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AMtech 1/48 P-40K-5 Roundtail Kittyhawk III Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2005
Updated Jan 2008
Manufacturer AMtech
Subject P-40K-5 Roundtail Kittyhawk III Scale 1/48
Kit Number 489213 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Simple conversion Cons Limited Availability (see text)
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


When pilots want more power and capability out of the aircraft to counter some new improvement in an enemy fighter, the first step is usually to add more power. Such was the case with the Spitfire when the larger Rolls Royce Merlin was added to a Spitfire Mk.V, it became the Mk.IX. Such was the attempt with the P-40E when they replaced the existing 1150 hp Allison V-1710 engine with the improved 1325 hp V-1710.

The resulting aircraft was designated as P-40K, and externally, these aircraft looked identical to a P-40E. Unfortunately, the aircraft didn't have enough vertical fin area to counter the additional torque and had a tendency to wander off the left side of the runway at take-off power.

The P-40K-5 applied a hasty engineering fix to increase the fin area, creating the infamous 'round tail' P-40. Unfortunately, the additional fin area was inadequate to compensate for the increased engine torque. The final solution was to adopt the lengthened tail of the late-production P-40F as that airframe had experienced the same yaw authority problems when the Merlin engine was first installed.

AMtech has released their P-40K-5 'round tail' Kittyhawk. As described above, the P-40K-1 looked externally like a P-40E and the P-40K-5 had a different tail. This kit is their nice P-40E release from a few years ago with the addition of a new resin tail cast by the folks at Black Box and some new decals (which were not available at the time of this review).

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and features scribed detailing. You can see in the third photo that the sprues were designed to accommodate different versions, with different exhaust stacks, cowling doors, instrument panels and rear cockpit bulkheads provided. The design of the kit parts has been well thought out.

Construction of this kit is virtually identical to the P-40E with the exception of the tail surgery to remove the old tail and add the new resin tail. The instructions have a nice template where you literaly lay the fuselage halves in the silhouette and mark the parts for 'cut here'. The rest is easy.

Typical issues that folks have had with other P-40 kits are addressed in the AMtech P-40 series: 1) nice main wheel well details; 2) a reasonably detailed cockpit (you still need to add seat belt/harness; and 3) open cowl flaps without the gaps between flap sections.

Markings are provided for four aircraft:

  • P-40F-5, unknown, 64 FS/57 FG, Egypt, 1942
  • Kittyhawk III, FR346, OK-T, 450 Sqn, RAAF, Libya, 1942
  • P-40E-1, 41-36504, Unk Tng Sqn, Randolph Field, 1943
  • Kittyhawk III, FR249/FR212, OK-F, 450 Sqn, RAAF, Western Desert, 1942

The third aircraft listed above is indeed a round-tailed P-40E! I did a double take when I reviewed the instructions prior to writing this review.

This is a nice looking kit that will definitely look different on the contest table. The good news is that it will be available soon. The bad news is that it will only be available through Hobby Lobby. Recommended!

My sincere thanks to AMtech for this review sample!