On January 18, 1911 Curtiss Aeroplane Company Exhibition pilot Eugene Ely made the first landing of a heavier than air craft aboard a naval vessel. Three months later on May 8, 1911 the purchase order for the US Navy's first aircraft, a Curtiss A-1 Triad, was signed. Naval Aviation was born.

       100 years later as part of the year long anniversary celebration the Heritage Paint Project was instituted. Front line Navy aircraft were repainted using camouflage schemes that represented earlier era's aircraft. One of these aircraft was an EA-18G Growler. For a short time during World War II each carrier's air group was assigned a geometric design that was painted on both sides of the vertical stabalizer and the upper right wing. A lightning bolt was the symbol for the USS Shangri-La's (CV38) Carrier Air Group 85(CVG-85, this was chosen for the Growler. A chart showing those markings and the name of the corresponding carrier can be found by following this link: U.S. Navy Carrier Air Group Identification Symbols, January 27, 1945 - July 27, 1945. The Growler was painted in a historically appropriate three color scheme that was used for a good part of World War II.

Curtiss A-1 Triad

       I came across this aircraft at the annual Sun N' Fun airshow in 2012 and decided to add a model of it to my collection. Luckily Hasegawa had recently released a model of the Growler in 1/48th scale, kit # 07314 EA-18G Growler 'VAQ-132 Scorpions', and Fightertown Decal offered for sale decal package # 48056 "Navair Centennial Tri-Tone Trifecta" which includes decals for 6 aircraft of the Heritage Paint Project including Growler 166889.

       The kit consists of 14 grey plastic trees, one clear tree and 1 soft plastic tree the detailed instruction sheet and decals for two different paint schemes for the same aircraft.

       Assembly begins with the cockpit which consists of 16 parts. The individual parts were air brushed before assembly. Adding to the attraction of the kit were the many decals for all of the instrument panels. I added strips of paper to represent the seat belts.

       The cockpit assembly then was assembled into the forward fuselage section. Be careful to pay attention to the special instructions printed on this part of the instruction sheet telling you to fill some holes and sand off some features.

       The main fuselage is assembled next begining with the ducting for the two engines. These assemblies are then glued to the main fuselage along with several antenae and the main wing center sections. The main fuselage upper and lower halves are then joined and the fuselage nose section is added. A little puttying was required here. Next the spoilers and flaps were glued to the wing center sections. I then scanned the instructions for any other pieces that should be assembled before painting.

       The landing gear and and associated doors were painted while still on their trees. Once dry, they were cut off and and any seam lines were cleaned up and assembled and a final coat of white was applied. I then sprayed a couple of coats of Micro Scale gloss on the assemblies and applied the decals to the landing gear.

       I then masked off the cockpit area in preparation for painting. The real aircraft is painted to simulate the three color camouflage that was in use for the middle years of World War Two.Instead of the original Non Specular Sea Blue (FS35042) The Growler's upper surface area is painted with FS35052. The vertical surfaces of World War Two aircraft were painted using Intermediate Blue (FS35164), on these areas of the Growler FS35240 was used. Finally the bottom of WWII aircraft were painted white, the bottom of the Growler along with several other areas were painted the original color of other EA-18Gs FS363275 Light Ghost Gray. The aircraft is a combination of masked off areas and straight line painting with a very fine air brush tip. The Fightertown Decal Instruction Sheet was very helpful in stating that there was "No direct bottling of FS35052 and FS35240 exist. However almost perfect matches are found in Testor's square bottles Dark Blue and Flat Blue respectively". These to paint colors were what I used in painting my model. The colors do a great job of matching the colors of the photographs of the real aircraft.

       Once the Paint had dried several coats of Microscale Gloss were applied to the aircraft and the mixture of the kit and Fightertown Decals were applied. The models was then sprayed with Microscale Flat until the gloss sheen had disappeared.

       I tried something new on this model. Usually when painting a aircraft's canopy I just mask off the outside of the part. This time I masked both the inside and outside. I painted both Testor's Aircraft Interior Black and then painted the exerior color , Testors Dark Blue. I was very happy with the results.

       Final assembly involved afixing the canopy using Testor's Clear Parts Cement, using super glue to place the landing gear and painting and attaching the boarding ladder.

       This was a great kit to work with and I enjoyed buildin a scale model that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation.

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