Matchbox Boeing P-12E Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is the classic Matchbox P-12 kit, first issued way back in 1972.  I’m certain most visitors here can remember building this one (or one of the excellent Monogram biplane kits) as a kid if not more recently.  This one has been around for a long time but still holds up well, they are still commonly seen at modeling shows.
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The Matchbox innovation was to mold the sprues in the finished color so kids who didn’t want to paint their models could have something a little closer to the colors on the finished product.  This didn’t always work out perfectly for obvious reasons but it was pretty close in the case of the P-12.  Interestingly some modern manufacturers have resurrected this technique.
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After almost 50 years in the box the kit decals were a non-starter.  Fortunately Starfighter Decals caters to these old kits with some resin enhancements and several sets of decals.  This sheet has markings for four different aircraft and enough common markings to make any two.  Yes, please!
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The cockpit detail consists of a pilot and a seat with some mounting tabs to put them in place.  The tabs had caused some sink marks on visible on the fuselage sides so those were filled first.  The raised rivet detail is going to be sanded off anyway so no loss there.
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I scratched up some cockpit detail using strips of Evergreen and a seat from the spares box.  The instrument panel and gun breaches are from a Starfighter resin interior set meant for the F4B.
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Here is the interior painted up.  The seatbelts are printed on photo paper.  Even though the cockpits are open the most visible component is the seat, little else is very easy to see.
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The kit instructions are basic but so is the kit.  In step 3 you can see a clever method for mounting the fuselage struts.  The engineering allows little margin for error and results in a strong assembly which is fixed at the proper angle.  Unfortunately this little trick has not been copied by many companies producing biplane kits today.
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The basic assembly is complete and sanding has begun.  I have used Mr. Surfacer 500 and Perfect Plastic Putty for the filling duties where appropriate.  Either can be “chemically sanded” with a wet cotton swab to preserve surface detail, the PPP thinned with water and Mr. Surfacer with lacquer thinner.
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Seamwork is checked with a coat of primer and any problem areas are filled and sanded until they are no longer visible.  I’m always surprised how many flaws are revealed by the primer so I never skip this step.
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An hour of masking per five minutes of painting, repeat for each color required then set aside to dry.  This is one reason I usually build multiple kits at once.
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After a gloss coat of Future (Klear) the decals are in place and the major components are ready to assemble.
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I rigged the kits with 0.004” Nitenol wire.  I find the rigging stage a bit tedious but necessary.  I replaced the thick kit canopies with clear plastic stock cut to shape, you can get away with that for the simple windscreens on aircraft like these.

11 thoughts on “Matchbox Boeing P-12E Build in 1/72 Scale

      1. I tend to forget that I should stop looking at online hobby shops… Airfix 1/48 scale P-40 B is still haunting me.

        Liked by 2 people

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