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Old 03-01-2020, 12:00 PM
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Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]

I am reporting the progress of my build on the XP-55 Ascender from Orlik, which is part of Orlik's series of 'less famous' WWII/experimental aircraft. I particularly love pusher canard configurations, and the XP-55 is a beautiful, albeit historically underwhelming aircraft. This build comes as I conclude work on Orlik's Seafang F32 (damn I forgot to post that one, another day perhaps). That build had been enjoyable for most part, but also comes with a number of difficult moments. That got me prepared for what was to come in this build, well, sort of.

The model itself is of very standard quality from the era it was printed. Computer-drawn, solid colours, no weathering or effects. Paper and print quality is good. It comes with absolutely the most stellar hand-drawn instruction diagram I have ever seen in a cardmodel. Forget Fly or Halinski, this is the pinnacle in quality. The model is also bound with a full sheet of black-and-white poster of the cover image, though its purpose is unclear.
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Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_233003.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2020, 12:23 PM
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The nose cone is constructed first. I wouldn't have preferred a petal design, but the petals here are reasonably accurate. There should have been two machine gun ports and a transparent dome at the tip of the nose cone, none are part of the design and there is only a hint of the ports in the form of two ellipses. I did not risk messing up the part to add them...

Mismatching panel lines and skins that are too short can be seen in the following sections. Each makes a battle to their own, as one has to guess how much shorter/longer a part needs to be based on the proceeding section. An especially prominent gap is visible just after the nose cone, as that part was too short and there is no way I am modifying the nose cone itself. It will be patched later. The formers are inserted after the skin is made, to provide some additional support, at wherever place they end up at but certainly not at their intended positions.

The landing gear bay is similarly too short, length-wise. It is not long enough to span the full length of the opening on the fuselage, and had to be patched up with additional bits of card. These will be painted later.
Attached Thumbnails
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_232239.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_232247.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_232252.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_232303.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191029_232605.jpg  

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191031_232219.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191031_232233.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191031_232247.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191101_211648.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191101_211658.jpg  

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191101_211706.jpg  
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Old 03-01-2020, 12:32 PM
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The cockpit is inserted next. The cockpit 'tub' could not close on itself and bits have to be shaved from both end pieces, which in turn are of different shape to the fuselage sections. No detailing was added to the cockpit just yet as I (rather correctly) expected a lot of difficulty assembling it to the fuselage. The design intended the cockpit to attach all the way around the top half of the fuselage wall, in reality it could only be attached to the rims of the canopy and not further down.

The rear half of the fuselage is designed as a single assembled piece of former structure, so that was attached first.
Attached Thumbnails
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191101_211742.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191102_000146.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191102_000151.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191102_000155.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191031_232940.jpg  

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191104_203523.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20191104_203531.jpg  
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Old 03-01-2020, 12:37 PM
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By this point I concluded that nothing can be trusted. So rather than attaching the skins one-by-one, I assembled each side as one entire piece before attaching it on the fuselage. This revealed where one need to trim each part before they are committed. The slot on the formers intended for the engine exhausts also needs to be enlarged, and that part itself was attached to the skin first rather than attached to the fuselage, this is to make sure there is no visible gap by revealing where on the parts needed to be trimmed (every part did). Fortunately, most of the fitting errors can be tucked in to the ventral or dorsal seams, which are covered by additional structures. At the aft end where the propeller will eventually go, there is a slight (1mm) wedge not covered by the skin at the dorsal side and needs to be remedied at some point.

On the ventral side is a fin which would have been exactly 1mm thick and built around a piece of card. The fuselage dictated otherwise as too much white margin was left in the attachment area (1mm more towards each side at its widest). I had two options, to cover up the attachment area somehow with paint or coloured card, or to modify the fin itself. I picked the latter, and the fin is made wider at its base, straddling the attachment area. The rim of the fin is still 1mm.

On the dorsal side, there is a small air intake blended into a fin, as well as the area aft of the cockpit. Both have small fitting issues but their design makes it easy to eat up any fitting errors at the edges.

The kink and dimple in the rear fuselage stems from the shapes of the formers themselves and is a design issue, as the shape of the sections are not what they should appear in real life. Had I known this issue it would have been easy to fix, but right now I can only let it be. Hopefully it is not very visible once the canopy goes on.
Attached Thumbnails
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_211354.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_214332.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_214337.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_223211.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_223220.jpg  

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200229_223231.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200301_114713.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200301_114742.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200301_122205.jpg   Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-img_20200301_122220.jpg  

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Old 03-01-2020, 05:04 PM
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Looking really good, I've always liked the ass-ender.
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Old 03-01-2020, 05:54 PM
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Good beginning on this interesting WWII warplane.

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Old 03-01-2020, 06:04 PM
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This is a relatively old kit, so it is to be expected to have issues with the parts and the graphics. However, it is a unique model and really nice to see obscure aircraft designs ( too many Mustangs, Spitfires and Zeros models out there ). The Japanese Kyushu Shinden is very similar design.

I got to see the real plane some years ago in the Air Zoo museum in Kalamazoo Michigan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis..._Ascender).jpg



. Very interesting.

The US military joked about the airplane and really called it an "Ass Ender " due to the pusher configuration.


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Old 03-01-2020, 06:58 PM
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I was about to mention the Shinden: there is a lack of good kits and I really want to build one! Only ones I know is one from Maly 80's, and another from the same Orlik series. That Orlik one would have been on the table, but all build threads point to a significant design flaw that destroys the profile of the rear half of the model, not to mention the lesser issues with fitting and accuracy here and there. (Also it's out of stock everywhere.) Given the chance I'd like to design a new one if there is enough material to reference, or when I get the chance to see the real thing at the Udvar-Hazy center...

Still I'm surprised to hear the model being called 'old'... For cardmodels I had always had the concept that hand-drawn kits are 'old' and all things drawn by computers are 'new'. But, of course Isaac you are right, times change. Speaking of which, the Ascender model specifically states that it is 'designed by hand and traced by computer'. Little wonder then...
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Old 03-01-2020, 08:28 PM
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Exclamation

Lex


I built both versions of the Shinden. The Maly and the Orlik. My recommendation is to select the Orlik version as it is better graphics and you can work on some of its issues. Unless you redesign it and repaint it, that is the best way in my opinion.

Here is the Maly version
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-shinden-maly.jpg

The Orlik Shinden here:
Curtiss XP-55 Ascender 1:33 [Orlik]-shinden-orlik.jpg



and my build thread for the Orlik Shinden; You can see how I addressed some of them.
Orlik Kyushu J7W1 Shinden in 1/33 scale


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Old 03-02-2020, 05:27 AM
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I remember following that build! Your treatment was magnificent as usual and is one the best builds out there. (As I said back then, I would love internal details on this aircraft as well.)

On a side note, went on Ebay just now and found someone in the US has put up an Orlik Shinden to sale. Had to grab that immediately!
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