1/72 Rareplanes Lockheed Harpoon

Gallery Article by Carmel J. Attard on Aug 8 2019



The Harpoon was a development of the Ventura, a Lockheed design that was a follow-up of the Hudson that succeeded from model 14. The Harpoon resulted into a much greater capacity and better performance. The redesigned tail unit resulted in improved handling especially in single-engined flight. The bulkier design resulted in reduced speed by 20mph but on the positive side it was a longer range patrol bomber, with an increase over a ton payload and its range increased to 1,200 miles.

During the war the Harpoon was well established in service in the Pacific particularly in patrol missions and offensive actions. Besides serving with the US Navy, there were other foreign operators which included France, Brazil, Peru, Portugal, Netherland, South Africa, Italy and Japan and continued serving into the late 40s. When the Neptune came about the P2V Harpoons units hanged to reserve wings. Others went into civilian service and could still be spotted in airfields in Arizona.

In scale model form the Harpoon was first issued by Rareplanes as a vac form kit and more recent years by Special Hobby in injected form.

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Lockheed Harpoon
Make: Rareplanes
Scale: 1/72
Type: Vac-form kit with injected with injected props, tail wheel and legs
Cost: 9 Sterling

The kit
The Rareplanes kit is to the usual high standard with accurate moulding, good raised panel line detail and the kit comes complete with injection moulded propeller blades, tail wheel and main wheel legs. These come with well detailed instructions, 4-view drawing and an exploded view of the kit parts.

Construction starts with separating the parts that were marked with a pencil at the periphery, and scoring them with a sharp pointed knife before snapping them from the backing styrene sheet. This was followed by sanding each part on different abrasive sheets to remove excess plastic, checking frequently with scale plan drawings, normally down to the pencil markings at the edge of each part. The kit plastic is soft and one takes care to preserve the correct outline shape. 

Fuselage halves are dry fitted followed by cutting away areas at top turret, ventral gun position, cockpit area and astrodome, making frequent check with kit clear parts in order to ensure that areas cut away matched transparencies attachment areas. Careful checking these areas ensure that assembly goes smooth. Careful cutting of kit transparencies also contribute to accurate fitting of these parts on their respective location.

Slots were opened on fuselage sides to take wing-spar parts using a drill and pointed modelling blade. These spars when fitted give the correct wing dihedral when wings are slotted in. Rareplanes also provide cockpit floor, bulkhead and instrument panel and central console. The entire interior was painted cockpit grey green with seats painted dark brown and seat straps added from cut strips of masking tape. Two crew figures were also added to two front seats. Control column and throttle detail were shaped from stretch sprue and added to cockpit interior. Short strips were cut from plastic and added to fuselage halves to act as locating stabs. These will add strength and ensure correct alignment when fuselage halves are glued together. Fuselage was closed and held together with masking tape until dry. A little amount of filler was then added at seam followed by smooth sanding to blend parts. Wing spar was passed through slots and the wing halves were later fitted to fuselage via slots.

Tail fins, tail plane parts were prepared cut and sanded. These were added to the rear stagger opening recess. Turning to the wings, engine and nacelles, the detailed vac engines were also prepared and glued, so that the nacelles and cowling were brought and fixed to the wings. The engine fronts were cut round on the outside and were each inserted from rear of nacelles and pushed forward to their correct spot, glue added. These could be easily painted from front at a later stage. Finally air scoops and cooler intakes were opened by drilling with a small drill and shaped with a needle file. Wings were slotted to fuselage, blended with filler at the root and wing tanks added. Transparencies were added one by one and masked. Model was given a light grey coat and any blemishes that showed were attended to. Nose guns were made from hollow hypodermic needles that were cut to right length.

Finishing and Conclusion
The Rareplanes kit was built at a time when the Special Hobby Harpoon kit also came about. In fact I have made use of the SH decal sheet to complete the Rareplanes vac kit in Brazilian AF markings.  This version had dark gull grey top and white undersides. The propeller blades were painted black with yellow tips. All in all modelling the vac kit went smooth though this was more time consuming than building the Special Hobby kit. Both kits now make a nice pair from post war era.

Carmel J. Attard

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Photos and text by Carmel J. Attard