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0Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit

Great Wall Hobbies 1/32 Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2022 Manufacturer Great Wall Hobby
Subject Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Scale 1/32
Kit Number L3201 Primary Media Styrene
Pros The best P-40 kit in any scale Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $220.00

First Look

Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit
Hawk 81-A2 'Flying Tigers' Kit

The Curtiss Model 75 Hawk was an all-metal monoplane powered by the R-1830 Twin Wasp, and developed in the mid-1930s. That aircraft would see widespread service many international air forces as weill as with the U.S. Army Air Corps as the P-36. As the Hawk series aircraft entered service with its customers, Curtiss began looking for the next improvement that would replace the Twin Wasp with the Allison V-1710 V-12 liquid-cooled engine. This new design was also sought out by several international customers as well as by the U.S. Army Air Corps as the P--40. Some early variants of the P-40 found their way to the Chinese Air Force and were flown by the American Volunteer Group (AVG) to combat the Japanese invasion of China. The success of the AVG against their Japanese counterparts would set the stage for air combat training for all of the air arms of the United States, teaching pilots to play to their aircraft's strengths and not be drawn into the strengths of their adversary's aircraft.

Great Wall Hobby is a kit manufacturer from China that has been producing a number of great subjects in 1/72 and 1/48 scale. This is their first 1/32 scale subject and it is impressive to see. This kit is molded in light gray and presented on 14 parts trees plus one tree in clear, two frets of photo-etched parts, one set of magnets, and one set of masks. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Instrument panel populated with individual instrument face decals
  • Accurate ring and bead gunsight
  • Nice pilot's seat with photo-etched restraints
  • Positionable canopy
  • Rear fuselage details
  • Positionable rear fuselage access hatch
  • Super-detailed Allison engine from the firewall forward
  • Nose can be swapped (using magnets) between exposed engine and closed-up cowling
  • Positionable cowl flaps
  • Positionable wing gun ammo cans
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable flaps
  • Extended flaps have nice photo-etched detailing
  • Positionable landing gear
  • 3D-printed gun barrels
  • Optional seated pilot's figure

First and foremost, this kit accurately depicts the floor of the cockpit as the top of the wing - a common mistake in many kits (especially Trumpeter/HobbyBoss). The details throughout the kit are stunning and just screaming for paint and assembly.

Decals are provided for the following subjects:

  • 81-A2, P-8194, 1st PS, 7, AVG
  • 81-A2, P-8134, 2nd PS, 48, AVG
  • 81-A2, P-8109, 3rd PS, 68, AVG
  • 81-A2, P-8173, 3rd PS, 77, AVG
  • 81-A2, P-8186, 3rd PS, 75, AVG
  • 81-A2, P-8133, 3rd PS, 49, AVG

The decal set provides each of the distinctive sharkmouths for the subjects included. A nice set of airframe stencils are also provided.

This is by far the best P-40 kit in 1/32 scale as well as the best in any scale so far. Given the level of detail in this kit, I would love to see Great Wall Hobby render other P-40 variants in the (near) future. In the meantime, I am definitely going to build this masterpiece!