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Richard Bungay
68 articles

Monogram/Pro Modeler P-38E Lightning, 1/48

August 30, 2021 · in Aviation · · 16 · 2.1K

27th Fighter Squadron
1st Fighter Group
Tunisia, August, 1943

Monogram/ ( rebox)

Air Res resin and PE cockpit set (4223)
Master Models brass guns (AM-48-114)
Ultracast resin wheels. (48226)

The build:
I had been avoiding building this kit for a long time even though I find P-38s to be one of, if not the, coolest aircraft of WWII (my favourites will always be Corsairs B-17s though). I procrastinated due to having read a number of comments over the years of the difficulty of getting the complex airframe aligned correctly. That said, the Tamiya kit has been calling to me since its release. I decided to build the pro-modeller
kit as an E then wait for a future Tamiya release of a later bare metal model. As for this kit, I made a number of boo-boos but overall, it turned out ok.

So my build experience was generally very positive. I didn't have any problem with alignment but I purposely chose proper geometry over fit. So, while my kit is pretty straight, I had significant fit problems. Specifically the outer boom to wing fit on both sides and the upper and lower starboard wing halves don't align at all well. Therefore there was a lot of trimming, gap filling, blending, filing, sanding and re-scribing to do in a restricted space but it wasn't so bad - perhaps 3 hours work…

The instructions point out that the kit is a tail-sitter without 35g of weight put under the cockpit. I couldn't put that much weight there so I also put fishing sinkers in the engine nacelles. I wasn't smart enough to keep track of the weight I added for future reference so my model is pretty heavy - hence the bulged tires ; )

I used the kit decals and there was a bit of silvering but overall they are ok.. The kit decals include an oval for the bare metal portion of the engine nacelles used as mirrors to see the position of the nose gear. I would have preferred to paint this area polished aluminum but I had no way to precisely mask off the oval. It would have liked for these ovals to be included in the E-A Masks but they were not. Other than that though, The E-Z masks simplified the complex masking of the LIghtning's canopy. E-Z Masks are by far my favorite masks since they work flawlessly every time.

As for the after market parts: the AirRes cockpit is very nice but a lot of trimming
and adjusting was needed; The Ultracast wheels are a nice improvement to the kit wheels and the Master Models brass guns, with drilled-out barrels and cooling jackets, are superb. I'm never happy with the way the paint on guns looks (every brand of “gunmetal” I have tried has been disappointing) so I tried a slightly different technique this time. I applied gloss black then Alclad magnesium. Then I thinned some black, six parts thinner, one part paint and applied misted coats from several inches away. This results in a black metallic look that seems realistic to me. I overdid it a bit with the black so I'll have to keep experimenting with this technique.

I'd certainly reccomend this kit to anyone who doesn't mind practicing old fashioned modeling skills. That said, the Tamiya offering has had nothing but glowing reviews as far as I can tell so I'd probably go there if I ever build another early . By the way, getting back to my thoughts on how great looking an aircraft the P-38 is, I tend to think that even if this plane were introduced today, it would still blow people away.


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Reader reactions:
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16 responses

  1. Very nice build, Richard @rbungay
    Agree that P38's are wonderful planes and your build clearly shows that.

  2. It is a very nice result from not one of the easier kits around.

    Your experience with fit is pretty the same as mine (exact same kit.) I just didn't like the fact that I had to twist on the nacelles and wings to get everything aligned (sort of.) It's still a nice kit to look at when completed, just not the easiest to build. That being said, I made a lot of beginner mistakes with my Hasegawa P-38 that I might not have done with more experience.

    As been with my experience with the Tamiya is that there was none those issues at all and a completely different experience than the Hase version. The Tamiya version of this plane is an engineering marvel IMO.

  3. This is a truly beautiful result, Richard, out of the challenging but still nice Hasegawa kit!

  4. Classy build and paint.

  5. Richard, it certainly was worth the perseverance to stick with the build. She came out very nice.

  6. Really nice work making this older kit look very much up to date. One question. Are you sure this is an E as the canopy on E versions and early F's hinged to the right?

  7. Looks great - well done!

  8. Nicely done Richard, it appears you conquered, as some have stated ,a rather difficult kit.

  9. Turned out great, Richard.

  10. That is very nice Richard! Well done sir! 🙂

  11. All of the above, great looking build!

  12. Richard @rbungay
    You've built a beautiful miniature of an awesome aircraft!

    In your write-up you mentioned your quest for the "right" paint for machine guns. Let me tell you of my experiences with machine guns. I was an M1A1 tank Commander and Master Gunner "back in the day." I've had M219s, M240s, & some M60s (ground weapons since I don't think any M60s are used in tanks &/or aircraft) all in 7.62 NATO and M85s & M2HBs in .50. Also, I was able to fire the excellent German Army machine gun, the MG3, which was adapted from the MG42. I have had old ones and new - as in unwrapping them from the factory. The smaller ones were a VERY dark - almost black color. However, the .50 cals. were a dark(ish) gray. I can't say anything about 20mm cannons, but I have seen a few. Since your most excellent P-38 carries 4 Ma Deuce .50 cals I thought you might be interested. Other than the barrels (the aircraft had lighter barrels), I doubt there's much difference between the M2s on aircraft & our M2s. Hope this helps!

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