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P-39

Project Airacobra - 1/48th Scale P-39 Kits Side-By-Side

by Michael Benolkin

Background

Until a few years ago, the only option for a P-39 Airacobra in 1/48th scale was the Monogram kit, which is still a nice model even by today’s standards. Along came Eduard with their release of the P-39 and for the first time we had an Airacobra with scribed panel lines. After Eduard ended production of their Airacobra series, Hasegawa released a new-tool P-39 series of their own. Not long after Hasegawa's first P-39s hit the shelf, Accurate Miniatures also released their own P-39 (re-box of the Eduard kit). So which one is better?

I decided to do a little side-by-side experiment as I had never built the Eduard kit and wanted to see how it would stack up against the Hasegawa version. I’ve built several of the Monogram Airacobras over the years (as have many modelers) so I focused on the newcomers.

The objective of this comparison was to see if there were any glaring differences in buildability and accuracy of either kit. To accomplish this, I did a quick-build of both kits using only Tamiya Thin Liquid Cement for construction. I didn't have to build-up the Accurate Miniatures kit since the plastic parts are from the Eduard molds. No paints, no fillers, no markings, and no photo-etched or resin parts. Just the styrene, side-by-side.

P-39 Differences

Here is a quick matrix of differences between the different production models of the Airacobra. The propellers are CE for Curtiss Electric and AP for Aeroproducts.

P-39 Mk.I/
P-400
C D F J K L M N Q
Nr Built 675 20 554 229 25 210 250 240 2,095 4,905
Cannon 20mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm 37mm
Nose MG 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50 2x.50
Wing MG 4x.303 4x.30 4x.30 4x.30 4x.30 4x.303 4x.30 4x.30 4x.30 2x.50
Engine V1710-35 V1710-35 V1710-35 V1710-63 V1710-59 V1710-63 V1710-35 V1710-67 V1710-85 V1710-86
Propeller CE CE CE AP CE AP CE AP AP AP
Drop Tamk No No 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal 145 gal
Dorsal Fin
Fillet
Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

P-39 In-Box Reviews

P-39 Quick Builds

Comparisons

Both models go together smoothly. One was no more difficult than the other when dealing strictly with styrene. The Hasegawa kit has more detail presented in the styrene since the kit doesn’t rely on photo-etched parts for details. This is a plus for the average model builder. The Monogram kit is also great for beginning modelers (out of production at present, but is frequently reissued). AMS modelers will like the Eduard kit as it comes loaded with photo-etch and more options in the box.

Here is a look at the similarities and differences between the different manufacturers. This table will be revised with each build or quick build as needed.

  Revell-
Monogram
Eduard
Weekend
2005
Accurate
Miniatures
Eduard
Profipack
2005
Hasegawa Eduard
Dual Combo
2015
Scale 1/48 1/48 1/48 1/48 1/48 1/48
Original MSRP (USD) $16.95 $19.95 $32.95 $33.95 $43.95 $59.95
Current Street Price (USD) OOP $16.95 OOP $29.95 OOP $47.95
Source Monogram Eduard Eduard Eduard Hasegawa Eduard
Number of Kits in Box 1 1 1 1 1 2
Detail Raised Scribed Scribed Scribed Scribed Scribed
Fit Issues None None None None None None
Photo-Etched Parts No No No Yes No Yes
Resin Parts No No No No No Yes
Paint Masks No Yes No Yes No Yes
Nose Ballast No Yes No Yes No No

Pros and Cons

Common to All Kits

Pros

  • Nice-fitting one-piece windscreen/canopies
  • Kits have external stores
  • No serious fit issues, minimal filler will be required

Cons

  • None quite captures the opening of the dorsal intake, but nothing that a small file won’t fix
  • All kits will require thinning of the trailing edges of the wings, elevators and rudders

Eduard 2005

P-39

Pros

  • Transparent car doors which can be posed open to reveal the interior very nicely
  • Lots of nice photo-etched parts, including the great new color photo-etch for the cockpit (Profipack releases only)
  • Scribed panel lines
  • More parts options in the box
  • Pre-formed ballast for the nose so it will sit smartly on its landing gear
  • Engine compartment is ‘boxed-in’ should you decide to add an aftermarket engine
  • Main wheel wells look good

Cons

  • Rudder pedals are not recessed very far under the instrument panel. This is easily corrected.
  • Instrument panel is too far forward, you should be able to see the rear of the panel from above
  • Wing leading edges just a bit too blunt
  • Wing trailing edges are a bit thick and will require thinning

Eduard 2015

P-39

Pros

  • Same as Eduard 2005 kit plus:
    • Updated color-printed cockpit photo-etched parts
    • Brassin resin wheels
    • Yellow tape paint masks

Cons

  • Same as Eduard 2005 kit except:
    • No nose ballast

Accurate Miniatures

P-39

Pros

  • Same as Eduard 2005 kit plus:
    • Ventral radiator in resin to represent air racer modification

Cons

  • Same as Eduard 2005 kit except:
    • No photo-etch included
    • No nose ballast
    • Instructions do not cover the various mods needed to represent the air racers
    • Kit is essentially the basic Eduard kit with a Profipack price

Hasegawa

P-39

Pros

  • Transparent car doors which can be posed open to reveal the interior very nicely
  • The molded-in details are well done though the fuel filler caps/openings on the wings are a bit overdone
  • Rudder pedal placement and instrument panel placement are good

Cons

  • Will definitely need photo-etch to represent visible details like the machine gun charging handles
  • The instrument panel is okay, but doesn’t hold a candle to the Eduard photo-etched panel
  • Cockpit doors didn't fit very well on my example
  • Wing trailing edges are thinner than Eduard, but will still require thinning
  • Main wheel wells have more refined detail, but have far fewer stiffening ribs that are far too large - nice to look at but not representative of the real aircraft
  • You’re on your own for nose ballast

Monogram

Pros

  • Nice detailing in the cockpit
  • Engine inside engine compartment which can be detailed
  • Easy build

Cons

  • Raised panel lines
  • You’re on your own for nose ballast
  • Currently out of production but in vast supply on eBay and at kit swaps

Summary

If you poke through the pros and cons above, the kits are nice straight from the box. The Eduard is nicer since it comes with a wealth of photo-etched parts for roughly the same retail price as the Hasegawa kit. The Hasegawa kit is nicer for the less experienced modeler that isn't quite ready to deal with photo-etched parts. While the Eduard kit does go together nicely, there are no styrene options for some of the details. The Eduard kit should be tackled by the experienced modeler or stashed away by the less-experienced modeler until that 'rainy day'.

If price is important, note that the Eduard Profipack kit features two frets of photo-etch and retails for the same price as the others with no photo-etch. The cost to add the same type of photo-etch to either the Hasegawa or Accurate Miniatures kits will set you back at least $15.00 (in 2005 - more now).

All of the kits will build into nice replicas of the World War Two combat aircraft straight out of the box and do not have any serious problems with fit or accuracy as military P-39/P-400s.

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