One of the things I like about P-40s is the great variety in types and color schemes that are available. Whether it’s the early “shark-nosed” Tomahawks, the early short-tailed versions, the Merlin-engined variants, or the long-tailed versions, modeling the P-40 offers a wide variety of choices.
None seems to be so distinctive in my mind though as the early P-40K “big-tail” version. Earlier P-40s had issues with directional stability, so a fin filet was added late the E model production run to address this, and it carried over through the -5 block of the K variant. The K-10 adopted the longer fuselage most associated with the L,M and N models. In fact, many times in looking at historical photographs it can be hard to tell the later K models from the M model, as externally they were just about identical.
I had previously built AMT’s P-40K. While I do enjoy the AMT line of P-40s, I was not too thrilled about having to use a resin tail for the AMT kit. The kit had been distributed with a short-tailed E-model fuselage, and a resin tail was included in the box. I am horrible at slicing up a kit in order to add resin pieces, so the result for me on the AMT version was a bit disappointing.
So I was really happy when I was able to get a copy of Hasegawa’s P-40K, courtesy my good friend Mike Kloppenburg, of BombshellDecals.com. For all the 1/48 P-40s I’d built, I had not built one of Hasegawa’s examples. I’d always seen them, and thought they looked great, but their price point usually stopped me from buying. However, you can’t argue with free!
The detailing on the Hasegawa kit is wonderful. The interior is about as detailed as most of the resin after-market sets I’ve seen for other P-40s. The fit of the kit itself is great, with no problems overall.
The only real complaint I could raise is Hasegawa’s use of fuselage inserts. I understand why they engineered the kits as they do- by swapping out the tail, portions of the fuselage, and a few other bits, they can get every Allison-engined P-40 model after the C from the same set of molds. So from an engineering standpoint I get it. However, I wish the fit of the inserts was a bit better- more “Tamiya-like”. One of the things I’ve appreciated about Tamiya kits is the near razor precise fit of pieces, including critical fuselage inserts. For parts such as the tail section, or other highly visible external parts, the fit either has to be perfect, or it just doesn’t fit.
In the case of this K model, it did take some sanding and rescribing to get things shaped up right. Nothing too onerous, but given the quality of engineering that Hasegawa is capable of, and the asking price of the kit at retail, I wished that the use of the inserts was a little more fool-proof.
Still, it builds up fairly quick, and once the parts are on and sanded in place, the rest of the build is quite a fun trip.
The markings I used are actually from the AMT P-40K kit, and represent a 450 RAAF Sqn. aircraft. The undersides were done with my almost empty bottle of Pollyscale Azure blue (Testors you killed the wrong acrylic-based paint line!), and the uppers were a mix of Tamiya paints for the midstone, and Model Master Acryl paint for the dark earth. Weathering was done with a Prismacolor silver pencil for the chipping, and various applications of post-shading with an airbrush and artists oils completed the weathering.
Despite it’s price and use of inserts, I still think the Hasegawa line of P-40s are the best looking and most detailed right out of the box. Though having said that, AMT is not so far behind that if you can find those kits at a good price- go for them by all means.
The main thing is, you need to build a few P-40s! 🙂