Hasegawa 1/32 P-40M Kittyhawk III
The P‑40M was similar to the preceding P‑40K series, with the primary visual difference being a cooling inlet on each side of the nose ahead of the exhaust stacks, and a radio antenna mast. Like the late‑series P‑40K, it was powered by an Allison V‑1710‑81 engine. The 600 P‑40Ms produced were almost all destined for Lend‑Lease, and the airplane was known in the RAF and the Commonwealth Air Forces with whom it served as the Kittyhawk III.
The RNZAF and the P-40M/Kittyhawk III.
The RNZAF had its first contact with the Curtiss P‑40 when 80 P‑40E‑1 "Kittyhawk Is" were delivered in April and May 1942. Number 14, 15, and 16 Squadrons were formed on the Kittyhawks and undertook training through the rest of the year. In early 1943, the New Zealanders received U.S. P-40M Warhawks. These American aircraft, painted in Olive Drab and neutral Grey and still equipped with U.S. seatbelts, were known unofficially to the RNZAF as “Kittyhawk III”, though pilots called them P-40s. Shortly after equipping with these new P-40s, the aircraft and their pilots were sent to Vanuatu in the New Hebrides, where the aircraft were reassembled and flown on to Espiritu Santos the main allied base in the South Pacific.
15 Squadron was the first to enter combat on Guadalcanal, arriving at Kukum Field (Fighter II) on April 8, 1943, the day after the last great Japanese raid on the island, in which over 40 Japanese aircraft had been shot down by the Navy and Marine defenders. 15 Squadron undertook escorts of RNZAF Venturas on reconnaissance flights in the Solomons, and scored their first success on May 6, when the squadron commander shot down an A6M‑2N during a rainstorm.
14 Squadron arrived at Kukum on June 10, and 15 Squadron returned to Espiritu Santos shortly thereafter, having claimed an additional three Zeroes shot down near the Russell Islands on June 7. 14 Squadron’s tour lasted until July 24, with 16 Squadron arriving on the 20th and taking over operations on July 25 when 14 Squadron rotated to the rear. By chance, 14 Squadron’s tour of duty had coincided with a major aerial challenge by the Japanese as the Allies prepared to invade New Georgia, providing the pilots of the squadron with the opportunity to establish themselves as the leading scorers in the P-40 with the RNZAF.
Among the pilots of 16 Squadron was Lyn William Williams, 27, a sheep farmer from an established old colonial family in the province of Taranaki, New Zealand who had been in the country since arriving in 1841 from Wales. He had inherited the family farm shortly before the outbreak of was in 1939, and through the “essential industries” clause could have avoided service since supplying food to Britain was seen as vital at the time. However, both Lyn and his younger brother Reeve became pilots, with Reeve going to the Fleet Air Arm after elementary flying training in New Zealand, where he eventually became a German POW. Lyn Williams was by all accounts a friendly, athletic guy who excelled at tennis and snow skiing.
On July 31, 1943, almost a week after their arrival on operations, 16 Squadron RNZAF took off from Kukum Field to patrol the Munda area, including New Georgia Island. So far, the squadron had not had many run-ins with the enemy, outside of some small interception flights from fields on the islands bordering “The Slot” as the P-40s escorted Kiwi Venturas and American Dauntlesses and Avengers striking Munda. Among the pilots on the flight was Flight Sergeant Lyn Williams in P-40M/Kittyhawk III NZ3076. The weather was cloudy with building cumulus over the ocean. F/Sgt Williams and his wingman F/Sgt Sam Sharpe broke through the cloud cover at 20,000 feet and spotted another section of P40’s under attack by Zeros. Williams led the two in to assist and they were in turn attacked by a larger formation of Zeros with a large altitude advantage, which fell on top of them from out of the sun. The two Kiwi pilots were immediately fighting for their lives.
The RNZAF P40 squadrons acquitted themselves well in the Solomons campaign, being credited with 99 confirmed and 13 probable kills, for the loss of only 20 aircraft. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircrew in Dauntlesses and Avengers welcomed the close escort provided by the New Zealanders, who were proud of the fact they never lost an aircraft they were assigned to cover.
The engagement in which Williams was lost is mentioned in several books: “Kittyhawks and Coconuts” (1995) by Keith Mulligan, pages 86 & 87, the author was himself a 16 SQDN P40 pilot who knew Lynn Williams and took part in the action that day; “The Blue Arena” (1986) by SQDN LDR Bob Spurdle DFC & bar, Page 149; and “Wings over the Pacific, The RNZAF in the Pacific Air War” by Alex Horn (1992). Pages 65 & 66.
These kits are the essence of simplicity. I started by painting all the interior parts for the fuselage with Xtracrylix Interior Green. While that was drying, I attached the left and right rear fuselage parts to the respective forward fuselage parts, as well as the exhaust panels. I then applied a thick coat of Tamiya’s “Mr. Surfacer” to the fuselage joint. When that was dry, I sanded it smooth and rescribed the panel lines and the rivet detail. I also attached the horizontal stabilizers and rudder.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I gave the model several coats of Xtracrylix Flat varnish, then ‘dinged” it lightly with Tamiya Aluminum - photos of the airplanes of 16 Squadron show they were not all that worn at the time of this loss. I used Tamiya “Smoke” for the exhaust and oil stains.
I am quite happy
that this model will soon be sitting in the home of Hugh Thomas, Lyn Williams’
grand nephew, who commissioned this project to memorialize his ancestor,
a man representative of those who answered the call even when they didn’t have
to, and whose sacrifice created the world we have grown up in.
a man representative of those who answered the call even when they didn’t have to, and whose sacrifice created the world we have grown up in.
Past that, it’s a Hasegawa P-40 - what’s not to like? The kit is no longer in production, but can be found from dealers on eBay for prices no more inflated than what Hasegawa is charging now. These kits are simple enough in execution and so well-designed that it is virtually impossible not to get everything assembled with proper alignment, so that any modeler can attempt a project with it with the prospect of having a nice model as a result. The kit markings are excellent and provide an opportunity to do an airplane that has not been “done to death” by the decal manufacturers, whichever markings option is chosen. The result is a model that is a “big canvas” for a fun project. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Hugh Thomas for the review kit.
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