Tamiya 1/48 P-38F/G Lightning in Review Pt 1
2019 has continued to be a year of incredible new mold kits and pleasant surprises and most have become available in the last quarter of the year. Just in time for the Christmas holiday season. The P-38 Lightning is one of them. And coming from Tamiya has everyone clamoring to picking up a few as most of the online shops in the U.S. have announced there availability on their shelves this week. I got my first one today in the pre-production white box. Have 2 more on the way with one of those going to a nice home in some cozy little town in Florida. Those kits will be the production models in the commercial box.
So part 1 will be a review of the new Tamiya P-38F/G just coming in the mail today. Part 2 will be a review of the Hasegawa kit of which will be P-38J and a summary of the Academy P-38E. Now just limiting the review to those kits for now. Not saying the Hobby Boss or the Monogram/Revell kits are not worthy they are but just limiting to the kits I have available. This will not be a bashing of any kind, just a straight forward bias review of the three and pointing the issues that most have encountered building the Academy and Hasegawa kits. I myself have built 2 Academy P-38’s the M and the E, as a kid I built the Monogram 1967 edition of the Lightning and brushed painted it with Testors Chrome Silver. Yep I still remember that, Of course at 10 years old seams what seams? accuracy?, raised panel lines, who cared about that at the time when it was fun building a cool plane and play with it. I have yet to build the Hasegawa, so I went and ordered one along with the Tam kit. I have read both pros and cons on the Hase kit, is the Academy as good less fiddly. I don’t know as I only have built the Academy Lightning to date. So I will soon find out, but for now lets see what is in the box on this new Tamiya P-38 everyone has been teased with no pics just a box top which we can see anywhere on line anytime, who cares, I for one want to see the plastic, what makes this better than the rest. Show me the Lightning. Not everyone access the other websites. We need to grow Imodeler, the point is to show the members on here what the new stuff is all about not tell them go elsewhere! Go look over at so and so website for better images of a particular kit, what kind of review is that? And how does that serve the members here who come to visit Imodeler to see whats new. Doesn’t make sense to do that. Do a review show some pics on here or don’t do it all. Talk or rave about a new product show some images, and tell them why this is the bomb. What are we sloppy seconds? Enough of that.
The pre production P-38 is molded in the light grey plastic that is typical Tamiya. The production kit will most likely be molded in the darker grey plastic. The quality is the same, though for some reason I like the darker grey myself. The Corsairs, Spits and the Fw-190’s except for the one are in this darker grey. The Betty, Dinah’s and the Skyraider is in this Lt Grey plastic. As examples.
The instruction sheet is still the standard issue by Tamiya, in Japanese, German and English text. Assembly starting with the cockpit and easy to follow format.
A supplemental sheet has a bit more history of the P-38. Also a tech tips insert is also provided.
Nice touch are 2 full color foldouts for the 2 air frame schemes that you can build within the kit.
The decal sheet also contains markings for 2 OD/Neutral Grey Lightnings, a P-38F White 33, 35th FG, 5th AF, Port Moresby 1942 the other scheme is for White 147, 339 FS, 347th FG, 13th AF, this is one of the planes that participated in the downing of Admiral Yamamoto’s Betty in Operation Vengeance April 1943. Also a set of canopy maskings are provided as well. Chrome oval decals are provided for the mirrors on the inboard side of the nacelles. Nice touch but not unique, will talk about that later.
The first sprue is the upper wing/fuselage as one piece. The moulding is crisp and well detailed, just looking at this makes me just want to remove it from the sprue and start building it. A quick once over shows excellent detail, and the engineering that Tamiya has put into this kit make it builder friendly.
The instrument panel cover is not moulded in like on the Hasegawa and Academy kit. Also the radio gear can be attached later in the construction, which again the engineers have really put their thinking caps on.
The next sprue contains the lower center wing section, which houses the nose gear bay. Cockpit interior side panels, well defined detail electrical boxes, gauges and levers. The cockpit floor with an opening in the center in which a part of nose gear bay extends into.
The next sprue contains the booms in LH/RH halves, and already the difference is apparent compared to what I have experienced with the Academy and a quick peek at the Hase kit and
Tamiya has a much different yet simpler approach. Also the landing gear struts, main and nose, the 2 different style of turbo chargers for the F and G variants. The upper inserts on the booms for the turbos. The cooling intake scoops and gun nose.
The next sprue is the lower outer wing panels, nose side panels. The horizontal tail is one piece and part of the mechanism built into it to lock the booms in alignment what that part of the build is in process. The crew step ladder, can be displayed open or closed. The propellers are handed so make sure they are on the correct side when installed. The pilots seat just need seatbelts.
Next sprue contains the separate rudders, main gear doors, 2 style main wheels, the lower intake scoops. And the distinctive boom intakes
The rudders are separate parts, Academy and Hasegawa are moulded as one piece on their Lightnings. So one can pose them in either direction when parked. The main gear doors have been another issue on the Academy kit this I know, Tamiya has designed them with the hinges molded on a rail that will solve that issue when installing them. 2 style of wheels are provide, open spoke or with a dust wheel cover. No bulge or weighted tires. The separate lower scoop inserts suggest that Tamiya is planning other versions down the road. Well done and detailed. The large side intake scoops that sit on each side of the boom are separate parts. Again Hasegawa and Academy are molded on the booms.
Finally the clear sprue. Very crystal clear, 2 canopy styles are provided. Can be posed open or closed, also the rear glass panel is framed.
Not shown were the 3 ball bearings supplied in the kit for weight. Excellent idea.
Thats it, your new P-38 Lightning from Tamiya, and an early one at that, yippee! It has been 25 years since Hasegawa introduced their P-38J and Academy soon after in the same year. Both fiddly in different ways to build. Tamiya has addressed those issue and has provided an aircraft with a complicated design, a model that has been kept simple with no moving features (flaps,etc.), 207 parts, decals and masking set. A model that has been produced by Monogram, Academy and Hasegawa all difficult in nature to build (like the Tomcat) and Tamiya has surpassed them all. But just know this, they are not bad kits, not at all. There are so many excellent builds out there from those that I have seen, and like any model in this hobby, you build them, overcome the issues and come out with a fulfilling and beautiful model. Thats the fun of it. Tamiya’s goal, is that despite the price, a beginner can build it. And that is the ultimate goal, build it enjoy the experience, and build another, and another etc. Instead of hand held computer devices, go build a plane, a tank a car, whatever need to get those kids building like the days of our youth. Part II tomorrow as we peek at the Hase kit and a summary of the Academy,
4 additional images. Click to enlarge.