by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
The P-40K is basically a P-40E fitted with an improved Allison V-1710-73 engine to allow better high altitude performance. Additional rudder deflection was required to maintain directional control under the increased power of the new power plant. The additional rudder stabilizer tabs are the most distinctive external features of the K version.
In total, 1300 units of this version were produced and served mainly in China, Burma and India (CBI) with the 23rd and 51st Fighter Groups. Some were used by the 57th Fighter Group in the Mediterranean area and by the 49th Fighter Group in New Guinea. Foreign users were the British (North Africa), the Brazilians, the Canadians and the Russians.
To date, the best way to achieve a P-40K in 1/48 scale was to go for AMTech's P-40K kit, which includes a replacement resin tail. As soon as Hasegawa announced the release of a new mold P-40 series, these kits were offered on sale! For good reason as the newer one offers a very detailed and state-of-the-art model without the need of any aftermarket sets.
Hasegawa's P-40K is packed in one of their standard top opening cardboard box (picture 1). The painting on the cover (By T. Ivada) is one of the most beautiful and colorful artworks of the P-40 I have ever seen. It is printed (at last on my sample) with a glossy finish, which gives the box a very noble aspect. The kits content is the following:
- 12 sprues made of grey plastic (referenced A-B-C-D-J-K-M-N-Rx2-S-T) (pictures 2 and 3)
- One clear plastic sprue (referenced U) (picture 4)
- One vinyl sprue with for roundels (one will be used to allow the propeller to turn)
- A decal sheet (picture 13)
- Instructions (picture 11 and 12)
The high number of sprues is obviously due to the presence of many alternative parts. Hasegawa chose to minimize production costs and made their P-40 range of kits modular. So apart from the wings which have the usual layout (one bottom wing piece and two upper wing parts) the entire model must be assembled using various inserts. The fuselage is made of no less than 10 parts (including tail and rudder). This is way more than the usual two you find in some kits. Therefore it is not a surprise to have sometimes very small sprues with only two parts!
So what's the big difference between the P-40E and P-40K kit? Well, only two small sprues! One replaces the tail and the other the exhausts (picture 5)... that's almost all! Of course, the instructions and decal sheet are not the same either.
The overall quality of the molding is excellent! I found no noticeable sink marks or flash whatsoever. The detail out of the box is great and only modelers affected with Aftermarket Syndrome will feel the urge to add more than the seatbelts which are not included (it still amazes me why mainstream manufacturers don't include them in their new boxings). The kits parts feature crisp engraved panel lines with sometimes-nice rivet detail (pictures 6, 7 and 8). The cockpit is nicely done and will look good under a coat of paint, some dry brushing and weathering. I found no ejector pin marks inopportunely placed except the small ones located in the gear bay inserts (picture 9). The exhausts (picture 10) are nicely done but hollowing them out will be tricky because of the more complex shape of their design compared to the simpler ones of the E. Maybe this could be something to improve for resin detail manufacturers... hint! hint!
The transparent parts are also very nice with no noticeable distortion or scratches (picture 4). The canopy can be displayed open, which is always a good thing, especially when the cockpit detail is as good!
Instructions and Decals
The B&W instructions are printed on a panoramic format with sprues layout, color chart and step-by-step assembly instructions on one side (picture 11) and short history, warnings, painting and marking guides on the other side (picture 12).
A decal sheet (picture 13) is provided which allows you to depict two Shark mouth P-40s. The first is a very colorful plane of the 26th FS, 51st FG based in china (1943) and the second the well known "Jinx" of 25th FS, 51st FG based in India (1944). The decal's quality is excellent and all the markings are printed without shifts. Two sets of instrument decals are present on the sheet as well.
I must admit I didn't build one of Hasegawa's latest P-40 kits yet. But many others did and while some found it to be pretty easy, others found it wasn't trouble free to say the least. I think the main problems are the inserts. The build experience can vary very much depending on how you manage to deal with the numerous fuselage parts. Having built Hasegawa's Typhoon, I found it easier to glue the pieces so to reconstitute the two fuselage halves first. This allows you to align the panel lines properly and minimize filling and sanding. The resulting gaps, where the two halves meet together, can then be filled with a sheet of plastic or with filler. Anyway, whether you choose to follow the kit's instructions or you choose to use an alternative method (the one I described for example), dry fitting will be necessary! I also read a spreader bar made of plastic sprue can be useful to achieve a better wing to fuselage fit.
Hasegawa's new range of P-40 variants are very nice kits! Build straight from the box and apart from the seatbelts, they will make into an accurate and detailed representation of the famous fighter made by Curtiss. The choice of the manufacturer to make those kits modular was discussed. But I think it is better to have all the variants this way rather than a kit dedicated to one model only. One cannot blame Hasegawa to think "commercial" if it is for the benefit of the modeler at the end. The additional work these modular kits will give are only a small price to pay!
Though certainly not easy to build for a beginner, I would recommend this kit for an average or more experienced modeler.