|PRICE:||4400 yen (about $48.00 at today's exchange rate)|
The P-40K was a development from the P-40E, which continued use of the Allison V-1710 engine and appeared simultaneously with the P-40F, which used the Packard Merlin. The P-40K used the more powerful Allison V-1710-73 (F4R) engine, with developed 1,325 h.p., which provided increased power from the Allison V-1710-39 (F4R) with it’s 1,150 h.p. that was used by the P-40E.
The P-40E-5 had used a fin extension in an attempt to cure the directional stability problem associated with the short fuselage inherited from the P-36. The P-40K used this fin extension with a vertical fin that had increased chord as well as a rudder of increased chord, to try and solve this problem. This was known as the “Round-Tail” P-40 due to the change in fin and rudder. The P-40K-1 and P-40K-5 were produced with the short fuselage and “round tail,” before production moved on to the P-40K-10, which featured the lengthened fuselage that solved the directional stability problem more effectively.
The 51st Fighter Group:
The 51st Fighter Group was established at Hamilton Field, California, in January 1942, consisting of the 16th, 25th and 26th Fighter Squadrons, under the command of Major Homer L. “Tex” Sanders. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war, the 51st was one of three fighter groups - the others being the 49th Fighter Group and the 35th Fighter Group - which were alerted for transfer to the Pacific in January 1942. It was originally planned that the groups would reinforce the Philippines, but after they left San Francisco aboard the S.S. “President Coolidge,” their destination was changed to Australia, where they arrived at Melbourne on February 1, 1942. With the war going badly, the 51st was alerted for a movement into the combat zone, leaving Fremantle on February 23, 1942, aboard the transport USS “Holbrook” in company with the airplane tender USS “Langley” and the freighter “Sea Witch,” which carried their P-40Es. Their destination was Java. On February 27, 1942, the “Langley” was sunk with all aircraft, and the “Sea Witch” was badly damaged. The “Holbrook” was ordered to continue on for Colombo, Ceylon, then was re-routed to Karachi. On arrival in Karachi on March 12, the 51st was without aircraft.
On April 22, 1942, P-40-equipped units on the U.S. East Coast were stripped of pilots and aircraft, 68 which were put aboard the carrier USS “Ranger” in New York harbor. Half of the P-40s were new P-40K-1s. Among the pilots was 1st Lt. Edward Nollmeyer, late of the 54th Fighter Group. The “Ranger” put to sea with the Army airplanes and pilots, headed for Africa. On May 10, 1942, the 68 aircraft were successfully launched at sea, headed for Accra, Guinea. All arrived safely, and within days began an odyssey across Africa in 6-plane groups, accompanied by B-25s for navigation. The flight proceeded in stages, first to Lagos, Nigeria, then on to Lake Chad, across to Sudan, up to Cairo, then on to Jerusalem, across the forbidding desert to Baghdad, then on across the Strait of Hormuz to Karachi. 62 of the aircraft made the entire trip, with six putting down in Africa when they became lost, though all 68 pilots eventually made it to Karachi.
In Karachi, 32 pilots and aircraft were assigned to the new 23rd Fighter Group, the replacement for the American Volunteer Group, and sent on to Kunming to the China Air Task Force. The others, including Nollmeyer, joined the 51st Fighter Group in Karachi. The 51st sent the 16th Fighter Squadron on to Kunming with the 23rd Fighter Group. The following week three experienced pilots were sent to Assam, to fly recon over Burma.
In October, the 51st assumed responsibility for air defense of the southern terminus of “the Hump” in Dinjan, India. On October 26, 1942, 90 “Sally” bombers and “Oscar” fighters appeared without prior warning over the base. Colonel Sanders, the group CO, and his wingman had taken off on a patrol and spotted the Japanese, shooting down two Oscars, while the Japanese destroyed 3 P-40s, two P-43s and damaged 13 other P-40s.
24 hours later, the 64th Sentai sent Oscars to strafe the base. Among the Americans who met the attackers was 1st Lt. Nollmeyer, who pursued one of the Ki.43s and exploded it for his first victory.
The Japanese left the base alone after this, but the 25th and 26th Fighter Squadrons continued to patrol among the towering Himalayas, and branched out with strafing attacks in Burma by the end of the year.
The Japanese began an offensive into Assam in February 1943, which brought the 51st into combat again, with a big battle on February 25, 1943, against 27 attacking Sallys with an escort of 21 Oscars, which became the unit’s best day in Assam. Nollmeyer scored his second Oscar, one of 14 victories claimed that day, with 13 probables. A final victory in April 1943 over a Dinah was the unit’s last score in India.
Over the summer of 1943, as other pilots completed their tours, Nollmeyer was given command of the 25th fighter Squadron, and then promoted to Major in September 1943.
In October 1943, after the monsoon, the 51st was transferred to the 14th Air Force in China, where they would defend the northern end of “the Hump” in Kweilin, in southern Yunnan Province. Fighting got heavy in December 1953, with the Japanese offensive against Changteh. In the raging air battles around this offensive in December, Nollmeyer scored one Ki.43 on December 18 and two Oscars on December 23, to become the first ace of the 25th FS.
This is the second of Hasegawa’s 1/32 P-40s. The P-40E was well received, though modelers were upset by Hasegawa’s mistaken molding of the windscreen with two clear panels. This was difficult to correct, but could be done. Fortunately, Hasegawa has corrected this fault and the new windscreen has the correct one-piece side panels. The other change from the earlier kit is the provision of the larger “round tail” associated with the P-40K-1 and K-5 Warhawk.
Decals are provided for the P-49K-1 flown by Major Ed Nollmeyer of the 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Group, and a P-40K-5 flown by the 78th Fighter Squadron of the 18th Fighter Group in Hawaii.
Having learned my lessons with the earlier kit, I made sure to attach the tail parts to each forward fuselage half before proceeding to assemble the fuselage. I needed quite a bit of cyanoacrylate glue and Mr. Surfacer to get rid of the seam, which I then rescribed and used my pounce wheel to replace the line of rivets with each panel line. I had to do the same thing, very carefully, with the rear canopy parts, which also do not attach on panel lines.
Past this, the model presented no difficulties and was assembled as I had assembled the P-40E. These 1/32 kits have better overall fit than the previous 1/48 kits, which is important with the “modular” construction Hasegawa uses to allow them to do the differing versions of the P-40. I used Eduard seat belts to dress up the cockpit, which was otherwise done “out of the box.”
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Everyone thinks they know Nollmeyer’s airplane, due to the well-known black and white photo of the airplane taken at Chunking just before Nollmeyer finished his tour with the 51st and returned home in early 1944. It’s Dark Earth and Dark Green, with Neutral Grey undersides, right?
Maybe. While I was researching the project, I found this color photograph of Nollmeyer’s P-40K - it can be identified as such by the two yellow stripes signifying his status as Squadron CO on the rear fuselage. Because of the Squadron CO markings, it can be dated as sometime after September, 1943, but before early November, 1943, when the “China’s Blitzer” reindeer insignia for the 25th FS was put on the radiator cowling. The “255" on the rudder definitely identifies the airplane as Nollmeyer’s, since the 200-255 series of theater markings in China were assigned to the 25th FS in October 1943.
The problem is that the airplane appears to be pretty obviously painted in Dark Earth and the US version of “Middle Stone,” not Dark Earth and Dark Green. I researched the daylights out of this, thinking that these were sun-faded versions of Dark Earth and Dark Green, but I am pretty certain they are the desert colors.
How could this be? Well, in the Spring of 1942, when the Army decided to send the P-40 reinforcements to India and China, the decision was made in a hurry. According to an account by one of the pilots who flew the mission, they went to Curtiss in Buffalo and picked up new P-40s just before being put aboard the “Ranger.” At the time, Curtiss was producing P-40Ks for the RAF as Kittyhawk IIIs, which were all destined for North Africa and by 1942 would have been painted in the British “desert colors.” I think at the time, no one was worrying whether they were picking up “American” P-40s or “British” P-40s, and it could have easily been the case that a desert-camo Kittyhawk III could have been in the mix. Interestingly enough, I did photograph my model after I completed it, and turned the color photo to black and white, where I was able to manipulate the grey tones to something pretty similar to the grey tones in the more well-known photo.
So, can I prove without a doubt that everyone else has been wrong for 60+ years in their color call-outs for this airplane. No, but I can certainly point to numerous examples (the “all white” Sea Hurricanes of 825 Squadron come to mind) where “color gurus” have made calls that have been followed by others until the call is considered “fact,” only to have someone come along, take a second look at the relevant pictures, and demonstrate that the original “facts” are more fantasy than fact. Besides, I already have a Dark Green/Dark Earth P-40E on the shelf.
At any rate, the model was painted with Xtracrylix Dark Earth, Tamiya “Desert Yellow” (since I was going for the “US equivalent” which is known to be a different shade from the official RAF color), and Gunze-Sangyo “Neutral Grey,” with the camouflage all done freehand and then sun-faded after being “pre-shaded” for color depth.
Studying the photos, I am also convinced that the large insignia Hasegawa says should be on the fuselage is too big. I went into the Decal Dungeon and found some red-surround insignia that are the correct size, which I used for the national markings. The rest of the markings all come from the kit sheet. I note that these decals are particularly thin. I managed to screw up the “255" from the kit, and replaced it with numbers from a sheet in the dungeon. Again, these numbers, which are smaller than those supplied in the kit decals, appear to be more correct when I “eyeball” the completed model and compare it with the photos.
After giving the model a flat finish by adding in some Tamiya “Flat Base” to the Xtracrylix Flat varnish, I applied some exhaust staining and oil stains on the lower fuselage with Tamiya “Smoke”, then attached landing gear, drop tank, exhaust stacks, wheels and prop, and unmasked the canopy. I attached the sliding canopy in the open position.
Hasegawa “owns” P-40s in 1/32 scale now, the way they “own” the airplane in 1/48 scale. I personally like the “round tail” P-40K the best of the “short” P-40s, and like this kit very well. It’s one of Hasegawa’s limited release kits and now out of production. Currently, HLJ, Squadron, Hannant’s, Roll Models, and Sprue Brothers do not have this kit in stock, so it looks like if you didn’t order it when first released in October, you may be too late until Hasegawa releases it again.
Review Kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan.
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