Revell 1/72 P-39 Airacobra

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $?
DECALS: I'm sure the kit came with them
REVIEWER: Mark Fordham
NOTES: Oldie but a goodie

HISTORY

 The P-39 Airacobra was the first US Army fighter with tricycle landing gear, and was also unique for having its engine placed behind the pilot in the middle of the aircraft. Other interesting features included a 37mm cannon firing through the propeller hub, and access to the cockpit via a door in the fuselage (as opposed to a moveable canopy). While not noteable as an air-to-air fighter (in American hands), the P-39 performed well as a ground attack aircraft. However, the Russians received nearly 5000 P-39s through the lend-lease program, and they used them successfully as air defense fighters on the Eastern Front. About 200 P-39s originally designated for export to the British were repossessed by the USAAF, and were known as P-400s; these were used in the early Southwest Pacific campaigns such as at Guadalcanal.

 Due to general laziness the history is from Daveswarbirds.com.

THE KIT

Now first off this is not one of the  Revel Wunder kits that have been released in the last few years, sure the boxing is new but the model is still the original 60ís fair that I remember building as a kid, hell it still has the optional side cover so you can display the motor, the funky do-nut tyres and the masses of raised rivet and panel lines.

 A new boxing, updated instructions and a new set of decals is all you get for your money in this re-issue, however the Revell P39 still can be made up into a nice little model, not as accurate and detailed as the Academy offering for sure but still a favourite of many (Including your editor who has to have built at least a half dozen of these neat Revell kits.Ed).

CONSTRUCTION

You know considering how old the moulds are for this model the general fit is pretty good, like most 60ís models cockpit detail wasnít an option and you get the generic seat and generic Mr pilot, you do get a nicely detailed radio to fill out the back of the canopy, once the seat and radio was fitted and the front wheel well was blocked off the fuselage was closed up and care was taken to hide the join lines without wiping out too much rivet detail.

 I decided to not display the detailed engine this time as I had done that so very many times as a kid, so the engine cover was glued into place and the one sided engine consigned to the spares bin

 The one piece lower wing was glued next and once dry the upper parts of the wings were glued on, with a little bit of care and some deft trimming I was able to fit the upper parts without having to use any filler on the wing roots. I did however re-scribe the wing details after sanding all those golf ball rivets off.

 The wheel wells are completely bare of detail and okay I could have spent hours and hour scratch building the wheel wells I decided I just couldnít be bothered, hell itís going to sit at the back of a display cabinet for the rest of itís life.

 With the main construction done it was time to fit the spinner to the props, now when compared to the Academy model the Revell nose is just wrong, the spinner is way to short and round, the nose is too skinny and long and the prop blades, again to skinny, all in all the Revell P39 could stand to put a little weight on.

 The front undercarriage in my kit had been damaged beyond repair so a new one was scratched from sprue, I also replaced the original do-nut wheels with a set the same diameter from the spares box, I also made new door covers out of 5 tho plastic card as the originals were about 4 feet thick.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 Like most P39ís this one's Olive Drab over Neutral Gray, first off the Gray was sprayed on and then masked off, the Olive Drab was then gunned on and left to harden for a day or two, now the chap that had sent me this model had also included a spare set of Heller decals for Snooks 2nd so the tail had to be masked off and sprayed white.

 The wing edges were also masked of and sprayed white as well, with the major painting done the Heller decals were then added with no problems, these settled down well with my home made decal softener (85% Boiled water, 15% Acetic Acid and a drop of dishwashing liquid).

 Once the decals had dried off it was time to make the plane look a like ďdingedĒ Ö well lets be honest here, it looks like the entire German Army has walked over it on the way back to Berlin. Here is a case in point of a man given a Sliver pen and not knowing when to stop!  I doubt if Snooks 2 ever looked this beat up but I did it to hide the fact that the Revell kit is really basic and toy like.

 With over the top weathering the eye is distracted from the fact that there is very little detail, the nose profile is all wrong, the front undercarriage is wrong and that I'm a klutz with painting and decaling.

CONCLUSIONS

Want a well detailed P39? Ė buy the Academy one, Want a more accurate P39? Ė Buy the Academy one, Want a slap together weekend project with the kids for mock dogfights?- Buy the Revell one, Since the late 90ís when Academy released there P39 the Airfix/Heller and Revell P39ís have basically become BB gun targets or wet weekend slap togethers for the kids, A nice model can be made out of it but itís easier to buy the Academy one. 

REFERENCES

Microsoft Combat flight Sims (the P39ís in the PC game look a lot like the Revell one)

Mark Fordham

August 2005

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