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Airfix 1/48th P-40B Warhawk Build Review, Part 1

March 2, 2017 in Reviews

Previously…

There have been a couple of attempts at the early P-40 in 48th scale over the years. The old Monogram kit and the Academy one have been around for quite some time. More recent offerings from Trumpeter and Bronco combine state-of-the-art, 21st-century-molding with some very questionable dimensional decisions. To put it in other words: their cockpits just suck. Both are considerably too shallow, which is most noticeable when looking at the pilot’s seat, which looks like something a Lego figure would feel comfortable in.

Airfix to the rescue?

Airfix released their P-40B in October 2016, something I had been looking forward to since its first announcement.
The kit comes in the new Airfix style – a glossy top-opening box with an action packed rendition of a P-40B taking off from Wheeler Field, Oahu, while a Zero is blowing stuff up in the background. The box also informs us that the kit number is A05130, consists of 106 parts and contains two marking options:

– P-40B Warhawk, flown by 2nd Lt. George Welch, 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii, 7th dec 1941
– Hawk 81 A-2, flown by Flight Leader Robert “R.T.” Smith, 3rd Squadron, Kunming, China, June 1942.

Inside the box we find one bag of sprues, all chucked together – although the clear parts are bagged separately, which is nice. The instructions follow the new Airfix style with shaded drawings and coloured sections. The painting instructions are also in full colour, which makes following the cammo pattern for the China version quite simple.
Colour callouts are in Humbrol paint numbers only. Without a table showing colour names or other manufacturer’s equivalents, finding the correct colours might be a bit tricky for less experienced modellers.

The decals look good on paper (duuh…), although they are a bit flat for my taste. Color density is excellent, colours are in register, stencil data is legible. There are even some cockpit placards included, something you do not see every day in a mainstream kit. Kudos to Airfix for that one! In the second part of this review we will see how the decals behave in action.

The parts…

…come on three grey and one clear sprue, there are no PE parts included. A first look shows some nice detail, but quite a bit of flash and ejector pin marks in unfortunate places – surprising, especially for a brand new kit.

Fuselage and control surfaces show recessed panel lines which are a bit on the wide side. Rivets are recessed as well as raised, fortunately not the whole aircraft is covered in them.

The cockpit is made up of 13 parts, with separate side framing, gun bodies and fuel tank. Detail is actually quite good, but the side framing suffers from flash. Some cleaning up is definitely required, otherwise the whole thing looks just soft and meh. These parts also sport some nasty ejector pin marks on the side that will remain visible – why Airfix decided to not mold them with the visible side away from the ejector pins is beyond me.

The seats (each marking variant gets its own) are ok-ish for injection molding. Nonetheless, replacing them with aftermarket resin seats will improve the cockpit considerably. I will go with a seat from Ultracast, the difference in detail being obvious.

The aft fuselage has internal structure added, in case you want to depict the cargo hatch in the open position. These areas, however, are covered in pin marks, and the whole space is devoid of any detail. Closed hatch it is…

The wheel wells show canvas structure, but again we have a pin mark smack in the middle of the part. Yes, some filler and a couple of swipes with a sanding stick should take care of that – but why, Airfix? Why don’t you mold that part the other way around? I am honestly curious if there is some technical reason behind that.

Gun barrels and exhaust pipes are nice, but there is no slide molding fanciness involved – some old-fashioned drilling out the pipes will be necessary.

Landing gear and prop are again ok, but nothing to write home about. The wheels come in two parts – tire and hub. The slick, treadless tires look a bit thick to me, and the weighted ones seem to have a serious air pressure issue. You might want to replace them with resin wheels.

First impression?

This is always a bit tricky for me. Sure, there is some slight disappointment with things like flash and ejector pin marks in visible places. On the other hand, certain kits have a tendency to show their worth only after some cleaning up and the first coat of paint. Somehow I think it is all there – so my first impression is: let’s wait for the second impression.

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13 responses to Airfix 1/48th P-40B Warhawk Build Review, Part 1

  1. I saw this previewed at Telford last November. A very nice kit, I think (Alas, no one is ever entirely happy with new releases.).

  2. Great!! I’m looking forward to your compete review of this kit. This kit has been a LONG time coming.
    Your first Parts photo depicts the issue I found myself. The nose/thrust line bends down starting at the Engine Firewall and that throws everything forward of that off a bit. The line from windshield forward to Carb intake should be a straight line with no drop.
    That said, this kit is still the best one on the market, ……….. today. Revell!! Tamiya!!

    Bo

    • I’m not trying to start anything with you, but today I looked at a real P-40, which also happens to be a Pearl Harbor survivor. The nose looks spot on to me.

      I took some great photos of the plane while I was there. Now I have close to 100 or so detail P-40 B pictures.

      It has been said that Airfix used a laser scanner to get accurate dimensions from another real P-40B, when they were tooling this kit up for production. I have built the kit and I really like it…………

      But I agree that they have a few ejector pin marks in some hard to fix locations.

      Like you I think this is the best kit by far on the market. I purchased 3 more after I built my first one.

  3. Looks to be just as nice as advertised (at least to MY eye)…that first pic is also a pretty good – lookin’ build as well.

  4. This kit gets nit picked for not being perfect and it is a 25.00 dollar kit. With the Nun’s hat being off what, ever that means. It not shaped right or is too small according to those in the know. However, this kit given the price is closer to guilt free than some of the other kits that have been produced. I’m looking forward to the build.

    • The so called “Nuns Hat” area refers to the area below the cockpit that is just behind the radiator cooling opening flaps. Its located between the wings.

      Today I looked at a real P-40B again, (which I have been fortunate enough to see on numerous occasions). I have also taken quite a few pictures of these so called “problem areas” that these “experts” complain about.

      I think this Airfix kit is pretty darned close………………. the best so far without a doubt. I have also built this new Airfix kit and I was very happy with it. So happy in fact that I purchased three more…… (It builds into a very nice model too).

      But to each his own, and this is simply my opinion. I don’t think we will ever be able to satisfy everyone, which is sad.

      I’m not really a rivet counter.

    • Well, it IS the best P-40B/C on the market today, in any scale. Airfix advertised that they had a real aircraft to research instead of Mfg Blueprints, The problem is there is NO intact/undamaged P-40B/C in the world today. ALL have been rebuilt by 1:1 modelers.
      Modeler Engineers claim the underwing is flat between the landing gear and NOT the original airfoil contour???? All I can see it that underwing keel/nun’s hat has a step up from the chin radiator. Same engineers give a nose 2 degree down thrust which can be seen on the underside AND upper nose.
      When Eduard boost that their 109 was most accurate every and proven wrong, ….. they remolded it to fix errors.
      Just saying. And that’s not counting rivets but rather observing shapes.

      • It was done from the P-40C restored by Matt Nightingale at Fighter Rebuilders. You can trust Matt’s work.

        Having built three of these, this carping is just that. You don’t notice it in the final result. And the nose is right.

        • Hitting on the theme of price and valued payed for. Often modelers want Walmart Prices and demand that kits be as detailed and accurate as the Tamiya’s Mustang in 1/32nd. Now add build- ability the accuracy folks want the most accurate cheapest kit. But, it maybe too fiddly because, of it. I think the Airfix P-40 represents balance. Priced right its affordable and build able, if your some one who has OCPD you can buy after market for the prop,nose cone,exhausts, and wheels. Which is a common must for many other models.

        • So Matt Nightingale is the one that left the rudder trim tab off the left side!! And the fuel Filler access off the left wing root!!

          All this time I assume it was Airfix!! Good show Matt.

  5. Interesting review. Just wanted to mention that this is just the sort of review article that I had in my mind when iModeler editing functionality was being designed four years ago. Thanks for the effort in putting it together – and congratulations on the full use of the medium! Also, I’d be curious to learn if you have any impressions and suggestions about the editing process at this level…

    • I don’t have a dog in this P-40 discussion….yet, (It is on my “To do list) but, this is the best modeling website by far, and your doing a terrific job keeping everyone focused on the modeling, not the bickering. Just my two cents, Sir

      • Fair and Balanced. This is a discussion of the Pros AND Cons of any kit. Some want ONLY the PROS.
        If Airfix can miss scribing line errors, could they miss other things as well?? Some are easy fixes, others, …….. ???? I can’t.

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