Author Topic: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72  (Read 252 times)

Offline KiwiZac

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WA119 was one of a handful of Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwakes exported to the United States, sold at the June 1960 auction to Las Vegas doctor Bert Reilly. After reassembly in Florida it was first flown on November 12 as NX6291 and later ferried to Las Vegas. The aircraft was sporadically flown by Reilly for business commuting and recreation but after setting a point-to-point speed record between Las Vegas and Chicago, Reilly decided to modify the aircraft for air racing.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

The airframe was fitted with a more streamlined canopy, a specially tuned engine driving a new propeller with three broad-chord blades, and clipped wings with aerodynamic endplates. NX6291ís first flight in racer configuration was on June 13 1964. Reilly campaigned the unpainted aircraft at the first Reno Air Races in September 1964 as Race 91 and placed fifth. The following June Reilly competed at Los Angeles but was less successful, placing tenth. Three months later the pair were back at Reno but did not finish due to engine issues, having to withdraw during the heats.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

During the off season the aircraft was finally painted, receiving an overall blue scheme with yellow spinner, wing stripes and race number on the tail and wings. The run of bad luck continued as while en route to the 1966 Los Angeles races Reilly took ill in mid-air had to land at Barstow, missing the event while he was hospitalised for a week with a stomach ailment.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

Interviewed by a local newspaper ahead of the Reno races that September Reilly was optimistic about his chances as he had been regularly flying Race 91 and tuning the Griffon for optimum performance. Tragically his dreams of victory were not to be. During practice on September 23 one of the propeller blades sheared off, sending the aircraft out of control into the desert floor near one of the race pylons. Reilly, aged 47, was killed on impact and the aircraft destroyed.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

***
When I created the Kittiwake story the Reno racer was just a fun little throwaway based on the books of the races from the local library. Not many P-40s have raced over the years and, from memory, none of them were modified in the style of the P-51s etc (one did get a streamlined canopy Ė inspiration for this! Ė but I believe it never raced) so I figured a Griffon-powered variant would be ideal.

The kit was the Academy P-40M/N (my standard base for Kittiwakes) with an Academy Ju-87G prop and spinner, Revell P-47D canopy and exhausts and pilot from my spares box. The wing endplates are simple rectangles of clear styrene and the decals are from various sources including Ė most conveniently Ė the slightly rearranged registration from a Minicraft 1/48 Bonanza. One day I may add the gear doors (lost over several house moves) but donít count on it ;).

I started this build about three years ago but stalled for reasons I donít recall, and have had a very enjoyable time in recent days expanding on both airframe and story as well as the build itself. I hope you like it!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 02:19:07 PM by KiwiZac »
With warm regards from Whanganui, New Zealand

Zac Yates

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2019, 05:34:19 AM »
That had to be one tough color scheme and it's done most sharply!

Good on ya, Zac!

Brian da Basher

Offline ericr

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2019, 03:24:28 AM »

great colors !  ;)

and funny idea to use the P47 canopy in reverse it seems

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2019, 12:22:14 PM »
That had to be one tough color scheme and it's done most sharply!

Good on ya, Zac!

Brian da Basher
Thank you Brian! Yellow, red and white are my least favourites to paint but they make for striking schemes. I am improving in various ways so itís always nice to receive compliments! I used Humbrol enamels #48 Mediterranean Blue and #69 Yellow. Quite a pleasing combination!

Thanks Eric! Yes, when building an Unlimited Class Reno racer it can be quite tricky to find streamlined or low profile canopies. I figured this shape may help not just with visibility but aerodynamics...plus, well, it fit!  8)
With warm regards from Whanganui, New Zealand

Zac Yates

Offline ChernayaAkula

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2019, 01:13:07 PM »
The canopy! Pure genius!  8) Looks like it was never supposed to be anywhere else but right there.
The clipped wings also look cool.  :smiley:
Cheers,
Moritz

"The appropriate response to reality is to go insane!"

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2019, 01:10:16 PM »
Thanks CA! I was rifling through my transparencies box and had a "Eureka!" moment - did anyone notice the decals I added for the canopy rails?  8)
With warm regards from Whanganui, New Zealand

Zac Yates

Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2019, 08:15:49 AM »
Looks good but I think the prop pitch is wrong. The Griffon rotated in the opposite direction of the Merlin.


Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline KiwiZac

  • Who said Kiwis can't fly...though this one can organise for a kit of the Fletcher FU24 to be produced!
  • The Modeller Formerly Known As K5054NZ
Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2019, 09:29:10 AM »
Looks good but I think the prop pitch is wrong. The Griffon rotated in the opposite direction of the Merlin.


Chris
Youíre completely right, and I didnít realise until it was done and posted. Maybe itís a rare left-handed model?  :icon_beer:
With warm regards from Whanganui, New Zealand

Zac Yates

Online elmayerle

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Re: A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! Kittiwake racer NX6291 in 1/72
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2019, 11:33:24 AM »
Looks good but I think the prop pitch is wrong. The Griffon rotated in the opposite direction of the Merlin.


Chris
Youíre completely right, and I didnít realise until it was done and posted. Maybe itís a rare left-handed model?  :icon_beer:
Surplused from the trial fit of opposite-handed Griffons to a P-38?  The trial was not successful and the "normal" Griffon was used elsewhere while this one sat until sold for surplus from which a private party acquired it.