AMtech 1/48 P-40E Warhawk
KIT #: 48002
PRICE: $24.95 SRP when new
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Kit produced in 2002


The P-40 Warhawk was made famous by the Flying Tigers, a band of mercenary pilots who fought for money and glory. Most of us don't like to think of these men as such, but it is the truth. They were allegedly paid handsomely to fly and paid a $500 bonus for every plane shot down. Not your standard operating policy in a military that at the time paid pilots less than $100 a month. However, it did ingrain the P-40 into the minds and fantasies of an air-minded public.

It was also arguably the best aircraft in the USAAF inventory when the US entered the war. Decidedly outmatched at altitude against German planes thanks to its Allison engine, it was a match for them at lower altitudes. Though not as maneuverable as the Japanese planes, it was faster and able to take battle damage that the other could not. It also had a greater weight of fire than most lightly built Japanese opponents. It was with this aircraft that the US entered the war in the Pacific. Until the advent of the P-38, The P-40E, along with a some P-39s, were all that were available to fight the Army's Pacific war.

Fortunately, this wasn't a war of high altitude as in Europe, so the sluggish performance of the P-40 and P-39 above 15,000 feet wasn't a real problem. Even when newer planes became available, those were mostly sent to Europe so the P-40 soldiered on in China, Burma and India as well as in the Southwest Pacific. As opposition decreased, the aircraft showed its value as a fighter bomber, staying in action until almost the end of the war. 


Back in the 1990s, AMT decided to do another of its limited forays into developing their own kits in 1/48 scale. This resulted in some very nice and quite welcome kits, including what looked to be a series of P-40s. As the 90s drew to a close, the company decided it was doing better sticking with cars and so stopped airplane kit production after doing a P-40N and a P-40K. The company was then purchased by Racing Champions who had no real interest in airplane kits.

This is where AMtech came in. After first developing a superlative Ta-183 as their first kit, they then decided to continue with the series that AMT had started. This allowed them to produce variants of all sorts of AMT kits that were in the works or ready to mold, but had been shelved. One of their first offerings was a P-40E, which was released in 2002. These kits were pure AMT molds with different instructions and superlative decals providing many options. I was fortunate to have been provided with a number of test shots and near production kits of this and also their long tail F and their K, which came with a resin rear fuselage. Unfortunately, the owner of the company had a near death accident and so due to the usual situation of a one or two man operation losing the main guy and the very long rehab time, the company went out of business.

However, these kits must have sold in the very high numbers as they are still relatively easy to find. The kit itself shows that even in 2001, the main parts of the mold had gone through quite a few pressings as there was a bit of flash to contend with. There are also a few sink areas, but nothing really major. You get bits in the kit for the P-40N that are not required for this kit, though things like two different exhaust might be useful if the airplane had later bits installed. The only wheels included are smooth tread versions with wheel covers.

The kit includes a passable cockpit that could benefit from a replacement in resin. I think the True Details version for the Mauve kit might fit with a little work. The kit has a separate windscreen, canopy and rear quarter windows. The canopy is far too thick to properly pose open so those wanting to go that route will want to use a vac replacement. Back at the cowling, there are two different side panels provided, one with and one without a small rear scallop. You want the latter for the E as I believe this was done to allow the clearance for the tubular exhaust.

For things under wings you have wing mounted bomb racks which I've never seen used on an E model so fill the holes for these. A centerline tank or bomb can be used. Things I have found in the past is that the cowling panels do not fit all that well, and there is usually a large gap at the rear, lower wing fuselage gap. The main gear do not have the small struts and the machine guns are on the centerline of the leading edge of the wing rather than slightly below it. There is also no ring and bead sight as was often carried.

Markings are provided for four planes. Two are in a desert camouflage scheme, with one being part of 250 Squadron RAF in North Africa during August 1942 and the other with the RAAF's 450 Squadron in the same location. The first USAAF plane is with the 9th FS/49th FG in May 1942 while based in New Guinea. The other is with the 16th FS/23rd FG in China in October of 19452. Both lanes are in US equivalent RAF colors. The large sheet is well printed and the instructions provide lots of nice markings information and painting assistance using FS 595 colors.


The first thing I did was to paint all the interior green bits. This included wheel wells, inside gear doors and the cockpit bits and pieces. The kit gear wells require you to add in the sections to box them in, so these were installed and painted. I also started constructing the cockpit section, including painting the instrument panel upper section black and the rudder pedals aluminum. I also took this opportunity to assemble the kit wheels and to fill in the holes in the outer wing for the bomb racks.

I then attached the cowling pieces to each fuselage half. These are, as I mentioned, not the best fitting pieces and while one side always seemed to fit fairly well, the other generally did not and so it was with this one. The radiator assembly was also put together and then painted and set aside.

For the most part, this will be an out of the box build, but I did want to use some resin flaps that I got with another kit. P-40s were rarely seen on the ground with the flaps deployed, but it did happen. Thanks to the hollow fuselage, a piece will need to be installed so one cannot look up and see the underside of the cockpit. After the initial painting, I removed the flaps from the lower wing piece. Unfortunately, this also meant removing part of the wheel well wall.

That area was then repaired by inserting pieces of plastic card then filler and sanding. One thing I did not realize when removing the kit flaps was that the resin replacements were shorter in length. Obviously the resin one were designed for the Mauve kit and not the AMT version. This meant a bit more in terms of plastic card to take care of the oversight. I generally install repair areas that are larger than they need to be and then trim them back as required. Once that was done, the upper wings were glued in place.

The interior was then installed as was the radiator section and the prop shaft was trapped between the two fuselage halves. The kit fuselage has some lumps and bumps that will need to be sanded down. I also filled the hole for the radio mast as the airplane I'm doing does not have this feature. In fact, quite a lot of P-40Es seem to be without this item. With the fuselage taken care of, the wings were attached. Fit is only what I'd call fair as some filler and sanding is needed. I then used a couple of pieces of card to block the rather prominent holes you see in the flap area. Since this is going to be a shelf model, I was not all that concerned with perfection. You can see the bits I had to add to make up for the shorter flaps as well. Once all that was tidied up, the tailplanes were added. One of them seems to suffer from some sort of molding glitch on the aft section, but that is easily sanded down.

Back on the underside, I glued on the resin flaps. These were a bit warped so needed some help in terms of accelerator on the super glue joins to fit. I installed the gun sight and then masked and glued on the clear bits, leaving off the quarter windows. The canopy is a bit narrow for the opening. The radiator cowl flaps were glued on and it was time to apply some paint.


I wanted to use a set of Aleutian Tiger markings that I had and decided to use a photo from Life magazine as a reference. These planes had white stripes on the fuselage and tail as ID markings. I thought I'd go ahead and paint these on rather than rely on decals for the job, especially as the decal markings did not match the photo I had. So I first painted the fuselage behind the cockpit, and the rudder along with the spinner with Tamiya X-2 white. I then masked off the rudder bits and painted the spinner with yellow.

The underside was sprayed with FS 36270 neutral grey using Model Master enamels. A bit of masking and the upper side was painted using Tamiya olive drab. After the first round of spraying, I attached the drop tank and its supports as well as the pitot tube. Then I finished spraying on the main colors. The area around the control surfaces was masked and I sprayed these using Model Master olive drab. The difference in shades between it and the Tamiya OD was striking. I then used some Model Master dark drab to spray patterns on the Tamiya paint and while that lightened things up a bit, it was still too stark a contrast. I eventually misted the dark drab over the control surfaces, bringing them more in line with the rest of the airframe.  With that done, the entire air frame was sprayed with clear gloss.

For the markings, I used a number of sources. I used Superscale 48-493 for the tiger head, 48-844 for the insignia, which I robbed from one of the P-40F options, and Microscale 72-230 for the yellow numbers. Using a 1/72 scale sheet meant that I could not get the exact size needed, so picked what was close. Predictably, I got one tiger head decal on without too much trouble and the other caused a lot of headaches by breaking up when applying it. Eventually I got them both on and tried to touch up some of the breaks with paint, but the colors I used did not match exactly. I also attached the landing gear during this process to give the model something on which to stand.

With all the markings in place, I attached the main wheels. These are very loose on the axles so I used super glue to hold them in place. The gun barrels and exhaust were painted and the prop assembled and installed. The last bits were the gear doors before I gave the entire airframe a coat of matte clear.

Returning to the bench, I attached a radio wire using EZ-line. I then removed the masking from the clear bits and my hopes of winning 'Best Aleutians P-40E based on the AMtech kit' at this year's nationals were dashed when I noticed some glue creep. The clear quarter windows were attached using clear paint and I used AK Interactive clears for the formation lights. An MV Productions #29 lens was used for the landing light and panels were used for a bit of exhaust stain. 

It was nice to revisit an old friend. Were it not for a group build, who knows how long this would have languished, unbuilt. The AMT/AMtech P-40s do have issues. The guns should be slightly below the leading edge of the wings, the landing gear don't have enough retraction struts and there are none for the gear doors. The fit of the engine cowlings could be better and the interior is pretty barren by today's standards along with some other fit issues. Those who want a good 1/48 Alison P-40 will want to head for the Hasegawa kit or even the older Mauve version (itself quite similar to the AMT/AMtech kit in terms of vintage). Still, if you are building for yourself or just want a shelf model, then this will fill the bill and can usually be found for a very reasonable price from vendors at shows or swap meets.

May 2015

Thanks to the long lamented AMtech for the test shot.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page