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P-40E Kit

AMT/ERTL 1/48 P-40E Warhawk Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review October 2007 Manufacturer AMT/ERTL
Subject Curtiss P-40E Warhawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number 8879 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Engraved detail. Nice engine with removable engine panels Cons Flaps and cockpit transparency molded solid
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit

The Curtiss P-40 was one of the most widely used American fighters in WWII. Earlier models called “:Tomahawks” and “Kittyhawks” by the British, served in Libya, on the Russian Front, and in China with the American Volunteer Group or AVG, better known as the “Flying Tigers”.

The Warhawk was the first U.S. aircraft to be equipped with the British Merlin engine, replacing the Allison in earlier models. It was a single-engine, low-wing monoplane, and together with the Bell P-39 Airacobra, made up more than half of the U.S. Army Air Corps fighter strength during the first half of the war. In fact, the only American fighters that were able to take-off during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were 2 brand-new P-40’s. Lieutenants George Welch and Ken Taylor raced as fast as they could to the small Army airstrip at Haleiwa, which for some strange reason was the only field the Japanese had missed in their sweeping attack. In short order, their P-40’s were airborne and the two young officers brought the fight to the enemy. They landed several times to refuel and rearm and before the day was over each had shot down 4 Japanese aircraft.

The Curtiss fighter immediately preceding the P-40 was the P-36 Hawk. Basically, the P-40 was an improved P-36 with an inline engine instead of the earlier model’s radial engine. The first P-40 was built on the 10th production frame of the P-36A, under an Air Corps contract issued in July 1938. It is interesting to note that before the U.S. had entered the war, and Allied P-36 Hawk was the first fighter to shoot down a German aircraft.

The P-40E Warhawk, of which 2,320 were built, was the first scale production model. It was similar to the D model, but with 2 additional 50 caliber machine-guns, and it was superior to the B model.

Strangely, the P-40 was a rather inferior fighter. It’s performance and technology were not up to the standards of it’s contemporaries. It was for this reason that General Claire Lee Chennault was able to acquire for his Flying Tigers their first 100 P-40’s, which had been turned down by the British (later the AVG wouldn’t trade their P-40’s for RAF Hurricanes). Chennault, a fighter-pilot and brilliant tactician, taught his “Tigers” how to use the strength of their P-40’s (with the familiar shark teeth on their noses) against the weakness of the superior Japanese Zeros.

“Hit hard, go in with full power, everything to the fire wall, but when you’ve made that attack with all the determination, break away and get out. Go down with all the speed you have, for the heavy P-40 will take much more than the light Zero before you have to pull out. When you do, you’ll be out in front and can use the excess speed to climb back above the enemy formation. Then, and only then, must you think of coming back, and then only when you’ve studied the new situation and found your openings. Yes, with this ship you’ve heard talked down by lots of people who’ve never flown it and never will, you can beat the Japs. Beat them, and stay alive if you used the good points of your ship.”

That they did, against odds of 10 to 1, and as the commander of the China-Burma-India Theatre, General “Vinegar Joe” – Stillwell said “Given anything like near equality of numbers, the P-40 would shoot down 12 enemy planes for every P-40 lost.”

AMT/Ertl is a company based in Dyresville, IA, only 52 miles from my house. I used to go up there and buy kits in the factory discount store they maintained. Ertl is famous for their line of collector all metal farm toys for years. They later branched out into plastic toys and model kits and for a while had armor and aircraft models. Today, you can only find car models there and a smattering of Star Wars and Star Trek kits (the later are starting to vanish now too). They dropped the planes and tanks to my sorrow. This kit was bought there, back when they stocked them.

The kit is a repackaged Arii/Otaki release that comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart shows 2 P-40E’s in the markings of the 11th Fighter Squadron, 343rd Fighter Group, Aleutian Islands, known as the “Aleutian Tigers” (one of the 3 marking schemes offered in the kit)

Inside the box is a large cello bag with 3 medium gray parts tree and a clear tree inside.

The decal sheet, instructions and a yellow card to use to subscribe to the “Blueprinter” magazine of theirs. The “Blueprinter” was a magazine that they peddled at one time (don’t know if it still exists) for a $6.00 a year subscription rate. I never cared for the sample ones I saw on the counter at their discount store, because they were always just full of car models stuff (not my bag) and next to nil on aircraft and armor kits.

The instructions consist of a single large sheet, with 17 ¼” x 7 ½” format pages, that accordion folds out into six pages. This is then folded, vertically, three times to fit the box.

Page 1 begins with a black and white drawing that is a copy of the aircraft in the foreground on the box art only. This is followed by the history of the P-40. Below that is general information about the kit and some phone numbers to reach Ertl at.

Pages 2 through 4 give at total of 9 assembly step drawings. The model supplies an engine which can be seen by removing cowl panels, if you care to leave them loose. You can opt for either a belly drop tank or a bomb in step no. 9. The kit has some darn nice detail in the cockpit. Unfortunately, the cockpit transparency is molded with the windscreen and center section together and only the little tear-drop windows behind these as being separate. It would take some hairy surgery to open this up good. Spread across pages 5 & 6 are the three schemes offered on the decal sheet.

A P-40E of the 11th Fighter Squadron, 343rd Fighter Group, Aleutian Islands. It is in olive drab above and neutral gray below. It has a diagonal white fuselage stripe. The instructions say to cut the blue ball away from the white star on the decal sheet for the star for the fuselage sides as Aleutian Tigers did not have the blue. At first I questioned reading this, but later confirmed it in Squadrons in Action book on the P-40. It carries the large black lettering “U.S. ARMY” under it’s wings. The propeller spinner is yellow and it has small yellow number 98 on the tail along with a white vertical stripe on the rudder.

A P-40E of the 112th Squadron, RAF, Sgt. H.G. Burney’s aircraft, 239th Fighter Bomber. It has the white fuselage code of GA roundel Y and a shark mouth. The upper camouflage is a wave pattern of dark earth and mid-stone, over an azure blue under-side. It’s propeller spinner is red. It carries the black serial number AK 772, just below the horizontal tail surfaces. We are not told where this unit was.

A P-40E Kittyhawk Mk-1A of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This one Just carries the normal RAAF roundels and fin flash and has a shark mouth. It carries no fuselage code. It has an upper camouflage wave pattern of dark earth and dark green, over a sky gray underside. Its propeller spinner is light blue with a white tip. It has the serial number in small white letters of A29-83 under the horizontal tail surfaces.

These drawings say to paint the wheel well interiors white. However, the color photos of various areas of a built up model on the side panels show that model as having zinc chromate colored wheel wells. I would agree with the zinc chromate.

I had a chuckle about a typo on the decal sheet. It is labeled as being for “1/48th Curtiss P-40E WARHAWA”. Anybody know what a HAWA is???

The letter A, large medium gray, parts tree holds: the fuselage halves, the engine halves, the two removal engine cowling panels the bomb and it’s support arms (nine parts).

The letter B, large medium gray, parts tree holds the wing halves (three parts). The lower wing part is full span, setting the dihedral nicely. Flaps are all molded in, but the wheel wells have walls and the wing machine-gun shell-ejector shoots are molded open.

The letter C, large medium gray, parts tree holds: the horizontal tail surfaces (flaps molded solid), the pilot figure (and he is very nicely detailed), the propeller spinner, drop tank halves, tail wheel, propeller, landing gear legs, cockpit floor, dashboard, pilot seat, bulkheads, chin air scoop, main wheels, bulged landing gear opening fairings, pitot tube, engine bearers, exhaust pipes, ring and crosshairs type gun sight, joystick etc. (39 parts)

The next tree is the clear parts that hold the three cockpit transparencies. These were in the large cello with the three large trees and should have been in their own cello to keep them from being scratched against the big trees.

The large decal sheet and instructions complete the contents.

This is one neat aircraft and very popular subject.

Highly recommended.

I found one site on the internet that still has a lot of AMT/Ertl kits in stock. It is Kalfarkis Hobbies overseas some place. Their prices are all in Euro’s. Otherwise, the kit looks to be pretty much out of production.

This kit has a copyright date of 1990 printed on the instructions.

Years ago, I purchased my kit for a paltry $4.50 at Ertl’s factory discount store. Alas, those days are sadly gone.