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P-40 Kit

Hobbycraft 1/48 P-40F/L Warhawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2008 Manufacturer Hobbycraft
Subject P-40F/L Warhawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number HC1418 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple build Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $28.00

First Look

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

The Curtiss Aircraft Company had developed a more streamlined design with the P-40 replacing the radial engine of their P-36 Hawk with the Allison V-1710 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine. This design evolved as the US entered the war and Great Britain was looking for established designs to press into service. While the Allison engine was supercharged, it still lacked power at higher altitudes.

One attempt to improve its performance above 15,000 feet was to replace the Allison engine with the Merlin engine that also powered the Spitfire, Hurricane, and Mosquito. While adopting the engine was straightforward, the improvement in performance was still substandard to contemporary fighters flown by the enemy. Nevertheless, the aircraft was rugged, had good firepower, was faster in a dive than anything else at the time, and was deadly in the hands of pilots that could employ its strengths effectively.

The Merlin-powered P-40 was designated as the P-40F and was visibly recognizable by the absence of the air intake scoop atop the cowling. Once the P-40F was in production, Curtiss addressed the yaw stability issues initially by increasing the rudder area with the 'round tail (found on the Allison-powered K and some late-model E Warhawks) and settled on lengthening the tail cone creating the longer airframe that would remain through most of the remaining P-40 production models.

This is the first of two boxings of AMT/ERTL's venerable P-40F tooling by Hobbycraft that will be on store shelves soon. Hobbycraft released one previously and is still available by some online retailers. Each of these boxings feature different decal artwork and subject material to make for some interesting variety.

The basic kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. This tooling has the Merlin-powered nose and lengthened tail section. You can see that in addition to changing fuselages, the fourth parts tree was gated to allow for different combinations of cowling panels, armor-plate behind the pilot, instrument panels, and exhaust stacks that also signified production differences between types. This tooling was also combined with an Allison-powered P-40E fuselage as well.

While AMT didn't get around to releasing all of these combinations before they ceased production, AMTech did acquire bag shots of this tooling and offered many of these variants along with their own decal artwork and sometimes resin parts.

Hobbycraft offers the basic kit at a nice price. While Hasegawa offered their initial P-40E with a similar MSRP, subsequent releases have had a steady rate of price increase, mostly due to the exchange rate of the US Dollar, but don't look for those prices to come down anytime soon even though the Dollar is strengthening on the international markets again. In addition, the Hasegawa and AMT tooling reflect differences in engineering style. Both offer scribed panel lines and fairly simple cockpits.

The AMT tooling is fairly solid with just different cowling panels to distinguish variations in type. When AMT changed major versions, they changed the entire fuselage.

Hasegawa on the other hand takes a different approach. They mix and match forward fuselages, rear cockpit decking, and tail sections, and also require the insertion of gun shell chute inserts and leading edge inserts to reflect differences in gun layout. AMT's tooling doesn't require these inserts.

The fit of the Hasegawa tooling is a little better around the wing roots, but there will still be some filling required around these various inserts to blend them in to the surrounding wing surfaces.

The Hasegawa tooling has a separately molded rudder, but the flaps, ailerons, and elevators are all molded in place. All of the surfaces are molded in place on the AMT tooling.

If you're not happy with the AMT cockpit detail, you're not going to get much better with the Hasegawa detail, so either way you're going to live with what's in the box or go with an aftermarket set. There are plenty of aftermarket detail sets for both kits to choose from.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  1. P-40F, 41-20006, 325 FG, Tunisia, 1943, as flown by LTC Robert Baseler, Group Commander
  2. P-40L, 42-11050, 317 FS/325 FG, 17, Tunisia, 1943
  3. P-40F, 41-14512, 317 FS/325 FG, 28, Tunisia, 1943

The AMT kit is a simple build and we've seen some very impressive builds from the various boxings of this kit under the AMT/ERTL, AMTech, and now Hobbycraft banners. This kit is less expensive, will require a bit less filler, and still has some nice detail from which to build out of the box or launch into an AMS masterpiece. Either way, this is still a good alternative to the Hasegawa kit. You have a choice and the choice is yours!

My sincere thanks to Hobbycraft Canada for this sneak peek!