Special Hobby Curtiss P-40K-5 Warhawk of Major Edward Nollmeyer in 1/72 Scale

“Big Ed” Nollmeyer was the Commanding Officer of the 26th Fighter Squadron 51st Fighter Group based at Kunming, China.  Nollmeyer was an ace with five victories.  The model represents his personal aircraft serial number 42-9768 displaying her ultimate set of markings.  Decals are from the kit with the exception of the blue-bordered national insignia which came from the spares box, I felt the red-bordered insignia were less likely to be accurate during the period when the shark’s mouth and five kill markings were carried.

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Special Hobby Curtiss P-40K-1 Warhawk of 1LT Robert Overcash in 1/72 Scale

Here is the Curtiss P-40K-1 serial number 42-46040 of 1LT Robert “Jay” Overcash of the 64th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group operating from Hani Main airfield in Tunisia, May 1943.  Overcast was an ace with five victories over the North African desert.  There are a lot of markings on this aircraft, the decals all came from the sheet supplied in the Special Hobby kit which were printed by Cartograph.

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Special Hobby Curtiss P-40E Warhawk 343rd Fighter Group Aleutian Tigers in 1/72 Scale

This is the excellent Special Hobby P-40E Warhawk kit with markings from DK Decals Aleutian Planes sheet 72030.  The aircraft is one of those assigned to the 11th Fighter Squadron 343rd Fighter Group seen at Adak, Alaska in the Summer of 1943.  I added some detail to the cockpit and installed the canvas dust covers in the wheelwells using masking tape but other than that did very little to the kit.  The P-40s in the Aleutians suffered an extreme amount of paint wear at the wing roots.  One problem with the camouflage is this particular aircraft did not have the Medium Green spots on the upper surface, an error on my part.

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Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part IV

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After a second coat of Future (Klear) to seal the decals I washed the panel lines with the black Tamiya wash.  If you remove the excess wash from the surface in the direction of airflow it accentuates the weathered look.  After that I began experimenting a bit.  The wing root joints were chipped with the silver Revlon Modeling Silver Chipping Medium and the area dirtied up with a slightly darker shade of Tan applied with a small piece of sponge.
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Here is the P-40E showing the extreme of wing root chipping.  The Olive Drab camo has some toning applied with the airbrush.  Over that are slightly different shades of Olive Drab stippled on lightly with sponge held in tweezers.
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The Neutral Gray undersides received the same treatment.  I like the effect so I’ll likely continue to try to refine the technique.
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Here is the 343rd Fighter Group “Aleutian Tiger” using DK Decals.  I tried brushing on the Medium Green spots on the wings and the tail surfaces, the Mr. Color paint looks good under the clear coats.  I will admit to an error here – 0610 was one of the Aleutian Warhawks which did not have the Medium Green spots over the Olive Drab.  That’s what I get for having the wrong picture on the bench on painting day!
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This P-40K of the 26th Fighter Squadron / 51st Fighter Group was built using the kit decals.  These are printed by Cartograph and performed flawlessly.  You do need to pay attention to the exact period you want to represent with this aircraft’s markings though, they changed over time.  I chose to show my model in later markings with five victories, shark’s teeth, blue outlined insignia, and Olive Drab areas on the tail and carburetor intake.
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All five together for a group picture!  Now that these are done, I’ll be needing some more!

 

SUMMARY

The Special Hobby P-40 family are great kits.  The fuselages and wings are separate tools where required to represent the different sub-types, and alternate detail parts are provided to accommodate the more subtle differences.  Two different styles of drop tanks and a 500-pound bomb allow for the most common stores load outs.  The kit decals are excellent and the marking choices are good ones and there is no end to alternate schemes available from the aftermarket.  The kits have good cockpit detail and build up well straight from the box which will make them a perfect choice for contest modelers looking for an OOB entry.

The only real fit issue is at the instrument panel cover and windscreen joint (parts B14 and G1).  I recommend attaching the cover to the instrument panel first and then inserting the assembly into the fuselage rather than waiting until the end of the build to fit the cover.  You will still need to remove some material to get the front windscreen to seat properly so don’t skip the test-fitting here.

The wing / fuselage joint is a tight fit and can be easily thrown off by mold seams.  This is one joint which should be glued with MEK-based “thin” cement as this will dissolve any minor imperfections and result in a good seamless fit.

If you follow the kit instructions the radiator assembly will sit too far back in the nose, it needs to be move forward a bit.

The kit tires are smooth treads, most P-40s had variations of diamond or block treads so check your references.  If such things are worth your money there are resin replacements available in several different styles.

If I could change one thing it would be for Special Hobby to include Kabuki tape canopy masks.  Eduard makes some for these kits, but they are $7 – $10 per set, which is roughly three times what Eduard charges for their P-40 mask sets meant for kits from other manufacturers.  Not sure what the problem here is but I hope it doesn’t become a trend.

Sell your 1/72 scale Hasegawa P-40 kits.  The leading edge of the Hasegawa wing sits 2-3 mm too high up on the fuselage on these kits and there is no way to “unsee” this once you figure it out, and no practical way to fix it.

Bottom line is these are great kits and fun builds.  And who doesn’t like the P-40?

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part III

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One of the Warhawks will represent a machine of the 343rd Fighter Group in the Aleutians.  The gritty sand of the airfields there got into everything and wore away the paint on the wingroots of the aircraft, this is evident in almost every picture you can find.  This is a chipping technique I have used in the past with some success.  The areas to be chipped are first painted with Alclad Aluminum, and then sealed with a coat of Future (Klear).  Then Micro Mask is stippled onto the areas where you want the chipping, in this case along the seams of the wingroot.
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I then covered the area with a Zinc Chromate primer color and camouflaged as usual.  When everything was dry the paint on the worn areas was removed with masking tape.  You have some control over the process at this point, the chipped areas will expand the more you apply the tape, at least to a point.
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For finer chips I augmented Revlon Modeling Silver Chipping Medium.  This comes in other useful colors as well and has a very fine brush built into the cap.  You can also see I have begun to distress the Olive Drab camouflage by dappling on slightly different shades with bits of sponge.
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For segmented schemes poster putty is used.
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Here all the main paintwork has been applied and everything has received a coat of Future in preparation for decals.  That was my intention anyway, but as you can see I began applying insignia before I remembered I needed to shoot the photograph!
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After the decals had thoroughly dried another coat of Future was applied to seal everything in preparation for washes and weathering.

Captured Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop “Irmgard” of the 79th Fighter Group

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Highlanders examine Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop W.Nr 10605 assigned to 2.(H)/14.  The aircraft was flown by Leutnant Wernicke, and was named “Irmgard” by his mechanic, Uffx. Bopp.  On 20FEB43 while on a photo reconnaissance mission near Zarzis, Tunisia the aircraft was damaged by ground fire.  Lt. Wernicke made a successful wheels-up landing and evaded capture.
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The aircraft carried a camera in the underside of the fuselage aft of the wing.  Camouflage was the standard RLM 78 / 79 desert scheme with areas of the fuselage overpainted in RLM 76.  The spinner was 1/3 Weiss and 2/3 RLM 70.
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The aircraft survived her landing in good condition and was deemed to be repairable.  Mechanics of the USAAF 79th Fighter Group soon had her up on her landing gear and replaced the propeller.  Markings have already begun to evolve.  The German Balkenkreutz have been overpainted with yellow on the fuselage and a dark brown on the upper wings.  U.S. insignia have been applied to the fuselage but do not yet appear on the wings.  The aircraft has also received an RAF fin flash over the Hakenkreutz along with red wingtips and propeller spinner.

 

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A color photograph showing that the fuselage number was retained for a time, and was in fact Black 14, not Red 14 as claimed by some sources.  Note the extent of the yellow area under the fuselage.  The entire undersurfaces appear to have been repainted yellow as evidenced by the aileron mass balance and landing gear cover. 
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Irmgard is seen here parked next to a P-40F of the 86th Fighter Squadron / 79th Fighter Group.  The 79th Fighter Group had a penchant for restoring and flying captured Axis aircraft, each of the Squadrons operating several examples.
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Here mechanics crank the inertial starter prior to a test flight.  The pilot appears ready to go, despite the missing canopy.  Squadron pilots who were deemed unlikely to “prang” the captured aircraft were given a chance at the controls.  In many pictures of Irmgard the canopy has been removed.  Fuselage codes and American wing stars are in place in this photograph.
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A beautiful color shot which shows off Irmgard’s new paint.  She now bears the fuselage codes and squadron insignia of the 87th Fighter Squadron / 79th Fighter Group.  The rudder shows signs of overpainting, and the yellow on the underside of the fuselage extends all the way to the tail.
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Badge of the “Skeeters” of the 87th Fighter Squadron.  There are differences in the details of the insignia applied to Irmgard.
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A nice photograph of Irmgard on the 79th Fighter Group’s flightline.  The forward fuselage code “x8” has been partially removed revealing the Black 14 code which still remains underneath.  The P-40F in the background wears the badge of the 86th Fighter Squadron, another Squadron within the 79th Fighter Group.
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A close up of the 86th Fighter Squadron unit insignia which replaced the 87th FS insignia on Irmgard.  The canopy is still missing in this photograph.  A P-40 is visible in the background.
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The 79th FG gave up their prize in November 1943, turning her over to Wright Field in Dayton Ohio for testing.  Here she has apparently suffered anther belly landing, and reveals still another modification to her markings.  The forward fuselage codes are entirely removed, and she now bears the squadron badge of the Comanches of the 86th FS / 79th FG.  Her original port wing is in the background, replaced by another in RLM 74 / 75 and full Luftwaffe insignia.  Note the wheel bulge on the replacement wing.  The ultimate cowl and spinner markings are anyone’s guess.  Certainly a number of options for a modeler!

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part II

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Curtiss produced the P-40 with canvas covers in the wheelwells to prevent water and dirt from entering the wing.  These were often removed in the field, exposing the internal structure.  Special Hobby has molded in the structural detail.  This is good, as it is much easier to represent the covers than to scratchbuild the internal detail.  Here I have used masking tape for the canvas, seams can be eliminated with superglue and Mr. Surfacer 500.  Easy to do if you want the change.
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The fuselage is closed up with the instrument panel inserted.  The instrument panel is a tricky fit, I would recommend installing it at the same time the fuselage halves are joined to allow some wiggle room.  Modelers who wait to install the “dashboard cover” piece until later report that it is very difficult to get a good join.
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I experimented with glues on this build.  The P-40E was built with superglue.  This left a seam to be filled at the wing root, but ensured there was no danger of a sinking seam along the fuselage joint later.  The other kits were joined with MEK from the hardware store.  The MEK yielded a much better join at the wingroot, effectively liquefying any imperfections and allowing the parts to settle in properly without any gaps.  I was worried that the fuselage seams might draw in over time but that did not happen on this build.
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The biggest thing Special Hobby could do to improve these kits would be to include a set of Kabuki tape canopy masks.  Eduard does make some, but for some reason they are asking $7 – $10 per set, which is half again the cost of the kits.  Outrageous!  I masked the canopies the old-school way with Tamiya tape.  Not the most entertaining way to spend an evening but I saved $50.
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Hawks on a stick!  Seamwork was checked with Mr. Surfacer 1000, any problem areas filled and reprimed.   Ready for paint!

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Batch Build Part I

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I usually build models in batches, I find this is much more efficient than just building a single kit.  It also helps compensate for my difficulties in deciding which paint scheme I like best.  This will be a small batch of five Special Hobby P-40 Warhawks.  I think of Special Hobby as more of a limited run manufacturer, but they continue to improve their game and are becoming more like Eduard in some ways.
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A sprue shot of the P-40E kit.  The top sprue is specific to the P-40E, the smaller parts sprue is common to the entire family.  Molding is crisp with finely recessed panel lines.  There are optional parts for the props, wheels, cockpit, and exhausts to account for the differences between variants.  Two styles of drop tanks and a 500 pound bomb give you some options for hangy bits.  Optional parts on the clear sprue provide the opportunity to pose the canopy open or closed.  Cartograph printed the decals, there are marking options for four different aircraft and complete stencils.  There is no P.E. and no canopy masks.
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To accommodate the different variants Special Hobby tooled alternate fuselage and wing sprues.  Here you can see the difference between the short fuselage P-40K (upper) and long fuselage P-40N (lower).  I bought two of each of these kits for this build, but my boxes included only one -K fuselage and three for the -N.  I contacted Special Hobby’s customer support and they sent me some parts for an A-20 Havoc, but eventually it all got sorted.
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The floor of the cockpit is the top of the wing box, as it should be.  Side panels are separate pieces so the depth can be properly molded without introducing sink marks.  I added seat belts from photographic paper.
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The cockpit again after detail painting and a wash.  I didn’t add anything here other than the belts, it all looks quite good right out of the box.
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There are different panel pieces for the different variants, so pay attention to the instructions. Instrument panels themselves are more photographic paper.  I have deviated from the build sequence by attaching the gunsight and top pieces to the panels in an attempt to avoid a fit problem with the canopy later.  This was partially successful; I did get the top piece secured but had to do a little trimming to get the canopy to seat well.
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The chaos on the bench due in no small part to the Recent Unpleasantness.  The two B-17s were nearing completion but some desired insignia masks were delayed by shipping issues related to  the Wuhan Flu.  The P-40s were held up by the fuselage parts mix-up so I started on the Tamiya P-47.  As that was nearing completion the correct P-40K sprue arrived so I got started on them.  Last week I received an email saying the Serbian Post was back in action so the B-17 masks are on the way.  Hopefully everything on the bench will be moving to the case in short order and I can get this mess cleaned up!

Airfix Curtiss Hawk 81 in 1/72 Scale

This is an American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” Hawk 81, with the markings of Robert Neale of the First Pursuit Squadron.   Neale was the AVG’s leading scorer, credited with 13 victories.  There are many subtle differences in the markings carried by AVG aircraft.  The tigers were decals provided by Disney but the other markings were unique, and often were changed and repainted on the same airframe.  Pay close attention to your references, and check each decal. These markings are a mixture of the Airfix kit sheet and an aftermarket sheet from Kits World.  The Kits World sheet is quite small for the money and the tigers can’t be used because they are oversized.  The Airfix Chinese roundels are much too light, but have the correct mouth style for Neale’s aircraft (but not Older’s 68 as illustrated).  Between the two sheets you can piece together proper markings for a few different AVG aircraft.

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Airfix P-40B Warhawk in 1/72 Scale

This is the aircraft of 1LT Ken Taylor.  Taylor was one of the few US airmen to get airborne during the Pearl Harbor raid, and was credited with two victories and two probables.  After the war Japanese records confirmed that the probables also failed to return to their carriers.  Markings are from Starfighter Decals sheet 72-135, and went on without difficulty.

All told, the Airfix kits are nice.  The panel lines are excessive, but can be dealt with.  The clear parts were disappointing, I filed down the side rails, removed the mysterious ridge at the rear of the sliding portion, and fabricated the armored glass in the front – and I still don’t like the appearance.  Any future builds will get a vacuformed canopy right from the start.

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