|KIT #:||SH 72374|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The P-40 was a follow-on of the radial engine P-36, itself a modern, all metal fighter with retractable landing gear. The in-line Allison V-1710 engine was installed to bring its performance up to specs with fighter aircraft in Europe. For the most part, Curtiss was successful in that regard. The P-40E was the first of the type that was truly combat ready, though earlier P-40B/C variants did see combat in Burma, China, and North Africa with the AVG, and the RAF.
The addition of the armor and self sealing fuel tanks along with the addition of two more guns in the wings required a more powerful engine. However all this also slightly degraded the aircraft's performance. Probably the biggest failing of the aircraft was its inability to operate much above 15,000 feet as the lack of a high altitude supercharger or turbocharger meant that engine power dropped off quite a bit the higher it went. This was not an issue in the Pacific or North Africa as most combat was at levels below that and the P-40 was able to give a good showing against most of its adversaries.
Though the P-40 was further developed, it was more and more used as a fighter bomber in the ground attack role, letting more modern types handle the air to air bomber escort role in Europe and in the Mediterranean. In the CBI and the Pacific, the P-40 stayed in front line service longer than anywhere else. The rugged airframe and ease of maintenance made it perfect for areas with minimal services. The nearly complete lack of air opposition also meant that this now obsolescent aircraft was still a potent force. The P-40 N was the last full production version and was built in larger numbers than all previous variants.
After building the P-40E, I was impressed enough to grab the P-40N kit, even though I already have this versin in Academy and Hasegawa boxings. Actually, you cannot have too many P-40s, in my opinion and I have a shelf full of completed Warhawks to prove it!
It is quite obvious that Special Hobby has multiple variants in mind once one looks at the sprues as there are several parts that are only for earlier aircraft. Indeed, the sprue layout diagram has these parts marked off as not for use for this boxing. The detail level is quite good, though perhaps a bit overdone for some tastes. I liken the panel lines and parts detailing to be closer to Academy than the petite panel lines of Hasegawa's forty year old kits.
However, the cockpit details are vastly superior to Hasegawa's offerings. I like that there are belt decals. Decals are also provided for the main instrument panel. An interesting feature is that the cockpit floor is part of the upper wing piece. The kit gives us separate wheel well walls to trap in between the upper and lower wing halves. Ailerons are molded into the upper wing piece to provide a sharp trailing edge.
The kit offers exhaust as a single piece per side rather than the three pairs for each side as with the P-40E. Rudder is separate. The tailplanes are single piece and slot into the tail sections. You are provided open or closed cowl flap options, a nice choice. One can pose the canopy open or closed as two different canopies are provided for this. For things under the fuselage, you get one of two drop tank options, or a bomb. I found the supports for this to be fiddly to the max as the attachment points are not well defined.
The full color instructions are very well done and offer Gunze paint options. All of the options are in olive drab over neutral grey with medium green splotches on the leading and trailing edges of the flight surfaces. The box art plane is with the 49th FG/7th FS in New Guinea during 1944. It has the white wing leading edges and white tail that were standard for this theater. Note that on the horizontal stabls, the white is only on the underside and not on the elevators. Nose is blue with a white stripe. Next is a 80th FG/89th FS plane based at Assam, India in 1944 with the unit's fearsome skull motif and a red spinner. Then there are two Dutch planes both similarly done, though one has a white surround to the insignia. Decals are very nicely done by Cartograf so you know it is a good one.
Based on the P-40E build, I know what to expect and that I'll have a great looking model when done. I also know that the wheels are probably the worst part of the kit and have already ordered replacements from CMK.
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