Academy 1/72 P-40E Warhawk
KIT #: 1671
PRICE: $10-15.00
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1999 edition


The P-40 was a development of the P-36 that utilized a liquid-cooled V-12 engine to provide a higher speed than what was available with the radial engine P-36. In that means it was successful and when the US entered WWII, it was the most widely used aircraft in the USAAC. It was not the 'dog' that many consider it to be. At low and medium altitude it was able to hold its own against German and Italian aircraft. This was proven in North Africa while in the hands of the RAF and Commonwealth air forces prior to America's entry into the war. It was also useful in the SWPA and CBI where its fairly long range and rugged construction was effective against Japanese rifle calibre machine guns.

The Warhawk/Kittyhawk really made its mark in the ground attack role. Despite its liquid cooled engine, which made it susceptible to ground fire, the P-40 was widely used in this role in areas with limited enemy air interference until the end of the war.


This is not the newest offering of the E model P-40 in 1/72 nor the oldest. However, it is considered to be a good one. It does surpass the Hasegawa kit in terms of interior detail though it is obviously based on it to some extent. But then, it is also that there are only so many ways to model a specific subject so there is that.

Academy has done at least two other variations on the later P-40 and that shows with parts on the sprues for the other versions. What makes this the E model are the proper fuselage halves. There is sidewall detail that is fairly nicely done. In addition, the Academy kit includes rudder pedals and a flap handle missing in the Hasegawa kit. It also has separate exhaust that can be added after painting.

Hasegawa missed the radio mast that Academy includes. Radiator intake, landing gear, cowl flap, bomb/drop tank, and the way the prop is attached are all identical to the Hasegawa kit. What is different is that there is an insert behind the pilot's seat for either the quarter windows or for the N model's better rear view section. The framework on the clear bits is also better pronounced, which will really help in masking.

Instructions are well done with generic and FS color information. Three nice options are provided. The box art plane is a very popular scheme from the 343rd Fighter Group in the Aleutians with the tiger face. This plane is OD over neutral grey. The next is in a dark green and sand over neutral grey scheme with the 9th FS/49th FG in New Guinea during 1942. Finally an RAAF plane in dark green/dark earth over sky with 77 squadron, also in New Guinea during 1942. Decals are nicely printed, but there are aftermarket if you are so inclined.


I went pretty standard on this one. I started with the cockpit and built it up as per the instructions. I then added the instrument panel and the oil/glycol cooler pieces to one fuselage have. The fit of the cooler assembly isn't the greatest and you need to fuss it about a little to get it in well. The fuselage halves were then joined. While dealing with the seams, I attached the tailplanes. Note that this kit comes with a hole for a radio mast. Most, if not all P-40Es did not have one of these, so I installed the mast and when dry, cut it off and filled in the area.

I joined the upper halves of the wings to the fuselage to keep from having any sort of seam on the wing/fuselage join. The lower wing was then attached when dry. This seemed to work fairly well and is not the way I normally do this step. I did have a gap or two at the inner leading edge that may not have normally been there, but it iwas easy enough to deal with.

The airframe was fairly complete so the next step was to mask the clear bits and install the gun sight. I used a set of Montex masks that has masks for the P-40E/M/N. This is nice as you basically get two sets and I now have one for the N model. The canopy and windscreen were attached and then I ran into a lack of motivation that lasted about two months. This happens from time to time and it meant that I had a number partially completed kits that I worked on in very little steps, like cleaning and painting the landing gear then a few days off before painting the wheels, etc.


At this stage, the kit was ready for painting. The thing about P-40Es is that most of them were simply olive drab over neutral grey. I had a great sheet for the first months of the Pacific war were just about all the planes were in this scheme. So I used those shades. Initially, I painted them using Model Master enamels, but the colors just seemed too light so I went with Mr.Color lacquers, which are generally darker. Since the majority of the P-40s at that time were fairly new, I figured the closer to fresh colors would work out well.

With those shades in place and thoroughly cured, I attached the landing gear and wheels along with the gear doors. The gear doors on this kit are all butt joins and not exactly simple to build. I also built up the prop at this time. When these items were all in place, I clear coated it with what now passes for Future and made the airframe ready for decals.

For this build, I chose an option from DK Decals sheet 72-053 that has a ton of early war P-40Es. Most of them are fairly simple with little more than nose art, but others are fairly outlandish with large shark mouths. I picked on with some fuselage art and unusual insignia from the 33rd PS based in Australia in 1942. Using cold water, the markings took a long time to come free. They also required the surface to be flooded with water to keep them from sticking where you put them on. I also found the single color ones to be quite thin and easily damaged unless you treated them gently. Ovearall, they worked superbly, snuggling down with no silvering. No setting solution was used.

Once the markings were installed, the airframe was given a clear matte coat. Not really super matte, but maintaining a bit of gloss. The final steps included removing the masking, installing the quarter windows, doing a bit of touch up, painting formation lights, and adding a bit of exhaust staining. I did not install the three antenna wires used by this version.

This kit has several things going for it. One is that it is inexpensive. Two is that it is readily available. Third is that it makes into a very nice model which is fairly easy to build for the beginners or those just wanting a nice kit with no real hassles.

January 2021

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