|PRICE:||2400 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2005 Limited Edition|
The P-40, while not really an outstanding fighter, was an aircraft that could hold its own at low altitude with most Western fighters of the time. It was also quite rugged and most of all, it was easy to maintain. There were not a lot of complex systems in the aircraft outside of those that helped to keep the big Allison engine running properly. It was also currently being produced when the war got underway so was a natural for widespread use.
In capable hands, the aircraft was an excellent bomber interceptor and a very good fighter bomber, despite the liquid cooled engine that was more prone to damage from light ground fire than a radial. As such, it was used widely in the Mediterranean theater as well as in the Southwest Pacific and CBI. these areas were not really considered to be that main thrust in the war so were not the first areas to get Mustangs, Thunderbolts and upgraded Spitfires. Those were saved for the UK and that part of the war.
The P-40K was intended to be the last P-40 production variant before replacement by the P-60, and only 600 were ordered by the USAAF to supply to China. However, with the cancellation of the P-60 the attack on Pearl Harbor led to this order being increased to 1,300 aircraft. A continuation of the Allison-powered Warhawk, the K was similar to the P-40E, but was powered by a 1,325 hp V-1710-73. It also featured improved machine gun ammunition storage reducing gun stoppages. These were the heaviest P-40 variants, but the extra horsepower on the P-40K gave it good performance particularly at low altitude (noticeably better than the P-40E).
As with the P-40F, the increase in power led to decreased directional stability, but Curtiss predicted this and incorporated an enlarged vertical stabilizer to early P-40Ks. On the K-10 sub-variant onward, this was replaced with the lengthened tail of the P-40F-5. This feature was standard on all subsequent Warhawks.
There is nothing really new in this kit as it is the same basic airframe as found in the P-40E, but there is one major difference from the E. That, of course, is the new fin assembly. Everything else is the same. You get the same nice cockpit assembly where you can either paint or use decals on the instrument panel. Many of us would recommend attaching the fin halves to the fuselage halves before closing the fuselage. It makes for better seam work. There is the usual insert for the rear quarter windows which can be problematic.
There are also inserts for the shell ejection chutes and the main gear wells are separate. The gun inserts will need some care in building as I often find them to be a bit undersize and requiring some filler. Hasegawa provides separate clear lenses for the formation lights, but I usually leave the ones molded on as I tend to lose little pieces.
You have a choice of either a drop tank or bomb for under the fuselage. Landing gear is well done and you get all the little struts and stuff for the gear and for the doors where needed. Holes for the external gun sight will need drilled and you are given a placement guide for drilling these.
Other stuff is that you get both spoked and covered wheels, though the spoked wheels are for the N and should use smaller tires. You also get the choice of a bomb or drop tank for under the fuselage. The usual inserts are provided for the guns and ejector chutes. I assume that an early two gunned N is in the planning for sometime in the future otherwise, why have these bits as inserts? You are also to fill and sand the small side lights under the cockpit for the M, but not for the K. I still don't know what those are. I don't recall seeing them on any warbirds or museum P-40s.
The instructions are the usual fare from Hasegawa with Gunze color references. Markings are provided with a pair of aircraft. One is the box art plane of Ed Nollmeyer with the 51st FG in China during 1943. Note that this plane has the DF loop antenna so you'll have to open the hole for that prior to closing the fuselage halves. The other is 'Jinx' with the 51st FG in India during 1944. Note that this one still has the unbarred insignia and was painted Gunship Grey over Light Gull Grey. Decals are nicely printed, but are the type where the white is off white.
I would say that these are still the nicest 1/48 P-40s on the market. Hasegawa does a full range of later Allison engine P-40s, all with the appropriate inserts for the subtype. Well worth picking up, especially if you can find them on sale.
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