Matchbox 1/72 P-38J/L Lightning

KIT #: PK-118
PRICE: $5.99 at the time
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Peter Burstow


The many reviews and previews on this site are a good start for a history. If you need more, then a Google search will provide plenty. There are plenty of written references too. I have listed a few older books.


 Coming in an end opening box, there are three sprues with about 60 parts in green, grey and black plastic. There is a single canopy on a clear sprue. The parts are cleanly moulded, with recessed lines, a little heavy in places but not trenches. There is flash on some of the parts, and a mould joint line is visible. There are some ejector pin marks that mostly will be hidden after construction.

The cockpit comprises a floor, seat (from a bus?), and a pilot figure. There is no sidewall detail, and no control wheel. The nose gear and the main gear bays are just open holes. External stores are just 10 rockets, and two drop tanks.

The instructions recommend weight be added to prevent tail sitting, no mention of how much. The decal sheet has markings for an European based 343rd squadron P-38J, and a New Guinea based, 431st squadron P-38L as flown by Major T. McGuire in natural metal. Brightness was adjusted on the decal scan to show up the white markings.

The instructions are a folded sheet, clearly printed on high quality paper. It shows 11 construction steps with a typical Matchbox mini painting guide. The back of the box has profiles of the two versions. Paints are referenced by Humbrol number. There is a brief history in English.


The P-38 has been moulded by just about all the major kit companies, and some of the minor ones as well. A check found 14 different 1/72 kits were produced before 1985, and a few more since. This kit was copyright 1976. A caution with all P-38 kits is that the propellers are handed, rotating outward at the top.

A nice looking model kit, typical of later Matchbox. It lacks detail but looks to be an easy build, with plenty of scope for interesting paint jobs and customisation. Recommended for everybody.


 Famous Fighters of the Second World War, William Green, Macdonald, London, 1957.

 War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters Vol. 4, William Green, Macdonald, London 1961.

Lockheed P.38 Lightning A History, Anthony Shennan, Historian, Campbelltown, 1970. This Australian monograph has the bonus of a fold out 1/32 scale plan sheet, a colour cutaway view, and many detailed photos including interiors.

P-38 Lightning In Action, Gene B Stafford, Squadron/Signal, Carrollton, 1976.

 Peter Burstow

October 2014

Kit courtesy of my stash.If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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