by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Airfix's keenly anticipated P-40B was released last week. To preceed a build at a later date, here's a First Look overview of the kit.
Initial impressions are very good, with the kit being cleanly moulded in grey styrene (an improvement over the very pale blue-grey that Airfix have been using recently) and a satin external finish.
Panel lines are scribed in two depths, and there's a mix of raised and embossed fasteners. There's no attempt to depict the overall riveting, but the kit features quite a nice subtle fabric effect for the control surfaces.
I found a sink mark on the rudder of my kit, which will need filling. The interior of the rear fuselage has neatly moulded ribs and stringers (there's a reconnaissance camera to fit in a future boxing), but the area is festooned with ejector pin marks.
The cockpit is correctly depicted with the upper surface of the wing forming the floor and a nice level of detail, including two styles of seat. The sidewalls are moulded separately (presumably to avoid any sinkage due to the thickness of the parts, as often happens), but the frames were overstressed on the sprues and will need a quick fix in my kit. Decals are provided for the well moulded instrument panel, but there's no seat harness included. The kit does contain a pilot figure if you wish to pose it "in flight", but you'll need to buy a stand separately.
The wheel well insert cleverly doubles as a spar to ensure the correct dihedral, and has a well done fabric effect, but Airfix have irritatingly placed prominent ejector pin marks right in the middle of the well where they'll be most visible. The undercarriage can be modelled raised or lowered, with weighted wheels for the latter. This does look a bit overdone for my taste.
The transparencies parts are crystal clear, and the canopy appears to have the correct profile.
A test fit of the main parts is encouraging. The unusual separate wing roots work well and line up neatly, and the stabilisers slot in precisely. The fuselage/wing joint is good (this is without the wheel wells "spar" fitted), and the only point that looks likely to need attention is thinning down inside the wings' tailing edges to avoid a slight gap as moulded.
Decals are included for two aircraft:
A. Curtiss P-40B flown by 2nd Lt. George Welch, 47th Pursuit Sqn., 15th Pursui Group, Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii, December 7, 1941
B. Curtiss Hawk 81-A-2 flown by Flight Leader Robert Smith, 3rd Squadron, Kunming, China, June 1942
The decals are printed in perfect register with a matt finish.
Edit: Aeroscale member Maciej Marciniak has pointed out that Airfix have printed the CAF insignia as an 11-pointed sun. Certainly, checking numerous reference photos, the insignia has 12-points in each case.
ConclusionI haven't had a chance to compare the kit closely against references, but Airfix look to have done a good job overall, and the kit will make a useful alternative to the Bronco model that has received such a mixed reception. It looks a very straightforward build that will be suitable for modellers of all abilities.
Sadly, the price has risen since the kit was first announced (perhaps as a result of the low value of Sterling), but Airfix's kit still represents pretty good value for money.