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Academy’s 1/72 P-40B: Just for the fun of it

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BSometimes I get so caught up in details and after-market and P/E and so forth that I lose sight of the concept that it should be fun. I love to get the weathering just right, make an instrument panel look real, get the tires looking as if they were actually worn from take-offs and landings. Often though, all that simply gets old.

Every now and then, though, the urge hits to build a model like I did when I was a kid. Just paint it up, glue it together, and send it into battle. When I saw Academy’s 1/72 P-40B on the shelf at Hayes Hobby House, my local hobby shop, for $5.50, I couldn’t resist picking it up and sending it right to the top of the build pile for an (almost) old fashioned “quick build”.

The kit itself is very basic, with a simple cockpit, simplified detail, and minimal parts. (I read on that it’s basically an upgrade to the old Frog kit.) I started with the cockpit, which is simply a floor, seat and stick. I glued them together, brushed on some Model Master Acryl ZC Green, also painting the cockpit sidewalls.. The instrument panel is very simple, so a quick brush of Polly Scale Night Black, then a “dry brush” with my Prismacolor silver pencil, and I called the interior done. All in about 10 minutes!

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BBefore the paint really dried (and no washes!), I had the fuselage together, the cockpit nestled inside, and the wings glued together. The fit was actually pretty good for such a simple kit. There were no real gaps to fill, just a little sanding to “disappear” the seams. The wing to fuselage join was good, with just a little CA to fill in some minor gaps. The horizontal stabs went on next, and set in place without too much fuss.

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BIt was at this point that I let the aftermarket, wonder if I can improve it part of me almost ruin the build- which until now had been a rather fun hour- yes, one hour. (With time in there to allow glue to dry.)

The kit comes with AVG marking- of which I’ve done a few kits. And I thought it would be neat to maybe do one in USAAC colors from the late 1941 era. Trouble is, the kit didn’t have decals for that. No problem though- I had a Pavla P-43 Lancer in the stash, and it has those markings. So I decided to go for it.

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BOnly the Pavla kits tail stripe decal would not quite work. No problem- I could paint them on, easy. Right? Right?


Now, I measured it exactly. I knew precisely how wide a piece of tape I should cut to produce thirteen stripes- seven red, six white. My first attempt produced the right number, but the spacing was wrong. Next attempt- perfect spacing, but fifteen stripes. So I took off the tape, and tried tocut slightly wider tape.

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BWe’re talking a difference of like 1/32nd of an inch. I can’t read the label on a can of soup without reading glasses. Basically, it was hit or miss. Finally, on my fifth…. yes FIFTH attempt, I ended up with…..

Eleven stripes.

Six red, five white. I declared it good enough. It was supposed to be a quick build. For fun. Like when I was a kid. As a kid, I would’ve built the AVG bird and been quite happy. The “modeler” in me was taking the fun out of it. I decided “to heck with it” and charged ahead.

A little paint chipping with my silver pencil, a coat of Future, a quick panel wash, PollyScale Flat, and add on the final bits and pieces.

Academy’s 1/72 P-40BAfter all was said and done, I’m happy to report that except for the detour to the land of frustratingly hard to measure stripes caused by modeling fever, this kit was fun.

The detail is not the best. Canopy shape is off, panel lines are a bit soft, fuselage panel lines are almost non-existent. Cockpit detail? Hardly any.

Yet, if you put aside the side of you that obsesses a build- and trust me, it’s hard to do for me sometimes- this can be the kind of build that will pull you out of a modeling rut.

Just avoid all urges to use other decals. Build the AVG bird.

Trust me on that.

The kid in you will thank me.