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P-40C Tomahawk

Academy 1/48 P-40C Tomahawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2005 Manufacturer Academy
Subject P-40C Tomahawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2182 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Very nicely tooled and detailed kit Cons Spartan cockpit
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.00

First Look

Academy P-40C Tomahawk
Academy P-40C Tomahawk
Academy P-40C Tomahawk
Academy P-40C Tomahawk

In the early days of the Japanese invasion of China, a number of aircraft types distinguished themselves in the service of the Chinese Air Force. Among these were the export Hawk fighters from Curtiss. From the biplane Hawk III and the Hawk 75 (P-36), to the early models of the P-40, these aircraft stood successfully against the numerically superior Japanese.

The P-40B/C evolved from the P-36 Hawk replacing the earlier aircraft's radial engine with a liquid-cooled Allison V1710 producing over 1000 horsepower. While lacking in rate of climb, speed and turning performance, the P-40 was nonetheless a capable fighter when flown by pilots who knew how to use the aircraft's strengths.

One such group of pilots was the All Volunteer Group (AVG), who later became known as the Flying Tigers. General Claire Chennault, who recruited pilots from around the states to serve as mercenaries to defend China from the Japanese, commanded the AVG. When the US entered the war, the AVG was quickly incorporated into the USAAC. The trademark sharkmouths of the AVG P-40s have remained a visual icon in US history, exemplified by the classic John Wayne movie, the Flying Tigers.

Academy's 1/48 P-40C Tomahawk kit is identical to the Hobbycraft P-40 released a number of years ago. The kit is comprised of 65 parts molded in light grey plastic (with 5 beautifully clear transparencies) and features finely engraved panel lines, no flash or sinkmarks, and is free of ejector pin marks in visible places.

The fit of the fuselage halves and wing halves were spot-on, and the fuselage/wing joint appears to be trouble-free as well. From the looks of the parts, I doubt if much of any filler will be required to construct this kit.

As is also the case with the Hobbycraft example, this kit is rather sparse in cockpit detailing, but this is a minor problem. There are a few outstanding resin cockpit detail sets for the P-40B/C from True Details and KMC. While KMC has ceased production of their detail sets, many are still available on store shelves and through mail order houses. If you cannot locate, a KMC set, fear not - it will soon be re-released under the True Details logo as well. As with most kits, you'll need to add seat belts and shoulder harnesses to complete the cockpit. Eduard released a set of photo-etched parts (including belts and harnesses) for the early P-40 a few years ago. This set is still available.

The kit features a choice of round and weighted tires. Of the 70 parts included in this kit, 18 are not used in this version of the P-40. At a total of 52 parts, this kit is elegant in its simplicity, yet offers the superdetailer a nice starting point to work from.

Markings are included Sqn Leader Robert Neale's mount, 'Adam and Eves' of the 1st Pursuit Sqn, and the aircraft flown by Charles Older, 'Hell's Angels' of the 3rd Pursuit Sqn. Aeromaster had previously released a set of markings for quite a few more AVG aircraft, so the possibilities are endless.

Go watch John Wayne's Flying Tigers again, then grab this kit and add a piece of history to your quarter scale flightline. This kit is recommended to builders of all skill levels.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!