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Dora Wings P-63E Kingcobra

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with included canopy masks
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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Bell Aircraft created the P-63 to overcome the Airacobra’s shortcomings. Their efforts resulted in a bigger, better, and faster fighter, which is often described as the P-39’s big brother. Although the Kingcobra was only used in training by the U.S. Army Air Forces, more than 2,000 ended up in Soviet service through Lend-Lease. 

Dora Wings, a new Ukrainian company, released the 1/48 scale Kingcobra as one of its initial releases. At first glance, the eight small sprues, a photo-etched (PE) fret, and slightly chunky landing gear legs had me thinking this was a short-run kit. But a closer look at the parts convinced me of the contrary. The recessed panel lines are so petite, I feared they would disappear under the primer, base, and finish coats I apply for a bare-metal finish.

(Although the history in the instructions talks about the two-seat TP-63 and some rear cockpit details are molded in the fuselage, no other parts for the two-seater are included in this boxing.)

Most small cockpit details are PE. The black-and-white instrument-panel decal looks great and conforms to molded panel detail.

I removed part of the V-shaped nose-gear actuator thinking it was a flow gate; I shouldn’t have. 

Some of the instruction’s illustrations could be clearer. I recommend consulting photos for details. A case in point is the throttle: It should be forward of the door opening, not aft as seemingly indicated in the instructions.

The assembled cockpit’s fit into the fuselage is precise. I had trouble closing the body around it at first and was about to resort to widening the locating slots with a motor tool when it clicked into place. However, as I glued the halves together, the cockpit slipped and created a cascade of fit problems. The cockpit bulkheads forced the fuselage wide so the wings didn’t want to fit. Later, the canopy was too narrow for the still-too-wide fuselage. Attempting to spread the center section just a little, I immediately cracked the thin clear parts. The curve of the separate doors did not match the wider fuselage and narrow canopy either.

I thinned the assembled main gear wells with a coarse woodworking file until they fit inside the wings. The separate ailerons and flaps have sharp trailing edges and excellent fit. I added the gun pods and drop tank racks at this time. 

The separate nose piece means an additional seam to fill, but it allows weight to be added near the end of construction and eliminates guesswork — this plane will not be a tail sitter! 

The prop shaft in my kit was short shot But the prop fits tightly in the spinner so this isn’t a problem. 

I love canopy masks — they save so much time and effort. The kit masks mostly fit well, but I added tape to the aft bubble section to ensure full coverage.
Over a base coat of Tamiya spray-can primer, I applied Mr. Color silver.

The kit features markings for six aircraft, three American, two Honduran, and one wearing civilian registration. Unfortunately, the insignia blue of the U.S. insignia is a little light and the spacing for the serial numbers is uneven. The good news is that the decals laid down perfectly over a coat of Pledge Floor Gloss.

Most of my problems were my fault rather than an issue with the kit. Had I checked fit before adding glue, I would have had an easier time. And take care with small parts — my carpet monster ate well on this kit. 

While not for beginners, if you have a few builds under your belt, you will be happy with the results. The surface detail is beautiful, and the P-63 has largely been overlooked by other manufacturers. 

I look forward to seeing what Dora Wings comes out with next and hope to see earlier versions of the Kingcobra. I’d love to build a P-63C.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2018 issue.

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