350 yen SRP back in
Scott Van Aken
The P-40 was a development of the P-36 that utilized a liquid-cooled V-12 engine
to provide a higher speed than what was available with the radial engine P-36.
In that means it was successful and when the US entered WWII, it was the most
widely used aircraft in the USAAC. It was not the 'dog' that many consider it to
be. At low and medium altitude it was able to hold its own against German and
Italian aircraft. This was proven in North Africa while in the hands of the RAF
and Commonwealth air forces prior to America's entry into the war. It was also
useful in the SWPA and CBI where its fairly long range and rugged construction
was effective against Japanese rifle calibre machine guns.
The Warhawk/Kittyhawk really made its mark in the ground attack role. Despite
its liquid cooled engine, which made it susceptible to ground fire, the P-40 was
widely used in this role in areas with limited enemy air interference until the
end of the war.
The P-40E was the first really combat ready variant and as mentioned, saw
action with the RAF and Commonwealth forces where it was called the
Kittyhawk. Hasegawa's kit dates from 1977 and has been reissued numerous
times, often with a change in decals and box art. The last time it was
released was as a double kit in 1944.
My copy is one of the original boxings and is molded in tan plastic. There
is a touch of flash on a few parts and mine had a little warping on the
wings and fuselage, but this did not turn out to be of any consequence once
the parts were glued and clamped. The cockpit is Spartan at the best with a
shape for a seat, a floor, control stick and pilot figure. The instrument
panel takes a decal and is not prototypical at all.
There is a nice intake piece and the interior fits from the underside so you
can glue the cockpit halves together before installing it. Wings are single
lower piece with upper halves. Tailplanes are single piece and slot into the
tail. Landing gear are well formed, but fairly simplistic without the small
struts. Gear doors are molded closed and need to be cut unless doing the
model in flight. For things under the fuselage you have a drop tank or bomb.
Prop and spinner combo is three pieces. Windscreen and canopy are a single
piece with separate quarter windows.
Markings are provided for two aircraft. One is the box art plane with 112
Squadron in the Western Desert during August 1942. The other is a plane in
RAF camouflage with the 49th FG at Port Darwin in the spring of 1942. Decals
are pretty old so would best be replaced with aftermarket.
I first did a bit of painting. The interior bits, inside of the cockpit
walls were painted interior green. Gear wells and inside of the gear doors
were painted chromate green. I used Mission Models paint for these and
brushed them on. It took three coats to properly cover as it is really too
thin for brush painting.
Once the interior was painted and dry, I used tape to simulate belts. The
kit decals supplied the instrument panel decal. This was far too large, but
better large than small in this case. After building up the radiator
assembly, this and the instrument panel were glued into one side of the
fuselage. When dry, the halves were cemented together. As mentioned earlier,
the halves were warped and so needed clamps and tape to hold them together
Meanwhile, I built up the wings. No surprises there, though there was some
warping that required clamps as well until it was dry.
Note also that the 'knuckles' are not well shaped and will require a bit of
filler to deal with the seam that is there. I used super glue, but in
retrospect, feel that using epoxy filler would have been a better way to go.
Fit of the wing to the fuselage is fair, but not great. Note that there will
generally be gaps just inboard of the gear knuckles where the wing joins the
fuselage. Once all that was dealt with, I attached the tailplanes. These are
keyed so you can't accidentally put the left one on the right side.
I then laboriously masked the canopy and attached it. I then got the kit
ready for painting.
This aircraft would be fairly easy to paint. I used up the last of my
Model Master neutral grey for all the undersides, the belly tank, the
outside of the wheels, and the outside of the gear doors. This area was then
masked to some extent and the upper surfaces were painted with Mr.Color
olive drab (1), which is fairly dark. Landing gear was then painted
When that was done, the prop (which was painted black with yellow tips) was
attached to the front of the kit. Main landing gear was then glued in place.
It was then time for adding the decals. For this, I used up another scheme
on a Microscale sheet I bought back in 1982. Sheet 72-341 has a bunch of
nice P-40 options of which I've used most in the last nearly 40 years. There
has been some discussion as to whether the name 'Tarheel' was on both sides.
Some state there was a dragon on the right side of the nose, which seems to
be proven by a photo of the right side with the nose number 85. This is the
same number with the decals. Well, the sheet does not provide the dragon so
I did things as were offered on the sheet. Despite their age, the decals
worked just great. What the sheet did not include was the US Army that goes
on the underside. That was gleaned from an Academy kit.
With the markings in place, the tail gear, main wheels, and the landing gear
doors were then attached. Then I dropped it. After scrounging around for the
broken landing gear parts, I found all but two doors. One I could cobble a
replacement and the other I simply left off. Everything was then provided a
coat of Tamiya clear flat. The masking was removed from the clear bits, the
quarter windows installed and a bit of touch-up painting was done.
In case you haven't figured it out, this is not the best 1/72 P-40 on the
market. However, it can be found for very little money on the second hand market
and unless you drop the nearly completed kit, will be fairly fuss free. A nice
one for the shelf. Save the Academy and Special Hobby kits for the contest room.
5 June 2020
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