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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Siga Martin AM-1 Mauler

I have a lot of USN models in the display cabinet in Gloss Sea Blue markings. Even an ancient rivetty Airfix TBM Avenger, which I need to replace with the newer tool Hasegawa version. But I have always liked the simple color scheme with its white insignia. So I decided to go to that well once again when beginning work on today’s finished model, the Martin AM-1 Mauler.

The Mauler was designed as a shipboard attack aircraft in the late stages of WW2. The design had as its competition the Curtiss XBTC, Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK, and of course the Douglas Skyraider, which it rather resembles. The Boeing XF8B might have been in the mix too, if only because the look is so similar. The first flight was in August of 1944. The Mauler did make it into carrier service with six attack squadrons but eventually lost out to the Skyraider’s greater reliability and handling qualities. I’ve actually seen one of the surviving airframes at the Chino museum in California, and there appears to be one in Tillamook Oregon as well.

The kit is from Siga/Ace, a short-lived company from Ukraine that managed to produce a short series of postwar USN types before vanishing. They are somewhat crude short-run kits, with soft details and large sprue gates. Fit was exactly as you would expect, and required a fair amount of putty and sanding. No effort was made to replicate the type’s unusual comb flaps, and I have heard there are issues with the location of the wheel wells. Neither of which stopped me. The kit does have petite engraved panel lines.

Siga decals are a bit notorious, though they do look ok in the box (what til you hear about the FJ-1’s decals). I did manage to get these off the backing sheet and onto the model without major mishap, though they are very thin and are prone to curling up on themselves if you are not fastidious. The markings are for a Dallas NAS aircraft in 1951.

Generally, I was satisfied with the result. The CzechMaster resin kit is likely more detailed, but I am always more comfortable with plastic if I can get it. And the Mauler fits my enjoyment of obscure aircraft types (likely the least-recognized USN aircraft that actually made it into wide squadron service). I did about have a coronary when googling for information on the type: there is an unbuilt example on ebay running for $65! Too bad I didn’t have an extra.

This is completed model #408 (#33 for the year), finished in June of 2012.

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