Pavla 1/72 P-43A Lancer

KIT #: 72601
PRICE: $20
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run injected kit with etch brass, resin and vacuformed parts


 The P-43 was a development stage between the Seversky P-35 and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. It basically looked like a smaller P-47 with wing and tail units of the P-35. Many of the type were supplied to China or used as fighter trainers in the US. The Lancer could however be regarded as only moderately successful in its standard role as a fighter as by the time it entered USAAF service in 1940 it was already obsolescent. As a result production was only limited and many were converted to photo reconnaissance aircraft, the Lancer’s good range being an asset in this role.

 With the increasing need for such aircraft by the RAAF, eight Lancers were transferred from the USAAF stocks in 1942 to serve with No1 Photo Reconnaissance unit based at Coomalie Creek in Northern Territory, joining Lockheed Lightnings and Brewster Buffalos. The first six aircraft were delivered in August 1942, comprising two P-43Ds (A56-1 and 2) and four P-43A-1s (A56-3 to6). A further pair P-43Ds (A56-7 to 8) was delivered in November 1942. The Lancer remained in RAAF service only until 1943 when six of them were returned to the USAAF. Of the remaining pair, A56-6 had been damaged beyond repair in a landing accident in December 1942 and A56-7 went missing on a flight from Wagga Wagga NSW in April 1943. The aircraft’s fate remained a mystery until 1958 when its wreckage was found in the Healesville Hills near Melbourne.


The kit is clearly moulded in light grey plastic having all the panel lines incised. There are two clearly moulded cockpit canopies, one being spare. There are detail parts in resin while others are etched in brass.  


The two row radial engine is supplied in resin; these are cemented together, painted and put aside while other sub assemblies are put together. The cockpit interior which consists of a rear bulkhead, that needed some trimming in order to fit, floor, a seat, and column are then assembled and painted as per instructions. The cockpit interior was cockpit green. The seat has moulded on seat harness and is best painted before this is fixed in place. The cockpit was fixed to one side of the fuselage. , I separated the brass etch camera framing fuselage detail parts, since I elected to model the recce version. These were bent to fit the fuselage contour; the two piece frame was then fixed to the fuselage side, repeating same for the camera port on the other side. It was important to mark the exact position of these oval frames with a pencil prior to fixing them permanently.

I pre painted the instrument panel in etch brass and was then glued in place. This had a printed acetate film to correspond with the various instruments in the panel. There is a tail wheel well roof to which the tail wheel leg was fixed. And the fuselage was closed. The cowling and engine sub assembly was then fixed in place after some minor adjustments. The main wheel well roof had separate corrugated panels forming the wheel well interiors that needed to be fixed to the one piece lower wing. This was then glued to the lower fuselage which matched reasonably well. The two upper wing pieces were then added on. A little filer was needed at the joining line to the fuselage. The tail planes were next butt jointed to the fuselage ensuring the correct alignment. The vertical fin and ruder comes as a separate item. This had a hole drilled at the leading edge upper to anchor the antenna wire at a later stage. Fuselage gun blisters were then fixed in place and upon drying these were drilled to take hollow metal guns that I added instead of the resin ones provided. I repeated the same to the wing guns. I read in literature that the PR version did not carry armament but the only two photos that I had of this version did have the guns visible, although the internal armament may have indeed been removed to save weight to help increase range.

The turbocharger and gun sight, both resin components were added on. Finally I fitted on the undercarriage oleo, leaving the wheels to a final stage since these were painted and placed aside. This requires drilling further the locating holes for the oleo legs and after these were fixed in place added the resin scissors and supporting rods made from short length of stretch sprue, made as per instruction dimensions. Wing guns, pitot tube and wireless antenna were then added. The cockpit canopy was trimmed with scissors and assembled in the closed configuration using white glue. This was then covered in Maskol in preparation for the painting stage. The prop which comes in separate blades was assessable and painted black with yellow tips and silver blade grip.


I was unsure at the exact green and brown that the camouflage upper was going to be but after colour reference to Australian Wirraways colour pictures I went for the foliage green using Compucolor CA3, ANA 612 which was a brighter shade of medium green. As for the brown shade which was rather dark brown I used CSF rust which is also a Compucolor brand. In the end I managed to get a satisfactory Australian WWII camouflage colours contrast. The undersides were neutral grey. Finally I gave the kit two coats of Johnsons Klear. The decals were of top quality as usually found in Pavla kits. The camera port edge was trimmed in matt black. A drop of Kristal Kleer completed the camera port orifice. Finally the prop was added and the main wheels fixed in place. The kit was finally given a coat of semi matt Model Master Varnish with faint fading oil slicks at openings. 


 Not quite a straight forward assembly as during a stage of assembly I had to omit the forward bulkhead or firewall to simplify matters, but in the end no other obstacles were encountered and the overall appearance came much to my desire, adding another WWII reconnaissance aircraft which although it had a short and undistinguished service life, it was the prelude to the design of the P-47 that was produced in large numbers more than any other fighter in American history.


 Military Aircraft of Australia by Stewart Wilson

 Carmel J. Attard

October 2008

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