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P-38F/G Lightning Kit

Tamiya 1/48 P-38F/G Lightning Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2019 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject P-38F/G Lightning Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61120 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful engineering, nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $80.00

First Look

P-38F/G Lightning Kit
P-38F/G Lightning Kit
P-38F/G Lightning Kit
P-38F/G Lightning Kit
P-38F/G Lightning Kit

The P-38 Lightning started life as the Lockheed Model 22, the inspiration of a young engineer by the name of Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, who would later become Lockheed's chief engineer. The Army issued a 1935 requirement for an interceptor aircraft that could fly over 360 mph at 20,000 feet, fly at full throttle for over an hour, carry twice the armament of current aircraft, and still operate from relatively short runways. Johnson's XP-38 had a top speed of 417 mph at 20,000 feet, a range of almost 1,400 miles, and could climb to 20,000 feet in an impressive (for that time) 4.5 minutes. The P-38 would grow and improve through operational experience. The Luftwaffe dubbed the aircraft "The Fork-Tailed Devil" due to their encounters with the Lightning. The Lightning was so fast that compressibility flaps had to be added to late model Lightnings to counter the adverse effects of approaching the speed of sound during dives.

The new reality of our hobby industry is secrecy, and for good reason. A decade or so ago, several kit manufacturers announced upcoming projects which meant that they were developing tooling and kits would follow some six or more months later. This was not only used to gauge how the market would react to such a kit subject, but to let other kit manufacturers know as it was still a courtesy not to step on one-another's projects. As kit manufacturers from China came online, they'd view such a kit announcement as an opportunity and strive to get their kit to market first. Unfortunately, some of these quick-response projects involved little or no time for any research and while those kits would indeed arrive on store shelves first, they were awful enough to keep buyers away from the quality release originally announced. While western kit manufacturers began to keep their kit release plans quiet, we began to see different Chinese companies racing one another to market while we grabbed the popcorn and watched.

Needless to say, Tamiya is one of those companies that went quiet with their projects until it was really too late for any competitor to respond. This was the case of their early P-38 Lightning project - rumors started to flow before this year's IPMS/USA National Convention and Tamiya USA had the kit on display at the show for all to gaze upon. The excitement hasn't diminished since the show and for very good reason - this is going to be the best P-38 kit available in any scale. The level of detail and attention to that detail is evident when you look inside the box. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. While this isn't a multi-media kit, there are three hefty metal balls included in the box which Tamiya has engineered to fit inside the nose and at the front of both cowlings to allow this model to sit on its nosegear. As I was examining these metal balls, I could still hear my USAF drill instructor yelling at us during basic training about how we lacked military bearing, and now I have a complete set of military bearings on-hand for this project!

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Choice of P-38F or P-38G out of the box
  • Beautifully detailed cockpit with instrument panel differences provided between the F and G models
  • One-piece upper wing and nose is similar to other manufacturers' layouts, but this includes a large main spar to provide strength and alignment for the twin tail booms
  • Molded-in cradles for the included ballast metal balls in the nose and nacelles
  • Choice of F or G cockpit enclosures
  • Choice of open or closed cockpit enclosures
  • Paint masks included for the windscreen and enclosure segments
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Pilot's seat has restraint details molded in place
  • Detailed avionics shelf behind the pilot
  • Positional boarding steps
  • Choice of F or G superchargers
  • Nicely detailed wheel wells
  • Detailed landing gear
  • Interior and exterior surfaces of gear doors molded separately to provide nice detail without ejector pin marks and a nicely engineered method to attach the doors without the usual frustrations
  • Choice of 150 and 300 gallon external tank loadouts

Markings are provided for two subjects:

  • P-38G, 43-2264, 339 FS/347 FG/13 AF, 'Miss Virginia', Operation Vengeance attack on Admiral Yamamoto's aircraft, April 1943
  • P-38F, unknown, 39 FS/35 FG/5 AF, Port Moresby, 1942

This is a beautiful kit and I pre-ordered two of them after what I saw at IPMS Nationals. I expect we'll be seeing a variety of aftermarket decal options coming soon, but I honestly like the two subjects in the box. Painting instructions are all rendered using Tamiya paints, which brings me to my only criticism of this release. While Tamiya produces paints to go with their kits and given the number of US WWII subjects that they've produced, I am surprised that they have not produced US camouflage colors in their acrylic line. They have these colors available - in spray cans! There are some small details with paint callouts that are only in spray cans. Really? Our WWII ANA colors are available here to find other options, if you wish.

This is going to be a great project, and given the layout of the kit, it will be a relatively easy model to prepare for bare metal whenever Tamiya released the later version(s) of the Lightning. Enjoy!

Here is a list of paints Tamiya identifies for use with this kit and the equivalent colors from other brands (Note: the first two colors are matches to the early war colors applied to USAAF aircraft, the remainder are the Tamiya-recommended colors):

 
AMMO
AV
GSI
HAT
LC
MIS
MRP
TAM
TES
XTRA
Olive Drab 41
 
 
C304
H304
 
UA523
 
234
TS28
1711
X111
Neutral Gray 43
 
71.051
 
A265
C265
UA046
 
365
AS07
XF53
 
 
Olive Drab
0237
71.016
C012
H052
N052
A018
C018
UA106
 
 
AS06
 
X112
XA1112
Neutral Gray
0239
71.051
C013
H022
N022
A054
C054
UA071
MMP103
039
AS07
XF53
1725
 
Black
0032
70.950
C002
H002
N002
A125
C125
LC002
MMP047
005
LP01
X01
1747
 
White
0050
71.001
C001
H001
N001
A528
C528
LC001
MMP001
004
LP02
X02
1745
 
Steel
0191
71.065
C028
H018
N018
 
 
MMM002
030
X10
1780
X502
Silver
0195
71.062
C008
H008
N008
A003
C003
LC074
MMM006
128
LP11
X11
 
X038
Sky Blue
 
71.089
C034
H025
N025
 
LC058
 
 
X14
 
 
Cowling Color
 
 
C125
 
 
 
 
X18
 
 
Clear Blue
 
70.938
C050
H093
N093
 
 
 
267
LP68
X23
 
 
Clear Orange
 
 
C049
H092
N092
 
 
 
265
LP53
X26
 
 
Clear Red
 
70.934
C047
H090
N090
 
 
 
266
LP72
X27
 
 
Titanium Gold
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X31
 
 
Flat Black
0046
71.057
C033
H012
N012
A041
C041
LC002
 
020
LP03
XF01
1749
 
Flat White
0050
71.101
C062
H011
N011
A101
C101
LC001
 
 
LP04
XF02
1768
 
Yellow
0125
71.078
C113
H413
 
UA140
MMP090
051
XF03
2072
X213
XA1213
Yellow Green
 
 
C064
H016
N016
 
 
 
 
XF04
 
 
Light Green
0230
71.022
C122
H422
A020
C020
UA511
MMP053
071
AS23
XF05
2092
X212
XA1121
Flat Red
0049
71.269
H013
N013
A132
C132
LC006
 
 
XF07
2733
 
Flat Blue
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
XF08
 
 
Dark Brown
0015
71.041
H406
A147
C147
UA205
MMP012
036
XF10
2096
X807
XA1807
Flesh
RAL 8031
0026
71.117
C051
H044
N044
 
 
 
 
LP30
XF15
 
 
Aluminum
0194
71.062
C218
A078
C078
 
MMM003
009
LP38
XF16
 
 
Light Blue
0231
71.255
C115
H067
N067
A029
C029
UA503
MMP057
058
XF2:7 +
XF23:1 +
XF66:2
2078
X202
XA1202
Khaki Drill
 
 
C055
H081
N081
 
 
 
 
XF49
 
 
Intermediate Blue
0228
71.299
C072
H056
N056
A027
C027
UA623
MMP071
136
AS19
XF18
1720
X125
XA1125
Gelbraun
0013
71.272
C044
H027
N027
 
 
 
 
XF57
 
 
Sandy Dark Yellow
0222
71.278
C119
H079
N079
A014
C014
UA137
MMP119
068
XF78
2088
X209
XA1209
Red-Brown
Propeller
 
71.040
C131
 
 
MMP115
 
TS01
XF64
 
 
Tire Black
0033
71.315
C137
H077
N077
 
UA733
MMP040
 
LP65
XF85
 
 

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