Pushing Forty: 1/48th AMT P-40N Warhawk
I bought this 1/48th P-40 kit second had at a Hobby Show for next to nothing. It was partially started, without a box or instructions. One that had been languishing on the owner's "Shelf of Doom" for too long and he just wanted it out of his sight. I deduced it is the Mauve 1/48 P-40N plastic however which company's release is unknown. As a bonus in the purchase there was cockpit and wheels upgrades included, so it was too good a deal to resist for me.
Notable Kit Features:
Acceptable kit detail level in cockpit
Finely engraved panel lines
Nice fitting parts
This was a relax, rescue build without much research into the subject matter and I had yet to decide on the decals although the Burma P-40s of the 80th Fighter Group sporting the skull head on the cowl had caught my attention (and many others judging by the number of kits built in this groups markings).
There were a lot of high-praise reviews on Mauve's P-40 kits when they were relased however I also found some critics of the subject (all after I built up my version) therefore, I will list some of the items and if you venture into this kit, you can take a look at these areas and decide if they require some attention in your build.
Poor cockpit (aside from the instrument panel) I was lucky enough to get some Eduard parts for my build to augment things
Mediocre Browning wing guns
I used a spreader sprue in the fuselage to expand it a bit for a better wing-root fit
Poor gear struts and undersized wheels (I replaced the kit wheels with the resin ones however mine should have had spokes (I just used the owner supplied resin wheels without checking - my bad)
Poor canopy fit both front and rear pieces
No canopy rail slide depicted on kit
Exhaust pieces are all separate stubs ( I had to drill out better holes to get the stubs to fit - I have since lost one stub, as well as a tail wheel gear door)
Propeller hub is a bit too long and pointed (it should be blunted some to correct this)
Propeller blades are too long (trim about 3/32") P-40s had an 11' prop if you want to scale this out
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Eduard details and seatbelts were used to spruce up the pit
Resin main wheels were substituted (although apparently incorrect ones)
If you noticed here, I also split the markings on this kit as I ran into a problem with one of the skulls and just used another aircraft's decals on the left-side nose to keep the project moving along (it certainly provides an interesting solution if you can't decide between two favourite markings ;)
The paint scheme for this aircraft was the standard P-40 olive green (FS 34087) over gray (FS 36270) using Model Master water based paints. 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). After sufficient drying a gloss-coat was applied using Pledge (Floor finish) After the decals were applied, the kit panel lines were given an oil-based wash over the gloss coat - post decal application. Final coat was a Model Master Matt although I mucked up the Matt coat a bit as it appears slightly spattered, however I wasn't about to restart the paint process at that point (I'll chalk the look up to a weathered paint effect from the Burma sun.)
The After-Build Report:
When I started making models selecting a P-40 kit was easy because there were so few in 1/48th scale... now there seem to be so many, between New-Tool and Re-boxing it seems ultimately confusing to figure out which kit to get! I will expand on this below if you care to get into the "weeds":
P-40 Manufacturers Expansion Recap:
In the 1990's a number of kit manufacturers released updated 1/48th P-40 kits (at this point existing kits were all outdated, although Monogram's P-40C kit had a good shape line). Both AMT/ERTL and Mauve produced a series of 1/48 scale P-40s, which featured nicely recessed panel lines and decently detailed components. AMT/ERTL's offerings included; the P-40F, K and N. The AMT/ERTL kit was critiqued for the nose shape and wing dihedral among other notes. The Mauve kit was considered superior in many ways, however it had its issues as well. Mauve released the P-40M and P-40N (plus their RAF equivalents Kittyhawk III and IV). Unfortunately an earthquake took out Mauve's production facility, so this company is no longer, however their model molds did survive. Hobbycraft also jumped in at some point in the 90's re-releasing some of the ERTL P-40 kits under their brand.
AMtech then entered the market in the early 2000s offering a number of new variants based on the AMT/ERTL kits. These were the P-40E, plus short and long tailed versions of the P-40F and P-40L. The Merlin powered variants were enhanced with a solid replacement nose that was supposed to be more accurate than AMT/ERTL's forward fuselage. (Although I read reports of mating issues with the resin and kit parts) Trumpeter introduced a P-40B in 2004, which was also met with considerable criticism regarding its variance in panel lines, cockpit hazards etc. Eduard got into the act, repackaging Mauve's P-40M and N kits with new markings plus resin and photo-etched detail parts, which served as an upgrade to these molds. Academy jumped in as well re-boxing both the Hobbycraft kits (which were re-boxes of AMT/ERTL kits) and also re-boxed the Mauve kits. Adding to all of this, Hasegawa stepped into the fray in the mid-2000s, starting with the release of their P-40E and then moving onto several other variants. The Hasegawa kits were looked to as the savior kits, but then critiqued for the modular construction engineering (and not their best effort) so plugging in the various panels smoothly was a challenge (typically requiring some filler and sanding / replacement of details frustration) although the Hasegawa kit was generally nice. Monogram/Revell also released a New Tool P-40E in 2005 (not to be confused with the old Monogram relic kit.) and then we had Italeri re-boxing the AMT/ERTL in the late 2000s.
More recently, Hobbyboss produced a P-40M however I couldn't find much information on it. Airfix's new tool P-40B in 2016 has brought some hope for a decent early P-40 at least. Bronco's P-40C released around the same time got shot down due to a number of shape issues with the kit.
Admittedly model builders are a tough crowd, however it is also stunning to see manufacturers seemingly not learn from each other's mistakes. So what we model makers have ended up with in the P-40 Spectrum is a relatively confusing choice of P-40 kits after not having much choice at all... Suggestions on a "Best" P-40 kit pick welcome :)
Completed build #180 - December 2014 using the 1/48th scale Mauve base 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 supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers