AFV Club 1/144 Curtiss P-40B
A very surprising release, at least to me anyway. AFV Club has, for many years, specialised in 1/35 scale armour kits, so a 1/144 scale aircraft kit was not something I expected to see from them. Released back in 2015, this was their first effort in that scale. The basic shapes are there, but an awful lot is either poorly represented or missing completely. Still, with a bit of effort it can be made to look like a reasonable facsimile of a P-40. Their latest 1/144 kits, the Seaking and F4U Corsair, are superb I might add - far superior to their line of P-40s (they also do a P-40E and a P-40N).
I added a rudimentary cockpit, opened up and detailed the solid chin intake, corrected the oversized wheel wells, detailed the landing gear, and added scratchbuilt landing gear doors and a pitot tube. The rudder and elevators were cut off and repositioned and guns were replaced with thin hypodermic tubing. Landing gear legs are a bit long so these were shortened and the wheels were improved by carving them away slightly from the integrally moulded gear legs.
A grossly oversized belly tank was included with the kit but fortunately not needed as AVG P-40s did not carry them. AFV Club state that this is a P-40B/C or a Hawk 81-A2, but in fact the AVG aircraft were Hawk 81-A1s which were not plumbed for drop tanks.
These aircraft were originally meant for the RAF but were instead diverted to the American Volunteer Group in China. Thus they were finished in a British camouflage pattern, though the colours Curtiss used were not quite to RAF spec. I used Humbrol Dark Green (30), Camouflage Grey (28) and US Light Earth (119), the latter looking closer to the colour pictures I found online than Humbrol's RAF Dark Earth (29) does, which would normally be used on an RAF aircraft in this scheme.
No cockpit detail is provided in the kit so I moulded a seat and added belts from thin strips of tape. A control stick, brake lever, instrument panel and a few other bits 'n' bobs were thrown in for good measure. It's more than enough under the closed canopy.
The wheel wells were too large in diameter. Strips of .020" plastic strip were wrapped around a suitably sized drill bit and dipped in hot water briefly to set the shape. These were fitted in to reduce the wheel well diameter then filled and sanded flush with the wing surface once dry.
The chin and carb intakes were completely solid. These were opened out and the oil cooler and radiators added to the chin intake along with the diagonal guide vanes.
There were no landing gear doors at all in the kit. A piece of Contrail tubing was split in half lengthwise and then stretched over a candle flame to produce the curved doors. Tiny hinges were added to help position them. This worked surprisingly well and was quite easy to do.
The canopy and rear windows are supplied as one piece, above left. I cut these apart to make it easier to install the rear windows above right, though in retrospect I may have actually made it more difficult. The windows fit well into the recesses moulded on the fuselage sides but they are so thin it would have been impossible to just glue the edges. My thinking therefore was that I could use a thicker adhesive which would also act as a clear filler behind the windows. I tried clear epoxy and Testors Clear Parts Cement, both of which looked great when first applied, however they left large and unsightly bubbles behind the clear parts once dry. I then used Humbrol Clearfix which was slightly better, though there are still a few bubbles which I just couldn't get rid of. I was able to wick some Future into the bubbles to reduce them still further, but alas, not eliminate completely. I'm not entirely happy with the way these turned out so I'll have to have a rethink before I tackle the P-40E sometime in the future.
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