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P-40F Warhawk

Trumpeter 1/32 P-40F Warhawk Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2019 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject P-40F Warhawk Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3227 Primary Media Styrene, photo-etch
Pros See text Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $89.95

First Look

P-40F Warhawk
P-40F Warhawk
P-40F Warhawk
P-40F Warhawk
P-40F Warhawk

The Curtiss P-40 was result of a redesign of the P-36 Hawk to replace its radial engine with a liquid-cooled V-12 engine. While the result improved performance of the aircraft, the P-40 was viewed as out-of-date compared to other fighters around the world. Nevertheless, the aircraft remained in production with over 13,700 examples produced by the end of World War II. One of the buyers of the P-40 was the British government, seeking the resources to equip the RAF and Commonwealth air forces in the early days of World War II.

The P-40D represented a major improvement to the P-40 design with a newer version of the Allison V-1710 engine in a redesigned nose that eliminated the guns and enlarged the radiators under the engine, but only 22 were produced before transition to the P-40E and its six-gun wing. At about the same time, an experiment was conducted on a P-40D, replacing the V-1710 with a Rolls Royce Merlin 28 engine to address the P-40's poor performance at higher altitudes. The result was successful and the P-40 production line was split, with Allison-powered P-40Es produced alongside Packard-Merlin-powered P-40Fs.

After nearly 700 P-40Fs were produced, a design change was introduced to lengthen the fuselage by 26 inches to improve directional stability. A newly implemented block designation system was introduced and the P-40F-5-CU was the first production block with the longer fuselage. Over 600 longer P-40Fs were produced before production moved on to the Merlin-powered P-40L. Note: While the Merlin-powered P-40 was a much-needed improvement, the Merlin and license-produced Packard Merlin were in such high demand that there were not enough available to supply all of the production P-40s, and not only did the Allison-powered P-40s remain in production to the end, numerous Merlin-powered P-40s were retro-fitted to Allison power due to shortages of Packard Merlin engines and spare parts.

Many, many years ago, Trumpeter announced a series of 1/32 scale P-40 kits which have appeared as NEW in every catalog since at least 2013. Here at long last is their first version, the P-40F Warhawk. The box art is prophetic of the kit inside, depicting a P-40F that is about to crash. Given the aircraft's shadow as well as the dust down the runway, the aircraft isn't very high off the ground and the left wing is about to dig in as the left landing gear is either retracting or collapsing. If it is retracting, the pilot forgot the cardinal rule that you do not retract the landing gear until you a positive rate of climb indication on your instruments, or else you're going to sink back into the runway (like this guy).

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on six parts trees, plus three small trees of clear parts, one set of rubber tires, and two frets of photo-etched parts. Among the features in this kit:

  • Basic cockpit (see notes)
  • Nicely done pilot seat with photo-etched pilot restraints
  • Positionable canopy
  • Decent radiator section with photo-etched grilles
  • Hollow engine exhaust stacks
  • Positionable wing ammo trough doors
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable rudder
  • Optional bomb for the centerline rack
  • Kit includes drop tank though not mentioned in the instructions

The kit provides markings for four options, though no information is given as to any of the subjects. As best we can piece together:

  • P-40F, 41-19831, 68 FS/347 FG (see notes)
  • P-40F, unknown, 64 FS/57 FG
  • P-40F, unknown, 86 FS/79 FG
  • P-40F, unknown, 66 FS/57 FG

Notes:

  • First and foremost, this kit suffers from the same error as most other P-40 kits (and you'd think Trumpeter would have learned from their previous smaller-scale P-40 releases), the cockpit floor is flat and level. The P-40 didn't have a cockpit 'floor' as that floor surface is the upper surface of the wing. It should be curved and angled accordingly. Since this mistake has been made before, the depth of the rear bulkhead and pilot seat may be compressed as a result of the the false floor. The rest of the cockpit details are usable, but rather simplistic given this scale - the throttle quadrant is a good example.
  • Second, (and thanks to Russ Taylor for reminding me) the nose of the kit is wrong. Look at the top of the nose from the windscreen to the spinner. There is a slight hump and then a slope down to the spinner. That is correct for a P-40E nose with its carburetor scoop removed. Look at a real photo of the P-40F - that hood is nearly flat from the windscreen to the spinner. The propeller thrust line is slightly higher with the Merlin engine.
  • The rudder pedals sit immediately behind the instrument panel, but on the full-scale aircraft, they reside further behind the panel (unless the pilot has really short legs).
  • The elevators don't look right to my eyes and when compared to the Hasegawa 1/32 P-40, they are a bit shallower and have a slightly different shape. Nothing earth-shattering, but if I noticed it...
  • The flap wells are overly complex. The kit provides photo-etched rear ribs to go up inside the upper surface of the flap well. You can close up the flaps, but these photo-etched parts remind me of the early Eduard photo-etched flap wells.
  • The fuselage is the short version, same as the P-40D/E, and not the later-block P-40F, so you're doing early-production P-40F subjects with this kit.
  • While the kit provides positionable gun ammo trough panels, the bays are empty and no ammo belts are included. For whatever reason, the gun bays are not provided (molded closed).
  • Since the decals lack any identifying information, you're on your own to verify whether the decal subject belongs on an early or late-block (not this kit) P-40F (or perhaps a P-40L (also not this kit).
  • 41-19831 - how did the color profile and decal artist get this one screwed up? The profile artist neglected to show the white ID bands on the undersides of the wings and horizontal stabilizer, while the decal artist got the tail numbers screwed up.

I was really looking forward to seeing what Trumpeter could do with the P-40 family in 1/32 scale given their past engineering on other subjects, but there is no engine/open cowling option, cowl flaps are not positionable, flap wells are over-complicated, and even after all of the 'feedback' they received on their previous P-40 cockpits, they doubled down with this one. In short, I am disappointed with this one and I have no confidence that the future versions will fare any better. While I may opt to build and correct this kit, there is no good reason why a new-tool $90 kit should be so poorly executed. If you haven't purchased this kit, you might want to work with the Hasegawa kits and aftermarket conversions to render a short or long-tailed P-40F. If you've already purchased one, maybe you can get your money back...

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