|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/32 P-40E Warhawk|
|KIT #:||08879 (St 29)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New mold kit|
I'll leave the long historical background to others on this one. Needless to say, the P-40 has indelibly worked its way into the group memory of Americans and others for well over a half a century. This is thanks to the near-legendary 'Flying Tigers' and their shark-mouth P-40s. Though not the best aircraft in the world at that time, it was good enough and it was available. Its heavy firepower and sturdy construction enabled it to work well in the Far East where the opposition wasn't quite as technically advanced as were the Germans over Europe.
So handy were these planes in the Pacific as well as in China, that they were front-line equipment in the USAAF until the last year of the Pacific war. They were also used with effectiveness by the British, Australians, New Zealanders, Chinese and others, making it one of the great American aircraft of WWII.
It very much seems as if one can spot a trend from Hasegawa. If they do a 1/72 kit that sells well, then a few years later they bring it out in 1/48. If that one does well, it will become a 1/32 kit. OK, perhaps that isn't the case, but it sure seems like it as we have seen some very nice big scale kits that were all good sellers in the smaller scales.
This new P-40E is not exception. It is very much like their 1/48 kit, but the level of detail has been taken to the next plane of existence and introduced some rather interesting bits and pieces as well.
First off, it is quite obvious that the whole gamut of later P-40s is in the works. The parts layout has a separate tail/fin, inserts for the forward cowling cooling gills, inserts for the various exhaust sections, an opening for the later 'N' style greenhouse aft section, a separate sprue for the 'big wheel' P-40E-K versions, and so on.
The cockpit is just as nice as one would expect from a new Hasegawa kit. There are options to install decals over the nicely raised instrument panel detailing and while I'm sure a resin cockpit will be coming out, the majority of modelers will be pleased with what is provided by the kit. It really needs a harness set up, even if it is only decals. As befits a kit of this size, there is a nicely done oil cooler section with the front and rear bits, which will be quite visible on the completed model.
One of the more interesting aspects of this kit to me is the way the greenhouse aft of the cockpit is handled. You get the usual inserts for under the quarter windows, but this assembly sits down low enough that the entire section can be covered by two clear pieces that include the plexiglas rear quarter windows. This provides a much more realistic look to things and one also has space to add filler if it might be needed. This feature of including the airframe around the clear bits extends to the windscreen as well, which is nice. What isn't nice is that the windscreen is not for the P-40E as there is an extra frame in the front quarter windows you'll have to remove. The windscreen is more applicable to the later P-40 versions, but not the E model so you'll have to use those modeling skills pertaining to sanding clear bits or wait for aftermarket or just go with what is there.
Wheel wells are a three part box with 'roof' that one assembles and the forward well is a long section that acts as a wing spar as well. Naturally, one gets the option of removing the molded in formation lights and replacing them with clear ones. There are also inserts for the wing guns on the leading edge. It will be interesting to see how well all these inserts actually fit. On the 1/48 kit I found that the fit was somewhat loose and I needed filler for most of them. There is one thing that puzzles me. Hasegawa has molded all the lower flap brace detail into the lower wing. Yet there is no indication of cutting and lowering these and no actuating arms are provided. While a nice option, the braces have clear sink areas opposite them on the outside of the flap, requiring the modeler to fill these.
Probably the only other PITA on this kit will be the exhaust. These are the tubular type and each stub is two parts that one cements together then installs into the insert provided. The stubs are not identical and so you'll have keep track of what goes where. I foresee a quality resin company offering these as an options pretty soon. Options for things under fuselage are a drop tank or bomb. One can also have the gun camera installed if one wishes. Two canopies are provided, one with a notch in the front lower quarter for 'closed' and one without it for 'open'. There is a pilot figure supplied for those who want one and it should fill the cockpit quite nicely. There is no wheels up option on the gear doors, though frankly, few would use it anyway. Some panels not germane to the P-40E will need filled and some holes opened up for various bits and pieces.
All of this is shown in Hasegawa's usual superlative instructions. Gunze paint references, of course, so most of us will have to find alternatives. Fortunately, for some colors either FS 595 or BSC 381 references are provided. Markings options are for two planes. One is the box art aircraft 'Texas Longhorn' as flown by John Landers in New Guinea during 1942 while with the 9 FS/49 FG. The other is the equally well known Ed Rector 76 FS/23 FG ex-AVG aircraft. Both are in the RAF equivalent colors of Dark Green/Dark Earth over what is shown as Neutral Grey, though it is probably closer to Sky. To Hasegawa's credit, they offer both RAF and USAAF paint color options. The decals are 'new generation' versions and so should work as well as any fine aftermarket sheet.
Bottom line is that this is a kit that you should get, especially if you like the Warhawk. Toss the Revell kit to the kids to work on as this one definitely supersedes it in all areas save for price.
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