AMtech P-40F "Short
by Floyd Werner, Jr.
As a little kid I remember building
the 1/32nd P-40E from Revell and from that moment forward when
I think of a World War II fighter I think of the P-40. I know
that this will come as a shock to some of you who would assume
it would be the Bf-109 (OK, I got that out of the way. I said
Bf-109 in this review), but it really is the P-40. Menacing
shark mouth, big cowl scoop and just classic looks. Until the
AMT, now AMtech offerings the options open to a modeler were
limited, but that has changed now and you can build and almost
every version of this venerable fighter with recessed panel
lines and good fit.
The P-40F was Curtiss' attempt
at mating the Rolls-Royce Merlin with the P-40 airframe to gain
airspeed at altitude. The Alison-engined P-40E was limited because
it lacked a supercharger. The P-40F would change all that. The
Rolls-Royce Merlin manufactured in Detroit by Packard would
provide a two-stage supercharger. The initial thought was that
the top speed of the aircraft would significantly improve as
would higher altitude performance. This just didn't work out
as well as planned. The top speed increased a whopping FOUR
knots and the altitude increase was only 3, 000 feet. The first
P-40Fs, P-40F-1-CU, utilized the same airframes as the P-40E.
Approximately 699 "short-tailed' P-40Fs were produced.
The Rolls-Royce engine caused
a redesign of the nose. The carburetor scoop that was so prominent
on the top of the P-40B-E nose was no longer needed as the Merlin
used an updraft type carburetor. The nose was also changed by
moving the scoop slightly forward and deepening it slightly
to allow the installation of the radiators in the scoop.
The later versions of the F
had a lengthened fuselage in an attempt to compensate for longitudinal
stability problems. This solution was only marginally effective.
The F model P-40 was used in
the MTO and the Pacific theaters. The P-40F was preferred in
the Mediterranean because it was the best variant against the
German fighters and the availability of spare parts. Now onto
The Conversion Set
The AMtech conversion set includes
a resin nose, new decals, and a new instructions sheet. The
resin nose is bubble free and molded in a hard pink resin. The
modeler will have to provide an AMtech P-40E kit. The new decal
sheet for contains all the markings for three airplanes. One
is a Libyan based sand over neutral gray aircraft, LtCol Bates'
desert camouflaged machine, and a rare Pacific based olive drab
over neutral gray aircraft with white recognition stripes are
the marking options. The instruction sheet covers the needed
cuts for the conversion. The pictures are large and easy to
understand. The nose should work on any P-40E kit, however,
the instructions show only the AMtech kit. More work may be
required on the Promodeler or the Arii/Otaki kits.
The Donor Kit
The AMtech P-40E kit has some
mold mistakes, but they are easily taken care of. The right
side of the fuselage has slight mistake on the aft part of the
fuselage but it is easily taken care of with sand paper. The
slight step on the fuselage half is easily taken care of with
a few swipes of the sanding stick. Both corrections are easily
done by even a beginning modeler. If you get a new release of
the P-40E a replacement fuselage is included making the clean
up that much easier. If you have an old AMtech P-40E with the
step in the aft part of the fuselage all you have to do is send
the UPC to AMtech. They will replace the fuselage half for you,
free of charge. All the new kits come with a replacement fuselage.
That is customer service.
Cutting Edge Cockpit
The kit cockpit is actually
very nice, but I had a Cutting Edge set that was beautiful so
I just had to use it. The construction is very straightforward
and presented no problems whatsoever. The molding was up to
the normal excellent quality. The fit was perfect. I preshaded
the cockpit with flat black and then used Tamiya Imperial Japanese
Navy Green. Shock and horror! Yes, it isn't what is called for
but it looked "correct" and is a reasonable match
for Bronze Green. A wash of Burnt Umber in the recesses accentuated
the shadows. I dry brushed the cockpit with zinc chromate and
highlighted the worn areas with a dry brushed with some silver.
Some color of Apple Barrel acrylic paint was used on some of
the detail painting. Finally, some touches of a silver pencil
made the whole thing come to an end.
I decided to build the wings
next. No reason just thought I would save the conversion to
last. The wings are great. Fit was exceptional and no real problem
was encountered. I did notice that the wheel well side that
faced the fuselage was not closed off. I fixed this with some
.005 sheet styrene. You have to be careful so as not to interfere
with the fuselage fit. Basically, make sure the styrene fits
under the upper wing and you will have no problems. I drilled
out the end of the guns.
Fuselage and conversion nose
The Osprey book on US Army Fighters
by Brett Green and Jerry Scutts provided a color step-by-step
photo essay of how to convert the nose. The instructions provided
by AMtech are easy to understand but having the color photos
was nice. I recommend that you cut each fuselage before you
cement the halves together. It is better to cut too little and
have to sand than to cut too much and have to build up. Once
both halves are cut I glued the fuselages together. The fit
of the fuselage was very good. I always, without exception,
fill the entire seam, there or not, with superglue. I do this
for a reason. I only have to sand it one time, usually. If I
didn't apply the superglue I would have to sand, check for seams,
fill and sand again, ad nausea. Why bother sanding numerous
times when I can do it one time and be done. Less detail lost
and less sanding which I personally don't particularly like
to do. It speeds the building process too. I get over the "oh
the model had a seam that ran down the
". With my
method who cares?
After removal of the mold block
on the resin nose I simply slid the nose into the fuselage.
The initial fit was very good. I did need to sand some to get
a good square fit, but it was relatively easy. Taking a hint
from Brett, I added shims on the resin nose to get the plastic
fuselage to spread as needed. Some places required .005 and
some .010. Test fit, test fit, test fit. Once everything was
shimmed the nose was glued into place. I needed just a hint
of filler here and there and associated sanding.
Before I could add the wings
I had to make a cutout in the wing center section. This was
the hardest part of the whole conversion. Despite the warnings
of AMtech and Brett I cut too much off. It sounds worse than
it was. Take the raised center section off back to the lower
keel. That cut is the easy one. The side cuts should be cut
at an angle. I didn't and actually squared it off. Again, no
real problem. Once I got it close I added the wings. The wings
were a little flat so I sanded some the wing joint on top. Then
when I was happy with the fit, I used tape to hold the wings
up to the fuselage and glued everything in its place.
After the wings set up I needed
to fair in the area on the keel on the sides. I should not have
squared it off. I just used some epoxy putty to fair in the
nose to the wings. I was lucky enough that I did not even need
to sand it when it was done.
The conversion instructions
call for the cowl flaps to be built from styrene. This is actually
not that hard as it sounds. AMtech provides a 1:1 template for
making the flaps. The builder will have to make these from sheet
styrene, which is not provided. Once you have that done, attach
the flaps with superglue and you're done. The whole process
takes less than 15 minutes. Look at my photos for reference.
This is actually the hardest part of the whole conversion.
Before adding the tail surfaces
I took the time to rescribe some panel lines on the fuselage
and nose that had gone away through my heavy handed sanding
and to make the front panels on the conversion correct for the
F model. The tails fit without any problem.
I dipped the canopy in Future
and when dry I masked with Tamiya masking tape.
I chose to build LtCol Bates
machine, X0-1 "Lil Joe", which was in a standard desert
scheme of Middle Stone and Dark Earth over Azure Blue. Using
the color photos in Ethell's book I decided to use Polly-S paints.
I sprayed the whole airplane with Tamiya Fine Primer (white)
to check for flaws. If you haven't tried this primer it is fantastic.
It is in a spray can. It is very difficult to lose detail even
with heavy coats. I like it because it covers plastic, resin,
and superglue flawlessly. It feathers real nice when dry and
can be over sprayed without a problem. Love it! Did I mention
that it is a great way to look for flaws? Once that had dried
I preshaded the airplane with flat black. Now the airplane looked
like crap but that would soon change. I applied the Azure Blue
to the bottom of the airplane, letting some of the preshading
show through. I lightened up the Azure Blue with some white
and lightened some panels and the control surfaces for variation.
Next the Middle Stone was applied to the entire upper surface
after masking off the areas to prevent overspray. This was lightened
with white, twice, and like the blue added to panels and control
surfaces. Remember this is a desert machine and would be faded
a lot on top. Next I needed something that would mask a hard
edge and not be too time consuming. I used Blue Tack to make
the pattern and then I sprayed the Dark Earth. Again it was
lightened with white, twice. All this lightening made touch
ups difficult but because I couldn't get it exactly correct
another layer of color was added during touch up. Once the upper
surfaces were painted and masks removed I used a Tamiya Desert
Yellow highly thinned sprayed over the entire topside. This
blended everything together.
Painting the prop was straight
forward. The spinner was painted with Insignia Red and faded
A coat of Tamiya Clear prepared
the surfaces for decals. The kit decals are very nice. My example
had the white of the national insignia slightly off register
but nothing really objectionable or noticeable. Microscale prints
the decals so they are thin, opaque and responded well to the
Micro Sol and Set system.
Once the decals had dried I
oversprayed with Tamiya clear again followed by a coat of Polly-S
Dust to the wings and spine of the fuselage. This started the
weathering process by "fading" everything together.
A coat of flat prepared the aircraft for the real weathering.
I like to attach the fiddly
pieces now. By fiddly I mean the landing gear, doors, sway braces,
exhaust stacks and pitot tube.
Weathering is done in layers.
First I like to use Burnt Umber artist oils thinned with turpenoid
on all the panel lines. While I'm doing that I also "streak"
oil stains. The next step is to chip the paint with silver pencils,
pens, and a dry brush of silver paint. Particular attention
is paid to the high traffic areas. Next I like to add the gun
stains with pastels. I think pastels give me more control for
this area. I start the exhausts with pastels as a way to guide
my airbrush. The exhaust streaks were built up with a base coat
of Tamiya flat black and red brown mixed 50/50 and heavily thinned.
This was built up slowly. Once happy with the results I used
Tamiya Deck Tan to add the color to the exhausts. I was very
happy with the exhausts. Some brown pastels were added to the
wing root and then everything was sealed with another coat of
Model Master Acrylic Flat.
Adding the canopy was the only
thing left to do besides the antenna. The front and back part
of the canopy fit like a champ, but the center section did not
fit that well. If you want to display it open you will need
a vacuformed replacement. This is what I did, using Squadron's
excellent canopy. If you display it closed there should be no
big issue. I attached the aft windows with just a little bit
of Future. The only thing left to do was to add the antenna
and paint the navigation lights with silver and Tamiya clear
red and green.
This offering from AMtech is
very nice and offers a version of the P-40 not previously available
on the market. This is my second P-40 kit and my first AMtech
one, I can say that this kit is the better of the two kits for
fit and ease of construction. There are mold flaws on the fuselage
halves but these are easily taken care of with a few swipes
of a sanding stick, really a non-issue.
As for the conversion itself,
having to build the cowl flaps may be beyond beginner modelers.
The resin nose is very easy to add and this kit is a great way
to try a resin conversion. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole build
and it took next to no time to complete. The decal options will
make this kit a welcome addition to the P-40 heritage. My hat
is off to AMtech for making the most of their molds and providing
the modeler with new versions of a great airplane.
I highly recommend this kit
to everyone but the beginner modeler.
The conversion is available
directly from AMtech through their website at http://www.amtechmodels.com
. They will also be available through select hobby shops.
I'd like to thank AMtech for
the review example.
Cutting Edge P-40F Super Detailed
True Details P-40E-M Wheel Set 48015/460014
Squadron Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk vacuform canopy 9537
Osprey #43 P-40 Warhawk Aces
of the MTO, Carl Molesworth, Osprey Publishing, 2002, ISBN 1-84176-288-1
Osprey #55 P-40 Warhawk Aces
of the Pacific, Carl Molesworth, Osprey Publishing, 2003, ISBN
World War 2 US Army Fighter
Modeling, Jerry Scutts & Brett Green, Osprey Publishing,
2003, ISBN 1-84176-061-7
P-40 Warhawk Walk Around #8,
Lou Drendel, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-89747-361-2
Curtiss P-40 in action, Ernest
R. McDowell, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1976, ISBN 0-89747-025-7
P-40 Warhawk in detail, Bert
Kinzey, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-888974-15-X
P-40 Warhawk in World War II
Color, Jeffrey L. Ethell, Motorbooks International, 1994, ISBN
Werner, Jr. 2004