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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

I Hear Thunder: 1/48th Monogram / Pro Modeler P-38F Lightning

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Don't get this one confused with the original P-38J release by Monogram back in the 60's and rereleased since then under the Revell label as well). This Pro Modeler kit is actually a re-box of Hasegawa's fine mold from 1993. You don't tend to see a lot of P-38 builds compared to other WWII types. This is probably due to the unique shape of the P-38 which has typically made for a more complex build with higher than normal parts count for a fighter.

Notable Kit Features:

  • Nice set of instructions which includes many reference photos from Detail & Scale

  • Well detailed cockpit with raised details and separate sidewalls

  • Finely scribed panel lines

  • Nicely detailed wheel wells

  • Vented nose machine guns provided

  • Good detail represented in the superchargers

  • Cockpit glass can be displayed open or closed

  • Optional wing pylons & drop tanks

Build Inspiration:

I had seen the shark teeth Lightnings of the 39th Fighter Squadron in some reference books and wanted to build one of these for a while, however in my early days of model building finding an F model wasn't an easy task. Minicraft and Hasegawa released this version type in the mid 90's and I ended up with this Pro Modeler version when I came across it in 2003. Personally I like the sleeker engine lines of the F/G/H versions on the Lightning.

Heads-Up Report:

  • There are a lot of things happening with this twin-boom aircraft and lining it all up will take some patience

  • Careful dry fitting will eliminate or at least reduce any sanding & filler requirements

  • The radiator scoops on the booms are multi-part and require some work to get aligned

  • Canopy is multi-part and a bit fiddly to construct

  • Props are provided as separate blades to be glued and aligned as desired

  • Don't underestimate the nose weight, as the aircraft sits nose high when finished (this detail threw me off and I ended up having to drill out spots in the forward engine plates to add more weight upon discovering I had a tail dragger)

Kit Additions / Modifications:

The kit decals were quite nice however I ended up using some Superscale ones I had to get the 39th FS sharks teeth and then went to the spares to cobble together the markings for USAF PTO double ace, Thomas Lynch. Other than that, the kit was built out of the box.

End Result:

I am pretty happy with the results of this endeavor. The paint scheme for this aircraft was the standard olive green (FS 34087) over gray (FS 36270). A faded paint effect was achieved by adding darker and lighter tones of the standard colours during paint application (lighter in the panel centers and darker along panel lines - with some variance). Varied metal tones were used on the superchargers. The kit panel lines were given a panel wash on the gloss coat - post decal application.

The After-Build Report:

Possibly because I had heard what a nightmare the Hasegawa (and Academy) P-38s were to construct I came prepared for a trial of skills and ended up being pleasantly surprised that I didn't have that much trouble with the kit. That being said, the build is a bit of a challenge due to the delicate twin-boom configuration, so I would recommend it for somewhat experienced modelers.

Tamiya's new release had their engineering team review past kits I'm sure, and apparently they have come up with the ultimate P-38 kit (from what I have read). The Tamiya kit does not banish the Pro Modeler (Hasegawa) kit to the junk pile, it is still a very nice kit but will take some extra time and patience to get a proper build together. (Nothing a veteran model maker can't handle ;)

Completed build #177 - December 2014 using the 1/48th scale Monogram Pro Modeler #85-5974 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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