by Scott Van Aken
The P-40 Warhawk was made famous
by the Flying Tigers, a band of mercenary pilots who fought
for money and glory. Most of us don't like to think of these
men as such, but it is the truth. They were allegedly paid handsomely
to fly and paid a $500 bonus for every plane shot down. Not
your standard operating policy in a military that at the time
paid pilots less than $100 a month. However, it did ingrain
the P-40 into the minds and fantasies of an air-minded public.
It was also the best aircraft
in the USAAF inventory. Decidedly outmatched at altitude against
German planes, it was a match for them at lower altitudes. Though
not as maneuverable as the Japanese planes, it was faster and
able to take battle damage that the other could not. It was
with this aircraft that the US entered the war in the Pacific.
Until the advent of the P-38, it, along with a some P-39s, were
all that were available to fight the Army's Pacific war.
Fortunately, this wasn't a war
of high altitude as in Europe, so the sluggish performance of
the P-40 and P-39 above 15,000 feet wasn't a real problem. Even
when removed from the front lines, the P-40 soldiered on in
China, Burma and India as well as in the Southwest Pacific as
a fighter bomber, staying in action until almost the end of
Well, I messed up and didn't take any photos of the kit on the
sprues. However, if you have seen any of the AMT P-40 kits,
then this one will not be new to you. This is basically the
kit that AMT never released. AMT decided to get out of the airplane
kit business in 1997/98 so halted any additional work on upcoming
models. With the take-over by Racing Champions, these molds
went into storage.
AMtech has made arrangements
with Racing Champions to lease the molds and produce several
kits that AMT had scheduled. The P-40E is the first of those
kits, with several others in 1/72 to follow. The big benefit
to this kit is that you don't have to kitbash the AMT P-40K
and P-40F kits to build an E. I did this last year to produce
the P-40E and a P-40L. A bonus is that you get the P-40K tail
as well as different exhaust and engine cowlings. P-40Es had
at least two types of exhaust installed so you need to have
some sort of photo evidence to accurately do yours.
The kit itself is well molded.
Absent on this one was the amount of flash that was present
in the AMT P-40s. However, it is the AMT mold, so little else
is changed. The sliding part of the canopy is still thicker
on one side than the other, the molding of the fuel tank and
tailplane edges are still ragged, and the detailing of the instrument
panel is still poor on the lower section. However, I'm sure
that none of these items are beyond the skills of the average
modeler to either fix or hide!
was started in the time honored way. Subassemblies. The seat
was glued to the armor plating and the plating glued to the
cockpit floor. The control stick was glued in place. Then the
wings were glued together. With the other two kits, I had real
problems getting the engine covers to fit. This time, it was
only half as bad. One side fit well but the other did not. Unlike
previously, I matched up the very forward section of the panel.
This left the gap at the rear, which was then filled with superglue.
When dry, the part that jutted out was sanded down some to get
it close. Then the join was slathered with filler and smoothed
out. Lost detail was rescribed with an Xacto that has a broken
tip. I find this works just as well as anything else.
The interior bits and pieces
were painted US Interior Green from Aeromaster, while the wheel
wells and other places were painted with Model Master Chromate
Green that had been darkened just a touch with black.
Returning to the wings, there
are holes predrilled for under wing bomb racks. As I mentioned
in the previous P-40 review, I have only found two pictures
of these racks installed on a plane, and both were on very late
war P-40Ns used by the RAAF and RNZAF. You can fill these holes
with putty, but probably the best way to do it without having
to sweat filler shrinkage is to install the bomb racks, and
when dry, cut them off and sand smooth the little nubs that
are left. Any tiny holes that are there can be easily filled
and sanded. That is what I did and it works quite well. When
dry, the gun barrels were drilled out and the wings generally
filled and cleaned up along the leading edge where I had gouged
to the fuselage, the nose radiator inlet was glued in place,
the prop shaft trapped between the fuselage halves and the fuselage
glued together. This was not an easy task as I had several alignment
holes that were not open so the pins wouldn't mate. Despite
drilling them out again, I must have been off as they were not
a help so I removed the pins from the other half. Once the fuselage
was glued together, I took a look at it. Now I want to reiterate
that this is a test shot so you cannot expect perfection. The
most glaring areas were just behind the cockpit where the section
was slightly short shot, the anti-glare panel area which seems
to be further back on one side than the other, and an area just
at the back of the wing on the the underside, which was also
short shot. The last area is no concern as it is covered by
the wing fairing when it goes on.
The upper cockpit area was filled
and sanded smooth as was the area around the anti-glare panel.
Actually, a section of that was built up somewhat with filler
and the part that juts into the cockpit will be trimmed back.
The sill where the windscreen/canopy will fit is in good alignment
and there will not be a problem there.
the fuselage together, there was the usual slathering on of
filler to take care of gaps, mostly on the bottom aft portion
of the kit. Then the cockpit was installed. Thankfully, the
kit is designed to have this done from the underside, so it
just makes things so much easier. Next are the tailplanes. One
of mine did not have the upper section totally complete and
there was about a 1/16th ledge along the back section that will
need to be filled. Again, this is a test shot. This molding
would be rejected in a normal kit run. I found that if the stabilizers
were to be glued on as is, there would be a misalignment at
the very front. If you look at the image, you can see the unmodified
stabilizer on the right. At this point, what most modelers would
do is to trim back a touch on the mounting tongue at the front.
This is what I did on the left stabilizer and you can see the
results on the left side of the image. It gets it close, but
it still isn't spot on. The key to fixing this is to trim the
mounting tab and trim back a bit on the aft portion of the fuselage
mount (see the red circle). This completely cures the problem,
and I did that on both stabilizers.
With the stabilizers fixed,
the interior was installed and when dry, the wing glued in place.
Fit is fair, but there were problems. First of all the front
fit very well and only a small amount of filler was needed.
Moving to the upper surface, the right wing fit quite well.
The left wing, however, had a step between it and the wing root.
No cure other than several filler applications and sanding.
Moving to the aft underside shows another problem. First I should
mention that the wing covers the short shot shown above so there
is no need to fix that. However, there is a gap at the back
that MUST be filled. When confronted with gaps of this size,
filler won't do it. It needs to be filled with plastic first.
I found that a strip of Evergreen .030 x .030 plastic fit right
in there with no trouble. The area was then securely glued and
when dry, sanded down flush. Smaller gaps were filled with filler
or thick paint.
Once the aft wing gap was smoothed
out, the radiator flaps were glued on. Fastidious modelers will
undoubtedly want to find something to fill in the large hole
back there, for at the proper angle, you can see out of it from
the carb intake on the nose. AMT missed putting something there
to block this when the engineered the molds. Perhaps some enterprising
aftermarket maven will include a radiator exhaust area in a
Moving to the upper fuselage
area, the cockpit got some final touch-ups and then the windscreen
and canopy were installed. True to its AMT roots, the sliding
hood is thicker on one side than the other, so most of you will
probably glue it shut or get an aftermarket vacuformed version.
Once attached, these items were masked. The plane I am modeling
had no radio mast, so that hole was filled and smoothed. The
plane was now ready for some paint.
PAINT & DECALS
Like many of you, this is my
favourite part. I had initially decided on doing a 49th FG Warhawk
from New Guinea in 1942, however, I had just received the latest
copy of R/T from IPMS Canada, and this year they had decided
to send us all a decal sheet with Canadian WW2 aces aircraft.
In amongst the Spitfires was a lone Kittyhawk from the desert
air forces, and my choice switched to this plane. I sorta like
desert schemes and thought I'd add this one to the collection.
The underside was painted azure
blue from the Aeromaster acrylic line. When dry, the tailplanes
were masked and the upper surface painted middlestone, an Aeromaster
enamel color. With aircraft of this size, I generally freehand
the camouflage. I know that the British used masks to do the
real planes, but I'm going to say that this one was repainted
in the field! It isn't that far from true as often aircraft
arrived with temperate schemes and were repainted in desert
colors before being issued to a squadron. I had used up all
my Aeromaster dark earth so went to Xtracolor for that shade.
The Xtracolor was thinned more than usual and the air pressure
turned way down for this job so I could get a respectably thin
line. Once done, the kit was returned to the workbench for more
At this time the masks were
taken out of the wheel wells (which had been painted a darkened
Testors chromate green), and the area touched up. The gear struts
were painted neutral grey and glued in place as was the tail
wheel. Then the main wheels were glued on. The kit then had
a coat or two of clear gloss sprayed on it in anticipation of
The IPMS Canada decals are superb
and fit quite well. I used the weaker Microscale setting solution
and they went on beautifully. One thing I did notice is that
the white was slightly off register causing it to peek out from
under an edge of all the wing roundels. It also seemed as if
the wing decals were slightly oversized compared to the decal
placement sheet, though they matched the size callouts required
by the written instructions. Most odd.
This model represents an aircraft
that was the mount of James 'Stocky' Edwards when he was with
94 Sq in 1941. Though no indication is given, apparently he
shot down no enemy aircraft flying the Kittyhawk with this unit.
He then transferred to 260 Sq where he shot down 15 1/2 aircraft.
He then went on to 92 Sq in Italy with Spit VIII's and then
to command 274 Sq. Prior to D-day, his unit moved back to England
and in 1944 converted to the Tempest. Late in the war he was
made wing commander and replaced Johnny Johnson as head of 127
wing. He ended the war with 16 victories and stayed in the RCAF,
retiring in 1969.
His Kittyhawk was a very bland
aircraft with little to distinguish it other than code letters.
However, it has the early war fuselage and underwing roundels
that add some interest to it.
With the decals on and properly
settled in, the model was given a cleanup to remove any setting
solution or glue that had dried on it. It was then taken to
get a coat of clear matte sprayed on it.
Returning from that sortie,
the landing gear covers were glued in place and any paint touched
up. Then the prop was glued into the red-painted spinner and
that attached to the nose. The gun barrels were painted gunmetal
and the exhaust was given a few coats of RustAll after the drilled
out areas were filled with flat black paint.
At this time, the masking was
removed from the plane and the radio aerials attached using
clear stretched sprue. Finally, the exhaust and guns were given
some stains using pastels and the kit was complete.
At last the 1/48 modeling world
has an accurate P-40E without having to resort to kitbashing
or modifying existing kits. Why it took so long to finally get
one of accurate shape on the market is beyond me, but it has
happened. While it would have been nice to get an all-new kit,
the AMT version that AMtech is releasing is still a very nice
kit with no surprises. It has a few areas of concern as related
above, but nothing that is beyond the abilities of most modelers.
I, for one, am quite glad to see it finally hit the market and
I'm sure that you will be just as pleased with the kit once
you have it in your collection.
Ed: I'd like to thank Scott,
the web master of Modeling
Madness for the use of his article
Van Aken 2001