Hasegawa 1/32 P-40N Warhawk

KIT #: 08232
PRICE: 3680 yen (about $38.00) discounted at Hobby Link Japan (4600 yen SRP)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 502 FS boxing

HISTORY

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

P-40s first saw combat with the British Commonwealth squadrons of the Desert Air Force in the Middle East and North African campaigns, during June 1941. No. 112 Squadron Royal Air Force, was among the first to operate Tomahawks in North Africa and the unit was the first Allied military aviation unit to feature the "shark mouth" logo, copying similar markings on some Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighters.

The P-40's lack of a two-stage supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. Between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific and China. It also had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy. The P-40's performance at high altitudes was not as important in those theaters, where it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort and fighter bomber. Although it gained a post-war reputation as a mediocre design, suitable only for close air support, recent research including scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons, indicates that the P-40 performed surprisingly well as an air superiority fighter, at times suffering severe losses but also taking a very heavy toll of enemy aircraft. The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter. In 2008, 29 P-40s were airworthy.

The P-40N (manufactured 194344), the final production model. The P-40N featured a stretched rear fuselage to counter the torque of the larger, late-war Allison engine, and the rear deck of the cockpit behind the pilot was cut down at a moderate slant to improve rearward visibility. A great deal of work was also done to try and eliminate excess weight to improve the Warhawk's climb rate. Early N production blocks dropped a .50 in (12.7 mm) gun from each wing, bringing the total back to four; later production blocks reintroduced it after complaints from units in the field. Supplied to Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IV. A total of 553 P-40Ns were acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force, making it the variant most commonly used by the RAAF. Sub-variants of the P-40N ranged widely in specialization from stripped down four-gun "hot rods" that could reach the highest top speeds of any production variant of the P-40 (up to 380 mph), to overweight types with all the extras intended for fighter-bombing or even training missions. The 15,000th P-40 was an N model decorated with the markings of 28 nations that had employed any of Curtiss-Wright's various aircraft products, not just P-40s. "These spectacular markings gave rise to the erroneous belief that the P-40 series had been used by all twenty-eight countries."

THE KIT

Hasegawa is probably the king of limited reissue kits and so has added another P-40 kit to their growing Warhawk repertoire. This one is the P-40N and so has all the N model features of an extended fuselage, cooling grilles in the nose, modified rear canopy section and the spoked wheels so often seen on these planes.

If you have built any of the previous 1/32 scale Warhawk kits, you will find an old friend. The kit has a vary nicely done cockpit with a properly curved floor, 'wing' armor plating for the seat, rudder pedals, flap handle, control stick, instrument panel and gun sight. The sidewalls have good detail with a number of additional bits to attach to them. I am sure a resin aftermarket cockpit has finer detail, but for most of us, what comes in the kit will be more than sufficient. Decals are provided for instruments should you wish to use them.

A detailed nose radiator assembly is included to fit into the forward fuselage. The kit also has the proper exhaust panel that will fit the individual 'fishtail' exhaust that were the norm for this version. The forward intake cooling plates are also provided. This kit has a separate rear fuselage section to take care of the different variants. In this case, it is the longer fuselage that all N versions used. This has a separate rudder though the elevators are not. Wings have nicely done seven piece wheel well inserts as well as inserts for the guns that place them properly just below the wing centerline.

On the underside you have a set of lower radiator cooling gills with actuating levers. A centerline rack can be used for either a drop tank or a bomb as you chose. There are decal stripes for the bomb, which is nice as many of us suck at painting these items. Diamond tread tires are provided for the very detailed landing gear assembly. Hasegawa likes to include a pilot for its big scale planes and this one is no different, though few US modelers will end up using it. Clear bits are nicely molded and there are separate sliding canopy sections for open and closed canopy. From what I gather, there should be a bar running down the centerline of the sliding canopy and this is not engraved on the part. I do like that the windscreen is molded with the fuselage section right in front of it so that should make it easier to install. A single piece prop is included, which gets away from the separate prop blades that many of us are less than thrilled about.

An additional option is the ability to cut off all the formation lights from the wings and tail and replace them with small clear bits. This is nice to have, but I know I'll lose at least one in construction so generally leave these off.

Instructions use Gunze paint references and provide two markings options, both in a base of olive drab over neutral grey. The box art plane with the huge parrot nose is from a training unit in Florida, the 502FS/337 FG in Florida during 1944. This aircraft has medium green splotches along the edges of the fin/rudder and ratiling edge of the wings. THe other is a white tailed plane from the 8th FS/49th FG in 1943. This plane is called 'Kansas City Kiddie III' and has the white on the fin/rudder and the underside of the tailplanes. The spinner is yellow with a black stripe. The decal sheet is very large, being a bit too large for the platen of my scanner. It is very nicely printed with properly white whites. It also seems to have additional fuselage numbers for the box art plane, though no indication of what the additional serial numbers might be. However, there are a nice selection of separate serial numbers so you can make up your own.

CONSTRUCTION

If you have ever built any of Hasegawa's 1/48 Warhawk kits, this one will look rather familiar, though what was often a single casting in that kit is several parts in this one. I started with the cockpit section by gluing the seat, side armor, control stick and flap handle to the rear bulkhead and floor sections then joining the two. This provided a nice construct and so I painted it with an interior green I mixed up as I had none ready to go. This shade was also painted on the side panels, rudder pedal assembly and the backlight.

I then assembled the wheel well section. Each of the three part wells is glued to a spar which is then glued to the lower wing. However, before that, I used Chromate Green and sprayed that on the finished well assembly, the inside of all the gear doors, the inside of the nose section, all of the bits that make up the radiator assembly and the inside of the wing where the wells attach.

While all that was drying I cleaned up and assembled the bomb as well as the rudder and the horizontal stabs. I also glued together the wheels, which would later be sanded down and the tread pattern rescribed. I looked for replacements but could not find N wheels in this scale.

The radiator assembly was glued in place and I also attached the fuselage halves. Despite gluing the tail section to each fuselage half earlier, I had a bit of a gap at the bottom of the fuselage. I then closed the fuselage halves, taping things as I went. When I got to the front, the face plates for the radiator and the carb intake were glued on. The former piece needs to fit onto the front of the radiator assembly, so it is wise to do the fuselage halves and this piece before the radiator assembly is totally dry to allow for wiggle room.

The rear cockpit piece was then installed. This kit has inserts for the exhaust and the small vent piece in front of it. Both pieces fit quite well, but you do have to be careful as it is possible to install them too far into the fuselage, resulting in these being depressed when they should be flush. Just take a bit of care and there is no worry.

Back at the wings, the wheel well assembly was attached. Before the glue fully dried, the upper and lower wing sections were glued in place. The upper wing pieces help hold the wheel well assemblies in place. When dry, I sanded the seam areas and then installed the landing gear 'knee' bits and the guns. The former fit well, the latter required a lot of fussing to get in place properly. This was the biggest trouble area on the 1/48 kit and so it seems to be on this one as well. I used filler on all the seams. I should mention that I opened the holes for the centerline rack and did not open the holes for the clear formation lights.

While all my filler was dring, I painted up the cockpit detail bits and then dry brushed all the cockpit parts with Vallejo Buff. It helps to bring out some detail and tones down the green a bit. I then started on the seat harness. A kit of this scale really needs belts and if not provided, then aftermarket is the way to go. Eduard 32506 is a set of late USAF (sic) and USN belts. At least that is what the package says. The instructions show the OD ones as being late and the linen colored ones as early. For this kit, I used the OD set. These are small models in themselves as each full harness must have 30 or more bits to them. This considerably slowed down what was a pretty quick build so far. At least it provided time to deal with other parts of the kit. I was hoping that the interior could be inserted from the underside, which is why I closed the fuselage halves so early.

Once the belts were finally constructed, they were glued onto the seat. Various additional fittings were attached to the side panels and the main instrument panel complex was glued and painted. I left off the clear portion of the gun sight until just before attaching the windscreen portion to prevent it from disappearing due to handling. Finally, all these pieces were brought together. It was then that I installed it in the fuselage. To be honest, this was something that was a pretty tight squeeze. The interior is not designed to fit in after the halves are together, but I got it in there and it is such a tight fit that no cement is required.

At this time, I attached the tailplanes and then glued on the wing. Fit is pretty good, but I did find that the forward wing/fuselage join needed work. The wing section is wider than the fuselage at this point. Nothing major, but you will need to sand away a step. I also found that perhaps a spreader bar would have been helpful in preventing upper surface gaps, but honestly, I'm not sure how one would fit.

I then started attaching all sorts of other bits and pieces. The canopy bits were masked and the rear section attached. This is a very positive fit. On the underside I glued on the fuel dump line and the housing over that. The radiator gill struts were glued on the fuselage and the hinges onto the radiator gills (OK, cowl flaps). I also glued on the gun sight glass then the windscreen piece. Both canopies were masked and a centerline frame was created. The closed canopy piece was installed for painting. Then I brush painted interior green on the clear bits. This would later be painted over in the exterior color. I should mention that I did have to use filler on both the forward and rear lower fuselage wing mount as there were fit issues on both ends. I then attached the cowl flaps section and a small piece on the lower rear fuselage as well as the two farthest aft clear lenses, which were then sanded down smooth as apparently these were not present on the N. Seemed like a good time to hit the paint shop.

COLORS & MARKINGS

First task was to give the kit a solid coat of primer to check for any major glitches. I used Tamiya fine grey from the rattle can. I like this primer as it is so fine and since part of this model would be unpainted metal, it provides a great base for the Alclad II without the need for additional sanding. I had decided to do an airplane from 120 Squadron, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Dutch East Indies in the 1948 time period. This is when the planes were getting 'normal' RNAF roundels and also being stripped of their war camouflage. Dutch Decal sheet DDS2074 provides a goodly selection of these aircraft in all three scales and combined with Dutch Profiles P-40 Warhawk Part 2, gives images of all the markings on the sheet. I decided on a named plane with mission marks against the Indonesian insurgents. These planes had little in terms of colorful markings so the patchwork paint scheme would add the interest.

Once the primer was dry, the rear fuselage was painted using Alclad II Aluminum. It took a couple of coats to get good coverage. During this I noticed that there was a rather prominent seam between the tail section and the rest of the fuselage. Couldn't leave it as it was so went back, filled the seam, and resprayed. When that was done, the Aluminum was masked and the underside was painted Neutral Grey. I left off the bomb rack pieces as I knew I'd break those with all the handling during painting. The upper surface was then painted Olive Drab. I used Model Master enamels for this. In reality the planes would have been rather worn on the camo areas, but I generally left things looking pretty new as my wont. I did go back and spray a few panels with dark aluminum once all the various colors were applied.

I then sprayed clear gloss on the kit in preparation for decals when I noticed that I needed to remove the little 'lights' on the fuselage under the cockpit. I installed the clear lenses as recommended, then used some filler to take care of gaps before sanding these away. Of course, it meant I had to repaint it.

FINAL BITS

With the airframe pretty well painted (though there would be more touch up as bits were added, I went to work on adding these pieces. This meant assembling the landing gear legs. The most difficult part of the legs are installing the little gears for landing gear retraction. I recommend gluing these in place before attaching the retraction struts. During this time I also assembled the prop and spinner. This whole assembly was painted black. I also added the bomb rack bits and repainted that area with Neutral Grey. The main gear well was repainted using a brush in Chromate Green.

The tail gear well with gear bits was glued in as were the gear legs and main gear doors. Now seemed like a good time to add the markings since it was on its gear.

Though rather late in the build, it was time for the markings. No data markings on these planes and while the camo should have been distressed, I left it as it was. The decals went on superbly. If you are doing one of these schemes, the fuselage insignia are not at the same place on both sides of the fuselage. This is due to the placement of the code letter/numbers. These latter items are separate and Dutch Decal gives you enough to do any of the aircraft on the sheet. You can do one plane with the later insignia as I did and one with the earlier 'flag' markings. I used Microsol for a setting solution on these. The decals are quite thin and can be torn if you handle them roughly.

Once these were on, there were a seemingly huge number of things that still needed done. The biggest of which were the exhaust. I really HATE the way Hasegawa dealt with this feature, though I understand why they did it. There are individual stacks that have to be installed in a specific way. It ends up being a real hassle to install and nearly impossible to get straight as the attachment points are simply indentations in the plastic. Why these were not molded in pairs along with a base where one simply glues the whole assembly in place is beyond me. That would have made them a snap. Though I have not looked, I'd like to think that there is an aftermarket set that has done just that.

With those done I had to attach the lights and lenses. For the rear one I cheated and used an MV Products lens. For the large wing light it was no hassle as the lens fit without any issues. I drilled a hole for the sight post as the photos showed the planes had this feature. I also had a bunch of painting to do which included formation lights, gun barrels and a seeming myriad of other small items.

For wheels, I ended up using the larger ones in the kit. Photos in the reference book showed but a single plane with the smaller, spoked P-40N wheels and cross-hatched tires. Most showed hub covers and slick tires so that is what I used. The bomb was glued in place and once dry, the masking was removed from the clear bits. Much to my dismay, I discovered that on several panes, the underlying interior green had leaked under the tape. I scraped away as much as I could, muttering to myself the entire time.

The last bits; radio mast, pitot tube, and prop were installed and I decided to call it done.

CONCLUSIONS

As is frequently the case, some of the glitches were self induced. I still do not like the way the exhaust is handled, but I doubt if we will see anything different anytime soon. Hasegawa has pretty well cornered the P-40 market in both 1/48 and 1/32 scale so we can expect to have many more limited edition boxings of both scales for years to come.

Overall, the kit went together quite well. I was especially pleased about how well the interior went together and how well the clear bits fit. You still have to fill the panel lines on the back of the rear clear bit, but it is otherwise a pretty painless build. I am sure that I'll be doing other P-40 variants and probably other Hasegawa 1/32 kits as I have quite a few in the stash. Though I have only built four of these big scale Hasegawa kits, I have found each one to be one that turned out quite well. They are a bit pricey as kits go, though not that far outside the mainstream and if you get the chance to build one, I am sure you will find it as enjoyable an experience as did I.
REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-40N_Warhawk

Curtiss P-40N part 2: 1945-1950, Max Schep and Luuk Boermann, Dutch Profile, 2010,

April 2013

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the preview kit. Get yours at the link. Thanks to Dutch Decal for the decal sheet.

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