Arma Hobby 1/72 P-39Q Airacobra

KIT #: 70055
PRICE: $33.00 shipped
DECALS: Five options 
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2023 tooling


The Bell P-39 Airacobra is a fighter produced by Bell Aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. It was one of the principal American fighters in service when the United States entered combat. The P-39 was used by the Soviet Air Force, and enabled individual Soviet pilots to collect the highest number of kills attributed to any U.S. fighter type flown by any air force in any conflict. Other major users of the type included the Free French, the Royal Air Force, and the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force.

It had an unusual layout, with the engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot, and driving a tractor propeller in the nose with a long shaft. It was also the first fighter fitted with a tricycle undercarriage. Although its mid-engine placement was innovative, the P-39 design was handicapped by the absence of an efficient turbo-supercharger, preventing it from performing high-altitude work. For this reason it was rejected by the RAF for use over western Europe but adopted by the USSR, where most air combat took place at medium and lower altitudes.


Arma Hobby is one of those kit companies who started out doing 'local' subjects and has been steadily growing its catalog over the years. While mostly doing 1/72 subjects, they have been branching out into 1/48 with the recent release of a Hurricane. It will be interesting to see if they decide to upscale any of their other 1/72 kits.

This particular kit is one of several releases of the P-39 Airacobra. Previous to this, the best kit was the Academy offering and while still a very nice kit, has to give way in terms of detailing to this one. This is the P-39Q boxing and is a 'basic' version without any of the p.e. that previous advanced kits have provided. As a real plus, Arma Hobby has included both nose weights and masks, the latter something I'd like to see more kit makers include.

You'd expect a lot of small parts to go along with the additional detail and you get them. The cockpit is very nicely done and Arma has provided seat belt decals to go along with the instrument panel decal. The nose gear well assembles under the cockpit and all this fits into a fuselage half. As a note, Arma uses the same sprues for a number of variants which means there will be a need to fill in details that are not part of the version kitted. As this aircraft has gun pods, holes must be opened in the lower wings if they are to be used (one option does not have these).

With the wings assembled, they are attached to the underside of the fuselage. The kit offers separate fin, rudder and elevators. These are attached  next. The fairly complex landing gear is the next area of construction. Considerable print is dedicated to the proper installation of the nose gear pieces. I'd leave all the gear off until after painting but it is your choice.

Next is the attachment of the canopy and the doors. Note that the left side door was normally closed when on the ground but your choice. Two props are provided, though only one is used. A variety of underwing ordnance is provided which includes two bomb sizes and a drop tank.

Instructions are very nicely done and in booklet form. A large decal sheet provides five markings options, most of them in OD over neutral grey. The box art plane is 'Bud' Anderson's plane from the 363rd FS when based in the US. Next is a sand colored plane with the 6th FS based on Makin in late 1943. These first two use the red surround insignia. Third is an italian plane of 10 Gruppo in late 1944. A white tailed option with white bar insignia with the 82nd TRS based in New Guinea in early 1944 is next. This one also has white wing leading edges. Finally, a Polish version from 1945. This one does not have the gun pods. The decal sheet is nicely printed and provides full stencils.  


It is nice to see a new tooling of the P-39 in this scale. While the Academy kit is still one that makes a nice model and is what those who want a simpler build should seek, those who want a lot of detail will be quite pleased with this one.  


December 2023

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