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P-40B

Trumpeter 1/48 P-40B Tomahawk Mk.IIA Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2004 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk Mk.IIA Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2807 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice Exterior and Interior Details Cons Flat cockpit floor/shallow cockpit
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look

P-40B
P-40B
P-40B
P-40B

The P-40 was an evolutionary development from the Curtiss drawing boards which started with the Model 75. Curtiss' Model 75 created the basic wing and fuselage that would distinguish this unique family, but equipped with a radial engine, this prototype would lead to the earlier P-36 Hawk. As engine technology continued, an Allison V1710 liquid-cooled engine was mounted on the firewall, and the resulting streamlined cowling led to the now-familiar P-40 silhouette.

The P-40B was armed with two 50 caliber machine guns in the nose and four 30 caliber machine guns in the wing (the previous P-40 versions were armed with two 50s and two 30s). The P-40B also featured improved radio equipment over its predecessors.

A number of P-40Bs were deployed around the world by the time the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war. Two of these aircraft managed to get airborne in the midst of that attack and were credited with four kills. 110 P-40Bs were delivered to the RAF as Tomahawk IIAs. The major deficiency in this aircraft was the lack of self-sealing fuel tanks which would be corrected in the P-40C/Tomahawk IIB. It would be these later versions that would ultimately equip the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers.

While this kit is scaled down from the 1/32 version that Trumpeter released earlier, it is also quite a bit simpler as well. Gone is the engine which is just as well since the cowling panels aren't removable.

Gone also are the photo-etched flight control hinges. Instread, the flight controls are attached with styrene tabs molded into the control surface parts. The ailerons, elevators, rudder and flaps are all separate parts.

The landing gear is much simpler, but the details are still there.

So far, the only down side to this kit is the flat cockpit floor. Many aircraft of this era, including the P-40B, actually used the top of the wing as the cockpit floor, so the mounting points for the rudder pedals, stick, hydraulic landing gear handle, etc., were mounted to the upper surface of the wing, so as you might expect, that surface would be curved. The way the parts are laid out, this could be fixed with some sheet styrene, or you could wait for an aftermarket replacement. The 1/32 P-40B cockpit from Cutting Edge was nicely done, so hopefully there is a scaled-down version coming as well.

Markings are included for two aircraft:

  • P-40B, 31 PS, USAAC
  • Tomahawk IIA, AN413, RAF

Aside from the minor glitch with the cockpit floor, this is the nicest P-40B I've seen in 1/48 and is a welcome replacement for the aging Monogram kit. Now to find an old Monogram P-36 kit and graft the nose onto this airframe...

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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