Build Report: Academy’s 1/48 P-40B/Tomahawk IIb

 

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The P-40B is one of those airplanes that modelers have been clamoring for a “definitive” kit for quite some time. Efforts from Monogram, Hobbycraft/Academy, and Trumpeter all have fallen short in some way. So when Airfix announced in late 2015 that they would be releasing their take on this iconic aircraft, modelers rejoiced.

OK, not really. They started looking for faults and complaining about shapes and declaring it to be short of perfection. So, you know, the normal reaction.

Anyway….

The likelihood is that it will be the best P-40B kit released in 1/48 scale up to this point, and it will have flaws of some sort (what kit doesn’t?), and Airfix will sell a ton of them.

academy-1-48-p-40b-tomahawk-iib-ace-of-african-front-box-artSo it was with this reality in mind that I decided to pull my last remaining Hobbycraft/Academy P-40B off the shelf and build it. I figured once Airfix released theirs, this kit was likely to sit on the shelf for a long, long time. The boxing for this build was Academy’s “Ace of the African Front”. It is the basic Hobbycraft kit, plus a nice set of Cartograph decals.

It’s not a bad kit, really. Of the three currently available long-nosed P-40s, it is by far my favorite. Though it has a simple cockpit, and some shape errors, when it’s completed, no one mistakes it for a can of peas or a skateboard.

I had a nice resin cockpit I thought about using, but after some test fitting I decided it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. I went with the interior as it was, and just substituted the kit seat for an Ultracast seat. You should really check out Ultracast’s line of parts for the P-40. They have the most extensive options for seats you’ll find anywhere. AVG, RAF, early lap belt, later versions…. I count a total nine options available. They look great and really are a nice, easy, and very visible upgrade.

The fit of the fuselage is near perfect. I simply sanded the weld beads down, added a line of Mr. Surfacer to check for ghost seams, and sanded that down.

The wings fit equally as well, with very little needed to blend everything in. The wing root fit on this example was flawless.

For paint, I used Vallejo Model Air Azure blue underneath, and on the upper surfaces I used Gunze’s Middlestone, and Tamiya XF-72 for the Dark Earth. It’s actually JGSDF Brown, but it’s close enough for my purposes, and after weathering, I don’t know that it matters too much.

After painting, I did variations of the dot filter technique, oil paint splatters, post-fading and shading, and some pastel chalks. I wanted it to look dirty, and I think I achieved it. I don’t know if it is realistic, but I think it fits the “Mick Foley Suspended Disbelief Theory of Modeling” just fine.

The final bits and pieces were added. I swapped out the kit exhausts for Ultracast’s excellent replacement, and I also used Ultracast’s wheels.

The decals, as mentioned earlier, were from Cartograph, and they were flawless. I did need to use some paint to touch up gaps in the shark mouth, but I’ve yet to find a set of decals for that which fit perfectly.

For all the grief that the current P-40Bs receive, I can say that I have enjoyed building every one of them. In fact, this is the fourth Hobbycraft/Academy kit I’ve built. And while I do look forward to Airfix’s kit, this Academy kit was quite enjoyable to build. I highly recommend it- as long as it’s before August 2016.

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