No doubt this would count as a minor type. But that doesn’t mean unimportant! This small fighter would be used by Sweden and The United States, and is an early step in the lineage of one of the truly important types of the war.
After the jump, the Seversky J9.
The first question here might be “the Seversky what now?” The manufacturer’s designation was the Seversky EP-106, which I’m sure helps none of us at all.
So the story goes, in the mid 1930s the US Army Air Force was looking for a modern fighter to replace the P-26. This would be the first generation of fighter with monocoque construction (the structural strength comes from the shape itself, NO external wires or struts like WWI aircraft had), retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit. It would be a true contemporary to the Hawker Hurricane. The two main competitors would come from Seversky and Curtiss. Both companies would get orders in the form of the P-35 and P-36; and these two types would be modified and compete against each other for international sales for the next five years. Generally, the Curtiss product would fair better.
This led to Seversky dealing with customers the US government would prefer he hadn’t, namely Japan and The Soviet Union. So when Alexander de Seversky traveled to Sweden in early 1939, he returned with the sale, but found he’d been fired from his own company. Even so, this type and its legacy was great. First, the design was pirated by Reggiane of Italy as the Re 2000. This was clearly an improvement over the J9, and would continue to be improved through the war years. Second, Seversky’s head designer, Alexander Kartveli, would improve the design a few times too. After the company was renamed “Republic” this led to the P-43 Lancer, and the P-47 Thunderbolt. Now tell me you don’t see a little P-47 in the J9!
So back to the original question, what exactly is the J9? Well when Seversky and the Air Force realized the P-35 would be obsolete as soon as it was delivered, and there would be a gap of 3-4 years before a significant improvement could be made; a few basic improvements were proposed that could be done quickly, like adding a newer version of the R-1830 engine with about 20% more power. Well the Air Force felt like further P-35 development was a dead end, so they passed. Sweden bought the type and called it “J9” for their own use. Funny twist though, after 60 aircraft had been delivered, Sweden ordered 60 more. But before those aircraft could be delivered, the US State Department embargoed Sweden because of their dealings with Nazi Germany. The US Army Air Force took over those aircraft, and designated them “P-35A”. Some were shipped out to the Philippines early 1941 and saw combat with the 34th Pursuit Squadron later that year. I’ll have more of that story when I get to the P-35A!
This is from the Hobbycraft kit. As is typical from that manufacturer, it is a very basic kit. And they use the same basic tooling for both P-35 and P-35A, which means compromises are made whichever you’re trying to build. The kit builds up easy enough, but I sure wish we’d see a more sophisticated tooling of this one.
~ up next: Citroen Traction 11 CV