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Classic Kit: Monogram 1/48 P-38 First Edition (1964)

Here is Monogram’s P-38 built out of the box. This is an original first edition, kit PA97-200, and as the code shows it was priced at $2.00. Later boxings of the kit showed yellow cowlings, but on this one I painted it as the instructions indicated. I tried to leave as much of the original surface detail. I did have to sand and fill some joins though. I used Bill Koster’s vac-form wheel well inserts since I had them on hand. I think he was also involved in the creation of this kit. So here is the classic Monogram kit built as the instructions indicated. Tamiya paints were used as well as the original decals

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.


31 responses to Classic Kit: Monogram 1/48 P-38 First Edition (1964)

  1. She’s a beauty David! What a neat job you’ve done on that old classic! I have had a later boxing of that model in my stash for 30 years I’d bet, and have been “scared” off trying it by horror stories about the difficulty of the build. But obviously, in the hands of a skilled modeler such as yourself, it can be done so well! Thanks a lot for posting this one! 🙂

    • It’s not hard to build at all. One just has to take care in fitting parts. Folks who complain about these vintage kits compare them to today’s kits. I just build them and have fun. You should not be put off by other’s complaints. To be honest Advanced Modeler’s Syndrome (AMS) took hold at first and I thought about updates, resin and photo-etch stuff that I needed to get. That turned me off and the kit sat in the stash for years. Once I freed myself of AMS it was a joy to build.

  2. Looks really nice David. Those old Monogram kits are so much fun to work with. I’m always delighted to see one done so well as you’ve shown us here. Looks great.

  3. A friend of mine who was about 14 when this kit was first released, talked about what an advanced step it was in plastic modeling back then. He compared it to the new Tamiya P-38, saying it had a similar effect on him when he first saw it.

  4. As someone a bit older than the young friend of @mooplace back when this came out, I can definitely say it was a “step up” in modeling to a degree very similar – given the state of things then – to what the Tamiya P-38 kit represents today. I think either this or the P-40B was the first “non-toy” (i.e., folding wings, landing gear etc.) from Monogram. And as you demonstrate, it can still be turned into a very nice model (Yes, 20th FG P-38Js did have yellow noses, BTW). The P-40B, this P-38, the P-51B, the P-39, the Typhoon, and the P-47D are literally the foundation of the modern “serious” kit industry.

    Bill Koster was indeed involved with this, as he was with every airplane model they did from the TBF onwards He once told me that the inaccuracies of shape (e.g. the too-narrow chord of the wing of the SB2C among others) had to do with molding technology, since only a certain percentage of the mold form could be devoted to the parts – so the Helldiver wing was “too big” for the molds that were used by their pressing machine, and a machine big enough would have cost way too much.

    • Tom,

      Thank you and that is very interesting information on the limitations of molding technology from back then and thanks for confirming that Mr. Koster was instrumental in the development of this kit. I met him only once. At the Atlanta IPMS shoe in 1993, along with George Gay, who signed a Monogram box of the Devastator for me.

  5. She’s beautiful, David.
    Nice detailing on that opened gunbay.
    The way these rockets are mounted is new to me.

  6. Amazing job on that beautiful oldie, David! In as much as I really like modern kits (who cannot adore the new Wingsy 109…), I am totally in love with old kits, especially when they are built in such excellence, like your Lightning!

    • Thank you very much Spiros. I’m so far stuck in the past that I’ve not heard of Wingsy. 🙂 I know the detailing of modern kits is amazing, but I find the parts count to be too high for me. I do have very nice Tamiya and Airfix kits.

  7. Nice job on this P-38. Bringing these old kits back in the way you put it together shows what great kits they were back then. To me and many others, Monogram was king back then. Their cockpit interior that was molded looked spectacular especially for someone who knew how to bring out all of the smaller details by dry brushing and other methods. Back in the 70’s when Squadron released their yearly catalogs, it was pretty cool to see the new Monogram releases for that year.

  8. Nicely done David, I did one as well several years ago, mostly OOB, but I had to add some wheels and a seat to spice her up a bit.

  9. As a great fan of Monogram models it is great to see one built to this standard.

  10. Well done David, it looks great, love the smooth separation of the different colours, a great paint scheme.
    Did you scratch build the open engine or was that part of the kit.

    Really amazing.

  11. I think that the problems that most people have with vintage Monogram kits is that they try to make them as detailed as the super kits that are coming out today. That is way too much work for too little return for me. I just build what’s in the box, make a few simple improvements and enjoy a trip down memory lane. That’s a great looking P-38 and would look good parked next to the Tamiya P-38. It’s a perfect illustration of “How it Started” and “How it’s Going”.

  12. Another nice build from a classic kit.

  13. Nice work David! I look forward to seeing more of your “oldies”.

  14. Lovely to see such a grand ‘oldie’ so beautifully built David. You’ve really taken me on a trip down memory lane, as I remember building just about everything that Monogram put out back then & I think I still have a completed Lightning from back then. They were the Cadillacs of their era & still stack up pretty well when finished like yours. Thanks for the Memories (and thanks to Bob Hope too!).

  15. Great job on this P-38. The thing I remember about this kit was all the versions you could build from it, at some point would like to find one and do the nightfighter or bombardier version.

    • Definitely get one! Look for an older release because later ones might not have all the parts for the different versions. You can even make several more updates if you get Bill Koster’s vac-form conversion set. He helped design the model and later offered these updates.

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