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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby Delta 1D/1E "US Transport Plane"
1:72 Scale



In the early 1930s, the evolution of the airplane was expanding rapidly in terms of the diversity of aircraft design and engineering sophistication.  At the leading edges of these changes was Jack Northrop.  In 1932, his new Northrop Aircraft Corporation (founded with Donald Douglas) developed a new cargo aircraft known as the “Delta.”  It was not as prominent, numerous, or historically significant an aircraft as the DC-3, for example, but the Delta was significant on other ways, including paving the way for future Northrop and Douglas aircraft designs.  Once again, Special Hobby has taken on a unique subject that other manufacturers haven’t gone near – the Delta 1D/1E, and here, we review their 1:72 scale kit of the airplane.    

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In 1932, Jack K. Northrop set up the Northrop Corporation as a joint venture with Douglas Aircraft.  Their first projects were the Gamma (a high-speed mailplane) and the closely related Delta (a passenger aircraft/transport).  The Delta was an all-metal, low-wing, single-engine monoplane with a fixed tailwheel.  The Delta differed from the Gamma with aerodynamic wheel spats and a wider fuselage that could accommodate eight passengers seated behind the cockpit.  The first Delta was flown in May 1933.

The Delta was marketed as both an airliner and executive transport, but in October 1934, those plans were effectively dashed by new federal regulations prohibiting the use of single-engine aircraft to carry passengers at night or over rough terrain.  Only three Deltas had been produced by that time.  Eight Delta 1D executive aircraft were built, and included one 1D aircraft designated the Northrop RT-1.  The RT-1 was powered by a Cyclone powerplant.  Early in its life, this airplane was the personal transport of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury.

By my count, 33 Deltas were manufactured by Northrop.  Small batches of Deltas were produced for a diversity of customers, including Mexico, Spain, Canada, and Sweden.  Military operators included the United States, Spain, and Australia.  In 1935, Canada selected the Delta as a photographic survey aircraft for the RCAF.  The last Delta built by Northrop was a unassembled airframe provided to Canadian Vickers who then had a production run that went on until October 1940.  The Delta performed admirably in this role, and at the outbreak of WWII, Canadian Deltas filled in as coastal patrol and anti-submarine aircraft.  The Delta was withdrawn from the front line units in late 1941.

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Special Hobby’s 1:72 scale Delta kit comes on four sprues amounting to 81 parts (about 20 go unused in this version of the kit).  An additional single part (a new tail wheel) comes in a small clear plastic bag.  One dozen clear parts come on a single clear sprue.  The instructions guide the assembly over 11 steps.  Markings for three Deltas are included:

Strengths:  As time goes on, Special Hobby’s kits just keep getting better.  The Delta 1D/E is based on their 2017 new-tool kit, and there’s now a small family of their Special Hobby Deltas emerging in 1:72 scale.  Furthermore, it’s a really nice little kit of a unique subject with really interesting marking options. 
Shape and sizes look accurate.  The kit also accounts for the overall configuration differences between the two Delta variants here (double versus triple bladed prop; wheel spat differences, antenna configurations).  The parts breakdown, especially for the major assemblies, is simple and well designed.  Panel lines are all recessed and they are nicely scaled for 1:72 scale – not too wide or too deep.  The cockpit and cabin are provided (but see below).  Other parts, such as the engine, are really nicely cast and well-detailed for 1:72 scale.  I test fit the wings and fuselage halves, and while there are no locating pins anywhere, overall fit looks very good.  The clear parts are crystal clear and free of blemishes.

There are only three markings options, but they are all really interesting.  The RAAF airplane has a very interesting history as what I believe was the 1E previously operated in Ellsworth’s 1935 Cross-Antarctic Flight.  Later, this civilian aircraft became part of the Royal Australian Air Force and was written off in 1944.  The two other markings options are of the RT-1.  The earlier incarnation as Secretary Morganthau’s USCG is gorgeous – natural metal and a red, white and blue rudder.  Later, the RT-1 went to war in support of the US Army Corp of Engineers, and the other option is the RT-1 as it appeared in North Africa.  The decals were printed by AviPrint, and they look quite good.  All looks to be in register and the colors look great. 

Weaknesses: A few things to note:  while Special Hobby is improving and specifically their molds are improving, there are still a few large-ish sprue gates attaching parts such as the wings and fuselage.  There are some very fine connections that attach to the smallest of parts such as pitot tubes, elevator hinges, and antenna masts.  So it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  The wing surfaces are fairly smooth, but the fuselage exterior surfaces are grainy to the touch.  Especially if you’re going to do the USCG Mogenthau scheme (like me!) you will want to sand and polish the surfaces until they are smooth.  The interior is basic, and could surely use more detail such as seatbelts.  Also, note there are a few nasty ejection pin marks on the inside walls of the cabin interior and you will want to clean those up, too.     

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This is a really nice little kit that has a surprising degree of allure.  It’s not ideal for beginners but modelers with a little experience building limited run injection molded kits should have a lot of fun with this kit.  A little extra time in parts prep and cleanup will go a long way to bring out the best in this kit of the golden age of between-the-wars aviation.   

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample.  You can visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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