Airfix 1/48 P-40B Warhawk
|PRICE:||Including shipping: $34.00|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit (2016)|
In the late 1930s, Curtiss was the main supplier of fighter aircraft to the USAAC. Looking for a way to increase the speed of its planes, they went with a rather simple conversion of its P-36 radial engine fighter into the liquid cooled V-12 powered P-40. Of course there was more to it that simply plugging in a new engine, but the basic airframe harkened to the earlier P-36. The result was a plane that, while not a world beater, was better than what came before it and with the seeming inevitability of the US being involved in conflict, it was put into production.
The early P-40 had several things going for it. It was fast, it was rugged and it was fairly well armed for the time. The type first saw combat with the British in North Africa and later with the Flying Tigers in Burma and China. It was quickly supplanted by the even more heavily armed and heavier P-40D/E, but kept on fighting until it was obviously obsolete.
Over the decades, those who like P-40s have been quite vocal on needing a replacement for the old Monogram 1/48 kit, which harkens to the late 1960s. Several others have tried and the pickers of nits have pointed out the usual long list of errors in the kits. The most recent kit from Bronco took care of most of those concerns, save that the canopy was too rounded and the control surface detail just wasn't right. Neither really detracts from the finished product all that much as you can see from my build of the Bronco kit.
Nevertheless, modelers were waiting for this one from Airfix. Besides brand loyalty, the less detailed Airfix version promised to be less expensive. After a delay caused by CAD drawings that showed some major issues, we now have the kit that most have been awaiting.
The general detail level of the kit is quite good, but parts of that detailing are marred by ejector pin marks. These can be found on the interior sidewall pieces, the fuselage interior itself, the inside of the gear doors, the forward bulkhead, and the inside of the gear wells. None of these will be easy to remove. The pilot figure has a huge sink area in his abdomen.
Interior is nicely done with a proper curved floor. There are separate sidewall pieces with decals to perhaps cover some of those ejector pin marks. The kit provides a separate fuel tank facade to fit behind the rear bulkhead, which is nice. You are also provided with two different seats depending on which decal option you will be using. No belts are included. There is a decal for the instrument panel, this piece also including the rudder pedals.
Up front we have a nicely done intake section that provides radiator detail. Like the Bronco kit, there are a lot of separate bits used to make up the nose, so one will need to be cautious during assembly in this part. I'm not sure why there are separate upper cowling inserts for the nose guns, but there are. The guns in their fairings fit into grooves in these inserts. The kit also has separate wing roots which is also a bit different.
Wheel wells are a separate piece that fit into the lower wings. I noticed that there is a hole flashed over that would accept a landing light (which is included), but no indication of it being used. Also separate are the landing gear 'knuckles' that fit on the forward wing once the two halves are glued together. There are no separate ailerons or flaps with this one. Fabric detailing is nicely done. On the tail section, there is a separate rudder and elevators. The separate C shaped rudder hinge is not included. Both open and closed cowl flaps are part of the kit, though there is no actuating rod as on the Bronco kit. Landing gear is nicely done and one can build it either extended or retracted with separate bits provided for both options.
The prop assembly is six pieces and can be fit into the airframe to allow it to spin once all has been painted. You get both styles of pitot tube, again, dependent on which markings option you choose. The armored windscreen piece is included as you get a canopy for the open and one for the closed position. Two windscreens are provided with one having a rear view mirror. There is no external gun sight.
Instructions are typical Airfix with only Humbrol paint numbers provided. Actual paint names are given in the color camo and markings scheme. First is the box art plane with the 47th PS based in Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack. The other is a Flying Tiger aircraft of RT Smith in June 1942 just before the disbanding of the unit. There are lots of aftermarket decals out there including the new one from Starfighter Decals if you wish something different. Kit decals are nicely printed and you should have no issues with them.
So is this the kit the enthusiasts have been awaiting? I'd say yes. It is lacking the level of detail that one gets in the Bronco kit, and it has its issues (such as the ejector pin marks), but then it is provided at a reasonable price and will make into a super model when done. As a note, I preordered this from Hornby USA. It took 9 days to get to me (Seattle to St. Louis), by which time it had been in stores for nearly a week and I had to pay shipping. Why a company that imports from the UK is based in Seattle is beyond me. I'd recommend not preordering any kit from them if you are in a hurry to get it.
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