Build Report: Hasegawa’s 1/48 P-40E Warhawk

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The P-40 is one of my favorite aircraft to build. And based on the number of kits I see at shows, and online, a lot of other modelers must like it too. Yet just like its real life counterpart in World War II, the P-40 doesn’t get a lot of respect when it comes to kits.

Not that there haven’t been kits made. Hasegawa, Monogram, Trumpeter, AMT/AMTech, Otaki, Mauve and a few others have thrown their hat in the ring. But apart from Hasegawa’s kit, there hasn’t been a really, good, modern, accurate tooling in 1/48 scale from any other manufacturer. While all of the others are decent and buildable, all have their list of warts.

And unfortunately Hasegawa didn’t make things easy either. Despite it’s wonderful surface detail, excellent cockpit detail, and overall ease of build, their use of inserts, to enable multiple versions to be built from the same molds, really gets in the way of what should otherwise be a great model. (Something I’d run into with a previous build of their P-40K kit.)

The cockpit is a thing of beauty- just gorgeous detail. Every 1/48 scale kit should have at least this level of detail. The only thing I used other than the kit parts was an Ultracast seat, because it just looks so nice and has the belts molded right in.

Apart from the inserts, the construction is simple. Very good fit, with no real issues.

But the inserts require some work to get them blended in. There are four areas that you have to work on.

First, the area just aft of the cockpit- the side winds- is an insert. This allows for the later N model to be built, which had a different design than the E-M models. The insert is not broken down along natural panel lines. It fits OK, but definitely not tight enough to work as is. I used plenty of Tamiya Basic Putty, to smooth it all down, and also made part of the join look like an intended panel line. It’s not difficult, but does take some attention.

Second, the tail is a separate part. This allows for the short-tailed, big-tailed and long-tailed variants to be built. All well and good, but again, the break does not fall on a natural panel line, so more putty was needed to smooth this area in.

Third are the air vent holes just at of the prop. This feature appeared on later Allison engined P-40s. For the E, a solid insert is used. This one is actually the easiest to deal with. I glued it in, completely covered it over with putty, and rescribed the area.

The last, and in my opinion most egregious insert area, are the guns. The presence of the gun barrels makes this area very difficult to blend in. And the fit of this areas was the poorest of all the inserts, with a fairly significant step that had to be accounted for. I aligned the inset so that it would be as smooth as possible on the top edge, and then did the best I could to fair it in on the lower edge.

After all was said and done, it looked pretty good overall. But it did add time and frustration to a build that otherwise would have been drama free.

The rest goes together nicely. Wing to fuselage fit was good, and the landing gear are the most detailed and yet easy to assemble of any P-40 kit I’ve built in this scale.

The decals came from Squadron’s rather embarrassing P-40E “Limited Edition” bagged kit. The parts turned out to be AMTech’s long-tail P-40F, with a mishmash of resin parts thrown in, as well as a very nice decal set. I did order it, but mainly because I figured I could make use of the resin, decals, and the kit- but all in separate builds. So for this build I made good use of the decals.

Paint was all Tamiya, with my normal weathering techniques of airbrush fading and shading, oil wash, and Prismacolor silver chipping. (Although I did make use of Alclad and masking fluid for some of the chipped areas.)

When all was said and done, I was quite happy with the kit. The inserts require a bit of patience, but you will be rewarded with what is the best P-40 in 1/48 scale available.

I do hope that another manufacturer will see the gap in the market for a really, really good P-40 line though. While all of the available kits are certainly buildable, this aircraft really needs a modern, accurate and insert-free tooling. (Kind of like Eduard has done with their Spitfire Mk. IX…. hint, hint.)