1/72 P-40E Warhawk
by Scott Van Aken
Many of the e-mails that I get are from people who are either
new to the hobby or just getting back into it after a hiatus
of several years or even decades. One thing that these folks
are always asking about is what is next after out of the box.
The purpose of this build is to take you to the next level in
terms of updating your model. This particular review will concentrate
on resin parts; specifically cockpit and wheels. Etched brass
is another subject altogether, and one that requires skills
that even I have trouble with at times. Resin parts have the
benefit of generally being cheaper and easier to work with than
etched brass bits.
have chosen a subject for which both the kit and the aftermarket
bits are easy to get. First of all the kit. Hasegawa's 1/72
P-40E kit has been around for a long time and is readily available
either at your hobby shop or from various on-line retailers.
It has been reissued a number of times, generally with different
decals. It can also be found quite readily at swap meets or
other places that sell second hand models. This particular kit
cost me $3 at a swap meet, but you can get it for as little
as a buck if you are good at haggling!
The kit has really only one major fault and that is a pretty
bland interior. Your basic seat, floor, instrument panel and
control stick. Fortunately, True Details does set 72-458 at
the very reasonable cost of $2.98 that completely replaces the
kit interior with one that has MUCH more detail. Add another
$1.98 for the 72-010 resin wheels and you will have a pretty
sharp model. You can keep the kit wheels if you wish as they
are not that bad, it is just that the TD ones have crisper detailing.
Add another few dollars for an aftermarket decal sheet and you
are set! If the cost of the decal sheet (generally around $6)
is too much for you, you can go in with a friend to split the
costs. Most P-40 1/72 sheets have 5-6 aircraft on them so you
can do more than one from it. By the way, the interior is good
for the P-40N, but the wheels may not be as most P-40Ns have
spoked wheels and these are not.
Alright. We have our kit, aftermarket resin parts and decal
sheet. The next thing to do is to get underway with some dedicated
cutting, hacking and sawing with a bit of gluing on the side!
dealing with resin parts, the first thing one does is to clean
them with warm, not hot, soapy water to remove any mold release.
This mold release is an oily material sprayed into a resin mold
to keep the resin from sticking to it. If you don't clean it
off, you may easily have trouble getting paint to stick to it.
The next step is to start removing the resin bits from the
blocks. The only safety equipment needed is a dust mask to keep
you from breathing in the resin dust. A respirator is even better.
Lay out all the resin bits to make sure that nothing is missing
are two ways to remove resin parts and it really depends of
the thickness of the attachment as well as the shape of the
parts. For thin attachments, a hobby knife is usually good enough.
You just scribe at the join until it is free. For most other
parts a razor saw is what is needed. There are various types
of saw, but the ones I like are those that fit into an knife
handle. Just easier to use. Do beware when sawing as flesh is
much easier to saw through than resin. You also don't want to
hold resin parts with a death grip as some of the larger ones
(like the cockpit tub) can be snapped with too much pressure.
So lets start removing some resin block. I started with the
wheels. Using the razor saw, start sawing at the attachment
point under the wheels. It is a good idea to leave a sliver
of resin attached to the wheels. This is to prevent you from
sawing them off at a weird angle. It is much easier to gently
sand away the thin ribbon of resin than to try to replace a
chunk that you have accidentally gouged out of a part. Trust
me, few can actually saw level! Now on to some of the other
sidewalls of the cockpit will need to be removed a bit differently
than using a saw. Thanks to the fact that they are curved on
the bottom, using a saw really isn't the best way to cut these
parts. The attachment of the sides to the resin block is also
a lot thinner than with other pieces so scribing the join line
with a sharp hobby knife blade is the best way. Just lay the
part down on a relatively hard surface (I use a thick rubber
mat), and gently scribe the part several times. Applying too
much pressure could cause the part to crack, so take it easy.
It took about 20-25 passes to cleanly separate the parts. Then
you can just sand the underside to make it smooth.
that we have that taken care of, it was time to remove the instrument
panel. True Details was nice enough to supply panels for both
the P-40N and the earlier models. For the P-40E, we need the
panel on the outside of the block. Now instrument panels require
a slightly different approach to removal. For these, one needs
to saw flush with the back of the panel. Not really difficult
as the resin backing doesn't go all the way to the top of the
panel. Just saw away at it carefully and try to keep things
flat as you don't want to accidentally saw the panel in half
(been there; done that!).
you get near the bottom of the panel, stop and saw the bottom
of the panel, but no all the way through. You do this for a
couple of reasons. One is to have a nice flat cut. The other
is that there is often some extra lumps of resin in the underside
sections of these panels and this is the easiest way to cut
them out. Then go back and finish at the back of the panel.
In just a few moments you will have the panel clear and ready
to paint/install. Any unevenness in the back can be gently sanded
smooth. Leave the control stick and gun sight on the resin block
until just before you need it. These parts are easily lost.
next thing I did was to test fit the cockpit into the fuselage
halves. It seems as if it will fit without removing any of the
interior pins. I next tried to fit the bottom of the wing on.
No go. This meant that I had to remove the resin block from
the bottom of the cockpit tub. Sometimes you can get away with
just trimming these parts, but not in this case as the clearances
won't allow it. With a 'U' shaped piece such as the cockpit
tub, it is quite easy to apply too much pressure to it while
holding it. The result is that you break it in half. Using just
enough pressure to hold it securely, but without having a 'death
grip' on it, saw away until the resin block comes free. Then
test fit it again to makes sure you have enough room.
to the rest of the kit, it is time to glue together some subassemblies
and to prep some of the other parts. First of all, the fuselage.
The 'thingie' that is supposed to be the gunsight needs to be
removed. Once you cut it off, make sure that you notch the area
like the opposite fuselage half so the new gunsight will fit.
Actually, it wouldn't be a bad idea to make each notch just
a teeny bit larger as the resin sight is a bit wider.
you can glue the radiator splitter to the radiator, the wings
together (your choice if you want the gun camera attached. If
so drill out the hole for it), and your choice of bomb or drop
tank. I chose the drop tank. Once the halves are glued together,
glue in the supports and test fit them in the holes in the underside
of the wing to make sure they will dry properly. This is because
we'll have to fill in the gaps where the braces attach to the
tank (or bomb). When dry, they are puttied and then sanded smooth.
Give those a bit of time to dry and start on some of the resin
assemblies. First of all cut off the seat and stick and glue
those to the cockpit tub. Then cut off the gunsight and glue
it to the instrument panel. Take all of these parts to the paint
shop and paint them. The interior gets a coat of US Interior
green while the instrument panel gets a nice matte black. When
done painting the main colors, follow the painting guide that
comes with the interior to do all the little bits and pieces.
This will take a couple of days to paint everything and give
the paint time to dry.
When everything is dry, give it a nice wash. I use Rustall
black wash as it doesn't really flood things with black and
is water based so I can wash it off before it dries. Doesn't
harm already dried paint, either. With that done, I take some
steel (or aluminum) Metallizer and do the drybrush thing to
all the interior parts, being very careful not to overdo it
or knock something adrift.
With that done, the instrument panel is glued to the fuselage,
the radiator intake is glued to the nose of the fuselage and
the sidewalls are glued to the interior, but only on the bottom.
This way the sides can be gently squeezed when installed in
the fuselage and will therefore fit snugly against the sides
of the fuselage without gluing them.
On to some more gluing. The cockpit will fit from the underside
without any real traumas. That being the case, the fuselage
halves were glued together. This does two things. It makes sure
that the instrument panel was properly seated (it wasn't so
I pulled it out) and it makes it much easier to sand the seam
that runs through the padded head rest. Not having any interior
to get in the way really helps.
With the fuselage and wings together, there was some filler
that needed application. When checking for seams to fill, I
first try to remove as many as possible by just sanding alone.
Sometimes they are shallow and that will work. The trick is
to make sure that you don't sand a flat spot on a rounded surface
or sand a wide groove in things. This last one is a particular
hazard when doing wing roots and with softer plastic (like in
short run kits) it happens quite easily. On the underside of
the wings, there is a join line that needs filled as the flaps
are a single piece. Part of the flap is molded on the underside
of the fuselage.
Now would be a good time to take your #79 drill bit and do
the gun ports and start on the exhaust stubs if you wished to
drill those out. It does add quite a bit to the finished product,
but can also be difficult to do properly. I have found that
starting the hole with the tip of a very sharp pointed xacto
blade helps a great deal. This is also the time where I add
the horizontal stabilizers. Doing it now and making sure they
are square goes a long way to helping to make sure that the
wings go on properly as you have a good reference in the back.
Exhaust before drilling......and after. Still needs cleaned
Once the tailplanes were solidly on and the various sanding
had been done where needed, it was time to reinstall the instrument
panel and then put in the interior. I used superglue for these
as I wanted a quick hold once the parts were in place. Both
fit well with no real hassles. The side panels stuck up a bit
above the sides of the cockpit, but have not yet been trimmed
as they may well be hidden by the closed canopy frame.
wing was then installed and it was obvious that there was a
bit of a problem. The wings were just as straight as could be
from side to side. 'So what's the problem?', you say. Well,
the P-40 wings have a bit of dihedral and are not supposed to
be flat. Fixing this isn't really that easy as the fuselage
and the wings are well braced. My only real choice was to start
sanding away at the fuselage wing root. Not a job that I really
enjoyed doing as I just cannot do these kinds of thing right.
Not sure what caused the flatness of the wings, but thinking
back on things, I have a sneaking suspicion that it has to do
with the resin interior. I did not remove any of the old interior
locating pins as they didn't seem to be in the way. It could
be that they caused the fuselage to be wider and so caused the
glitch with the wing dihedral. I have not had this problem with
any stock kits so it makes sense. Live and learn. Anyway, the
damage had been done so the fuselage was sanded, the wings attached,
and the filler used to cover up my goof.
The model was then flipped over and the cowl flaps glued in
place. Next step was to do some touch up painting in the cockpit
and to get the canopy ready to install. Since the area under
the 'quarter windows' was to be fuselage color, those wouldn't
be put in until near the very end. The canopy was masked and
then glued in place. The canopy is very clear and all of the
interior bits can be seen rather easily. It also covered up
the fact that the resin sidewalls were a bit too high so won't
be noticed. Once that was accomplished, the prop spinner and
landing gear were removed from the sprues as was the prop in
preparation for painting.
PAINT & DECALS
For a P-40E in SWPA, we are talking about your standard OD
or Medium Green uppers with Neutral Grey lower surfaces. Nothing
really fancy or complicated unless you want to do a plane that
was originally going to the RAF. Those will have a two-color
upper surface camo scheme similar to what the Flying Tigers
P-40B/C's wore. Well, I chose an easy one. This 8 FS P-40E was
to be Dark Earth on the upper surfaces and Neutral Grey undersides.
Now I didn't have any Dark Earth and frankly, I have my doubts
about a single upper color being an RAF one, so chose a faded
Olive Drab. They are pretty close matches.
The underside was first painted and then masked when dry. The
upper color came next. I used Aeromaster Enamels for both of
these colors. When those colors were completely dry (like a
few days), I brought the kit back to the work bench and did
some hand painting. Specifically the chromate wheel wells and
gear door interiors. Then the landing gear was added and the
plane taken back for a coat of Future clear gloss acrylic in
preparation for the decals.
For decals I used Superscale sheet 72-675 for 49 FG P-40Es.
The plane used was Lt. Eisenburg's 'DollyE'. This plane is unusual
in having no blue surround to the fuselage insignia. It also
has a large Pegasus on the fuselage to add some interest. The
Superscale decals worked just fine. Two minor things. First
of all the name 'DollyE' wasn't on the sheet. the carrier film
was there, but no name! I also didn't use the decal sheet's
wing insignia. The insignia on this sheet just don't seem right
to me so I dug out an ancient Scalemaster sheet for replacements.
These worked well, though they took forever to come off the
sheet (guess age will do that to you!). I applied a few stencils
just to break up the monotony of the scheme. I seriously doubt
if these stencils were actually on these planes as it seems
that some were repainted at Australian Depots. Usually stencils
would have become a casualty of the repaint. I applied Solvaset
to force the decals into submission and it worked as advertised.
MORE CONSTRUCTION & MORE PAINTING
WIth the decals now on, I could attend to some more bits and
pieces. These included the attachment of the resin wheels. These
had previously been painted and drilled out so were just slipped
on the axle stubs along with some superglue and left alone for
a bit while the glue dried. Next the prop and spinner assembly
was glued together. Finally, the gear doors were cut apart and
glued in place. This is probably the weakest part of the kit
next to the instructions. I never seem to be able to perfectly
cut these doors. Haven't seen the Academy E but I do hope that
these doors are precut.
The model was then given a coat of clear flat using my age-old
mixture of Future and Tamiya flat-base. Then the pastels were
brought out for the engine exhaust and the gun stains. I also
used it to highlight some panel lines and wiped much of it away.
Left the kit slightly dirty looking. The masking was removed
from the canopy and the quarter windows were glued in using
non-fogging superglue. Finally, the drop tank was glued in place.
Then the hard part; attaching the radio antenna.
Those P-40s without antenna masts had an entry point for the
long wire just above the radio compartment. From there a short
length ran to the front of the upper fin. Then two long wires
ran out to near the wing tip. Holes were drilled in these places
with a #80 drill bit. Clear stretched sprue was used as these
wires are all but invisible in photographs. It took several
attempts to get all three wires properly attached and taut.
The last steps were painting the formation lights and the prop.
The spinner was glued on using white glue. I have a bottle of
Elmer's that has to be 6-7 years old. It is very thick and dries
quickly. That was the last construction step and the kit was
photographed before I broke anything!
You really cannot go wrong with any of the second generation
Hasegawa single-engine prop kits. They all fit reasonably well
with minimal hassles and can be improved upon with inexpensive
aftermarket resin bits. For those who aren't as glacial a builder
as I am the kits can be completed competently in about a week
or even less. A great kit for even the newest builders.
Ed: I'd like to thank Scott,
the web master of Modeling
Madness for the use of his article
Van Aken 2001