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Tomahawk IIb Kit

Academy 1/48 Tomahawk IIb Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2011 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Tomahawk IIb Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12235 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $29.00

First Look

Tomahawk IIb Kit
Tomahawk IIb Kit
Tomahawk IIb Kit
Tomahawk IIb Kit
Tomahawk IIb Kit

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. While iconic for the P-40, the Sharkmouths didn't orignate with the AVG, these came from the RAF Tomahawks (as the early P-40s were dubbed in RAF service) operating out of North Africa.

This latest reissue from Academy is identical to their P-40C Tomahawk kit released five years ago and, in turn, identical to the Hobbycraft P-40 kit released a number of years previously. The kit is molded in light gray plastic and presented on three parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The fit of the fuselage halves and wing halves are still spot-on, and the fuselage/wing joint appears to be trouble-free as well.

This kit has a rather sparse cockpit, but this is realy a minor problem. There are a number of aftermarket detal sets that will provide nice details for the cockpit in resin, photo-etch, or both. Remember that the floor of the cockpit will be angled upward to the front as the cockpit floor doubles as the upper surface of the wing. While this detail tends to be an issue with some modelers, you'd be hard-pressed to see what the angle of the floor looks like after the model is assembled. It is a little different when you are sitting in the cockpit of the full-scale aircraft and drop your pen...

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Basic cockpit (usable as-is for most modelers)
  • Two types of propellers (only one used in this build)
  • Weighted tires
  • Positionable canopy

This release has markings for four examples representing aircraft flown by RAF aces over North Africa:

  • Tomahawk IIb, AN413, K, 112 Sqn, as flown by P/O Jack Bartle, 1941
  • Tomahawk IIb, AK498, LD-C, 250 Sqn, as flown by Flt Lt Clive Caldwell, 1941
  • Tomahawk IIb, AK402, GA-F, 112 Sqn, as flown by P/O Neville Duke, 1941
  • Tomahawk IIb, AK578, GA-V, 112 Sqn, as flown by P/O Neville Duke, 1942

As you can see in the images, these Cartograf decals are nicely printed and in perfect register.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced 'AMS' modeler, this kit has the foundation to be a great modeler. Straight out of the box with a nice paint job will be great for the average modeler while the AMS modeler will have some fun adding some aftermarket details and still saving money with this low price. 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.

This kit is definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!