Hasegawa 1/32 P-40N Warhawk

KIT #: 08195
PRICE: 4600 yen or less at www.hlj.com
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Eduard photo etch cockpit details.  Zotz ZTZ32-030 “P-40N Warhawks” used


             Throughout its career, the P-40 suffered from a high weight-to-power ratio, and was several times the subject of “weight reduction” programs that would manage to pare off perhaps as much as 100 pounds, but with little real improvement in performance.  The P-40N, major production version of the P-40, began its life as a result of the second major weight reduction program.  The early P-40N-1 was armed with only four .50 caliber machine guns.  Additionally, the front wing tank was removed, and aluminum oil coolers and radiators were used, as well as using smaller, lighter wheels from the P-51, for a total combat weight of 8,850 lbs, some 1,500 pounds less than the preceding P-40M.  Powered by the Allison V-1710-81 engine, which reduced power to 1,200 h.p. but increased altitude rating to 17,800 ft, the result was an increase in maximum speed to 378 m.p.h., fastest of the series.  After less than 200 P-40Ns had been produced, the two machine guns and the 137 gallon wing tank were restored, raising the weight to 11,400 lbs.  Beginning with the P-40N-5, the original canopy was replaced by a frameless hood, with a deeper rectangular aft section to improve view.  The most widely-built version was the P-40N-20, which saw a production run of 3,022 aircraft.  By the time production of the P-40 ended in the summer of 1944, more than 14,000 of all variants had been delivered and the airplane had seen active service on every front and been flown by air forces on both sides.

 The 49th Fighter Group:

             Curtis LeMay said the battle for air superiority over Tokyo was won in the skies of New Guinea. Japanese pilots had a saying: "No one ever returns alive from New Guinea." The Japanese Army Air Force pilots called New Guinea “the graveyard of pilots,” which gives an indication of the long and hard-fought air battles that occurred over the largest island in the Pacific from early 1942 until the Japanese were finally driven out in the summer of 1944. An indication of what the Fifth Air Force achieved in this struggle came when U.S. Navy carrier planes raided the Philippines in August and September, 1944.  Opposition was so light that Rear Admiral Robert Carey - Chief of Staff to Admiral William Halsey - wrote to MacArthur’s Chief of Staff, General Richard Sutherland that General George Kenney’s pilots had “just about spoiled the war for our carriers.”

            One of the organizations most responsible for this was the 49th Fighter Group, the first organized American fighter unit to enter the Pacific War after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  By the fall of 1942, the Japanese threat to Australia had receded and the front line of the war in the southwest Pacific was New Guinea.  The 49ers began operating on the big island that fall, with squadrons rotating through Port Moresby while at least one squadron maintained fighter defense for northern Australia at Darwin. 

             The 9th Fighter Squadron was re-equipped with P-38s in early 1943, as General Kenney tried to have at least one squadron in each of his P-39 and P-40-equipped fighter groups equipped with what he considered the best fighter available.  The 7th and 8th Squadrons, which continued to operate P-40s, transferred full-time to New Guinea in March 1943.

  In fighting through the Western Pacific from 1942-45, The 49th Fighter Group scored 668 confirmed air-to-air kills. 313 of these went to pilots in P-40s, fighting over New Guinea.

 Robert DeHaven:

             Many of the 49th FG pilots liked the P-40, even though its performance was not up there with the P-38 and P-47 that equipped other units. One such pilot was Lieutenant Robert DeHaven, who left Washington and Lee University in February 1942 to join the Army Air Corps. Earning his wings that summer, he was assigned to P-40 training in Florida and was sent to Hawaii in February 1943, then on to Port Moresby, New Guinea via Australia in May, where he flew with the P-40-equipped 7th Fighter Squadron at Dobodura. DeHaven arrived in the group at about the same time the P-40N replaced the unit’s tired P-40Es and P-40Ks.

             DeHaven scored his first victory on July 14, 1943 and his fifth on December 10. He participated in the offensives that took Buna, Lae, the Markham Valley, Hollandia and Biak Island by the summer of 1944. His score during this period of 10 enemy aircraft by January 1944 was tied for the highest P-40 score by a USAAF pilot in the SWPA.  DeHaven was one who preferred the P-40 over the P-38. In “Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific,” DeHaven explains:

             “After training I requested duty in the Pacific and I requested being posted to a P-40 squadron and both wishes were granted. This was early in 1943 and most pilots already desired more advanced types and some thought my decision a mistake. Yet I had been inspired by the deeds of the Flying Tigers. We had also heard accounts that the P-38 was difficult to bail out of because of its twin-boom tail and that it was difficult when flying with one engine. I also knew that P-38s were still rare in the theater and I wanted to get into the war as soon as possible. That wish, too, was granted. I never regretted the choice.

             “If you flew wisely, the P-40 was a very capable aircraft. In many conditions, it could out turn a P-38, a fact that some pilots didn’t realize when they made the transition between the two aircraft. The P-40 kept me alive and allowed me to accomplish my mission. The real problem with it was lack of range. As we pushed the Japanese back, P-40 pilots were slowly left out of the war. So when I moved to P-38s, an excellent aircraft, I did so not because I believed that the P-40 was an inferior fighter, but because I knew the P-38 would allow us to reach the enemy. I was a fighter pilot and that was what I was supposed to do.”

             As both my old friend the late Erik Shilling and AVG ace Charles Older discovered, DeHaven learned to keep his speed up in combat, since above 250 mph the P-40 could out-turn the Ki.43 with its larger ailerons which was its main opponent.

             Following the invasion of Biak, the 7th Fighter Squadron transitioned to P-38s in August-September 1944 for the Philippine invasion, and the 49ers finally became an all-P-38 outfit. DeHaven would score four more victories in the Philippines before rotating home in February 1945.

             After the war, DeHaven returned home to Hollywood where he was raised - he was a member of the DeHaven family that included his uncle, actor Carter DeHaven Sr.; cousins Carter DeHaven Jr., an Assistant Director;  Carter DeHaven III, who produced the excellent sports movie “Hoosiers”;  and special effects supervisor Carter DeHaven IV; as well as his other cousin, actress Gloria DeHaven.  He was spotted in the fall of 1945 by an agent and hired as an actor by Columbia Pictures.  After playing small roles in three movies in 1945-46, he met Howard Hughes and became his personal pilot in 1947.  In 1949, DeHaven became Hughes’ chief test pilot, and by the mid-1950s he was Director of Flight Test, running the Aviation Test Section for Hughes Aircraft all on his own “as if he was Howard,” in the words of one who worked with him, a position he held until his retirement in 1987.  During his time at Hughes, DeHaven was responsible for the development of the Hughes OH-6 helicopter series, and for getting the company involved in the development of air-to-air guided missiles.

             In 1946, Robert DeHaven married big band singer Connie Haines, with whom he had two children before divorcing in 1960.  He remarried in 1967, and died in Encino, California, in 2008.  He was one of the founders of the American Fighter Aces Association in 1960, and was President of the group during the 1970s.  In 1987, when Carter DeHaven III was trying to buy my screenplay “The Magic Bus,” he invited me to lunch with his cousin, knowing my interest in World War II aviation.  As with many World War II fighter aces I have met over the years, a few knowledgeable questions (and a couple martinis) resulted in a “colorful” conversation, the result of which was that I became very interested in learning more about the 49ers, a unit I wasn’t that familiar with at the time.


            As to what’s in the box, read Scott’s preview from last week.

             The P-40N has been previously done in 1/48 by AMT and Mauve, with the Mauve kit being the better of the two in terms of surface detail and look when completed, before being done by Hasegawa in what has to be considered the definitive version. 

             This new kit is the first P-40N in 1/32 scale, and is effectively a scale-up of the 1/48 kit, as are all the P-40s in this series of 1/32 kits.  Like the P-40K, it is a “Special Edition” kit - meaning it is a limited release and you should get yours soon if you want it. 

             The kit comes with both the “large” and “small” wheels, which is nice.  P-40Ns operating in China and the CBI typically maintained the use of the “standard” P-40 wheel due to supply problems of the new wheels. 

             While Scott expressed a liking for the kit decals of the “15,000th Curtiss Fighter Special,” I wanted an operational airplane.  Fortunately, Zotz Decals has come through with a sheet that has three 7th FS, 49th FG, P-40Ns: DeHaven’s “Rita 13"; “Daddy Please/Milk Wagon Express;” the natural metal finish P-40N flown by 7th FS CO Major Gerald Johnson; and “White 21,” flown by Captain Harlyn Vidovich of the 74th FS, 23rd FG in China in 1944.


           There is really not much else to say about assembling the Hasegawa P-40s in either 1/48 or 1/32 scale, beyond what I have said in my other reviews. 

             The secret to the assembly, since the kit has so many “plug in” parts, is careful fitting of those parts, so that you get a good fit and the seams that are created can be filled to get a smooth final surface.  I assemble the tail to the forward fuselage in halves, before gluing the fuselage halves together, so I can work the fit of the parts from both inside and outside, to get a smooth fit, which I sand with a sanding stick before and after covering the seam with Tamiya’s Mr. Surfacer substitute.  It’s also important to get the fit of the gun plugs in the wings to obtain a smooth surface in that area. Once these items are attended to, the rest of the assembly is easy.

                         I used the kit cockpit, which had a nice result, with Eduard photoetch seat belts for the final touch. 

             One thing to note is that the P-40N had a very different canopy than other P-40s, with the cut down decking and a full plexiglass rear canopy to improve rear vision.  Almost everyone over the years has painted the “frames” on this canopy, and everyone who has done so (including yours truly), has been wrong!  The rear canopy was assembled from plexiglass sections, and those sections were reinforced with plexiglass strips that were glued in position on the outside, with the result that the strip area “fogged.”  This is what was seen by the “hexperts” over the years as painted “framing.”  It is much like the Emerson and Martin gun turrets on B-24s, B-25s and B-26s, all of which were produced “unpainted” with strips glued on that appear in black and white photos to be “framing.”  With this kit, you could use a 0000 brush and paint on some glue to “fog” the strips, or you could leave them alone, which is what I did.



             I first applied pre-shading to the model, airbrushing flat black over all the panel lines, before proceeding.

             I used thinned Tamiya “Flat White” for the tail and wing leading edge, so it would give a “ragged” appearance over the black.  While regulations called for the entire tail to be painted white, the 49th FG kept the upper surfaces of the horizontal stabilizer in Olive Drab for camouflage purposes since the airplanes were based on forward airfields and subject to attack while on the ground by Japanese aircraft, for which an all-white tail was a good way of spotting the target.  The “early” P-40Ns acquired by the group (identifiable in photos by having white bars painted to either side of the star cockades without the red surround) more than likely had the upper surfaces left in olive drab, since every photo of one of these airplanes where one can make a determine about this are so painted. Once these areas were dry, I masked with Tamiya tape.

             The lower surfaces were painted with Tamiya “Neutral Grey” while the upper surfaces were painted with a mixture of Tamiya “Khaki Drab” and “Olive Drab” to get the more “brown” Olive Drab that came into general use in 1943.  I then added more Khaki Drab and increased additions of Flat White as I went over the upper surfaces to create the effect of “sun fading,” of which I did quite a bit since this airplane had been in New Guinea for six months.

             The spinner was painted with Xtracrylix British Blue, since the 49th FG used available paints in Australia for their squadron colors.


             After applying Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish, I applied the decals.  The decal instructions would have you use the later “blue surround” national insignia, but the photos I found of DeHaven’s airplane definitely confirm it had the earlier style of marking, which the sheet also provides.  The instructions say that this is the airplane as it appeared in August 1943, but the scoreboard confirms that this is “Rita 13" as she appeared in January 1944.  I particularly liked the provision of the white stripe for the spinner, which obviated the need to do a lot of masking that likely wouldn’t have ended up looking nearly so right.


             I gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Satin Varnish, then weathered it with Tamiya “smoke” to get exhaust and oil stains and Tamiya “Flat Aluminum” for “dings” to the paint.  I then applied two coats of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish, with a dollop of Tamiya “Flat Base” to get the tropical sun-faded flat finish I was going for. I also “muddied” the tires, wheel wells and lower wing behind the wheel wells, and the tail, using the Tamiya Weathering Set.

             I attached the landing gear and doors and the prop, and unmasked the canopy. The sliding portion can be positioned open, but I would personally use a vac canopy for a future model, if one were available, since the thinner canopy will look more accurate. 


             Out of the box, with no additional add-ons other than aftermarket decals and seat belts, the 1/32 Hasegawa P-40N looks great and continues the tradition founded by the P-40E of being an accurate P-40.  Given the many different air forces the P-40N flew with, one hopes there will be other aftermarket sets.  I do know that Ventura Decals is releasing a sheet of RNZAF Kittyhawk IVs and that Red Roo plans to do a sheet of Kittyhawk IVs of 80 Wing RAAF.  The kit is highly recommended.

 Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review kit.  Get yours at www.hlj.com. Decals courtesy of Zotz Decals.  Get them at www.zotzdecals.com

Tom Cleaver

September 2009

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page