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Peter Three Eight! Trumpeter’s 1/32 P-38 Lightning

Much has been written about the P-38 over the decades. One of the USAAF’s premier fighters, especially in the Pacific and Asian theaters where long range, heavy armament and tough construction resulted in the USAAF wresting control of the air from it’s adversaries became possible. By the end of the war it was one of the symbols of aerial victory over the Pacific islands, the jungles of Burma and India, the waves of the Mediteranian Sea. Her pilots included 2 of America’s best: Richard Bong with 40 kills and Tommy McGuire with 38.

Yup, I build BIG! And they don’t get much bigger than Trumpeter’s P-38! The kit itself is actually pretty well done, the moldings are crisp and well detailed and the cockpit only needs a harness to be complete. Also included is a complete gun nose with ammo trays and guns and the ability to display it open, two complete Allison engines with associated trunking for the turbochargers and well detailed landing gear bays. A few drawbacks: the props are too short, which I didn’t catch until after I had built up the spinners; no panels to remove to show off the engine detail and of course the articulated control surfaces. I opted to use several detail sets for this build, Quickboost’s gun barrels, SAC’s white metal nose and main landing gear legs and Eduard’s pe detail set for the landing gear bays and door hinges. I found a set of Microscale’s 1/32 decals for “Madu V, a P-38L-5-LO of the famed 475th FG, 431st FS, 5th AF, out of Lingayen, PI in May of 1945. Piloted by Louis DuMontier.

The first thing I did before assembly was epoxy a full-span brass K&S box spar to the lower wing/pod section to give the plane a solid backbone. The kit is molded with wing full span, as are just about all kits in all scales of the P-38. This is a Big piece of plastic and I could see the flex during a mockup, adding it gave me a solid foundation to build on. The spar spans to just outside the outer face of the engine pods on both sides. I mocked up the cockpit to make sure I had cleared any of the interior parts, and since there was no way to display the engines open anyway I did away with any of the plumbing that would get in the way. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the build. I decided to use SAC’s landing gear for 2 reasons: 1) this is a heavy kit, and having built Revell’s P-38 years ago using the kit-supplied legs it wouldn’t be long before the gears simply say “No Mas!” and 2) SAC’s nose gear gave me the stance I was looking for of a Lightning waiting to be gassed up, without having to cut and splice the kit gear.

After the cockpit and nose gun bay were completed and added the build went pretty fast, but also got really big and somewhat unwieldy. As most of you who have built any scale P-38 can attest, take care aligning the booms to the rest of the plane. Once all was set, I polished the plane with some plastic polish and used Alclad shades to bring out the natural metal most P-38’s were in by that time of the war. I painted the gear bays chromate yellow and the gears themselves were painted neutral gray according to my references. A note about the tires: Yup, just like most of Trumpeter’s big scale kits they are rubber, but the wheels are excellent, looking just like the real thing!

After the painting and polishing, came the decals which performed flawlessly. I added the aerials from the fin tips to the back of the cockpit and I was done! Well, not quite. I added quite a bit of weight to the fronts of the booms and wherever I could find space and it just wasn’t enough, so I fashioned a telescoping tail stand of sorts using some plastic tube, a spring and some wire, painted it olive drab and placed it under one of the booms as an in-the-field support and DONE!

This was such a fun kit to build, and one of Trumpeter’s better efforts! But if you want to build one, make sure you have the space!

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.


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Trumpeter 02227 1/32 Lockheed P38L Lightning

14 responses to Peter Three Eight! Trumpeter’s 1/32 P-38 Lightning

  1. Excellent work, sir….nice job indeed.

  2. Breathtakingly beautiful!!! Well done!!!

  3. Juan, This is a real beauty. I really like the very attractive and well done paint scheme. The little extras you added really pays off. Well done !

  4. Looks great! A great scheme also. Well done.

  5. Great build Juan, just wonderful. Thanks for the little hints along the way in your writeup.

  6. Excellent build!

  7. It’s an impressive size model, full of detail and you did a splendid work with it. Nice NMF

  8. Juan, you’re gonna need a bigger house pretty soon. Well done buddy, well done indeed!

  9. Wow, just wow Juan.

  10. The 431st of the 475th is the squadron my father served with during world war II he was a p-38 pilot with nine kills and four probables his roommate was Tommy McGuire in fact Tommy’s last flight was in a borrowed aircraft is was down for maintenance and he was ready to go after dip bong and pick up a couple more before he went home since his plane was down and my father’s plane was up he took up the aisle in an number 1 1/2 je model and unfortunately in a maneuver lost out to the ground hope you enjoy the little story good-looking model you have there

  11. Excellent work Juan. I really like the finish, having been up close and personal with a NMF P-38L out at Chino a few years back.

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