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The AVG »Flying Tigers« diorama 1/48

October 19, 2014 in Diorama

The story of American Volunteer Group (AVG) in China is legendary and well known. For my Flying Tigers diorama I chose the scene from Loiwing in the Southeast China in april 1942. It was one of rare occasions, where different pilots and planes from all three squadrons of AVG were represented in support of the evacuation of British and Chinese armies from Burma.
The planes are Curtiss Hawk 81-A-2 (also known as P-40 B). I deliberately chose two different kits – it is always interesting to compare different kits representing the same plane. The one on the left is Trumpeter, when issued about a decade ago considered the best kit in 1/48 scale. The one on the right is the old classic Monogram, first moulded close to half a century ago. When that old box is opened, one would almost want to cry, seeing the poor contents. Compared to contemporary standards it really is a poor sight. But I always feel a chalenge to make a decent model out of old kits, and this one is an excellent base, having a fairly accurate shape and dimensions. For Trumpeter kit not much was added (Aires cockpit, Squadron canopy, Master machine guns), but the Monogram has quite some aftermarket stuff added: a new spinner and cockpit (old set, forgot ther name), Loon models wheels, pitot tube and cowl flaps, Eduard flaps, Squadron canopy, Moskit exhausts and Master machine guns. A thorough work was devoted to engrave all the panel lines which were originally raised and I am quite satisfied with the result. The decals are from old Aeromaster 48-07B set (from 1996) with 10 different AVG markings. One important value of this set are the stencils for wing root and the prominent Prestone stencil, found close to gun sight in front of windshield (seen on numerous photos). As far as I know no other manufacturer includes this important detail decals in their sets.
The planes represented are Nr. 7 of Robert Neale, the commander of the 1st AVG squadron (the Adam & Eves) and the Nr. 75 of Bill Reed from the 3rd squadron (Hells Angels). This was the only known AVG plane which included the RAF roundels on the wings besides the Chinese ones (documented on photos).
The Jeep is from Tamiya, figures are from Wingz, Airwaves, DesKit, Gaso.line and Eduard.

10 additional images. Click to enlarge

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20 responses to The AVG »Flying Tigers« diorama 1/48

  1. Quite interesting. I’ve recentlynfinished one representing #68 flown by Chuck Older and I didn’t know (or hesrd of) about the #75 and the RAF markings.

    • Hi Paulo!
      Yes, it is little known. You have it in the Thomas Tullis good reference book Tigers over China (Eagle files #4, Eagle Editions 2001), on p. 47 and 61.
      Thanks for comment.

  2. Yet another fine example of a diorama well thought-out and photographed.

  3. Great looking Hawks, Miha, well displayed on this nice diorama. Done the “Older plane” some years ago from Academy/Hobbycraft. Not perfect but i still like the result.
    Posting P-40 on iModeler is a very good idea 🙂

  4. Hi Miha – nice diorama and the #75 with the RAF and Chinese roundels is a really interesting touch. Lots of action and activity. Nicely executed. I will take minor offense at any disparaging remarks regarding the Monogram kit – that is truly a classic from my youth 🙂

  5. Very nice work. I am sure R.T. Smith, who was among those taking pictures that day (as usual) would approve.

    Regarding the Monogram P-40: this is actually the only accurate P-40B out there in regard of shape. Also, the raised detail is right! The airplane only had flush riveting on the leading edge of the wing back to the main spar, all the rest were raised rivets. Also, many of the panels were lapped, and it happens that raised panel lines do a better job of recreating that look. This is said from having been around the three P-40Cs that have been restored out at Planes of Fame/Fighter Rebuilders since 1998.

    • Hi Tom!
      I agree, the engraved panels of modern kits today are mostly undeservedly praised to heaven. On real planes the situation is many times different (laped pannels etc.). But this way or the other, in real world, especially in the war, a lot of dirt accumulated along the panel lines. And these lines are clearly visible on many AVG photos of P-40. By my opinion the engraved panel is the best solution to recreate dirty panel lines on a scale model, even if it is not accurate compared to real plane. You could hardly get the raised panels of old Monogram model to stand out, like on photos, in any other way.

  6. A note for those doing these airplanes: the “flying tiger” was created for them by Disney Studios and sent out in late February. It was a decal, and was put on the airplanes on an “as available” basis, with the last of them finished when Claire Booth Luce arrived from LIFE Magazine and her photographer took the famous color photos in March 1942. All the tigers have a “dark surround” to them because – as Erik Shilling explained to me – they were unsure if the decal might lift under the airstream at speed, so they varnished them after applying them with a nice thick coat, which gave a much shinier surface than the rest of the well-weathered airframes. It also did the same thing applying gloss varnish will do to your flat finishes that have yet to be varnished – i.e., darken the color.

  7. What a great diorama Miha. Your models are outstanding. Nice bit of homework on your part to add to the realism.
    California Steve

  8. Simply MAGNIFICENT Miha!!!

  9. A very nice dio. Compact, yet busy, with excellent detail.

  10. Brilliant dio. Very well done.

  11. Lots of work has gone into making these scene, Miha, and you’ve achieved an overall excellent consistent standard, it’s great!

  12. Great work there Miha, looks real enough scene.

  13. Nice work, Miha. I’m hoping we get a new early P-40 soon.

  14. Excellent work, Miha. A very impressive diorama.

  15. Outstanding work, it looks awesome. Congratulations!

  16. Mina,
    Great work on the entire diorama.

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