Academy 1/48 P-40N Warhawk Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Nice to see an old friend back again
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.
Powered by the 1,000 horsepower Allison V-1710 engine, the early P-40s were underpowered and combat experience had shown that the twin .303 and twin .50 caliber machine guns of these early variants lacked sufficient firepower. Despite this, the aircraft was so ruggedly designed that in capable hands, the P-40 could hold its own against the enemy aircraft fielded in the early stages of World War II.
The P-40N was the final production version of the Warhawk powered by the later 1,200 horsepower version of the V-1710. The early P-40Ns were also the sport models of the Warhawk family which were the fastest and most maneuverable airframes. This speed and agility was achieved through serious weight-saving updates to the airframe that included the deletion of two of the aircraft's six .50 caliber machine guns. After many complaints from the field though, Curtiss restored the guns and many other deleted items to make the P-40N an effective fighter-bomber and rendering one of the heaviest variants. The P-40P had been scheduled to build using the P-40N airframe and the Packard Merlin engine, but these aircraft were built as P-40Ns as well.
A little over 25 years ago, a model company opened in Japan with the brand name of Mauve. Their first kits were the P-40M and P-40N Warhawks in 1/48 scale and based upon my own experience with these kits, I was really looking forward to seeing what else these folks were going to produce. Unfortunately, this would never happen as the company was destroyed in January 1995 when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Kobe region (Mauve was based in Kobe). Even though the company was gone, the molds survived at another facility and the kits would reappear in Eduard boxes for their Limited Edition Profipack kits starting in 2005. Fast forward to present day, and it seems that Academy has released the P-40N under their own label. For me, this is welcome news as I thoroughly enjoyed building the Mauve P-40M and P-40N kits when they were first released and I am looking forward to building them again.
Given that this tooling was produced in the mid-1990s, you might expect that there are better kits released since then. There have been several 1/48 P-40s and many consider the Hasegawa kit as good (if not better) than this tooling. Indeed, the Hasegawa kit does have better detailing in the cockpit, but what Hasegawa did was tool a modular kit that could render different variants, but the result was a model that needed filler to make all of those modular inserts blend together. This was Hasegawa's early attempt at modular kits and while they did perfect their engineering processes for later kits (including their 1/32 P-40s), the 1/48 P-40 is still a bit of a pain in the backside to build. Other 1/48 scale P-40s like the Trumpeter kits suffer from flat floor syndrome. P-40s and early P-51s (among others) didn't have a 'cockpit floor' per se, the 'floor' was actually the upper surface of the wing, so the cockpit floor actually curved with the rest of the wing surface. When Trumpeter (for example) produced their P-40 kits (all scales), they insisted on a flat floor which resulted in the rear of the cockpit being too shallow and they compensated by making the pilot's seat and rear bulkhead shorter.
The Mauve/Eduard/Academy kit has the proper curved cockpit floor and the right proportions inside. The surface detailing is finely scribed. The kit does not use modular parts to render other versions, so building the kit is much easier and the fit of the model is still quite nice. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. Among the features and options:
- Cockpit isn't bad out of the box, but it would benefit from Eduard's Zoom set for the Eduard P-40N (same kit)
- Positionable canopy
- Cowl flaps are molded closed - you can easily scratchbuild open cowl flaps using scrap styrene sheet
- External drop tank provided for centerline rack
Markings are provided on one decal sheet for three aircraft:
- P-40N-5, 42-105128, 89 FS/80 FG, Assam, India, 1944
- P-40N-5, 42-105826, 49 FG HQ, Hollandia, 1944
- Kittyhawk IV, A29-629, 80 Sqn, BU-B, RAAF, New Guinea, 1944
If you're looking for a relaxing build straight out of the box, or one that you can apply your AMS skills, this is still a nice kit at a very nice price. If you've collected some of the aftermarket decals for the P-40N, the price and simplicity of this kit make for a good opportunity to produce several to capture your favorite schemes. Look for a build of this kit in the near future!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!