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Lockheed P-38L-1-LO Lightning 96th FS – 82th FG – Italy – European Theater – 1945


P-38L-1-LO, s/n 44-23852, ‘Beautiful B***h (let’s see if the profanity filter snags this one)’, coded ‘B7’, flown by Lt. John J. Kane of 96th FS / 82nd FG, Vincenzo, Italy, March 1945.


Decals from Kagero’s P-38 Lightning at War Part II, which is a tremendous value because you get 8 different aircraft in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale.

Trumpeter kit is a known commodity, with all of its warts pretty well documented. If you build it “buttoned up” none of the panels will fit perfectly, so you’ll have to “massage” them with putty. The propellers don’t sit right if you build the kit as the instructions intend, so I took the easier route and cemented the prop assemblies directly onto the nacelles. They don’t spin, but they look better. There is a funky “droop” to the outer wings which can be remedied with a spar; I used chopsticks. That induces gaps on the underside joins with the nacelles, which again is a job for filler.


I saw this kit as a testbed for Vallejo metallic acrylics, and I used a LOT of their aluminum paint for this bird. it brushes nicely enough and it produces a tough natural metal finish. What’s not to like? Non-metallic paint was also Vallejo. Weathering was with thinned black paint, tamiya black panel line wash and some pastels.


15 responses to Lockheed P-38L-1-LO Lightning 96th FS – 82th FG – Italy – European Theater – 1945

  1. It looks awesome. Great job. And chopsticks…..super-cool problem solver; but lousy for snagging spaghetti.

  2. Nice !!Love the nose art!

  3. Amazing build, Wes!
    And BIG! Great NMF!
    Loved all your problem solving actions over the kit’s issues.
    When in trouble, I always glue firm my props onto the nacelle ad: I can live without them spinning, but looking correct; my very young sons cannot understand why they don’t spin, though… 🙂
    Thanks for the Kagero decals info.

    • At one point I foolishly thought I had figured out the solution to accidentally snapping off non-moving props: just build jets!

      And then I saw how many probes, tubes, strakes, blades and vanes jets have and realized what a fool I was.

  4. Hmmm – I didn’t have any of those problems with three Trumpeter P-38s. The molds can’t be that old/used unless they produce a whole lot more for the domestic market than anyone knows.

    The way to spell b i t c h here and get it past Nanny is to spell it b i t c h. 🙂

    Nice work on this – you say “brushed” – you did this with a brush, not an airbrush? Vallejo is pretty forgiving, but I haven’t had it be that forgiving.

    • Yeah! I read all of your reviews and that’s what prompted me to try my hand at this kit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was ultimately a happy experience and I did learn a great deal, but it was a bit of a head-scratcher in a few spots. I was convinced I did something wrong with the engines because of the slop in the propellers, but I went back and forth several times and didn’t find any discrepancies.

      The wing droop… I can’t explain that.

      You can see how it’s supposed to have a 5 degree dihedral all through the span– but at least in my sample– the outer panels “droop” a few degrees. I don’t see that on any of your examples, so you got lucky I guess. But it’s not like it’s a big deal, some sprue or chopsticks, the droop is fixed and the wing is strengthened. Everybody happy!

      If I’d do this again, I’d replace the kit’s gun barrels, which are a joke. But that’s about it. Oh, and the decals, naturally.

      If you can’t tell where I brushed and where I airbrushed, well, great! But really, the gear doors, the drop tanks and the areas around the superchargers all got the traditional brush treatment. Everything else was airbrushed.
      Cheers!

  5. An absolute beauty.
    The NMF looks perfect.
    I’m a Vallejo fan as well but have not tried their Metal series.
    Looking at your result I will definitely give it a try.

    • This was just plain vallejo aluminum on bare plastic! No buffing, no sealer. I love this stuff. I’ve got some truly nasty lacquer stuff that’ll apparently provide a mirror coating, but their metallics are exquisite for 99% of every other need I have for them.

  6. Great build. The NMF looks quite realistic.

  7. Nice one! My dad built that in 1/48 a while ago and I posted it on several forums, thankfully experienced no censorship 😀

  8. Girlie art often gets over looked by manufactures and decal makers who want to present the best image of what is presentable to grandma and the Mrs. When in reality it was a lot more common and historically correct to see female images on the sides of aircraft. So history gets bent toward those who want to be PC. On the other hand, some folks aren’t afraid to let it all hang out.

    Two thumbs up Wes, on building P-38,

  9. Everything about this post is great, the write-up, the build hints and tips, the paintwork, and not forgetting the photographs, definitely liked.

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