A Griffon'd P-40 goes to the races! 1/72 Kittiwake racer NX6291

Started by KiwiZac, November 26, 2019, 10:18:23 PM

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WA119 was one of a handful of Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwakes exported to the United States, sold at the June 1960 auction to Las Vegas doctor Bert Reilly. After reassembly in Florida it was first flown on November 12 as NX6291 and later ferried to Las Vegas. The aircraft was sporadically flown by Reilly for business commuting and recreation but after setting a point-to-point speed record between Las Vegas and Chicago, Reilly decided to modify the aircraft for air racing.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

The airframe was fitted with a more streamlined canopy, a specially tuned engine driving a new propeller with three broad-chord blades, and clipped wings with aerodynamic endplates. NX6291's first flight in racer configuration was on June 13 1964. Reilly campaigned the unpainted aircraft at the first Reno Air Races in September 1964 as Race 91 and placed fifth. The following June Reilly competed at Los Angeles but was less successful, placing tenth. Three months later the pair were back at Reno but did not finish due to engine issues, having to withdraw during the heats.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

During the off season the aircraft was finally painted, receiving an overall blue scheme with yellow spinner, wing stripes and race number on the tail and wings. The run of bad luck continued as while en route to the 1966 Los Angeles races Reilly took ill in mid-air had to land at Barstow, missing the event while he was hospitalised for a week with a stomach ailment.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

Interviewed by a local newspaper ahead of the Reno races that September Reilly was optimistic about his chances as he had been regularly flying Race 91 and tuning the Griffon for optimum performance. Tragically his dreams of victory were not to be. During practice on September 23 one of the propeller blades sheared off, sending the aircraft out of control into the desert floor near one of the race pylons. Reilly, aged 47, was killed on impact and the aircraft destroyed.

Academy 1/72 P-40M/N as Curtiss-Fairey Kittiwake WA119/NX6291 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

When I created the Kittiwake story the Reno racer was just a fun little throwaway based on the books of the races from the local library. Not many P-40s have raced over the years and, from memory, none of them were modified in the style of the P-51s etc (one did get a streamlined canopy – inspiration for this! – but I believe it never raced) so I figured a Griffon-powered variant would be ideal.

The kit was the Academy P-40M/N (my standard base for Kittiwakes) with an Academy Ju-87G prop and spinner, Revell P-47D canopy and exhausts and pilot from my spares box. The wing endplates are simple rectangles of clear styrene and the decals are from various sources including – most conveniently – the slightly rearranged registration from a Minicraft 1/48 Bonanza. One day I may add the gear doors (lost over several house moves) but don't count on it ;).

I started this build about three years ago but stalled for reasons I don't recall, and have had a very enjoyable time in recent days expanding on both airframe and story as well as the build itself. I hope you like it!
Zac in NZ
#avgeek, modelbuilder, photographer, writer. Callsign: "HANDBAG"


[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]



- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..


I LOVE the look of that Zac!  :wub:

The use of the P-47D canopy in reverse is inspired!  :thumbsup:
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.


Very cool.  :thumbsup:

I once used a reversed P-51 hood as a windscreen on a He 100 racer.


-Sprues McDuck-

Captain Canada

Who doesn't like a story with a happy ending !  ;)

Great little read and even better model. Looks great like that, and an idea I'd like to remember as she looks fun to fly about the room. Cheers !
CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

Long Live the Commonwealth !!!
Vive les Canadiens !
Where's my beer ?