Batplane 1940's
Built & Painted by
Philippe Maurice

The styrene 1/48 scale model is as simple snap-on kit to which I have modified wings and body with dremel tools. I have fashioned the Dynamic Duo from other figures and modified the cockpit to now allow for two pilots. Historically, by Spring 1940 Batman had replaced his autogyro with the first of several open-cockpit, mid wing, single-prop monoplane versions. Initially displaying a water-cooled machine gun mounted on the front, by 1942 his planes had become an enclosed-cockpit, low wing version that featured gently scalloped, batlike wings with a conventional fuselage, tail assembly and retractable undercarriage – which this model attempts to demonstrate!

I find that the model kit easiest to convert is the Curtiss P-40 or P-40E series. The shape is consistent with many of Bob Kane’s airplane interpretations, though admittedly, the version sometimes changes even in the same story! Here I took the 2001 New-Ray Toys Co. Ltd., Kowloon, Hong Kong kit #20215F1 to which after dremelling the body, adding batflaps, etc, I airbrushed deep blue fuselage with flat black undercarriage. My proudest success is making both Batman and Robin, who are seated and looking out for adventure!

A few weeks later, I came across a Balsa wood model kit. I have never worked wood but again I was inspired to convert the Guillow’s Grumman TBF Avenger Navy WW2 Torpedo Bomber kit #509 into a Batplane. Here the mid wing design was lowered slightly, and the cockpit was modified to remove the back gunner’s turret entirely. By also extending the back rudder design right to a modified cockpit the fuselage line became aerodynamically pleasing and consistent with the comics’ designs. Again the period I chose to recreate represents presumably post 1942 and probably no later than 1946 or so. The Bathood is actually from a modified Barbie doll swimsuit support attached to the plane’s nose cowl ! I give credit to my young daughter for the “donation.”  The eyes and ‘face’ line are simply decals cut out from the original kit’s markings. I gave my version a tail wheel and scalloped wheel flap covers consistent with the comic book look. To create the large scalloped wing span I purchased extra Balsa, drew several patterns until one satisfied me and then scored the design on the Balsa but only after I had glued the trailing edge. This allowed to compensate for any wing ribs which might interfere. I never completed the plane. I chose to leave off the tissue skin because I found the ‘skeletal’ look actually appealing. I installed the rubber band to the propeller. The Batman torso is cut out from the 1989 McDonalds premium and painted blue-purple.