Hasegawa 1/48 Curtiss P-40E Warhawk
Model, Text and Photos by: Tom Norrbohm
This has been an eagerly awaited kit by many of us. While other kit manufacturer's have done the P-40E variant, none seemed to be 'right on'. Hasegawa's announcement of this release had us all salivating and those who got their hands on one were either happy or disappointed. I have a friend who said it was 'un-buildable'. It all depends on what you are willing to do to get to the end result. So, onward and forward!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Typical Hasegawa quality. Flash free parts, photo etched parts, crystal clear clear parts, decals for 2 aircraft. It is obvious that Hasegawa is going to do multiple variants with this kit as the fuselage is molded without the tail assembly. They have announced a P-40N which will require the 'long tail' in place of the E's standard tail and I would guess that they may do an M variant as well. A P-40K would also be possible. Along with the separate tail assembly, you also get separate wing gun inserts, aft fuselage section, underwing gun panels and nose panels. To do an P-40F & L, they will need to do a whole new fuselage, and who knows if they will go that far. So let's begin!
DRY FITTING: I taped the fuselage, tail & aft fuselage halves together and fitted all together to see how they would fit. Nothing fit to my liking and I decided to glue each half of the aft fuselage and tail to the appropriate fuselage half (see photo), making a complete fuselage half. The aft fuselage half was glued in flush with the outside of the surrounding fuselage, and this created a gap when the two fuselage halves are put together. This will be addressed later. Tamiya Basic Putty was carefully applied to the seams of these parts and set aside to dry.
COCKPIT: No problems here. All assemblies were painted with ModelMaster paints and highlited with pastels and silver color pencil. I chose not to use the kit decals for the instrument panel and opted for the white color pencil and paints to bring out the details (see photo). Once everything was done, I assembled the parts to make the cockpit 'tub' and set aside.
FUSELAGE ASSEMBLY: The heavy rivets molded on parts D1 & 2 were sanded off. After assembling and putting in the intake assembly, the fuselage halves were glued together. Parts A13, A20, K3 & K4 are glued into place. Putty where needed. You will noticed that there is a gap between parts D1 & D2. This was filled with plastic card stock (see photo). Now with the putty dry, we proceed with a little trick to help things along. Using Equate Regular Nail Polish Remover (you can buy this at Wal-Mart), using a Q-tip or a rag wrapped around your finger, dip it in the Equate and rub over the puttied areas. Repeat this process until all excess putty is gone leaving only putty in the seams. You can now sand with 1000+ grit sandpaper or multi-grit polishing boards. By using this method you minimize the amount of detail lost in the sanding process. After this, you can re-scribe missing panel lines or not. Exhaust stacks are painted and left off at this time until later. Cockpit tub can now be glued into place from the bottom of the fuselage.
WING ASSEMBLY: No problems here. Underwing gun panels fit excellent and were glued into place. A14 & 15 were painted Interior Green and glued to the lower wing. The camera assembly? (parts U2, A2, 24 & 25) were not installed. This is rarely seen on ANY P-40 and was discarded. Navigation lights can be removed if you go that route. I chose to leave mine alone and paint them later. Upper wing halves were glued into place, and the machine gun inserts glued in also. Parts A11 & 12 were glued into place and the opening on the front of A12 was puttied. Careful puttying & sanding per the above method will round out the wing assembly.
FUSELAGE/WING ASSEMBLY: Dry fitting the wing to the fuselage revealed our first major problem, wing root gaps and not much dihedral to the wings. I glued the wing to the fuselage only where it met the lower fuselage in front and back, making sure everything was square. When dry, I noticed that the wing root gap on the right side was much smaller than that on the left. I pulled the right wing up with tape until the gap disappeared and glued the wing root. This solved the problem of no dihedral. But the gap on the other side was too big (see photo) and pulling that up with tape until the gap closed would give us to MUCH dihedral on that wing! I put in some very fine plastic card stock to reduce the gap and then pulled the wing up until the dihedral matched the other wing and then glued the wing root. This was done by putting the landing gear struts on temporarily and setting the plane done and measuring up to the wing tips from the ground. I had to putty the left wing root gap and again used the above method as described.
MISCELLANEOUS: Decide whether you want a bomb or drop tank and assemble. Landing gear was cleaned up and painted as was the propeller assembly. Gear doors can be put on now or painted and applied later.
PAINTING/DECALING: After covering the wheel wells and cockpit, the model was primed and painted. I used ModelMaster paints Middlestone, Dark Earth and Azure Blue. Camouflage pattern was cut from xeroxed patterns and applied in place and painted. Model was then flat coated and panel lines drawn in with lead and color pencils. Ink was used around the control services. Rivets highlited with a fine paint pen. Model was then sealed with Testors ModelMaster Sealer. I used Sky Decals for the P-40 to do an aircraft from 112 Squadron. National markings were Aeromaster Decals. Decal were applied with Micro Sol and Set with no problems. Another shot of Sealer, and then ModelMaster Clear Flat finished the model off. I then used pastels to highlite the fabric control surfaces, and put panels lines on over the decals and gave them all a shot of clear flat afterwards.
FINAL ASSEMBLIES: Landing gear, propeller assembly, cowl flaps, gear doors, tail wheel, exhaust stacks and the bomb/drop tank were put on the model at this time. Horizontal stabilizers were painted, detailed and glued into place as well. A Waldron ring sight was glued into place (see photo). Now we come to the second major problem with this kit, the clear parts. First of all, Hasegawa chose to have the sprue attachment point directly to the clear area of the windscreen! Why?! With a very sharp knife I cut the part off but still had a 'bruise' showing. I polished with polishing sticks but could not eliminate all traces of the 'bruise'. I decided to cover this up with a small strip of painted framing (see photo). After cleaning up and polishing all the clear parts, they were painted and finished and Future Floor Wax applied to 'clear' up the clear parts. The windscreen fit fine, and the rear windows didn't seem to fit as well as I would have liked, maybe it's just an optical illusion. The sliding part did not fit well at all. If you choose to close the canopy, it does not sit flush with the fuselage. At the bottom of the canopy, it is narrow in front and wide in back. I chose to glue my canopy closed with a little Super Glue to hold it flush with the fuselage. If you choose to open the canopy, this won't be a problem. Stretched sprue was used for rigging, and the nav lights painted. DONE!
CONCLUSIONS: I went into this project knowing there could be some problem areas with the multi piece fuselage and all. I took my time and with the trick of using the Equate nail polish remover, I saved myself a lot of grief. The problem areas such as the wing fit and clear parts were unfortunate and I am surprised that Hasegawa would allow this to happen. Fortunately there were not difficult to overcome. I would recommend this kit to anyone wanting to build a nice P-40E variant.
REFERENCES: CURTISS P-40 by MBI OSPREY AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES - 38 Tomahawk & Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF & Commonwealth ARCO AIRCAM AVIATION SERIES #6 - Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.I-IV in RAF, SAAF, RAAF, RCAF, NIEAF Service.
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