Lightning in June
We have all been there. A model just fights and fights every inch of the way and sometimes just seems to say, “you aren’t really much good at this hobby, why not try golf, or knitting? Something less… skillful”.
This was that model for me. This is the 1/32 scale (very) old Revell offering. It’s a Lightning, and I love a P38. I really do. But this kit did not reciprocate that love in any way, any shape, and in no form whatsoever. When I say it fought me, it bit, it kicked me where no one wants to be kicked, and it scratched. Although the nose art refers to ‘California Cutie’ it really should read ‘Iron Mike Tyson’
However, I wasn’t going down without a fight. In my corner I had Mr. Surfacer, Milliput, plasticard, and a host of other allies. Even so it was a close call. It’s taking a leap of faith sharing this build and the final result as I’m not really very happy with it; the fact I am going ‘public’ how much trust I have in my fellow ‘imodelers’.
And so as time went by the Lightning and I came to a kind of truce; both of us on the ropes, tired and fighting on autopilot. This was no knockout.
Although the Lightning carries the name ‘California Cutie’ I admit that I took some liberties. The real aircraft did in fact take part in that June of 1944 but was mainly in standard olive drab, and was not a ‘droop snoot’. However, this was a sneaky bird; the ground crew actually painted the snout silver to mimick a droop snoop model in the hope that the Luftwaffe would think her unarmed. There’s no record to show if this actually worked – but this kite survived the assault.
The model took a lot of building; details are few and the fit was appalling. But with a few rudimentary additions I got her almost looking how I imagined on that innocent day when I opened the box.
I made the bombardier’ hatch, added some details to the interior (there is a build post on this aircraft if anyone’s interested), made an access ladder, and did some basic riveting.
I’m happiest with the upper surfaces paint job. The Alclad paints look authentic (well, to me anyway) and I enjoyed painting and weathering the invasion stripes. The general shape is good and I think she looks like a hard ridden plane at a very tough time.
There are a few things I’d definitely do differently (not least to get a good camera), but to carry on the boxing metaphor, we were two old pros locked in attrition rather than any attempt to dazzle with the noble art. And in the end I think I shaded a decision on points. As I say, it’s testimony to the esteem I hold this forum in that I feel confident in sharing the process and the result. Comments, suggestions, and tips would be really welcome. Despite the struggle I have to say that I loved making this plane. We are a crazy bunch, no?
In one or two of the comments I’ve written on imodeler I have said how much respect I have of the men who flew these aircraft and sacrificed everything for us. There are still men who die flying the beautiful aircraft we make, and on July 14th, 1996, Michael Proudfoot perished when he crashed in the only flying P38 in Europe at an air show. The plan was marked ‘California Cutie’ – rest in peace, Michael.
2 additional images. Click to enlarge.