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Consolidated P-30
 

by Tom Teliczan

Background

The P-30 was the first production aircraft ordered by the Army Air Corps with retractable landing gear, an enclosed and heated cockpit (for the pilot), and an exhaust driven turbo-supercharger. It was also the only two seat fighter to enter service with the Air Corps.

Fifty P-30As entered service with the Air Corps in 1935, joining four service test P-30 versions of the Y1P-25. Shortly afterward, the P-30As were redesignated PB-2A (for Pursuit Biplace) and the P-30s, PB-2s. PB-2As served with a number of Air Corps squadrons including the 27th and 94th Pursuit Squadrons of the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan and the 33rd, 35th and 36thPS of the 8th PG at Langley, Virginia. Some PB-2As served at various depots until 1942.

 

 

Power for the PB-2A came in the form of a Curtiss Conqueror V-1570-61 V-12 engine with a GE form F-3 turbo-supercharger which developed 700h.p. at 15,000 ft. Armament consisted of two .30 cal. machine guns firing through the propeller and one .30 cal. gun facing aft.

Max speed was 275 mph at 25,000 and cruising speed was 215mph. Compared to other fighters of its day, the PB-2A was a fairly large aircraft weighing in at 4,306 lbs. empty and 5,643 lbs at max load. It had a wingspan of 43'11" and a length of 30'.


Why I decided to tackle my first ever vac kit...

I built this Sierra vacform 1/48 scale kit as a gift for my dad who flew in the PB-2A as a rear seat gunner.

In 1938 Hub Zemke was my dad's pilot. I've got a photo of the side of his PB-2A and where the crew info is posted it reads: Airplane Commander-Lt. Zemke, Aerial Gunner-Pvt. Teliczan. This info was painted on aircraft 35-34, which was a 36th PS airplane and not the one I built, which was aircraft 35-22 of the 27th PS.

My dad wanted the model painted up in the markings of airplane 35-22 because that is the ship he spent most of his time flying around backwards in (150+ hours)!

I think that flying in the PB-2A was my dad's only experience at being part of a flight crew. He really wanted to be a pilot but his eyesight wasn't good enough for him to pursue that type of job. The remainder of his Air Force career was spent as an aircraft mechanic and then being involved with training. He had a field commission in North Africa during WWII.

I think its very cool that my dad started out as a private and ended up retiring a Lt. Colonel after 32 years in the Air Force!


Construction

Here are some specs on the kit. It's built pretty much out of the box.

For my first vacform kit, the basic assembly went together rather well. I had many a pause in construction trying to figure out how I was going to build up certain pieces, then areas and finally how it was supposed to all fit together-i.e., which step came when!

 

 

I substituted the kit vacuum formed wheels with some Hobbycraft P-35 wheels and I didn't use the kit supplied cockpit sidewalls. I used a lot of pieces from a Cutting Edge P-40 resin cockpit set to dress up the interior. These pieces included the pilot's area sidewalls, floorboard and the pilot's seat. The CE pieces had to be modified in order to fit the shape of the PB-2A. I did use the kit supplied instrument panel but I also modified it by adding some fuel selector and magneto switches. The gunner's area is pretty much stock including the sidewalls and floorboard. I added some True Details seatbelts to the kit supplied seat and added a couple of tiny pieces of stretched sprue to the machine gun for sights.

 

 

The forward firing machine gun blast tubes, the radio mast inside the glass area and the pitot tube are hypodermic needles. The oil cooler inlet was given some depth by cutting a drinking straw to shape. Sheet styrene was used to box-in the coolant radiator inlet and the intercooler inlet in order to give them some depth. Tiny pieces of sheet styrene also make up the longitudinal braces on the turbo-supercharger. I used a super fine mesh screen for the oil cooler, coolant radiator and the intercooler to give the illusion of cooling fins. These screens were super glued onto a piece of sheet styrene and painted flat black. Once the black was dry the mesh detail was picked out by dry brushing them with silver.

Brake lines were made from strands of fine electrical wire. The wintip-to wingtip antenna was made using a super fine filament called "Invisible Thread". The vertical part of the antenna is stretched sprue. Fine piano wire was cut and bent to shape to simulate the grab handles on the fuselage sides.

 

Painting and Markings

I airbrushed Floquil Conrail Blue and Railbox Yellow for the exterior colors. The diagonal strip was masked off and painted yellow the same time the wings and tail feathers were painted. These colors were sprayed on flat and then gloss coated using Testors gloss coat lacquer. The exterior canopy frames were hand-painted blue and the interior frames hand-painted silver. The interior was painted with regular Testors silver out of a spray can and then highlighted with a flat black wash. The exhaust system was also highlighted with a flat black wash. All markings used were with kit supplied decals. The markings on my kit represent a PB-2A of the 27th PS, 1st PG out of Selfridge Field Michigan, 1937.

 

 

Being my first vac kit, I was leery of doing it. I had many a mental block while working on the PB-2A. Sometimes I wouldn't touch the kit for weeks! As a result, it took me approximately six years to finish this airplane. A lot of times I just wanted to put it back on the shelf and forget about it, but since I was building it for my dad.............This project was definitely a "labor of love"!

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Photographs and Text Copyright 2004 by Tom Teliczan and Testor Corporation