Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Wheel Bays
Anyone who knows me will tell you my favorite airplane is the Curtiss P-40 and I have a closet full of kits to prove it. One of them is a 1/72 scale Academy kit that I had allotted to the maybe-someday-stack because of conspicuous problems with the way Academy molded the P-40’s fuselage quarter windows. Well, now Aires has (or ‘have’, if you are reading this review in Canada or the UK) added a set of accurate P-40 well bays to their line of resin detail parts, and they’ve brought to my attention another problem area that needs addressing. The kit’s wheel bays are just as inaccurate as the shape of the quarter windows. Fortunately, Aires has done a nice job of solving that problem for me and has led me to move the kit to a higher position in the stack.
This recent offering from Aires is typical of the high quality resin detail sets they have been producing for years now. The perfectly cast wheel bays are highly detailed and flash free. The two little things look almost lost in the package, but when examined closely, they are gems. Aires has rendered the P-40’s wheel bay ribbing accurately and included the very small (in 1/72) hoses and lines that are to be found on the real a/c. And, they are perfectly sized to fit the wheel bay openings.
As other reviewers have noted, Aires has mastered the business of resin casting and their detail sets are as good as any…and better than most. There are no pinholes to fill or internal casting gates to remove. The resin is slightly flexible and very easy to cut and sand. All you need to do is remove each wheel bay from its casting block, sand down the back side of the tops to thin them a bit and then carve away the corresponding molded kit wheel bays. Just be sure you place the right one in the right wing position, and the left one in the left wing position.
The fit is excellent if you remember the importance of the carving away part mentioned in the paragraph above. After removing the kit’s molded wheel bays, because the Aires wheel bays are more accurate in depth, it is necessary to carve and/or sand away some of the inside of the kit’s upper and lower wing pieces to thin them so you can fit the resin wheel bay ‘box’ and close up the wing. So, carve - test fit - sand - test fit - and eventually you will be able to assemble everything without using any clamps or heavy rubber bands to keep wing parts together as the glue dries. The photos below show how the left Aires wheel bay looks when compared to the kit’s molded wheel bay on the right side. The accurate depth and detail of the Aires resin part is obvious.
I would recommend this set to anyone interested in building an accurate model of any 1/72 scale P-40. Since Curtiss was kind enough to use the same general wheel bay in each version of the P-40 they built, Aires has provided a way to enhance any 1/72 scale P-40 a modeler chooses to build. The set costs a little more than the kit, but I believe it’s worth it.
My thanks to Aires and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this set.