KITTY HAWK
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KITTY HAWK
Amplifiers and speaker cabinets currently produced in Enschede, The Netherlands since the late 1980s. Previously produced in Germany during the late 1970s and 1980s.
In the late 1970s, two German brothers, Wolfram and Gundolf Roy, had a company called Applied Acoustics located in Bochum, West Germany. Applied Acoustics was the authorized importer/distributor for Mesa Boogie and Dumble amplifiers for the European market at the time.
In the early 1980s, the high U.S. Dollar rate and even higher shipping costs created very expensive prices for Mesa Boogie and Dumble amps to be distributed in Europe. Applied Acoustics made an agreement with Howard Dumble that he would ship amplifiers without a cabinet and speaker to save on shipping costs. Then, the combo-cabinets were hand-made in Germany. At that time, a Mesa/Boogie Mark I was even more expensive than a Dumble Overdrive Special! Also, if customers wanted an added reverb or effects loop, Applied Acoustics was authorized by Dumble to make these adjustments. Therefore, a lot of technical details regarding Dumble amps were shared with Applied Acoustics.
Dumble hand-built each amp himself, and as Dumble amps gained popularity worldwide lead-time for a completed amp increased dramatically. With a lead time of six to nine months, Applied Acoustics decided to build there own amp, the Kitty Hawk Amp. The first Kitty Hawk Amp is an exact copy of a silverface Dumble Overdrive Special, even using the same U.S.-made components.
When Dumble realized his amps were being copied, he immediately began to cover the preamp circuit with a thick layer of epoxy to protect his circuits so no one could see exactly what components he was using. He also halted distribution to Applied Acoustics, although the damage had already been done.
The Kitty Hawk Amp was the first direct copy of a Dumble Overdrive Special with a single master volume control and two preamp volume (or overdrive) controls. When Kitty Hawk decided to copy the blackface Overdrive Special with two master volumes, one for each channel, and two overdrive controls, they changed the name "Amp" to "Standard." The new Kitty Hawk was now called the Custom Series.
Kitty Hawks sold very well in Germany and the Netherlands, and they soon began copying the still expensive Mesa/Boogie Mark I, naming it the Kitty Hawk Junior. A successor, named the Kitty Hawk Model 4, was built sometime in 1984, and was based on a Mesa/Boogies Mark II.
The Kitty Hawk Amp, Standard, Custom Series, Junior and Model 4 all featured a Golden Eagle and handwritten fonts were used. High quality, mostly U.S-built, components were used in these amplifiers. The Amp, Standard and Custom had high quality hardwood cabinets and were available as combo or head-unit versions. A combo was also available equipped with an Electro Voice EVM-12L speaker. The junior was only available as a combo in hardwood or black Tolex, with an EVM-12L or Celestion speaker. Today, these amps continue to be very popular in Europe because of their distinguished sound and high quality.
In the mid-1980s the production quantities increased rapidly but the quality decreased. Some amps built in this period include the Junior Series 1, Supreme Series 1, Triumph Series 1, The Kid, M1, and M5.
In the late 1980s, the quality became so poor that several retailers refused to sell Kitty Hawk anymore, because of the high amount of problems. Poor quality as well as some legal problems forced Kitty Hawk to stop sales and production soon thereafter.
A Dutch Kitty Hawk dealer took over the production and brand name. These models do not have the Golden Eagle logo and are totally different amplifiers compared to the original ones.
Today, Kitty Hawk is still produced in small quantities in the Netherlands and is still sold in the Netherlands. In 1997, they featured the Apache guitar amps that were available in 50W, 100W, and 150W variations along with matching speaker cabinets. They have also produced preamps, power amps, and other accessories. These amplifiers, however, have nothing in common with the old Kitty Hawks. Many reviews indicate that Kitty Hawk did not produce any models during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the are currently building again.
The author would like to thank Nick Meuwese for his contributions to the Kitty Hawk section.

From Blue Book Publications:


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