P-40N-5 LuluBelle of the Burma Banshees 1/32
Over the past few days I noticed that the venerable P-40 has been coming out of the woodwork, and some mighty fine works too! This one is the second one in my collection and one of my personal favorites.
These plane represents a P-40N-5 flown by 2nd Lt. Philip Adair, of the 89th FS, 80th FG, the famed “Burma Banshees” of the oft-forgotten 10th AF out of Nagaghuli, India in early 1944, at the very end of a very long supply line. Although the Banshees were largely used as fighter-bombers Lt Adair shot down 2 Oscars on the 17th of May of ’44, just before the 89th transitioned over to P-47s. Even though the rest of the US air and naval forces had changed over the national insignia to the blue surrounds, many planes in the 80th retained the red well into 1944. The Banshees had some of the most unique unit decorations of any group in the AAF with their garish skulls and in Lt Adair’s plane, at one point had whitewall tires and elaborately painted wheel hubs.
This is Hasegawa’s 1/32 scale kit built pretty much oob, with Eduard belts. The real fun for me is the research on colors and markings. I tend to build planes that are colorful tell a story of the unsung heroes that maybe weren’t aces, but went to war, performed their duties faithfully and well, then went back to their civilian lives and helped to build this nation into the great engine of the free world; men like Philip Adair, Preston Easley, DB DuMontier, and Earl Kielgass.
Painting is where the fun starts for me…. being at the very end of a very long line meant that the 80th made due with what they could get their hand s on, improvise and make due. I painted the base colors of Olive Drab and Neutral gray with MM paints, then mottled and shaded the OD with lighter and darker shades of OD, with the lightest shade used on the fabric control surfaces. I added the medium green after the od fading was done. The underside was done the same way with mottling and staining. The spinner was done in MM Insignia Red. I always assemble the canopy and windshield and mask in place, so that the paint shades match. I did not paint the verticle straps on the greenhouse behind the canopy, the greenhouse was actually three sections of plexiglass glued together much like the Martin turrets on Marauders.
What about the markings? There are so many choices for the P-40, even the N model, and I was going to do a Parrothead trainer (and still will!) but while attending a Regional contest in Dayton Oh I found a booth selling some very unique decals: I discovered FunDekals! It took all of about 2 seconds of perusing to find the perfect scheme for my P-40! If you haven’t heard of them or used their decals, I urge you to check out their website http://WWW.fundekals.com. Their selection is outstanding and unique, the decals perform flawlessly (more later) and when they uncover new info, they make corrections and have excellent documentation and graphics that you can print right off their website! Ok enough with the shameless plug……
I glossed my bird with Future as usual and merrily applied the decals. The skulls required some care and some judicious use of a scalpel blade but all went well until it came time to apply the final touch….LuluBelle…..it seems that I got a drop of crazy glue on the back of the paper backing and after fighting with the decal for a while the name finally came off the paper……in a lot of little pieces! *%%#$%%&%$### Oh well! So my LuluBelle doesn’t have her name but….FunDekals has amended their sheet when they discovered that the number was on Both sides of the plane And that the skulls were Not symmetrical….in fact it looks like two different artists worked on the same plane! So I don’t feel so bad now….
Almost done…..one of the reasons I like the N model so much is the use of P-51-style uncovered mag wheels, which were smaller and lighter than the standard P-40 wheels and to my mind give the N a more distinct look……but Lt Adair’s plane used the standard wheels with covered hubs! What to do…..Well being at the very end of a very long line I made an assumption that when this plane was received it may have had the lighter wheels and was changed over to the standard wheels which may have been the only ones available given the length of the supply chain……and LuluBelle hadn’t been painted on yet! Well that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it…..but I did include a pic with the bigger wheels in place so you can see how nice they are….
Well, a shot of flattened Future, some weathering and here it is……And I had a huge amount of fun building this kit, which is the whole point, right? Hope you enjoyed this addition to the unofficial P-40 group build!
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.