canopy was tinted on the inside with Model Masters Insignia Blue and a custom gunmetal mix was used on the armament.

Decals were mostly from a Monogram P-36 but the racing stripes came from a Revell P-26 Peashooter and the big bird from another fine Hasegawa product, their P-40E/Kittyhawk I. The numbers were ancient leftover spares from goodness knows where. Before I forget, here's a "money shot" (U.S. penny for scale).

I had an absolute blast building this model which took about a week, all told. I'd like to thank Bill for sending the kit. I couldn't have done it without you!

I also couldn't have done it without others who inspired me. I'd like you to meet some of my good friends from college.

I hope you enjoyed the Republic XP-41D and reading a little more forgotten aircraft history even if it drags in places, all's Well(es) that ends Well(es).

Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 08:20:49 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Great work as always Brian!

Surprised that Boone's Farm is not one of your college alumni :)
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Online elmayerle

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Beautiful model and backstory; the model really looks the part.

Offline finsrin

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Got that George looking very Republicly.  Color scheme is crowning convincing touch for being Army Air Corps.  :smiley:
You had good eye for black & white taper stripe, adds much.

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Offline Camthalion

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very nice

Offline apophenia

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Oh, that is clever! About half way through, I began to get a Japanese vibe ... but I'd never have guessed N1K2-J. Amazing how well the P-36 cowling fit on the George:smiley:
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Offline Frank3k

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Nice job on the portly silver gentleman's plane! I didn't realize you used a George until the end!

Offline pigflyer

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Brilliant back storey as ever, superb build, I really think you've got it, By George!

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