|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/48 Kittyhawk III|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The P-40, while not really an outstanding fighter, was an aircraft that could hold its own at low altitude with most Western fighters of the time. It was also quite rugged and most of all, it was easy to maintain. There were not a lot of complex systems in the aircraft outside of those that helped to keep the big Allison engine running properly. It was also currently being produced when the war got underway so was a natural for widespread use.
In capable hands, the aircraft was an excellent bomber interceptor and a very good fighter bomber, despite the liquid cooled engine that was more prone to damage from light ground fire than a radial. As such, it was used widely in the Mediterranean theater as well as in the Southwest Pacific and CBI. these areas were not really considered to be that main thrust in the war so were not the first areas to get Mustangs, Thunderbolts and upgraded Spitfires. Those were saved for the UK and that part of the war.
This particular kit has the ability to build what the RAF called the Kittyhawk III. This actually took into account two different airframes; the P-40M and P-40K. The M was a long tailed aircraft, similar to late F and the N series, though with the earlier canopy of the F and an Allison engine. The K was like an E but had an additional fin fillet. Both the longer tail and the fin fillet were attempts to help cure the rather pronounced swing of the airframe from the torque of the engine during take-off.
The Kittyhawk III was mostly used by the RAF and Commonwealth air forces in North Africa and the Pacific, until replaced by more modern types near the end of the war.
Normally, I'd have passed on this kit as I already have quite a few P-40s in my stash, but since the shop owner owed me money and this was a new kit with quite a few additional bits, I fell for it. Wasn't thrilled about the $31 price tag, but that's world economies for you. The kit sells for 2400 yen in Japan, which is about $22 or so.
There is nothing new in this kit as it is the same basic airframe as found in the P-40E, but there are quite a few additional bits and pieces including two different windscreens, three different instrument panels and two different tails. One is the longer version and the other is the type with the fin fillet used in later Es and most of what we call the K model. The kit also provides both styles of forward cowling engine inserts; one with the later cooling holes and one without. You could also probably do an L with this kit if you had the F style nose.
Other stuff is that you get both spoked and covered wheels, though the spoked wheels are for the N and should use smaller tires. You also get the choice of a bomb or drop tank for under the fuselage. The usual inserts are provided for the guns and ejector chutes. I assume that an early two gunned N is in the planning for sometime in the future otherwise, why have these bits as inserts? You are also to fill and sand the small side lights under the cockpit for the M, but not for the K. I still don't know what those are. I don't recall seeing them on any warbirds or museum P-40s.
The instructions are the usual fare from Hasegawa with Gunze color references. There are notes throughout about what parts to use for what version so you don't get those mixed up. One also has to drill out the holes for the ring and bead site. Another option is to be able to use separate clear bits for the formation lights. We who are lazy will simply paint the one already molded in place, and save the clear thingies for spares for our Mauve kits.
Markings are for two planes. One is the P-40M version as shown on the box art for Geoff Fiskin of the RNZAF in mid 1943. All the white stripes are part of the sheet as are the correctly colored roundels. the aircraft is in OD over Neutral Grey according to the instructions. The other is for a P-40K of DB Hauptfleisch of 2 Sq SAAF in North Africa during 1942. This one is in the desert scheme of Dark Earth/Middlestone over Azure Blue with the required Red spinner. The decals are quite well done and seem to be the proper colors. They also seem a tad thicker than aftermarket, but should work well. You get bomb stripes as well as those for the instrument panels.
This kit seems to put Hasegawa on track for all the Allison engine versions. I'm not sure what they are missing aside from an early N. To do the F and L they'd need a new fuselage for the different nose, but I'm betting that this is in the eventual plans. One very nice thing about this boxing are the alternate pieces. If you managed to get a P-40E on sale, you can simply transfer the unused bits over to that kit and not have to fork out $31 for this kit. I'm already digging through my aftermarket choices to see what I can come up with for this one.
Thanks to me and the fact that I sold off some other models for this one.
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