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Dora Wings P-43 Lancer

Build review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with outstanding detail
The Republic P-43 Lancer is an aviation “missing link” revealing the design evolution from the stubby Seversky P-35 to the gigantic P-47. While the U.S. Army Air Corps used it primarily for training, more than 100 were used in combat by the Chinese and a handful used for reconnaissance by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Dora Wings’ new P-43 is the first 1/48 scale Lancer since Classic Airframes released the first kit in 1995. Unlike that short-run plastic kit that included resin details, this one features 137 crisply molded plastic parts with finely engraved panel lines. The engine cylinder detail is amazing! The ailerons, elevators, and rudder are separate. Cameras and lenses are on the sprues indicate a future release in Australian colors. 

A photo-etched metal (PE) fret supplies seat belts, cowl flaps, and an optional instrument panel, and there are die-cut masks for the three-piece canopy. 

Nicely printed decals give markings for four American machines, three in olive drab over neutral gray, and one bare-metal aircraft. The red looks a tad light to my eye.
The twelve-page instruction book has a parts map, 27 construction steps, color marking diagrams, and a paint chart.

Overall this kit is beautiful, but the instructions confused me at several points.

The kit offers a choice between a plastic instrument panel and a sandwich comprising a flat backer, instrument decals, and a PE face. Separated sides and many detail parts are provided. Some of these are the smallest injection-molded parts I’ve ever seen and proved to be perfect ammunition for my tweezers to catapult across the workshop; handle them carefully. Everything comes together to produce a good-looking cockpit.

I would have appreciated clear drawings to assemble the engine mount. The struts look like Vs with a small pin at the bottom, a shorter straight arm, and a longer arm with a bump near the end. The pins attach to a ring facing the front, the fat end with the bump attaches to the firewall, and the bump is the attachment point for the short arm of the next strut. I had a hard time getting everything aligned. As the build progressed, I realized that the engine never attaches to the mount, so you can skip the entire assembly — I know I will next time!

The instrument panel needs to be attached between the butt ends of machine guns that mount on the firewall. But the instructions do not show this and, in fact, never show the panel being added at all. 

Wait to build the landing gear until you are ready to add it to the completed airframe. It will be much easier to see where all the struts attach so as not to interfere with the gear doors. 

Keep track of the beautifully molded supercharger. I failed to do so and had to replace mine with a less detailed resin item from an old Classic Airframes kit.

The engine is a kit unto itself; however, the instructions again left me confused. They show a dozen Part A18 and seven Part A1. Respectively there are only nine and five in the kit. Photos of a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830 on the National Air and Space Museum website showed there should be one Part A18 for each cylinder and seven of Part A1 connecting the lower cylinders. I fabricated the missing parts from a paper clip, but I suspect no one would notice if you just used the kit parts on the front bank of cylinders and didn’t worry about the rear.

I suggest reversing the assembly sequence for the engine cowling. Start with the cowl ring, which has notches inside to align the cylinder heads. Then, you can align the other three pieces with the correct cross-section. I added styrene strips to expand the gluing surface for the cowl flaps, but this caused a fit problem later when I attached the power egg to the fuselage. Instead, wait until the cowl is on the airframe to add the flaps.

The fit of the major components was excellent but, I had to remove about a millimeter from the port wing root to even out the dihedral. The rudder and elevators fit so tightly I didn’t use glue. They are just pressed into place.

Alclad II airframe aluminum prepared my Lancer for decals, which went on well without decal solvents or setting solutions. Dora Wings thoughtfully supplied a few extras of the smaller decals.

Dora Wings have given us a kit of an important if less well-known aircraft that needs little effort to turn into a highly detailed replica.

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