Hasegawa 1/32 Boeing P-12E Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2017||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||JS061||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, great details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||OOP|
In the early days of aviation, Boeing Aircraft Company was in the fighter business trying to get a solid foothold against other competitors including Curtiss. By the late 1920s, Boeing was producing aircraft for the US Army and US Navy, but it wasn't until the 450 horsepower Pratt and Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine that Boeing could offer a serious upgrade in performance to their customers. The evaluations were successful and both the Army and Navy purchased the aircraft. The Army's version was the Model 89 while the Navy version was the Model 82. While both airframes were essentially identical, they had different main landing gear and the Navy version also had a tailhook for carrier operations. The Model 89 entered production as the P-12 and the aircraft was incrementally improved in the process. The Model 218 featured a semi-monocoque metal fuselage, a headrest for the pilot, and the R-1340E engine. This version was ordered by the US Army as the P-12E and by the US Navy as the F4B-3 and F4B-4.
While Hasegawa has been in existence since 1941, it didn't enter the plastic model market until the early 1960s and had found success with their box scale kits of the day. By the early 1970s, Hasegawa had settled into what we consider 'standard scales' for their kits and by that time had produced an impressive catalog of kits. Pushing into 1/32 scale, Hasegawa released kit number 61 in 1971, the Boeing P-12E which was one of a quartet of kits which featured between-the-wars US military aircraft consisting of the P-12E, F4B-4, BF2C-1, and P-26A Peashooter. Many of us have owned these kits or have them stashed away in our collections.
When these kits were first released, Hasegawa was being imported into the US market by another familiar name - Minicraft. When you first saw the labels, you might have thought they were the same company - Hasegawa-Minicraft. Eventually, they were de-hyphenated as Hasegawa moved to another importer and Minicraft would go on to bring Academy kits into the US market before they too were de-hyphenated.
So there I was staring at eBay when I spotted this P-12E kit for a nice price. Hasegawa is reissuing many of these kits on a somewhat regular basis which keeps them out of the collectors' market but even then, even the eBay prices are starting to rise as the reissued retail prices seem to skyrocket. Since we haven't looked at one of these on Cybermodeler before, I left this in the category of 'First Look' even though the kit was released before I finished High School.
This is Hasegawa's 1/32 P-12E, using contemporary notations, this is a P-12E modified into the late configuration. The P-12 series up through the P-12E had a streamlined turtledeck behind the cockpit and floatation gear was built into the upper wing. This kit features the so-called 'Panama modification' which eliminated the floatation wing and instead provided a life raft into the hunchback compartment behind the pilot's head, the same as the F4B-4. The late configuration was either fitted with a tailwheel at the factory or retrofitted in the field. While the box art depicts a tail skid, the kit provides the tailwheel. The kit is molded in injection-molded styrene and presented on two parts trees plus a small clear part (the windscreen). The surface detailing is raised which is just perfect, because the surface detailing on the full-scale aircraft was raised as well.
Among the features and options in the kit:
- Nice cockpit though ejector pin marks will need to be mitigated
- Nice pilot's seat though pilot restraints should be added
- Optional pilot figure
- Detailed R-1340 Wasp radial engine
- Positionable ailerons
- Elevators are not positionable but can be repositioned with careful surgery
- Optional underwing bomb racks with bombs
Markings are provided in the original release for four subjects:
- P-12E, 1, 8th PG commander's aircraft
- P-12E, 7, 16th PG, Panama Canal
- P-12E, 47, 27 PS/1 PG
- P-12E, 3, 95th AS
While you might hesitate using four-decade-old decals, fear not. Yellow-Wings Decals produces at least one P-12E set which is available.
One of the more intimidating aspects of biplanes is the rigging and Hasegawa does not provide rigging instructions in the kit. There are good photo walk arounds of the aircraft online including the Planes of Fame P-12E (painted like an F4B-4) here. While this kit does not have rigging holes molded into the wings and fuselage like some of the later kits in this quartet, it does have slots to help you pin vise drill the holes in the correct positions.
While the MSRP on the new 'reissues' has migrated well north of $50 USD, I found this one for less than half of that and I'm sure you can do better at kit swaps and contest vendor rooms if you shop around.
While this kit may be over 40 years old, the details hold up well to contemporary standards and will a little work, will build into a beautiful model. While we sometimes get lost in the world of low-visibility camouflage or WW2 camouflage, we sometimes forget about the colorful aircraft flown by the US Army and US Navy between the wars. Step back into yesteryear...