Hasegawa's P-40E and CMK's Interior Details
By Milton Bell, Originally published February 2006
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One of the first 1/48 models I built when I got
back into the hobby was Otaki's P-40. I used the
kit decals and did the Aleutian Tiger. Not a bad
kit but those thousands of recessed rivets were
distracting, and I never was able to get the
engine installed with the access panels closed.
But I built it and had fun. After all, itís a hobby
and thatís what itís all about - having fun.
I hadnít built a P-40E since then, although I had
done the AMtechís "F" type and once started
the "E" variant that Revell released years ago.
So, why this model? When I was a small boy the
Flying Tigers were our heroes, and we all knew
they flew P-40s. Who doesnít recognize the
airplane with the sharkmouth? I decided to do
Ed Rectorís No. 104, one of the first P-40Es sent
to bolster the ranks of P-40B/Cs in Chennaultís
band of volunteers.
Hasegawaís kit is probably the best P-40E out
in the 1/48th scale market. Its design immediately
says that this is just one of a series. Indeed,
since its release, Hasegawa has brought out the
P-40N and I expect this year to see a P-40K.
Iíve no doubt that the "F" and "M" variants, and
maybe even the "L", will eventually be added
to the Hasegawa line.
As usual, I began with the cockpit. While
Hasegawaís cockpit is well done and can be
very convincing, I decided to use the CMK
resin sidewalls. I had originally wanted to use
all of the CMK resin, but I actually liked the
Hasegawa floor better. I also liked the kitís aft
bulkhead better, since it had the stand-alone
mounts for the seat. So my finished cockpit has
the CMKís instrument panel, sidewalls, and
resin seat mounted on the kit-supplied floor
with kit bulkhead, featuring a modified kit gun
sight! And of course the ring and bead sights
Getting all this to fit was actually pretty easy,
and I had to trim only a small bit from the
sidewalls to get them to adapt to the plastic
parts. One of the reasons I used the CMK parts
was that the PE fret had colored belts and a
good looking instrument panel. I had used the
Eduard colored PE parts many times and like
them a lot. I wanted to try and compare the
There are several PE parts that must be glued onto the sidewalls.
For small parts, especially PE, I prefer white glue since itís
much more forgiving and is easier to clean up.
The kit is engineered so that the tail sections are separate pieces
as is the area immediately aft of the cockpit. The area just aft of
the cockpit, the "turtle" is a separate piece so doing the "N" just
requires a different part. CMK provides a resin "turtle", and I
decided to use it.
I did not follow the instructions regarding the tail parts. Instead,
I attached each tail half to its matching fuselage half to ensure
the panel lines matched. The only filler that was needed was on
the wing guns and the fuselage bottom.
The rest of the model is pretty much an easy build. Just
remember to look closely at the instructions so you donít get the
wing sealed up and discover you left out the wheel wells. Hey,
it can happen! I decided not to use the underwing gun camera
since I couldnít confirm that Rectorís aircraft had it. If I find I
was wrong, Iíll add it later.
All parts were given a base coat of dull dark green (in this case
Medium Green 42) since thatís what I believe most of these
airplanes had at this time. I used Polly Scale paints throughout.
When the paint dried, I gave it all a good coat of future and then
applied a dark brown wash, in this case burnt umber dissolved
in lighter fluid (naptha). I prefer lighter fluid because it evaporates
I generally leave off all small details (exhaust stubs, landing
gear, weapons, tanks, etc.) until the very last. I hate to break off
a part and then lose it!
Painting and Decals
Rectorís aircraft had been drawn from stocks intended for the
British so they had the dark green and dark earth over light gray/
blue that Curtiss thought matched the British camouflage colors.
These new P-40Es were finished in Olive Drab (OD) on the
upper surfaces and Neutral Gray (NG) below.
The few pictures that exist of these new arrivals bear out the
single upper color so here I parted company with Hasegawaís
painting instructions which show the two-color upper surface
camouflage. I used two shades of OD, a faded OD 22 for the
base coat and a darker USAAF OD for the areas more likely to
get that extra dose of grease and oil. The lighter shade was used
for the fabric covered control surfaces.
Since these aircraft were off-loaded at Accra in West Africa and
flown cross-country to China, itís doubtful that they arrived in
pristine condition. Weathering was a must. I used a silver pencil
to show chipped paint on hatches, and wing-walk areas. Then
two coats of Future were misted on and when it was dry the
decals were added.
When the Flying Tigersí P-40s arrived in China they became a
part of the Chinese Air Force. The fuselage star and circle
insignias were painted out, as were the underside codes and all
serial numbers. Chinese stars were in fact large preprinted
"decals", and were applied over the US insignia on the wings.
I used kit decals as well as the Chinese markings from Sky
Modelís P-40 sheet. I also have the Tally Ho sheet of P-40
stencils, but most photos from the period donít show any
stencils at all. So the only ones I used were on the landing gear
struts. Exhaust stubs were painted Alclad steel and finished
with Mig Rust.
And speaking of landing gear, I primed all the parts with Mr.
Surfacer and then gave them a coat of Alclad Duraluminum.
The bomb sway-braces were treated the same way. When the
landing gear struts were dry, I added brake lines made from
black coated wire intended for model car distributors.
When all was totally dry, I applied a wash of burnt umber to the
whole model and then wiped it down with a soft cloth and a little
naptha. Then a final coat of Polly Scale flat finished the model.
Hereís a simple tip you might want to try for quick weathering.
I use Future for a barrier before wash-weathering. If you add a
scant drop (and I mean scant) of black India ink to the Future
you will find it gives better definition especially on natural metal parts. As the future dries the ink migrates to the corners
and crevices. Looks great on P-47 prop bosses.
Bombs and Tanks
Since my model was to be of an aircraft that participated in the
raids at the Salween River Gorge, I used the kit bomb. Historically,
the 250 kg bombs carried by AVG were of Russian origin,
and each had only one mounting lug. A strap was added to hold
the second lug. Accordingly, I added a strap to the kit bomb, but
I have no idea what the original looks like. The sway braces in
the kit are not identical, so the modeler has to be sure to match
them to the load.
Hasegawa has a very nice product in the P-40E. I already have
the "N" version waiting in the closet, and it may start calling my
name soon. The "E" is a good kit, and it is not too challenging,
even for a beginner. I recommend it.
And for the most part I recommend the CMK detail set. Just be
careful of the resin "turtle" and be sure the quarter window
panels will fit. You may have to deepen the recessed areas on the
resin part. The prepainted PE parts worked just fine.
For more information on the Flying Tigers, get the Osprey book
"Aircraft of the Aces #41, American Volunteer Group Colours
and Markings" by Terrill Clements. IMO itís the best single
reference on the AVG you can find.
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