Revell 1/32 P-38J Lightning

KIT #: 4749
PRICE: $2.00 (raffle win)
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1992 release


The P-38J was introduced in August 1943. The turbosupercharger intercooler system on previous variants had been housed in the leading edges of the wings and had proven vulnerable to combat damage and could burst if the wrong series of controls was mistakenly activated. In the P-38J series, the streamlined engine nacelles of previous Lightnings were changed to fit the intercooler radiator between the oil coolers, forming a "chin" that visually distinguished the J model from its predecessors. While the P-38J used the same V-1710-89/91 engines as the H model, the new core-type intercooler more efficiently lowered intake manifold temperatures and permitted a substantial increase in rated power. The leading edge of the outer wing was fitted with 55 US gal (210 l) fuel tanks, filling the space formerly occupied by intercooler tunnels, but these were omitted on early P-38J blocks due to limited availability.
Revell's P-38J was one of several 1/32 kits released in the 1960s/70s, with this one first being released in 1970. It has since been reissued a number of times including a 'droop snoot' boxing. The last two releases were by Revell AG in 1994 and 2003. The release of the Trumpeter kit, drew away much of the desire for this older Revell offering, despite the major increase in price of the Trumpeter version. There have been aftermarket sets offered for this kit to improve the detailing. For those interested, this kit does depict a P-38J and not the later planes with the compressibility flaps so you can't do a late J or an L with what comes in the box.

Typical of its day, this one has raised panel lines and the surface is festooned with raised rivet detail. Those who are concerned with this will have a lot of quality time with sandpaper removing the rivets. Others won't care. I also found a few sink areas on parts, mostly opposite alignment pins/sockets. There was also some flash, but nothing terrible. The kit provides a fairly nice cockpit along with a pilot figure to place in the seat.

The left side has a complete engine and it is not designed to be without it. You could do a bit of fudging by gluing the prop gear housing from the front of the engine to the forward cowling piece if you want to leave out the engine and use that space for weight. In fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea as there isn't a ton of room in the nose for this material as the nose gear well takes up most of this space. The main gear wells with door hinges molded in place, are trapped in the boom halves when they are closed up.

The wings have holes on the underside for the drop tanks and the outer wing rocket rails. These latter items were not used until fairly late in the war so don't feel a compulsion to use them. landing gear are nicely done and look to be fairly scale so there may be issues with the finished model being a bit on the wobbly side. These can be installed after the airframe is complete, so this helps when it comes to painting.

Canopy is a single piece with an upper portion that is hinged so it can be posed open or closed. There is no crew access ladder, but Revell has provided a tail prop with a hole already opened in the lower horizontal stab to accept it.

Instructions are nicely done with generic color information. The lone markings option is for Thomas McGuire's 'Pudgy IV' in overall unpainted metal with black anti-glare panels and red trim. The decal sheet is nicely done and should still be viable. There are a few aftermarket decal sheets for the J if you want something different.

Many may not consider a kit like this to be worth the effort. However, despite the affectations of kits of its day, it still makes into a very nice model, even right out of the box. What's more, it can be found for several times less than the more modern Trumpeter kit. Well worth seeking out.


October 2022

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