Airfix 1/72 Hawk 81A-2 (P-40B/C)
Scott Van Aken
New tool kit
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground
attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification
of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled
a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used
by the air forces of 28 nations, including those of most Allied powers
during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the
war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and
P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been
built, all at Curtiss-Wright
Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.
As a bit of a note, the Hawk 81A-2 was the version of the early P-40 that
was built specifically for the British. According to the reference, the
Flying Tiger Hawk was an 81A-3 version. Visually, there is no difference. I
should also point out that the box art is pure fiction. The Flying Tigers
rarely, if ever, fought the Japanese Navy and so shot down few if any Zeros.
Most Japanese aircraft in China and Burma during the 'reign' of the Tigers
were fixed landing gear Ki-27s with a few Ki-43s tossed in the mix.
is not the first 1/72 P-40B/C. Frog was probably the initial developer of
one of these and is the basis for the Academy kit and probably others.
Though Jo-han listed on on box sides, they never carried through with
developing one prior to the company going under. There have also been early
P-40s by short run and resin kit manufacturers.
The kit is well shaped and has engraved panel lines. These panel lines are
actually far deeper than they need to be for a 1/72 kit and this has put off
several modelers who have seen these kits. Frankly, the majority of modelers
will not care one way or the other and while it is said that they will
soften out under paint, you will need a lot of paint!
The interior floor slots into the inside of the lower wing, to be followed
by a seat, stick and instrument panel. A decal is provided for instruments.
There is also detailing on the inside of the fuselage walls. Nothing great,
but better than a blank slate. The upper cowling is a separate piece to
facilitate the installation of the prop so it can spin. The lower
cowling/radiator is also separate. This will eliminate the need to fill
seams in these areas. The kit comes with open or closed cowl flap and can be
built with gear up, though you will need to fabricate your own stand. There
are separate exhaust sections and the kit comes with a pilot. The canopy is
clear, but thick and can only be glued in the closed position. I should also
mention that there is wheel well detailing and the wheels have flat spots
molded on them.
Hard to believe that the instructions for this comprise 16 steps, but they
do. You will have to cut off a radio mast molded on one fuselage half, but
that is about it. Naturally, all color numbers are Humbrol. The only cross
reference is on the back of the box and that is only for external painting
information. The lone markings option is for Charles Older's #68 in US
equivalent RAF colors. The decal sheet is nicely printed with data markings
where appropriate. I think the roundels are a bit too light, but then I have
been used to seeing darker blue for these things for decades. There are
aftermarket sheets if one wants something different.
I like all these new Airfix releases. Sure, they may
be lacking in some detail and the trenchwork for engraving takes a bit of
getting used to, but I like not spending $25 for a 1/72 airplane kit. For sure
the end result will be very nice and those who want to add the usual mass of
resin and photo etch will be able to once the aftermarket folks get going. Look
at it this way. A new kit will help keep aftermarket companies going and that is
good for us all.
Thanks to me for spending the big bucks on this one
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