AMT 1/48 P-40F Warhawk






Two Aircraft in North Africa, 1943


Scott Van Aken


Kit makes short tailed F


Undoubtedly the most important fighter type of the USAAC/F in the first year and a half of WWII. Though outclassed in some respects by aircraft of Japan and Germany, it was a very capable performer at low altitudes. It's rugged construction was also responsible for bringing back many a pilot who would have otherwise been shot down. The initial versions were all powered by Allison engines which were not noted for their high altitude performance as were Merlins of the Spitfires and the Daimler Benz engines of the 109s.

In an attempt to remedy that situation and to offer a common engine to that of British allies, a Merlin engined P-40 was developed. This was the P-40F. Unfortunately, putting this engine into the heavier P-40 did not give the anticipated performance boost that was expected. Nonetheless, 1361 P-40Fs were built. Out of these 699 were the initial run of short tailed aircraft, while the rest were built with longer fuselages. 

Why do I bring up the fuselage issue? Well, like many modelers, I had thought that almost all P-40Fs had the stretched fuselage. This just isn't the case. Of the 1361 F airframes, only 662, or slightly less than half  were the long tailed version. What probably confuses a lot of people is that the P-40L, also Merlin powered, looks very similar to the P-40F. Of the 700 P-40Ls built, only the first 50, the L-1, were short tailed. The P-40L can be distinguished from the P-40F in that the L only has two guns per wing vice the three on the F. And that brings us to the kit.


AMT embarked on a program of new tool 1/48 aircraft kits back about 1996. They were eagerly anticipated as they offered the F7F Tigercat, A-20 Havoc and P-40 Warhawk series of aircraft. Frankly, I was one of those who bought a number of each type. They were well molded, of interesting aircraft, and were competitively priced. In the P-40 series, there is a P-40F, P-40K and P-40N. While the N has been kitted by Mauve (and frankly, it is just a bit nicer than the AMT kit, but at twice the price), neither the F or the K have been previously done. It is odd that the E wasn't also done, but that really isn't a big deal.

AMT has done what most kit makers do nowadays and that is to make common sprues and just change those items specific to the subtype being modeled. It is quite easy to tell which sprues are the common ones. In this case, it is those items with the most flash on them!! As you can see from the image, there is quite a bit of flash on these sprues.  This is probably because of the lower quality control in the Mexican factories where these kits were made (the factory has since moved to China where AMT's quality control seems much better. Those items specific to the F kit have minimal flash.

As one expects from a modern kit, the parts are in medium grey plastic with nicely engraved panel lines. There is sufficient detail for most modelers. There is a complete interior with detailed sidewalls, a nice seat with belts molded on it, instrument panel with rudder pedals, and a control stick. The ordnance available are two 500 lb bombs to be fit on outer wing racks. The holes in the wing for these racks are already made for you. To be honest, I wish they wouldn't do this as I generally like semi-clean aircraft without all that stuff hanging from the wings. In addition, doing research on this aircraft, I found no pictures of P-40Fs with wing racks and only one photo of a RNZAF P-40N with these mounted. I did find a number of photos with bombs on the centerline rack however. You get a drop tank for that, though you could easily mount a bomb there.

You also get two different exhaust systems, one of which is 'fishtailed'. Save this for your other P-40 kits that may be missing them. The prop on this kit is a single piece so you don't have to sweat gluing on separate blades, a feature that I like. The wheels have tires with circumflex tread in place of the diamond pattern that is so commonly seen so you may want to get aftermarket wheels for this one to replace them. One part that is glaringly incorrect is the chin radiator depiction. It looks nothing like any P-40F intake I have ever seen. There should be one carb intake port in the lower center and not the two that are given. Where AMT got this is beyond me. The clear bits are very well done and free of flash.

The instructions are typical of AMT. They give no history, have a paint reference giving FS numbers where applicable, and are totally pictorial. Color callouts for all the parts are given in each of the 8 steps. The sequence is logical and it looks to be a relatively easy and painless build. 

You get decals for two very similar P-40Fs, one from the 57th FG and the other from the 324th FG in North Africa. Unfortunately, only one set can be used. The short tailed P-40F serial range is 41-3600 to 41-14299, which is fine for the 57th FG aircraft. However the 324th FG aircraft is serialed 41-19988, which is for a long-tailed P-40F-20 so you'll have to find another fuselage or use one of the many resin tails available. 

Overall, it looks like a painless build, and crosskitting with the other AMT P-40 kits will give you a large selection of versions not otherwise available in kit form. Stay tuned!


P-40 Hawks at War by Joe Christy and Jeff Ethell, Scribner's and Sons, 1980, $15.95

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

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