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Arma Hobby 1/72 scale P-39Q Airacobra plastic model kit review

Stunning detail and perfectly fitting parts
Kit:70055 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$30
Arma Hobby
Unsurpassed detail; many marking options
Sprue gates extend onto part surfaces; tiny and fragile parts
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 91 parts (3 steel weights); decals; masks
Built by Bell Aircraft, the P-39Q Airacobra remains one of the more interesting and innovative fighter designs to come out of World War II. With its engine-mounted midship, tricycle landing gear, and 37mm cannon firing through the center of the propeller, it promised to be an effective platform. However, the absence of a turbo-supercharger limited its high-altitude performance, relegating it to low-level missions. Many Airacobras were sent to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program, where they performed very well.

The all-new Arma Hobby 1/72 scale Airacobra P-39Q is an absolute jewel of a kit. Moldings feature some of the nicest recessed panel engravings I’ve seen — there are even molded tire markings! The level of detail rivals that of larger-scale offerings.

The decal sheet includes marking options for five different aircraft, instrument panels, and lots of stencils. Some unused parts indicate future versions to come. Instructions break the assembly into 24 clearly illustrated steps with full-color drawings for the marking options and color callouts for seven paint brands. The kit also includes die-cut masks for the canopy and wheels.

Construction starts with the cockpit’s rudder pedals and instrument panel. Bell used its own shade of green inside the aircraft; I chose FS34092 Euro green as it’s the closest match I had on hand.

Decals for the instrument panel fit well and settled into the molded details with a little Micro Sol decal solution. Seatbelt decals look OK, but appearances would probably benefit if they were replaced with photo-etched metal.

The underside of the cockpit floor also serves as the rear-most part of the nose-gear well. Three steel balls supply counterweight to finish off the cockpit, but you will want to add more, as I found out — mine still wants to tilt back on its tail. Add weight before attaching the nose gun panel (Part 21), and it shouldn’t take much to balance the plane.

The cockpit fit perfectly between the fuselage sides with only a little Mr. Surfacer on the join and an inspection panel that needs to be filled on each side of the nose.

You’ll need to open some holes on the underside of the wing, depending on the version you plan to build. I plugged gun ports in the wings with stretched sprue. The wing mated perfectly to the fuselage, as did the single-piece rear stabilizer. Elevators and rudders are separate and can be posed.

With the airframe complete, it was time for paint. I chose the light tan over the light blue version from the Gilbert Islands because a white-tailed P-39 already resided in my collection. Although the instructions list Tamiya Light Blue (No. XF-23), if I were to build another, I’d probably lighten it a touch. The Tamiya Deck Tan (No. XF-55) looks right for the topside, but I really have nothing to base that on.

The decals went on well, although the insignia needed some extra help settling. You’ll have to decide if you want to add all the stencils; small and plentiful, I think them worth the extra effort.

With the painting complete, the landing gear, propeller, exhaust, and drop tank or bomb were the only things left. I had a little trouble getting the nose-gear retractor strut in place, but otherwise, nothing else posed problems.

Arma Hobby has produced an absolutely fantastic 1/72 scale P-39Q Airacobra kit! I spent somewhere around 30 hours building it. Normally, a kit with this level of detail would take longer, but the fit and engineering are so good that the time I usually spend cleaning up parts and test-fitting just wasn’t needed. It might not be the right project for beginning modelers because of some tiny and fragile parts, but someone with a few kits under their belt should have a great experience.
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