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Curtiss P-40B
Tomahawk Mk.IIA

 

Trumpeter, 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 02807
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 92 parts in light grey injection moulded plastic, 9 parts in clear, a small photo-etched fret and markings for two aircraft.
Price: USD$26.96 from Squadron.com
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Accurate outline; good quality mouldings; separate control surfaces; nice attempt at windscreen (accurately depicting no external front frames); hollow exhausts; useful photo-etched parts; nice decals
Disadvantages: Very shallow cockpit with correspondingly undersized components; inaccurately raised panels in a number of areas; recessed rivet lines will not be to everybody's taste
Recommendation: Recommended.

 

Reviewed by Brett Green


Trumpeter's 1/48 scale Curtiss P-40B / Tomahawk Mk.II is available online from Squadron.com

 

FirstLook

 

The Curtiss P-40 might not have been the most advanced, glamorous nor fastest fighter aircraft in 1941, but it admirably bore the brunt of air battles with the Luftwaffe in North Africa, and the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in the Far East, during a critical phase of the Second World War.

1/48 scale plastic kits of the P-40B/C/Hawk 81 have been fairly scarce. The Monogram kit, dating from the 1960s, is getting a bit long in the tooth; while the more recent Hobbycraft kit was a disappointment due to some serious outline accuracy problems.

Following up on their 1/32 scale release from 2003, Trumpeter has returned to the fray with their 1/48 scale Curtiss P-40B (Tomahawk Mk.IIA) kit.

Trumpeter's 1/48 scale P-40B comprises 92 parts in light grey injection moulded plastic, 9 parts in clear, a small photo-etched fret and markings for two aircraft packed in a large, sturdy box.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Surface detail is by way of recessed panel lines with parallel lines of recessed rivets. Rivets on plastic models are largely a matter of personal taste, but to my eye these rivets seem to be too deep and heavily pronounced. Several panels, including the radio access hatch and inspection panels on the empennage, are raised. These should be flush with the surface of the fuselage. It will be a fairly simple matter to scribe around the raised panels then sand the raised sections flat.

 

 

Control surfaces are moulded separately, with fabric surfaces subtly represented where appropriate. The flaps feature a photo-etched insert to blank off the fuselage interior - a nice touch.

The photo-etched fret also includes the ring gunsight - a first for any 1/48 scale P-40 kit. The forward sighting bead and mount is supplied as a plastic part, but this would be best replaced with fine wire or stretched sprue for a better scale appearance. Intake grilles are also supplied in photo-etch.

The cockpit duplicates the problems of Trumpeter's earlier 1/32 scale release, with the entire cockpit being around one-third too shallow. This means that all the vertical cockpit components are very noticeably compressed. This is most obvious with the squat seat and short cockpit sidewalls.

Trumpeter has also persisted with its odd instrument panel approach, although this time no printed instruments are supplied. The instrument panel itself is moulded in clear plastic, which seems like a good idea until you realise that the lenses for the dials are actually vacant holes. I would have thought that the benefit of a clear instrument panel was that the clear lenses could be masked and the panel painted around them (click the thumbnail to the right to view larger image).

Canopy parts are thin and free of distortion. The windscreen of the early P-40 is correctly depicted without external forward frames, and with separate armoured glass on the inside. The method of attachment for the armoured glass is not 100% accurate, but it is a clever approach to a tricky problem that will look convincing when assembled and carefully painted.

 

 

Other small details worthy of mention include the depiction of the canopy rails, and the two-piece exhausts with hollow stacks.

The kit is broken down conventionally, with a full-span lower wing, separate upper wing halves and an insert for the distinctive chin intake. Although Trumpeter does not offer machine gun bay detail, the wing guns are supplied with moulded-on breeches. This means that the guns have to be installed when the wings are glued together, resulting in the fine barrels being exposed to potential damage during the bulk of construction. As an alternative, I would recommend cutting the barrels off the breeches and gluing them into the wings from the outside when the kit is nearly finished.

The wheels are provided in four parts each - two tyre halves plus a part for each side of the wheel hub. Peculiar, but it might make painting easier!

Compared to photographs and drawings, the overall outline of the kit looks good - certainly much better than the Hobbycraft kit.


 

Addressing the Rivets

There are a number of methods available if you decide that you want to reduce the prominence of the rivets on Trumpeter's P-40.

Roger Fabrocini, in his Construction Feature elsewhere on HyperScale, scraped along the rivet lines with a curved blade. This achieved two aims - to tone down the rivets and also to add a stressed-metal effect to the surface of the model.

A less adventurous approach might be to apply a filler to the lines of rivets. Gunze Mr Surfacer would be ideal for this task, as it can be brushed directly over the rivet lines. If you want to eliminate the rivets completely, you might try using putty or Liquid Paper. You will need to thoroughly sand and polish the model when the filler has dried. Sanding should also sharpen up the edges of the panel lines.

It might also be advisable to mask panel lines with thin strips of tape before filling the rivets to avoid accidentally obliterating all surface detail.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Trumpeter's 1/48 scale P-40B / Tomahawk Mk.IIA has some very nice features including separate control surfaces, high quality clear parts and photo-etched details.

Its biggest problem, the short cockpit, can be addressed with a resin replacement. Several 1/48 scale P-40B resin cockpits have been released over the years, most of which may be adapted to the new Trumpeter kit. Cutting Edge has also just released a resin cockpit specifically for the Trumpter P-40B. The more ambitious modeller might want to scratch build new sidewalls and bulkheads, modify the rudder pedals and control column, and use an Ultracast or CE seat to fix the problem.

On the other hand, there will be modellers who are perfectly happy with the cockpit as it is.

Similarly, modellers will make up their own minds about whether they want to tone down rivet detail.

Trumpeter's 1/48 scale P-40B / Tomahawk Mk.IIA is a competent kit of an important WWII fighter.

Recommended.

Kits purchased with the reviewer's funds


Text and Images Copyright 2004 by Brett Green
Page Created 15 December, 2004
Last updated 15 December, 2004

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