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Phillip Friddell
19 articles

Eduard's Iron Dog

June 17, 2021 · in Aviation · · 19 · 2.3K

Eduard's family were among the very first of their "serious" kits after they made the leap from nice limited-run models to the big leagues. Although it wasn't quite the quantum leap from Monogram's 1969-vintage that we might have expected, it was enough improved to make it king of the hill in the world of P-39s for several years. I've got a thing for the airplanes of the early days of the Pacific War so a from the 39th FS/8th FG at Port Moresby during late 1942 was just what the doctor ordered for the collection.

That venerable Eduard kit is not without its faults, of course, chief among which is a wing that's just too darned thick top-to-bottom, although I didn't correct it on this model or on any of the others I've built. What I did correct, and always do, is the door-to-fuselage fit; conventional wisdom (and a large percentage of the scale modeling world) says those separate doors can't be made to fit properly in the closed position but they can! Here's the trick, or at least here's what works for me: First, make certain the sides of the fuselage meet and are firmly cemented to the aft cockpit bulkhead---that's the one with the window in it and a shot of Tamiya Extra Thin will do the trick. Accomplishing that simple step will ensure that not only the doors, but also the aft part of the canopy, fit properly to the fuselage without a "step" between the parts. After that fitting the doors is easy enough; just put them in place to determine how they sit, sand the door edges just a little with fine paper, fit and sand, fit and sand, and keep it up while removing just a tiny amount of material at a time and taking care that the little "tabs" that represent the door hinges fit properly into their mounting slots. It doesn't take that long to do do the job and Bingo---the doors fit! One more thing: If you choose to open just one door on this or any other P-39 model, it should probably be the one on the starboard side of the airplane. The Airacobra's throttle quadrant protruded a bit into the port-side door opening and it was easier to get in that extremely tight and cramped cockpit from the other side. For what it's worth...

On a more serious note, there was a time when Eduard provided a white metal nose weight that doubled as the roof of the nose gear well. They stopped doing that several years ago so you'll need to add your own ballast if you have one of the later kits that doesn't include the ballast part (I use a couple of .454 diameter lead balls, along with one of .375 diameter, for that chore) and also scratch up the wheelwell roof. It's too bad they gave up on their ballast; the P-400 is a definite tail-sitter without a fair amount of weight in the nose and that factory-supplied part eliminated two problems for us. Fortunately, the problem is easy enough to deal with.

A set of Eduard belts and harnesses reside on the kit's seat, and I ended up replacing almost anything that was supposed to be round with Evergreen rod, mostly because Eduard had a bad habit of representing everything with that sort of cross-section with tiny polystyrene sticks during their early years. They never really looked right to me so replacement was mandatory in my world, although you can produce a fine model using only what's given in the kit.

Eduard tend to provide great decals with their kits and the ones in any of their P-39/P-400 kits are no exception to that, but you might want to be cautious and do a little personal research when using their various early-War 5th Air Force markings. There are a fair number of serious references out there on the subject but there's also a great deal of room for confusion regarding those airplanes from The Bad Old Days in the SouthWest Pacific since iron-clad documentation from the era can be a little shaky. The markings on this model could be the poster child for that situation!

The decals themselves are ok and work a treat as our friends from the former Empire often say, but the color used on this model's two names, "Wahl Eye" and "Pat", present a bit of a challenge authenticity-wise. Eduard provides them in yellow, but they've also been represented in white and in pale blue in various reference works. On a personal level I'm not prepared to accept them as blue and the right-side photo we've all seen of the real airplane shows the markings as somewhat darker than white, at least to me, so yellow is the color of choice on my model and it's probably fated to stay that way unless some sort of definitive proof, such as a period Kodachrome or bit of color movie, or maybe a comment from someone who was there at the time, shows up to prove differently. (I've been through The Black and White Color Interpretation Wars over the past few decades, have the tee-shirt, etc etc---can you tell?)

As a final note, one of the "kids, don't try this at home" variety; I had to do some minor putty and sanding correction after the transparencies were permanently attached to the model. That seemingly innocent action guaranteed that Mr. Static Electricity would rear his ugly head and there are now permanent dust specks on the inside my canopy to bear witness to my folly! It was a definite Gotcha sort of moment but I figure the static will subside in 15 or 20 years so I'm not too worried about it.

I should've known better...

Anyway, it's a fun kit and it looks the part once completed, or at least it does to me. It has that Airacobra "sit", something that's so difficult to attain with a plastic model, and Eduard's offering just looks right to my severely jaundiced eye, although your personal mileage may well differ on that one!

I hope you enjoy the photos---I definitely enjoyed the build!


Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

19 responses

  1. Very nice build! I really like the P-39 and think yours looks awesome. Nice paint work and the markings look great and you will get my vote to being right.

  2. Phillip, A wonderful looking P-400, I've always liked the looks of this airplane, I really like it when its built well and looks nice like what you've done here !

  3. Well done Phillip, always enjoyed building P-39's, have completed 8 so far, most are posted here. I always enjoyed building Edward's P-39 kits except for the decals for Wahl Eye/Pat. For some reason the paint colors bleed thru the yellow so I had to go to after market decals to make it look right.

  4. Nice work, Phillip. I learned some things about the plane and the model from your post.

  5. Nice build and result.

    The one thing the Eduard Airacobra needs, which is super-easy to do, is to sand down the interior of the wing parts before assembly. You can get a knife-sharp trailing edge and the parts actually fit better for doing so. Do that and the kit is competitive with Hasegawa's.

  6. Great looking Airacobra, Phillip (@phillipfriddell). Well-done camo.

  7. Really like the paintwork.

  8. Great looking Airacobra!

  9. Beautiful Cobra, Phillip.
    You have chosen a great scheme.
    Still on my wishlist and your build clearly shows why.

  10. This is a wonderful Airacobra, Phillip!
    Excellent build, painting and weathering included.
    Yes, you are right about that particular "posture" the Airacobra has to have.
    Thanks for the info on the doors flushing to the fuselage, and for the detailed article in general.

  11. Nice, interesting article, Phillip, I really enjoyed reading it, and have to agree that the Airacobra is a particularly attractive aircraft. Also interesting that this is yet another not quite perfect Eduard kit, but you managed to overcome its shortcomings. Definitely liked.

  12. Very nice P-39 Phillip @phillipfriddell. Thanks for sharing your pictures and the excellent article.

  13. Nice one Phillip@phillipfriddell - a P-400 I guess!
    I shall be using your comments on my next build - I have this one in my stash!

  14. Thanks, guys! I really like that Eduard kit and appreciate your comments.


  15. Looks great! Nice scheme and paintwork. Well done.

  16. Great looking model Phil!

  17. Very sharp looking P-39.

  18. Great looking P-39, always a favourite of mine.

    I wonder who will be the first to make a top-notch new mold of a P-39. Eduard has been doing great work correcting other models, why not give the Aircobra/Kingcobra family a new chance. Or could it be Tamiya who will take up the challenge? Bit less complex than, say, the Lightning?

  19. Really good looking P-400. Great interpretation on the colors/markings and on the blue tint the spinner has. Liked. Have one of these kits in the stash and really grateful Eduard gave the pieces to make the four propeller bladed version.

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