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P-40E Kit

Hasegawa 1/32 P-40E Warhawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2008 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Curtiss P-40E Warhawk Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08079 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $65.95

First Look

P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit
P-40E Kit

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-40E was the first mass-produced version of this series and featured a 1,200 horsepower V-1710, six .50 caliber machine guns in the wings, and some were equipped with underwing bomb shackles. It would be the P-40E and its export variant, the Kittyhawk MK.1A that would take on the growing opposition in the Pacific as well as the Mediterranean theaters.

The famous Flying Tigers made the P-40 famous with its signature sharkmouth surrounding the chin radiator scoop. This 'private' air force was drafted into the US Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor and became the core of the 23rd Fighter Group. Their aircraft were the early Curtiss P-40 export models, but these were replaced with the P-40E as the 23rd FG settled in to push back on the Japanese forces in China.

Until now, the only real option for a 1/32 P-40E Warhawk was Revell's venerable kit which is still a favorite of mine. This early tooling was one of Revell's more popular kits and featured some of the same working features that equipped many of the Revell 1/32 kit series including movable flight controls, removable engine access panels, and more. Even with its heavy raised rivet detail, it was hard to beat the Revell kit. Trumpeter started into the P-40 series with its P-40B in 1/32 scale, but unfortunately it made a few classic errors that plague many model companies that attempt to render the P-40, including a raised cockpit floor that renders the depth of the cockpit too shallow. The 'feedback' from the model buyers convinced Trumpeter to step back from the subject for now.

As has been written in other reviews, the shallow cockpit error plagues many kits because the pattern makers don't realize that many of the early low-wing fighters had cockpit floors that were really the upper surface of the wing as it passes under the fuselage. This results in a curved floor that matches the profile of the wing. So how did Hasegawa do? They got it right.

The kit is engineered similar to many other of Hasegawa's recent new-tool releases - in modules. These modules can be mixed and matched to render a wide array of Warhawk variants with minimal changes in tooling.

This kit, molded in light gray styrene, is presented on ten parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. You can see by the layout of some of these trees that these are really subsets of a larger set of tooling that get gated to mold only those parts needed for a particular variant. Like their 1/48 scale tooling, the tail section is rendered separately from the main fuselage to facilitate a long-tail replacement for later versions of the aircraft. The gaps in the wing leading edges are for fillets that have different numbers of holes for the in-wing machine guns, with the number of holes corresponding to the variant.

The cockpit is nicely laid out with details molded into the floor and sidewalls and additional detail parts to complete the busy look of the front office. Even the hydraulic hand pump handle is there.

Since the main fuselage is used for most (if not all) of the subjects, some of the details scribed into the surfaces may not be right for every version. Hasegawa points out several details that will require filling and sanding to 'erase' those details for the P-40E.

I'm really pleased with the detail in the wheel wells. Eduard had produced a beautiful photo-etch set for the Revell kit to represent the stiffeners inside the wheel well that were absent in the stock Revell kit, but they are done nicely here.

The kit does have some really nice details in here including correct open dove-tailed cowl flaps, an underwing gun camera, separately molded tires and wheel hubs to make painting much easier, and very nice main landing gear struts. External stores include a centerline drop tank or a single bomb suspended on the centerline.

Stepping up this nice offering is a very impressive pilot figure seated in the cockpit. This isn't your usual two or three-piece figure, this one is eight pieces and the detailing here is also very nicely rendered.

The windscreen is molded with the forward deck to eliminate the usual gap under the windscreen. Any filling or sanding is done on the portion of the deck that gets painted anyway. The kit also comes with two canopy sections, each with a slightly different width. One is tailored to drop onto the canopy rails for a closed cockpit. The other is designed to properly straddle the dorsal spine for an open canopy.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • Kittyhawk Mk.IA, ET601, 9 FS/49 FG, New Guinea, 1942, 'Texas Longhorn' as flown by Lt. John D. Landers
  • P-40E, '104', 76 FS/23 FG, China, 1942, China, 1942, as flown by Major Ed Rector (Sharkmouthed Flying Tiger)

The decal sheet also provides a complete array of maintenance stenciling for the aircraft as well as for the single bomb. Nice!

This should be a popular tooling for Hasegawa as this opens up an array of colorful subjects and aftermarket possibilities. While I wish the tooling wasn't so modular, with a little patience and skill, the completed model should show no hint of the tooling strategy. We shall see. In the meantime, I do hope there is a Merlin-powered fuselage section coming as the P-40F/L would also be very welcome in addition to the M/N versions that are in the future.

If you'd like to see just how well this tooling does go together, check out an earlier build of the 1/32 P-40E Warhawk.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!