Monogram/Pro Modeler P-38E Lightning, 1/48
P-38E Lightning, USAAF
27th Fighter Squadron
1st Fighter Group
Tunisia, August, 1943
Monogram/Pro Modeler (Hasegawa rebox)
Air Res resin and PE cockpit set (4223)
Master Models brass guns (AM-48-114)
Ultracast resin wheels. (48226)
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 P-38. 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.
Helicon Focus (focus stacking)
4 additional images. Click to enlarge.