Hobbygram 1/48 P-40B/C Tomahawk


HC 1451/85-5209


$16 and $10


see review


Gordon Fortner


Kitbash of Mongram and Hobbycraft P-40s



  13,738 examples of the P-40 in various makes and models rolled off of the assembly line of the Curtiss Wright Aircraft Corporation of Buffalo New York from 1939 to 1944.    

Curtiss at one time was the premiere fighter plane builder in the world. The P-40 can trace its roots back to the Curtiss built P-36. Donavan Berlin was an engineer with Curtiss Wright and was assigned the task of designing a fighter plane for the 1936 Air Corps fighter competition. His design was the P-36. Berlin had purposely left room to grow the P-36 airframe for engines that had yet to be perfected. The Air Corps felt the future of fighters laid in the development of the inline engine and streamlining of the airframe. Thinking of the time felt that an inline engine installed into a streamlined airframe would be faster than a radial engine installed in a nonstreamlined airframe. A contract was awarded to Curtiss to produce a fighter based on the P-36 airframe mated to a General Motors Allison V-1710 inline liquid cooled engine. The Air Corps and General Motors had quite a bit of time and money invested in the still unproven Allison V-1710 liquid cooled engine and hopes were high that this airframe and engine combination would prove to be a winner. In a 1939 Air Corps fighter competition between the Lockheed XP-38, Bell XP-39 and the Curtiss XP-40 found the XP-40 to be the winner. The facts that the clouds of war were looming on the horizon  and that the XP-40 was ready for mass production helped the Air Corps make their decision.



 Upon opening the Hobbycraft box one is greeted with 3 gray sprues and 1 clear sprue. One of the gray sprues are borrowed form the Hobbycraft P-36 kit and explains the extra propeller assembly and ADF football not used on the P-40. The parts of the kit have fine engraved surface detail for the metal airframe and slightly raised rib detail for the fabric covered flight controls. An adequately detailed cockpit is provided and looks okay when painted. The main gear struts look toy like and there is no detail on the main gear doors and the inboard gear door is undersized. There is a size and shape discrepancy between the bulged and non-bulged wheel and tire assembly. The tail wheel resembles a grocery cart caster and the tail wheel strut looks as if it would fold like a cheap suit. The windscreen is undersized, the canopy is the wrong shape and size, and the rear view windows have the framing angled which is wrong. The main gear wheel wells have fictitious detail and the tail wheel well has no detail. The decal sheet in this release provides markings for two AVG Tomahawks: White 67 and R.T. Smith's White 77. A tri fold instruction booklet is included with good assembly pictures for each step. As with all Hobbycraft instruction booklets the exterior painting guide is good and the interior painting call outs are omitted.

When one opens the Monogram box you see a parts bag with olive drab colored parts and a set of clear parts. The detail on the kits is all raised and appears to have a case of chicken pox because of all of rivets. The cockpit is lacking in detail and the instrument panel resembles one from a P-40 E. The main gear struts are well detailed and the wheel and tire assembly are good reproductions of the original. The main gear doors and inboard gear doors have the right size and shape as well as good detail. The tail wheel looks okay but the wheel and tire are molded to the wrong side of the tail wheel strut. There is no detail in the main gear wheel wells or the tail wheel wells. The decal sheet in this kit provides markings for three aircraft: White 14 of the AVG, White KHR of the RAF and an Air Corps marked ship. An instruction sheet with a brief history and good pictures for each step are provided. Painting call outs provided for the interior are great but the exterior call outs leave much to the imagination.


 Since I can remember the P-40 has been my favorite airplane. It must be genetics because my Father was also a P-40 lover. Over the years I have built many Monogram P-40 out of the box with Testors tube cement and painted them with PLA tan, green, and light blue with a red spinner for good measure. Modeling has come a long way since then and I hope to think I have as well.

I have built one Hobbycraft Tomahawk out of the box and came to the realization that while the kit had a few whistles and bells that the Monogram kit did not have the finished product looks as much like a real Tomahawk as the Tomahawk props used in the John Wayne classic film "The Flying Tigers." I have also built the Monogram Tomahawk out of the box and with some TLC it can be a real gem. (See the reviews of Roger Jackson or Tom Cleaver) One might ask why not build the Monogram kit out of the box and call it a day? If I could rescribe an entire kit I would have it made. In the New World Order of recessed detail it is hard for me to not have a better Tomahawk with the detail I want my models to have. I have enough trouble cutting straight lines into flat plastic surfaces.  I decided that I would use the best parts of the Monogram kit with the best parts of the Hobbycraft kit to make the Tomahawk I have longed for.

The Hobbycraft fuselage is not without its faults but it comes scribed and looks almost spot on. I started with the Hobbycraft fuselage halves and used my motor tool to eliminate the molded in cockpit detail. I substituted a resin cockpit from Legend. I also compared the Monogram and Hobbycraft fuselage halves to each other and found that where the windscreen mounts to the Hobbycraft fuselage is 1/8th of an inch too far aft. I reworked the opening to match the Monogram kit. I also opened up where the exhaust pipes come out of the fuselage sides and drilled out the exhaust pipes from the Monogram kit and installed them from the inside. I opened up the area on the leading edge of the rudder where the elevator torque tube passes thru. The Hobbycraft fuselage halves were then glued together and then the radiator/oil cooler inlet installed to the lower forward cowling. I used the Monogram nose machine gun faring as they look more the part than the Hobbycraft offerings.

The Hobbycraft wing assembly and horizontal stabilizer assembly have serious shape problems. I elected to use the Monogram wing and horizontal stabilizer and rescribe them to match the Hobbycraft fuselage. I rescribed the detail on the upper and lower wings and horizontal stabilizers of the Monogram kit using the tips Roger Jackson sent me on scribing. I attached the Monogram horizontal stabilizers to the Hobbycraft fuselage with super glue. The main gear wheel well was filled with plastic to simulate the lower wing/top of the wheel well and masking tape was used to simulate a canvas liner installed in the wing box area where the wheels retracted into. The upper wing halves were then glued to the lower wing. I cut away the cowl flaps from the Hobbycraft fuselage and superglued the Monogram wing to the fuselage. Open cowl flaps were then simulated by using the cowl flaps cut out from the Monogram fuselage.

The Monogram spinner/propeller assembly was used instead of the Hobbycraft offering. The Monogram windscreen was fitted to the Hobbycraft fuselage. The Monogram canopy was modified with rail guides superglued to each side of the canopy. I used the Monogram rear view windows. I drilled out the openings in the rear view windows to correspond with the gas and oil caps molded into the recess of the Hobbycraft fuselage. The Monogram wheel and tire assemblies were built up and fitted to the Monogram main gear strut and installed in their respective positions. I sawed the Monogram tail wheel strut in half above the wheel and superglued the wheel to the right side of the strut. The Monogram outboard main gear doors were trimmed at an angle on the aft side of each door and installed.


 Since the original customer for the Tomahawks that were delivered to the Chinese was the RAF, Curtiss painted these aircraft to British specifications. Curtiss used DuPont enamel paints and matched the colors as close as they could to the British specifications. Ever wonder where the expression "Close enough for Government work!" came from? For the lower surfaces of the Tomahawk I used Model Master enamel Aircraft Gray which looks like the color on the pictures of the AVG Tomahawks I have seen. The lower surfaces were then masked off and Model Master enamel Dark Earth and Dark Green was sprayed on for the upper surface camouflage colors using home made paper masks. I sprayed two coats of Testors Glosscote and started looking for decals to do Charles Older's White 68. The Chinese roundels, red fuselage band, and kill flags came from the Hobbycraft kit. The Disney Flying Tiger decals, the White 68, the aircraft serial number and other small stencils came from the Academy 1/48 P-40C (The Academy P-40 mold is the Hobbycraft mold) . The teeth, eyes and the wheel cover pinwheels came from the Sky Models P-40 decal sheet.


Now that I have finished turning two good kits into spare parts it is okay for a major manufacturer to release their much anticipated 1/48th scale Tomahawk/Hawk 81/P-40B-C offering. Would I put one Monogram P-40, one Hobbycraft P-40, and one resin cockpit together again? I have already started. If you are looking for a project with the challenge of doing algebra in Chinese, this Bud's for you.



                     Monogram 1/48 P-40B/C by Roger Jackson @
                     Monogram 1/48 P-40B Tomahawk by Tom Cleaver @
                     Tigers Over China The Aircraft of the A.V.G. by Thomas A. Tullis 2001 Eagle Editions Ltd.

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