Hasegawa 1/32 Kittyhawk I

KIT #: ?
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Barracuda Decals BC32005 “P-40s of 112 Squadron RAF - Part 1"


            The RAF first ordered the Curtiss H-87A-1 Hawk following the prototype’s first flight in 1940.  These early aircraft were known in service as the “Tomahawk.” When the H-87A-3, an improved modification of the earlier design that first appeared as the P-40D in the summer of 1941, it was ordered as the Kittyhawk I,” with most of these being P-40E-1 aircraft.  When it was supplied under Lend-Lease, it was known as the “Kittyhawk IA.  The Tomahawk and Kittyhawk replaced the Hurricane as the RAF air-superiority fighter, with both being considered superior to the Hurricane.  Once Spitfires became available in sufficient numbers in 1943, the Kittyhawks were used more and more in the close air support role.  The rugged construction of the P-40 meant it had little difficulty operating from primitive desert air strips.

             Clive Caldwell, the leading P-40 ace of the war, said the Kittyhawk had “almost no vices” when flown properly, though it was “a little difficult to control in a terminal velocity dive.” He said it was faster going downhill than any other airplane he flew or fought against. 

             Hans-Joachim Marseille, “the Star of Africa,” included 101 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks in his total of 158 victories in North Africa, including 17 shot down in one mission, an event it took the RAF 20 years to finally acknowledge had actually happened.  When flown competently by pilots specifically trained in proper tactics by leaders like Caldwell, the Kittyhawk fared well against both the Bf-109 and MC-202, and 46 Commonwealth pilots became aces flying the airplane in the North African campaign, including 12 who scored more than 10 victories each.                   

             In all, 18 RAF squadrons, along with four RCAF, three SAAF, and two RAAF squadrons, used the Kittyhawk in the Mediterranean, while three RAAF and three RNZAF squadrons operated them in the southwest Pacific.

 112 “Shark” Squadron:

             A First World War air defense squadron re-activated in 1929, 112 Squadron was sent to Egypt in June 1940 upon the outbreak of war with Italy.  Initially equipped with the obsolete Gloster Gladiator, the squadron flew interception missions against Italian bombers attacking Cairo.  In January 1941, 112 Squadron was sent to Greece, where it took part in the fighting until withdrawn to Crete in late April, then on back to Egypt following the successful German invasion of Crete in May 1941.

             In June 1941, 112 Squadron became one of the first RAF units to equip with the Curtiss P-40 in the shape of the Tomahawk II.  Inspired (as would be the American Volunteer Group that fall) by the sharkmouth insignia on the Bf-110s of ZG 76, the Haifisch Gruppe, 112 became known as the “Shark Squadron” when they marked their shark-shaped Tomahawks with a similar insignia. Like the AVG, no two of these sharkmouths were the same in outline and execution.  The squadron took part in the fighting in Syria that fall before returning to the Western Desert in November 1941. 

             In December 1941, 112 Squadron re-equipped with the Kittyhawk I, the export version of the P-40E.  The unit would use the P-40 in all versions up to the P-40N/Kittyhawk IV until it re-equipped with the Mustang III in Italy in June 1944.

             The squadron personnel included pilots from Poland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. When Clive Caldwell took command in the spring of 1942, he was the first graduate of the Empire Air Training Scheme to command an RAF Squadron. On December 5, 1941, he shot down five Ju-87 Stukas in a matter of minutes, for which he received a bar to his DFC, which had been awarded two days earlier when he shot down and killed Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert, Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27.  On December 24, 1941, he shot down and killed Hauptmann Erbo Graf von Kageneck, a 69-victory experte of III./JG 27. Caldwell earned his nickname “Killer,” which he personally disliked, from the fact that he shot enemy pilots who had bailed out in their parachutes, a controversial practice.  Asked about this, he replied many years later, "...there was no blood lust or anything about it like that. It was just a matter of not wanting them back to have another go at us. I never shot any who landed where they could be taken prisoner."  During his time with 112 Squadron, Caldwell became the leading Commonwealth Ace in the P-40, and the highest-scoring P-40 ace in any air force, with 22 victories, including ten Bf-109s and two Macchi C.202s. 

             Billy Drake, the leading RAF Kittyhawk ace with 13 victories, also flew with 112 Squadron, as did Neville Duke, who scored 8 of his 27 victories in 112 Squadron Kittyhawks on his way to being the leading RAF ace of the Mediterranean Theater.


             Hasegawa’s P-40E kit first appeared in 2008.  It is a scale-up of the company’s excellent 1/48 P-40E; with later releases of the P-40K, P-40N, and Kittyhawk I/III in this scale, Hasegawa owns the P-40 in 1/32 as it does in 1/48.

This is an

            For a full construction guide, I’ll refer you to any of my other reviews of this kit here at Modeling Madness.  This kit was built to review the new Barracuda Decals sheet for the RAF Kittyhawk and Tomahawk.

             I will note that one new thing I tried in construction was very successful.  The joint of the upper wing to the fuselage has long been a bone of contention for modelers, usually resulting in the application of lots of putty and loss of detail when that is sanded smooth, with later re-scribing.  I opted with this project to wrap a large rubber band around from wingtip to wingtip, forcing the wing dihedral up to where the gap was closed.  I then applied a good bit of Tenax-7 glue and let this set up overnight.  When I removed the rubber band, the wing came down to its proper dihedral, pulling the fuselage out a bit, and allowing me to avoid all use of putty for seam-filling, other than a bit of cyanoacrylate to smooth out the area at the immediate leading edge where the wing fits behind the engine cowling. Be careful when you do this to smooth the glue in the seam while it’s wet, so you don’t get a “ridge,” and the problem of mating the wing to the fuselage is solved.

            While this project used an original P-40E kit, I replaced the incorrect windshield supplied in that kit with the correct windshield that comes in the later Kittyhawk I/III kit.  I also used the Eduard cockpit photoetch set for the Kittyhawk, with an RAF Sutton harness rather than the US-style seat belts.                         

             I do note that with the modular construction required, I attach the tails and the rear cockpit glass to each fuselage half before finally assembling the fuselage.  This allows me to work both sides of the joints and get as tight and smooth a connection as possible.  This reduces the amount of seam filling one has to do, and lessens the subsequent sanding down and re-scribing of surface detail in those areas.


             Roy Sutherland explains in the painting instructions in his decal sheet that the Kittyhawk Is were originally supplied in the US-equivalent RAF Temperate Scheme of Dark Green, Dark Earth and Sky Grey, using DuPont paints.  The Kittyhawks were repainted in North Africa at the squadron level, with Middle Stone being applied by spray gun over the Dark Green, and with the Sky Grey replaced by a blue color.  Usually this was RAF Azure Blue, but due to lack of paint, some aircraft were painted with other darker shades of blue which were most likely Mediterranean Blue. AK772 was one of those Kittyhawks with the dark blue lower surfaces.  I chose to do this airplane specifically because this color would make the finished model stand out from other P-40s in the collection that are done in desert camouflage. 

             Roy also states that AK772 was very “worn” in appearance. 

            For the undersurface color, I used Tamiya “Royal Blue” mixed with Tamiya “Intermediate Blue” and Tamiya “Flat White” to get a shade of blue that was close to that in the decal profile.  I lightened this by applying some Tamiya “Light Blue” and going over different panels.

             The upper surfaces were painted with Gunze-Sangyo Dark Earth and Middle Stone.  The Dark Earth was lightened with Tamiya “Desert Yellow” for a first pass in creating a sun-faded look, with Tamiya “Flat Yellow” and “Flat White” added in for later passes over the upper surfaces of the wings and horizontal stabilizer and upper area of the fuselage, for fading effect, with a bit more “Desert Yellow” added in to go over the fabric control surfaces.  The Middle Stone was “faded” with the addition of Tamiya “Buff” and then “Flat White” for later passes.  I note that the instructions say that the area behind where the serial number is applied should be Dark Green.  This is right for the left side of the fuselage, since that area was originally dark green and the serial was masked over, but it should not be done on the right side, which was originally Dark Earth and would have been left alone during the repaint. 

            When all this was finished, I applied a coat of Xtracrylix Gloss varnish.

             Barracuda Decals are printed by Cartograf and went on with no problem under a coat of Micro-Sol.  I only applied stencils to the areas that were Dark Earth, since the stencils in the Middle Stone area were likely not re-applied after painting.  When the national insignia on the left side was set, I painted over the lower forward quadrant of the yellow ring, which was done to all 112 Squadron Kittyhawks for reasons unknown to later researchers.


             I “dinged” the model around the cowling, the wing and tail leading edges, the prop, and the wingwalk areas, in accordance with a photo Roy supplied me of the airplane.  I also applied heavy exhaust staining on the fuselage with Tamiya “Smoke,” using that also for gunfire residue on the wings and oil stains on the lower wing and fuselage.  I “muddied” the tires and the wheel wells, and applied “mud spray” on the wing aft of the wells and the rudder aft of the tail wheel.  I then applied several coats of Xtracrylix Flat varnish, to which I added a few brushfulls of Tamiya “Flat Base” to get a dead-flat sunbaked finish.

             I then attached the landing gear, the separate exhausts, and the racks for the drop tank.  I unmasked the cockpit canopy and posed the sliding section in the open position.


             What can I say?  The Hasegawa P-40s are wonderful kits. If you take your time to assemble the modular parts, doing things like attaching the separate tail parts before assembling the fuselage to get nice close fits, you will not have to use a lot of putty or surface filler to get rid of the seams.  Roy’s decals are excellent, and allow one to create a distinctive model.

 Kit courtesy of my wallet.  Barracuda Decals courtesy of Roy Sutherland via Da Boss.  Order Barracuda Decals direct at www.barracudadecals.com

Tom Cleaver

December 2011

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