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Fri, Sep 08, 2023

Aero-TV: ScaleBirds Seeks P-36 Replica Beta Builders

It’s a Small World After All…

Founded in 2011 by pilot, aircraft designer and builder, and U.S. Air Force veteran Sam Watrous, Uncasville, Connecticut-based ScaleBirds is about the noble mission or salting the kit-plane marketplace with unique, radial-engine-powered, down-scaled replicas of iconic WWII aircraft.

Currently in its prototype phase, ScaleBirds’s initial offering is a 55-percent scale P-36 Hawk. Once thoroughly vetted and certificated, the type will be the first in what Watrous and his crack team of engineers, fabricators, and artists have dubbed the company’s LiteFighters series.

Tipping the scales at a maximum gross weight of 1,232-pounds and powered by a single, 124-horsepower, seven-cylinder, air-cooled Verner Scarlett 7U radial engine turning a three-blade fixed-pitch propeller, ScaleBirds’s P-36 replica manages a maximum level-flight speed of 130-knots, a Vne of 158-knots, a dive speed of 176-knots, and a sea-level stall-speed (presumable Vso) of 54-knots.

While the prototype’s airframe is stressed to a maximum of +3.8 G, the production aircraft will be capable of handling up to +4.4 G and engaging in light aerobatics—the likes of barrel rolls and the occasional Immelmann.

ScaleBirds’s prototype P-36 replica, N936SB (imagine the 9 as a backwards “P”) is the company’s alpha build. Watrous and company are currently accepting applications for beta builders—experienced pilot/builders whose construction experiences will inform further development of the machine.

To the subject of why its inaugural offering is patterned after Curtiss’s relatively obscure P-36, ScaleBirds et al. set forth: “First: It's cool.

“Second: It is extremely under appreciated. The P-36 saw combat from Day One (for America) and was credited with two of the first aerial victories of the War at Pearl Harbor. That said, the P-36 was already being flown by the French, the Finns, and RAF and they would continue to see service throughout WWII.  Heck, the Argentinians flew it through the 1950s!  The Hawk represents the first-generation of warbirds; what better way for us to start out our project than at the beginning.

“Third: The P-36 is a great place to start to show off the modularity of the LiteFighter concept. We plan to convert the design to a P-40 which primarily only requires changes from the firewall forward. As the successor to the P-36 in the Curtiss line, the P-40 is the natural choice to evolve the ScaleBirds line. The P-40 is an iconic fighter of the early war years, represented by the Flying Tigers in China, or the RAF and Free French in North Africa.  More importantly, the basic design is so extremely similar that our builders can choose to build either the P-36 or the P-40 depending on the engine they want to use.  Furthermore, we have already begun preliminary design concepts using the existing LiteFighter design to modify the basic fuselage, empennage, and wing structure to build an A6M Zero, FW190, and P-47.

“Fourth: We have a great partnership with Verner Motor and wanted an aircraft that can show off these excellent, modern radial engines.

“Lastly: It has never been done. While we at ScaleBirds love Spitfires, Corsairs, and Mustangs; they have all been done before.  We wanted something uniquely ScaleBirds.

“Having completed and successfully flown the P-36 prototype, ScaleWings has set out to identify a qualified group of beta-builders—the construction experiences of which will inform further development of the model.”

Aero-TV is a production of the Internationally syndicated Aero-News Network. Seen worldwide by hundreds of thousands of aviators and aviation adherents, ANN's Aero-TV has produced over 5000 aviation and feature programs, including nearly 2000 episodes of our daily aviation news program, AIRBORNE UNLIMITED, currently hosted by Holland Lee. Now in its third decade of operation, parent company Aero-News Network, has the most aggressive and intensive editorial profile of any aviation news organization and has published nearly a half-million news and feature stories since its inception -- having pioneered the online 24/7 aviation new-media model that so many have emulated.

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