Curtiss P-40E by Hasegawa

1/48 scale
Kit No. JT 86/ 09086
Cost: $25.00
Decals: Two versions – 1) Major Edward Rector, 76th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group, China, July 1942 (successor entity to the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers); 2) Lieutenant Robert H. Vaught, 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, Australia, Summer 1942
Comments: Engraved panel lines; detailed cockpit and landing gear; boxed in wheel wells; separately mounted rudder; option for center line drop tank or 500 lb. bomb; multi-part fuselage

History

The Curtiss P-40E was a refinement of the P-40D, the latter being produced in very limited numbers (22 in all) before giving way to the E, whose production totalled 2,320, more than any other variant of the P-40 except for the later N.  There were two big differences between the P-40D and the earlier B and C variants: engines and firepower.  First, the D had a more powerful Allison powerplant, the V-1170-39-F3R, capable of 1150bhp up to 11, 640 feet, and 1470 bhp for brief periods of during combat conditions.  Second, the D did away with the B/C’s armament of two nose-mounted Browning .50 caliber machine guns and four wing-mounted Browning .30 caliber machine guns, in favor of four wing-mounted .50 caliber guns.

The new gun configuration led to a redesigned cowling, a longer air intake, a modified instrument panel, a slightly shorter fuselage, and a slightly lowered cockpit.  The D also featured a center line pylon providing the option to carry a 197 liter (52 gallon) drop tank or 227 kg (500 lb.) bomb.  The P-40E had all of these features, but had increased firepower of two additional .50 caliber machine guns in the wings, for a total of six.  The two extra guns required installation of wider gun access doors under each wing, with additional slots for ejected empty shell casings.  The E also featured improved armor protection for the pilot.

The United States Army Air Corps placed an initial order for 820 in February 1941, followed by another for 1500.  540 machines went to the Royal Air Force, which designated them Kittyhawk Mk IA; another 30 went to the American Volunteer Group in China (the Flying Tigers).  The P-40E fought in every major theatre of war: on the Asian mainland in the China-Burma-India theatre, in the Southwest Pacific, based in Australia and elsewhere; in the Aleutian island chain, in North Africa and Italy in both British and American hands, and in Russia.

Finally, P-40’s were directly involved in the earliest moments of America’s entry into World War II, many being destroyed on the ground in the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and were among the handful of fighter planes successfully scrambled to intercept Japanese aircraft that day.  Other than the few P-40B’s and C’s at Pearl Harbor, the E was the first version of the P-40 to see combat with the U.S. Army Air Force — as it was redesignated in June 1941.  During production of the E, the round exhaust stacks were discontinued in favor of the flattened, fishtail exhausts that were less visible at night.

The Kit
Hasegawa’s P-40E, released in 2005, consists of 131 parts, 18 of which are clear plastic.  The cockpit is richly detailed with extensive raised relief on the main instrument panel, floor and sidewalls, consisting of 14 individual parts.  The surface detail is breathtaking, with crisp engraved panel lines and an exquisite flush riveting effect.  The control surfaces are also painstakingly detailed.  The kit features a detailed radiator assembly, separate inserts for the wheel wells, and separate panels in the under surface of the wing for the .50 caliber machine gun ejection ports.  The fuselage is broken up into eight parts, six of which make up the tail assembly.

There are also inserts in the leading edges of the wings for the .50 caliber machine guns. In a nice bit of added detail, the part for the cooling gills for the radiator at the rear under surface of the cowling are depicted in the open position.  There are also specialized clamps for the drop tank and the 500 lb. bomb, with a different set of clamps to be mounted along the center line for each.  The only drawback to this kit is that with the level of detail seen everywhere else, right down to the machined openings in the business end of the .50 caliber machine gun barrels, you would expect similar treatment of the six individually mounted parts for the exhaust stacks.  Modelers may want to either carefully drill these parts out with a pin vise, or replace them with more detailed aftermarket parts.

Decals
The kit markings are crisp, clear and in perfect register with realistic color, for two versions of the P-40E operating during the Summer of 1942.  They include the distinctive shark mouth and flying tiger logo for a machine of the 23rd Fighter Group (into which the Flying Tigers morphed in the months after the Pearl Harbor attack) flown by Major Ed Rector, formerly of the American Volunteer Group.  There is also a rather rougher rendition of the shark mouth for a machine of the 49th Fighter Group based in Australia and flown by Lt. Robert H. Vaught.  All markings have a nice, semi-gloss sheen and look as if they will present no difficulty.

 

Conclusion
An excellent kit of the second most numerous variant of the P-40 family of fighters.  Though I am not a fan of multi-part fuselages, as they represent a speed bump in construction and trigger the need for seam hiding, this is a minor point in the face of such a detailed rendering of a P-40 Warhawk. Highly recommended.

 

References

  • Curtiss P-40 from 1939 to 1945 by Anis Elbied and Daniel Laurelut; Copyright 2002 Histoire and Collections; Paris.
  • P-40 Warhawk in Detail: Part 2 – P-40D through XP-40Q (Detail and Scale Vol. 62) by Bert Kinzey; Copyright 1999 by Squadron Signal Publications, Carrollton, Texas.

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