P-40N 'Natural Metal'
In markings of P-40N- CPT Sammy Pierce- 8th FS, 49th FG
by Floyd Werner, Jr.
The P-40 history is covered in plenty of detail. The P-40N was
the last and most produced version of this iconic fighter. In
1943 the 49th Fighter Group was stationed in the Southwest Pacific.
They had been flying the P-40E, but they were getting very war
weary. Enter the P-40N. The N model was assigned to the flight
leads. One of those was Lt. Sammy Pierce. At that time he had
three kills from flying the P-40Es. In keeping with his practice
of naming his aircraft after a feature film, the P-40N was emblazoned
with "Kay The Strawberry Blonde". The crewchief side
had "The Hialeah Wolf" on the right side.
Eleven sprues are molded in light grey plastic the kit features
fine recessed panel lines and exquisite detail. The Hasegawa
P-40s have come under criticism for having all the inserts so
they could do multiple model from the molds. Well good news
is that the P-40N is the version they had in mind when they
built all those inserts. There are three clear sprues that have
the canopy and, uniquely, a sprue of position. The instruction
sheet is the typical style of instructions. They are clear and
concise, but you better look over them as there are numerous
things that need to be filled. You get a choice of two 'Natural
Metal' P-40Ns. Typical of Hasegawa, this rebox contains different
decals from previous boxings. The decals are the only difference
in this release from earlier ones. They are perfectly printed
and in register. As always they look thicker but when added
to the model they work perfectly and are very thin.
Like most kits this one starts with the cockpit, but before
I did that I deviated from the instructions. I added the tail
sections to the fuselage halves. Hasegawa would have you assemble
the tail section and insert it into the fuselage plugs. I found
that it makes more sense to assemble the left side and right
sides as separate pieces and then attach them together. This
way I was able to take my time and align the tail into the fuselage
which will minimize any filler. I didn't need any, just a swipe
with the sanding stick and the part was finished. Also don't
forget to fill the lights on the fuselage side and on the underside
Once all that was filled and assembled, the cockpit is a beautiful
rendition. It is one of the finest cockpits out of box that
I seen. It builds up with no drama whatsoever. I painted mine
with Tamiya IJN Green. I know a Japanese color on a P-40? Yes
the IJN Green is the closest match you will find to the Curtiss
Green. A little wash and some detail painting and the cockpit
was ready to be installed.
Attaching the tail to the fuselage early in the construction
makes this a real non-issue. That said I did have to clean up
some panel lines but that was about it. Nothing dramatic as
they were all straight lines. The fit of the fuselage halves
was very good. I did have to clamp the fuselage halves so they
stayed flush. All the inserts fit perfectly in place with no
The horizontal tail surfaces
were a breeze and fit perfectly. Take care when adding the rudder
as there are some tabs and holes that have to align.
The wings represent no problem whatsoever. You can decide to
remove the molded on position lights but I elected to leave
them on. The centerline rack is a little 'sloppy' when in position
so care must be taken. The inserts were quite nice and everything
fit perfectly with no filler.
Offering up the wings up to
the fuselage showed a very good fit with just a little bit of
filler at the back side.
All the little things on the
bottom of the aircraft, such as the sway braces cowl flaps,
fit well and have positive fit.
Using my new CB
Landing Gear Alignment Tool, aligning the gear was very
easy and perfect.
I masked up the P-40 windows
with some Tamiya tape and added the front and aft portions to
the fuselage. With that the model was ready for painting.
Painting and Decaling
A quick wash with some grease cutting detergent and a swipe
with some Polly-S Plastic Prep and the model was ready to go.
I used Alclad Grey Primer as my primer of choice. I filled some
very small areas that needed it but was quite happy with the
fit of everything.
I started by laying down a pre-shading
coat of RLM-66 before painting some Tamiya white for the tail
and US insignia. After letting that dry, I masked the tail off
with Tamiya tape and applied the Montex masks. Adding the Insignia
Blue around the outside of the markings prepared them for the
Montex masks. I weathered the blue to indicate the harsh conditions
the real plane operated in. The rest of the masks around the
stars were added at this time.
This was followed up with some
RLM-04 Yellow in the areas for the nose, number, tail band,
and prop spinner. The tail band was masked off with Tamiya tape
and the nose numbers with Montex masks.
Now it was time to work on the
underside in a Neutral Grey. This was weathered with some lightened
grey. The same was done to the topside Olive Drab ANA-41. A
coat of Future was added to the whole model to prep the kit
for the decals. The Montex masks only give you markings for
the left side. So since I was going to have to use custom decals
on the right side I decided to decal both sides of the nose.
I had the decals made by Joseph Osborn of Fireball Modelworks.
The right side is not as prominent as the left so we did our
best at interpreting the artwork. The decals fit like a champ
and reacted well with the setting solution. Another coat of
Future sealed the decals and a coat of Polly-S flat prepped
the model for weathering.
The weathering process actually started back at the pre-shading
stage and the lightening process. I decided to have some fun
with the weathering and really dirty this model up. The first
thing I did was to add a filter to the entire model using different
Sin Filters. This was followed up with Mig Pigments, Tamiya
Weathering Pigments and War Pigs Pigments. This really changed
the look of the model and made it nice and dirty. This was followed
up with a wash of Burnt Umber artist oils along the panel lines.
Using a highly thinned grey acrylic paint the exhaust stains
were painted with short vertical strokes of the airbrush building
it up carefully. This technique imparts the wear pattern of
exhaust steaking with the rain. What I didn't like I used a
paint brush dampened with thinner and stroked some pattern in
it. Some Mig Pigments were added to the gun stains and wheels.
With that the weathering was done.
Final Bits and Pieces
The final parts were added such as the drop tank and antenna.
The antenna mast was cut down to represent a smaller antenna
that Sammy had on his aircraft. This is the only aircraft I've
seen with this smaller mast, but it is visible in one photo.
Some EZ Line antenna was added to the model and it was done.
The masks were removed from the canopy section and the sliding
portion was added.
I have to say that this model has been a joy to build since
opening the box. Yes I know it isn't 'Natural Metal'. The kit
decals are useful and can be used to make the natural metal
aircraft. Either one of the aircraft would make a quite unique
looking P-40. Of course, the P-40 is more likely to have the
OD/NG paint scheme.
I've built almost ever manufacturers
P-40 now and I have to say that this one is as close to perfect
out of the box as you are going to find. Speaking for myself,
I am very happy that Hasegawa released this version again. If
you don't like the 'natural metal' airplane don't let that stop
you. The only thing that makes this model natural metal is the
decals. There are plenty of decal options out there for those
so inclined. If you want a P-40N I have to say that this is
the best kit of the P-40 I've ever built. I loved it.
Thanks to Hobbico for the review
copy. You can obtain your copy from them at www.hobbico.com
or also at your local hobby shop on online retailer.
Walk Around- P-40 Warhawk, Lou Drendal, Squadron/Signal Publications,
ISBN 0-89747-361-2, 1996
P-40 Warhawk in detail, Bert
Kinzey, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-888974-15-X
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 World War II
Color, Jeffrey L. Ethell, Motorbooks International, 1994, ISBN
Werner, Jr. 2011