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Jay Mitchell
32 articles

1/32 Curtiss P-40

February 24, 2024 · in Aviation · · 30 · 306

This is my newly completed Curtiss Tomahawk. It is the Hobby Craft / kit. My first completed model for 2024.

While researching this project online , I read many negative reviews of this kit because of various inaccuracies. Undaunted, I decided to start construction of this model.


The engine was a very detailed and complex subassembly, practically a model kit on it's own. Very little of it shows when the fuselage is completed, so I didn't paint it. It is a convenient place to mount the engine exhaust stacks as well as the oil cooler assembly under the engine.

The rest of the kit was simple and went together easily with few problems. The kit features some photo etch parts , mostly seatbelt hardware and a few other “odds & ends”. The position lights on the wings & vertical tail surface were separate little tiny clear pieces that were very difficult to trim and get glued in place. I could have used some help from someone like Stuart Little with those parts.


Overall though , I thought it went together easily and had a decent amount of detail.

I used Tamiya paints and a set of AML RAF masks for the camouflage. The kit decals were used. I did some pre-shading and also post shading.

The photo of this restored P-40 was the inspiration for my project.

My model isn't “exactly” like this one, I used some artistic license and added some kill markings and the decals on the wheels.

The original aircraft was flown by the top scoring ace in the , Robert Neale. He had been a US Navy dive bomber pilot on the USS Saratoga in the late 1930s and early 40s. He left the Navy to join the Flying Tigers.

He received credit for destroying 15 Japanese aircraft. When the US Army took over the Flying Tigers in July of 1942 most of the original pilots opted to leave, Bob Neale stayed for two weeks as acting commander until Col. Robert L. Scott arrived to take over. Col. Scott is the author of the book, “ God is my co-pilot”.
After he returned to the USA, Neale flew transport aircraft as a civilian for either Pan-Am or American Airlines ( I found conflicting info about which it was). He passed away in 1994.

I enjoyed building this model and am pleased with how it looks. As far as the inaccuracies I had read about in online reviews, I don't think they are noticeable to the casual observer. If I had not read about them, I probably would not have noticed them.

Reader reactions:
10  Awesome 1 

15 additional images. Click to enlarge.


30 responses

  1. Very nice, Jay (@ssgt). This is a really good start to the year. I usually don't worry too much about inaccuracies identified by others, unless the plane has an extra wing or something like that. Most of the time I can't tell the difference. It looks like a P-40 to me. Did you happen to airbrush the AK 3d Gen paints? I have a couple of colors, but haven't tried them yet. It cracks me up that the HobbyCraft kit came from Trumpeter molds. Some of these kits have a very interesting lineage. Nice background for your photos. Thanks for sharing the story also, very cool.

    • Hi George @gblair , thanks for the comments. I used AK paints for the interior colors, but brush painted them.

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  2. @ssgt Fantastic Jay! Really fine work and build! Congrats!

  3. Great job Jay, it looks beautiful. I'm a huge P-40 fan, and I have a couple of these kits in my stash. This kit does get a lot of grief because of the cockpit depth and shape (the cockpit floor was the top of the wing with the same curved shape on all P-40s, and it's something most kit manufacturers get wrong) and there are some other problems too, but for the most part it not a bad kit at all. I too overlook a lot of inaccuracies for the most part, as long as the finished product looks like what it supposed to be. If anyone wants a super accurate early P-40, get the Great Wall Hobbies offering, it's top notch.

    You definitely showed that this kit can be made into something great, and the kits drawbacks shouldn't turn anyone away from giving one a go.

  4. Hello Clint @curtisshawk ! Thank you for the comments, I appreciate them. After building this one, I’d certainly recommend it to others .

  5. Jay, you have delivered yet another top notch model that is a delight to look at. Your paint finish is next level and overall this model is a fine replica and tribute to the brave pilots of the Flying Tigers. The photos of your model are visually appealing. This model deserves a special place on your display shelf. Well done!

  6. Well if folks don't like your model because it's inaccurate they don't have to look at it. Rivet counters give me a pain I can't imagine how they have nothing better to do.

    That being said, you've done a roaring great job on this 'tis a fine sight

  7. Excellent job, Jay! Excellent writeup too!

  8. Superb build and article - looks like a P-40 to me!

  9. Beautiful build and article. All the photos add great info as well. You likely know this, but your photo 26 features James H. Howard (far right), who won a Medal of Honor in the ETO flying a P-51B, and many of us have done his plane from Monogram back in the day. He was also a Navy pilot (F3F) on the USS Enterprise pre-war.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

    • Yes, I recognized him in that photo. I have a Tamiya P-51B kit and aftermarket decals for Ding Hao ! I hope to get it built this year. Thank you, Bob @bobd56az for the comments, I appreciate you looking at my p-40 post.

  10. Thank you, Spiros @fiveten and Chas @chasbunch for the compliments, I appreciate them

  11. Jay, great job on your P-40. It looks just like the one I saw yesterday in Pensacola's Naval Air Museum. It was fun going back and forth on e-mails seeing your P-40 build in progress. You've made a great looking kit

    4 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  12. Excellent result, Jay @ssgt
    It looks really good in this Flying Tiger scheme.

  13. Great looking P-40, Jay. Nicely composed article.

  14. I always look at models with the idea of what I'm going to change. Or change to suit my tastes and rather than let the fatal flaws own me. The Accuracy Police or the Debbie Downers can take a back seat and I'll do the driving. Modeling is about the process of having a little fun, working some brain cells, learning and creating something that you can say I made this. Modeling Therapy is what its all about and moving forward in life.

    Jay, great article with photos. The articles lay out and photos are informative and make for a good read. The P-40 in the Naval Museum has been criticized by some in the Warbird community for its restoration and accuracy. Restoration projects can have several airframes or parts to create a individual airframe. The Collins Foundations example is a flying example and is consider to be more accurate but, the "Nuns Hat" or Habit located under neath the airframes is considered to be sketchy by some. The drawings by Curtiss were destroyed and a educated guess was used restore the airframe. So however, you cut it the subject of making the P-40 can be Duck Soup.

  15. Thank you, Mark @gelleb18 ! It was a fun project to work on.

  16. Turned out great, Jay, I’m sure you’re very pleased.

  17. Very nice Jay - perhaps we'll see it on the display tables in April...? Would love to see it up close and personal 🙂

  18. Well done Jay and I always say you can never build too many P-40's. She looks really good to me.

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