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Czech Model 1/48 SO3C Seamew Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2005 Manufacturer Czech Model
Subject SO3C Seamew Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4817 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Clean, crisp injection-molded parts, nice resin detailing Cons Canopies molded closed
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The SO3C was designed by Curtiss to replace an earlier shipboard observation aircraft version - the SOC Seagull. Where the Seagull was a bi-wing floatplane that could operate off of catapults aboard USN combatants, the Seamew was designed to be a mid-wing monoplane. Powered by the inverted V-12 Ranger engine, the Seamew didn't exactly perform as intended.

Nicknamed the "reluctant dragon" by Curtiss employees, the SO3C was reluctant to take-off and was always dragging. Nevertheless, in the early stages of the war, the US pressed every potential aircraft into service and the Seamew went to sea - but not for long.

Due to persistent safety and performance problems with the type, the Navy kept the Seamew in service an average of two months before replacing it with refurbished versions of the aircraft it was supposed to replace - the SOC Seagull! Nevertheless, the aircraft did perform marginally better as a landplane and a number of examples served with the US Coast Guard and the UK.

In its continuing adventure into untouched territory, Czech Model has released another aircraft that has never been offered in styrene in 1/48 scale. Czech Model continues to improve the quality of its injection molding with each release and this kit is definitely looking great!

Molded in medium gray styrene, the SO3C kit comes on two parts trees to provide the basic airframe details and includes a number of nicely cast resin parts to provide the front and rear cockpits, as well as visible engine details. The canopy is styrene, but as you can see, it is molded in the closed position. With all of that beautiful interior detailing, this means there will be some canopy surgery required to show off the interiors.

Despite the significant improvements in molding in this kit, it is still classified as a limited production model and with the use of resin parts and no locator pins/slots for the wing-fuselage joints, some good modeling experience will be needed to get a nice result.

A comment about the Czech Model instructions. Whoever is doing the instruction sheets for these kits should get an award. These are some of the simplest, clearest instructions I've seen in any kit. I can look at any step and not have a question about where any part should be oriented or placed. Nice job!

The SO3C includes a set of beaching gear so you can pose the aircraft on the ramp. If you want to model the landplane version, you'll need to do a little scratchbuilding.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • SO3C-2, BuNo 4857, USS Denver, 1943
  • SO3C-3, BuNo unk, USS Biloxi, 1944, "War Junk"

This is a very nice-looking kit and should build up into an even nicer example of this understated aircraft.

You can find this kit at your local hobby retailer or directly from Squadron Mail Order (

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!