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Curtiss Condor

Glencoe 1/81 Curtiss Condor Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review October 2007 Manufacturer Glencoe
Subject Curtiss Condor Scale 1/81
Kit Number 6101 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting subject, with great decals. New parts by Glencoe Cons Wing half options not all clear on instructions. A lot of work to make into a museum piece. Next to nil interior parts
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $14.98

First Look

Curtiss Condor
Curtiss Condor
Curtiss Condor
Curtiss Condor
Curtiss Condor
Curtiss Condor

The Curtiss T-32 Condor II, also known as the Curtiss-Wright CW-4, biplane airliner was even more of an anachronism than its namesake, the Condor 18 of four years earlier. Its only concession was the landing gear, its main units retracting into the engine nacelles. A two-bay biplane of mixed construction, with a wire braced single fin and rudder assembly, the T-32 prototype made its maiden flight on January 30, 1933. Layout for most of the production batch of 21 aircraft that followed was as a luxury 12-passenger night sleeper airliner, and a number of T-32s flew with Eastern Air Transport and American Airways during the following three years of regular night service.

Two modified T-32s were commission by the US Army as transports and operated until 1938 under the designation YC-30. One Condor was finished with extra fuel tanks as a long-range version for use by the 1933 Byrd Antarctic Expedition. It was equipped with twin-floats, skis, or a fixed landing gear.

Ten T-32 were ultimately converted to AT-32 standards and these were designated T-32C. Four T-32s operated under British civil registrations. At the outbreak of World War II these were impressed into the RAF and flown as light transports. Swissair also operated one AT-32. It was the first airliner in Europe to have a Stewardess, but sadly met a tragic end shortly after beginning service in March of 1934, when it crashed killing all on board.

Many other variants of the T-32 existed. The AT-32 differed from the T-32 in having variable-pitch propellers and full NACA cowling, in lieu to the T-32's Townsend rings. The AT-32D was developed as a 15-passenger day airliner. Two AT-32E aircraft were built for the US Navy and operated under the designation R4C-1 by the Navy and Marines as 12-passenger deluxe transports. Both were used by the US Antarctic Survey and were finally forced to be abandoned in the Antarctic in 1941. Eight examples of the BT-32 were finish as a bomber variant and equipped to have five .303 caliber machine guns, two in manual operated turrets in the nose and above the rear fuselage, two in lateral fuselage ports and one in a ventral port. The prototype was sold to China and three aircraft were re-equipped with floats and sold to Colombia, with four more land variants sold to Peru. Finally there was the CT-32, which was built as a military cargo version with a large-loading door in the starboard rear fuselage, all three being sold to Argentina. I built my kit as the colorful American Airways T-32 airliner.

Glencoe is a U.S. model company based in Northboro, Massachusetts. They buy up old model molds from the 50’s and 60’s from companies that went out of business; like ITC, Aurora, Pyro etc. These molds are refurbished by Glencoe and new decals, some new parts and new box arts are added.

This kit is a re-pop of an old ITC kit.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a Condor in the livery of American Air Airways, with a navy blue fuselage and bright orange wings. It also has bright orange scalloping down the sides of the fuselage and on the cowling fronts. The painting has it flying over what looks like New York. This is one of the marking options offered on the decal sheet.

Inside the box are medium gray parts that are in two cello bags. There are also 3 white metal parts and the clear cockpit and cabin windows. The decal sheet, instructions and a kit catalog complete the kit’s contents.

The first medium gray parts tree holds: one half of the fuselage, one have of a pontoon, pontoon support struts, the tail wheel and wing struts (9 parts).

The second medium gray tree holds the two halves of the upper wing. Flaps are molded solid into these.

The third medium gray tree holds: 2 propellers, the horizontal tail surfaces (flaps molded solid again) and more pontoon support struts (14 parts)

The fourth medium gray tree holds: 2 more pontoon halves, the main wheels,exhaust pipes, pilot – copilot – and one passenger molded into their seats and 2 landing gear struts (11 parts)

The pilot, copilot and passenger are the ONLY interior parts in the kit. You have to glue the sides of their seats to the fuselage walls, as there are no floorboards, bulkheads, dashboard or controls. The kits clear parts are about transparent as a glass Coke bottle bottom. So, unless you use Krystal Kleer liquid or some thin clear plasticard in the windows, you would not be able to see much inside anyways.

The fifth medium gray parts tree holds the 2 halves of the lower wing.

There is the other half of the fuselage, one half of a pontoon and two cowling pieces that are floating around loose.

There are three white metal engine face pieces. (only 2 are supposed to be in the kit, however a third one got into my kit at the factory). These appear to be alternates to plastic ones in the kit.

The smaller cello bag in the kit holds 3 trees of medium gray parts that Glencoe themselves have produced.

The first of these holds: the plastic engine faces, alternate tail wheel, engine support struts, and an exhust ring (6 parts)

The second Glencoe produced parts tree holds: 2 alternate wing halves,

The third Glencoe tree holds: cowling parts, alternate main wheels and more struts (14 parts)

The clear parts tree holds the cockpit transparancy and cabin windows (14 pieces)

The decal sheet, instructions and catalog complete the kits contents. The decal sheet is in perfect register and has been done by Scale-Master for Glencoe.

The instructions consist of consist of a single sheet, folded in the center into 4 pages.

Page one has a black and white repeat of the box art over an actual black and white photo of a real Condor in Argentine Navy markings (one of the markings offered on the decal sheet)

Below these is a listing of paint colors suggested for decorating the model. No brand name is mentioned, only the colors in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian languages.

A parts tree drawing shows the purely Glencoe produced parts in the kit. The bottom of the page has international assembly symbol explanations.

There is a short history of the Condor down the right hand side of this page. Followed by warnings that the kit is not suitable for kids under 3, in nine languages including English. Pages 2 and 3 have a total of five assembly steps, although step 4 is called out twice. Once for the wheeled version and once for the pontoon version.

Page 4 has three side view profiles and scrap drawings of the various wing markings for three schemes:

  1. The aircraft of the Byrd Antartic Expedition, on floats. In a dark blue and orange scheme. Some fuselage windows need to be deleted for this scheme
  2. An aircraft with the 1933 American Airlines. Subject of the box art and already discribed above, with wheeled undercarraige
  3. An aircraft of the Argentine Navy 1938 in overall light gray, with the fuselage code 2-Gt-11

The Argentine Navy aircraft had round windows, that are on the decal sheet. This means you will have to putty up the square windows on the model and cover them with the round ones.

There is a four page catalog included in the kit that shows the box arts for 12 aircraft kits, 2 NASA subjects, an experimental army hovercraft , 3 armor kits and 3 ships that Glencoe markets.

This kit will need a lot of work to make it better.