Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hawk SNJ

Here's the other kit I got at the dime store in La Mirada back in the summer of '76: the Hawk 1/72 scale U.S. Navy North American SNJ trainer. What a nice little kit for its time. In an era where manufacturers were cranking out toy-like plastic model kits that could be slapped together in an afternoon, Hawk went the extra mile to create an accurate, finely detailed kit of this famous airplane. They made it in two versions, the Navy SNJ you see here, and a USAF T-6 Texan. It has recessed panel lines and fine, flush-rivet detail. The only exception is the cockpit interior, which has two slightly over sized ape-looking pilots. This kit has been around since the late 1950s, and is still available by Testors. That first SNJ I got in La Mirada was molded in thick, white plastic. Navy SNJs were painted gloss yellow as illustrated on the box cover, but I chose to leave it white, either because Steven didn't have any yellow paint, or I just wanted to finish it in a hurry.
When I was searching for Hawk SNJ kits on EBay to rebuild, I noticed they were molded in different color combinations including white, orange, and yellow with black wing! I took a chance and got a factory sealed one, and upon opening it, I was pleased to find I had gotten an all-yellow molded version. The natural yellow of the plastic however was a little too dark, so I was going to have to spray it a lighter shade of yellow to match the Navy's. At least I wasn't going to have to paint black plastic with multiple coats of primer and yellow! And so it came to pass, I built the kit in a day, and sprayed it with Tamiya gloss yellow. The decals were still usable, but they were very thick. I knew this was going to be a problem with the black anti-glare panel piece. On its own, it didn't want to conform to the curvature of the nose section, and the cowling. On top of that, there are two steps forward of the front windshield which the decal has to conform to. Copious dousings of Micro-Sol along with some small incisions with an X-Acto knife were necessary to get this decal piece to properly adhere. It worked well in the end, and prevented me from having to paint this panel black instead (I like to use the original decals whenever possible.)
The hawk SNJ looks great in yellow, the way she's supposed to look. I might build the T-6 version as a companion to her some day. They'd make a great pair!


  1. I'm half way through one, which came in orange. I painted it yellow and am using your photo as a guide.

  2. The Hawk T-6 and SNJ build up to very attractive models. The only drawback, as you pointed out Don, is the lack of interior detail. I didn't even use the mummified pilot figures when I built the SNJ a while back. Nice job on your model.