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P-40E Kit

Hasegawa 1/48 P-40E Warhawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2005 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Curtiss P-40E Warhawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09086 Primary Media Styrene/PE
Pros Very nice detailing Cons I'm going to have to buy more!
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look

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.

The P-40E was a further development based on combat experience and was the second most produced variant of the Curtiss P-40 family (with the P-40N taking top honors in this category). The P-40E incorporated six 50 caliber machine guns in the wings as well as the modified fuselage of the P-40D.

While the P-40E was not an agile dogfighter like the Zero, Spitfire, or Mustang, it could hold its own in the hands of a good pilot flying proven tactics. As it was not supercharged, its optimum fighting envelope was below 20,000 feet, though the supercharged Merlin of the P-40F didn't make much of a difference either. Ironically, most people won't remember the P-40 for its combat capabilities, its multi-national operations, nor even its ruggedness and survivability. It is the sharkmouth used by the RAF in North Africa and by the AVG in China that makes the aircraft stand out.

I was a bit skeptical over the news that Hasegawa was releasing a new-tool P-40E. We've had a number of P-40E releases in recent years between the ProModeler reissue of the venerable raised panel line kit, the AMtech update to the AMT kit, the Hobbycraft kit, and the tried & true Arii kit. While each of this kits weren't bad, none of them were the state of the art in detail and molding technology. Enter the Hasegawa kit.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene, and is impressive with its sharply-scribed detailing. It is even more impressive to hold the kit parts against the Pro-Modeler and AMT kits (which I happened to have in the Cybermodeler lab). The soft details of the older kits illustrate well how far we've come in injection-molding technologies. I remember when it was exciting just to have a P-40 with scribed panel lines (but then again, I remember when Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings too).

What's more exciting is that this kit has been engineered for other purposes besides the P-40E. The fuselage is not only vertically split in half, it is also split fore and aft. That means we have long-tailed Warhawks on the horizon. The rear window fairings behind the pilot are also separate, so we're going to at least see a P-40N, and this is reinforced with the leading edge inserts and the underwing shell ejector ports for the six machine guns - these will be replaced with the four-gun configuration of the P-40N.

With different combinations of parts that are clearly coming, I expect we'll see the P-40K and P-40M was well. I am not so certain about the Merlin-powered Warhawks. Hasegawa molded the Allison V1720 profiled nose as part of the forward fuselage, so a P-40F or P-40L would require a new forward fuselage. Dry-fitting the AMtech Merlin nose from their P-40F conversion, it looks like this could be adapted to the Hasegawa fuselage with a little work.

For all of you who remember the flat cockpit floors that came in other P-40 kits, you'll be happy to note that this one is curved properly! The exhaust stacks are even molded in pairs!

If you look at the parts trees, these are molded into small sections for greater interchangeability and fewer parts "not used" in each version. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this kit in various combinations of parts and decals in the future!

In this release, a set of DragonUSA photo-etched parts are included which offer shoulder harness and two different types of lap belts. There is even a photo-etched shoulder harness reel release mechanism for the left side of the pilots seat.

The markings included in this kit are for :

  • P-40E, 76 FS/23 FG, Acft #104, China, July 1942 as flown by Major Ed Rector (after the AVG had been absorbed by the USAAC)
  • P-40E, 9 FS/49 FG, Acft #94, Australia, 1942 as flown by Lt Robert Vaught

I'm skeptical no more. This kit is clearly the best P-40E in 1/48th scale and in any other scale for that matter. I'd like them to scale up this tooling to 1/32nd! The modularity of parts will certainly mean that we'll see other P-40 variants in our future, but I only hope that the kit still fits together nicely at the end of the day. We shall soon see!