Airfix 1/48 Tomahawk Mk.II
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
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.
This is the second boxing of this kit provided by Airfix and as one might guess, this is simply a decal change. Airfix has taken some heat from fans of the type from their using a restored airframe instead of factory drawings for this kit and as a result got the area behind the radiator exhaust, the 'nun's hat' feature incorrect.
Nevertheless, modelers were waiting for this one from Airfix. Besides brand loyalty, the less detailed (compared to the Bronco kit) 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. 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.
Markings are provided for two RAF Tomahawks. One is the box art plane with 26 squadron, an army cooperation squadron, based in the UK in 1941. It has the standard day fighter scheme of dark green and dark earth over sky. The underside of the right wing outboard of the landing gear is black. The other is from 112 squadron in Libya during 1941. It is in dark earth and mid stone over azure blue. Gotta have a shark mouth option with a P-40,eh? Decals are nicely printed and should prove to work quite well.
So is this the kit the enthusiasts have been awaiting? Well, rabid fans of the type will say no, but as an average modeler, 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. Indeed, when I built the initial boxing (here is the link), I was very pleased with the result despite the underside glitch. I have no doubt that this one will be pretty much the same and with the different markings options, may be just what you are looking for.
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