Thursday, 19 February 2015

Airfix 1/72 P-40 build - planning

Beginning my Airfix 1/72 Curtiss P-40 project - or rather my 'p-40s' project as I am building two of the Curtis Hawk variants that Airfix produces.

To quickly recap the background to this - I was curious about what the Curtiss '81-A-2' was and in it's relation to other variants in the P-40 family. As I pretty much covered the results of my research on this subject on my initial post for this project I will simply re-post the graphic I made to explain the early mark P-40 'family tree'...

But, despite the clear model progression indicated by the Airfix box art the simple fact is they are, actually, the very same kit. So subtle were the differences in these two early P-40 variants that you would be hard pressed to tell the difference and Airfix took advantage of this.

Proof, were proof needed, that these two Airfix P-40s are indeed the same kit.
Anyway, this all isn't all that important. All that is important is that the general consensus in the modelling community is that this new Airfix tooling is a very nice kit and one of the better 1/72 scale early model P-40s on the market (these early models - which used the Allison V-1710 engine - are known as 'long nosed' P-40s).

My project plan...
OK, as interesting (if you are a geek like me) as these technicalities are the real question is why I bought the two models is they are actually the same? Well, I fancied having the two 'shark mouth' paint schemes for the P-40 - the RAF's 112 Squadron Tomahawk and the American volunteer 'Flying Tiger' P-40.

The decal/colour schemes that my two Airfix P-40s come with. Top is the
legendary 'Flying Tigers' scheme and below the RAF's 112 Squadron scheme.
(Trivia teaser - which came first?)
Something else I fancied doing was to build the kit 'out the box' with no mucking around with 'improvements' or third-part add-ons. Because this Airfix kit is one of their newer ones it seemed that I would have a better chance of being able to make the kit right out the box without having to resort to any kind of tinkering!

Quite crisp and only minor flash, the components are nicely done though more
advanced modellers may take exception to the comparatively deep panel line details.
This kit is intended as a 'starter kit' and is rated by Airfix as 'skill level: 1'. So the
rather exaggerated inscribed panel lines are intended to be helpful for the beginner
who may not be fluent in panel line painting techniques. 
BUT (there had to be one) I actually bought three of these Airfix P-40s as they were on offer (I really like the P-40). And so, as I had decided to use the two default decal schemes that came with the kits I would have to source an additional scheme for my third Hawk.

After a bit of research I plumped for a rare RAF scheme. Originally the RAF took delivery of some P-40s - Tomahawk Is and IIAs - and despite deciding the P-40 was not up to the job of fighting in the European theatre they pressed them into service in the UK as Army Cooperation aircraft. I liked the idea of doing one of these less well known Tomahawks (overshadowed as they were in Britain by the Spitfire and Hurricanes).

The third part decal set I sourced is by AML - 'P-40 Tomahawk IIA over Europe' -  and is available from Hannants for just £4.80. It may not be a striking as the shark-mouse schemes but it has a tidy understated charm of it's own. (It also has the benefit of including a couple of nice Soviet schemes which I may be tempted to try in the future.)

Tomahawks of No. 26 Squadron RAF based at Gatwick, Sussex, in flight. AH893 ‘RM-D’ and AH896 ‘RM-Y’ are Mark IIAs, while AH791 ‘RM-E’ is a Mark I. All Tomahawks based in the United Kingdom operated as low-level tactical reconnaissance aircraft with Army Co-operation Command, hence the oblique camera ports visible on the port fuselage side of these aircraft. Source: © Imperial War Museum
So there we go. That's the plan for my three Airfix P-40s - two OoB ('out of box') build with OoB decals and one OoB build with third part decals. The big question is can I restrain myself and keep the fleet of P-40s just to 3? ;)


  1. Trivia answer- 112 Sqn. The AVG just copied the sharkmouth.
    Big answer- no you can't restrain yourself because of the sheer variety of air arms this aircraft served with. I collect in 1:300/1:285 and have Tomahawks in RAF, USAAF, AVG and Soviet markings.
    Mind you, the Hawk 75/Mohawk is even more interesting- it served with at least ten air arms !

    1. ...Too late on the Mohawk - managed to track down an SMER kit on eBay! ...I'm so predictable! :)