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Airfix P-40B Warhawk

Although it was a prewar design, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk continued to be used by most of the Allies on every front throughout World War II.

Numerous manufacturers have recently released kits of the Warhawk, with Airfix’s P-40B being the latest. Inside the sturdy box are three sprues molded in medium gray plastic, and a fourth sprue holding crystal-clear parts. Panel lines and details are deep and well defined, and the fabric effects on the rudder, elevators, and ailerons are subtle. Unfortunately, I did not realize that the rudder trim tab is only engraved on the starboard side until after I had glued it to the model.

The landing-gear doors are a bit thick, but trailing edges of the flight surfaces look good. There are ejector-pin marks in visible areas, such as the gear wells and doors, and many more that will be hidden in the rear fuselage. Options include parts for raised or lowered landing gear, open or closed canopy, two windscreens, open or closed cowl flaps, a square or a rounded pilot’s seat, a drop tank (not mentioned in the instructions), and a choice of two markings: the plane George Welch flew at Pearl Harbor or a Flying Tiger flown by R.T. Smith.

The 12-page instruction booklet is straightforward, guiding you through the build one or two pieces per step. Final parts locations are shown in red in the following step. Color callouts are for Humbrol paints, although that is mentioned only on one line of fine print in the preliminary assembly instructions.

Like the real aircraft, cockpit detail is sparse. Decals for the instruments, switch boxes, and a few placards are slightly oversized for their locations. However, I used all of them except the instrument decal, finding it easier to paint the entire panel.

The floor is curved as if it is the top of the wing. In a unique approach, the remainder of the cockpit builds up like a cage; the bulkheads form the front and rear, while the stringers and formers make up the sides. The instrument panel/rudder pedals are supposed to drop into the completed cage, then turn to lock into place. I don’t care for this system — I never got the proper alignment. The cockpit appears to be the proper depth for this scale.

I should have thinned the fuselage sides, but I clamped them together around the cockpit. Excessive pressure distorted the nose, which led to problems fitting the chin piece (Part B04) and gun troughs (parts C04 and C05). I recommend fitting all five pieces together before gluing any of them to the nose ring (Part B03).

There is some play in the separate wing roots (parts C02 and C03). I did not match them perfectly, and that caused one side of the wing to be tight and left a slight gap on the other side. It also meant that the wings were not level. It may be easier to build the wing first and then align everything at once. I had to trim and putty the landing-gear fairings (parts B10 and B09) to achieve an acceptable fit.

The elevators were a press fit. I wish I had glued them, though; I kept knocking them loose while handling the model.

I really like the separate wheel hubs and tires, which made painting easy. However, the main tires look like they could use some more air.

The mounting plugs on the wing guns are larger than the holes into which they should fit. I trimmed off more than I should have on one and had to replace it with tubing after I pushed the original inside the wing.

I used Testors Model Master neutral gray and GSI Creos Mr. Color olive drab, and detailed with a simple acrylic sludge wash. The decals were a little thicker than most, but they reacted well to Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol solutions.
Airframe construction was accomplished in about 10 hours, while painting, decals, and a small amount of weathering took another 10. With final assembly, it took just under 22 hours to complete my P-40. Matching published dimensions, the model’s scale is right on.

I thoroughly enjoyed building this kit. Any modeler with a kit or two under their belt should be able to breeze through it. The toughest thing about the Airfix P-40 is finding another one to build as a Flying Tiger!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2017 issue.


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