The P-39Q was an improved version of the earlier P-39s. Most of them were sent to the Soviet Union through Lend-Lease, but a few were used by American forces. The major difference between the earlier P-39s and the Q model was that the .30 caliber wing machine guns (2 in each wing) were replaced by a pod with a .50 caliber MG, with 300 rounds per gun, giving greater stopping power. The 37 mm cannon in the nose was retained.
About a year ago I built the Brengun kit of the P-39D/F/K. Nice kit. So, I volunteered to do this review.
Looking at the back of the box, there are decals provided for 3 aircraft. Going from left to right, the first was from the 82nd TRS / 71st TRG, 1944. Reconnaissance aircraft. The second was from the 46th FS, 36th FG, Canton Island 1943. The third was 51st FS, 32nd FG, Panama 1943. I did a little research and found that most of the info 82nd TRS was about William Shomo, the “Flying Undertaker”, who shot down 7 Japanese aircraft in about 5 minutes. I built his F-6 (P-51 with cameras) for a review back in 2012. After looking at the decals I’d need to make to do “Snooks 2nd”, I decided to use the kit decals, same squadron, different plane.
There are two grey and one clear sprues in the box, along with the decal sheet. There aren’t a lot of finicky parts in this kit, so it’s a pretty easy build.
Construction is fairly straightforward and simple. The interior is assembled in Step 1, painted and inserted in the right fuselage half.
The P-39 was the first fighter with tricycle gear. So, it requires weight in the nose to keep it from being a “tail sitter”. For this build, I used some fine lead pellets I acquired somewhere. I put them in the nose, before I installed the instrument panel. I pretty much filled the nose with the lead, then put Elmer’s glue in there to keep it from coming out every opening in the plane.
I attached the wing to the fuselage and was gratified to find that Tamiya Extra Thin Cement worked beautifully. I put on the horizontal stabilizers because the whole tail section would be painted white.
The fit of the kit was generally very good. I had to use clothespin clamps to get the fuselage halves to match up, but I still didn’t have to use filler anywhere.
The paint scheme was a little more difficult than some, although it’s a LOT simpler than the splinter scheme used on the SAAB Viggen. I painted the tail section and wing leading edges white, then masked those areas. Rhino, the nice fellow who sells me kabuki tape, loves it when I do this kind of mask. I then put on the OD on the top area, then the Neutral Gray on the bottom. When these colors were applied, I pulled off the masks. I had to do a little fixing of the white where the masks didn’t quite line up at the top of the rear fuselage. Otherwise, once a coat of Future was applied, it was ready for decals.
This is where I was asking myself why I did this aircraft. The decals were many and tiny on the fuselage sides toward the front. But the decals behaved pretty well, considering they were about 1/8 inch on a side, (3 mm). All came off the paper moderately quickly, and mostly stayed where I put them. A couple needed some persuasion, but all worked out. Because of the number of decals and the location, it took me 3 sessions, one morning, one afternoon and another the next morning, to be sure I didn’t move anything.
Once the decals had set overnight, I put on a coat of Testors clear flat acrylic to dull down the finish and protect the decals.
It was also now time to put the landing gear on, add the gear doors and put on the canopy. The landing gear fit pretty nicely. I used liquid cement thickened with tube glue to give me some ability to put the parts in place and still have some time for alignment. I put the canopy on with Krystal Kleer. It worked just fine, and the canopy had a good fit.
The last item was the propeller and spinner. I had to do some file work to get the prop to fit into the openings in the spinner. Once I got the prop into the spinner, I was able to install it. And the model was finished. I had one disappointment at this point. The plane was firmly a tail sitter. On the last P-39 I did I used little pieces of lead sheet stuffed into the front. The small lead shot I used this time didn’t work well at all. So, I glued it to a small piece of foam core board, using Elmer’s glue. THAT worked. And when I checked my other P-39 on the display shelf, it was tail sitting.
Recommended. This kit has a couple of problem areas, but generally fit and design are excellent for a kit of this scale. It was not a difficult build overall, and I liked doing where I had some experience with a similar kit.
Many thanks to Brengun for this excellent kit, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to build it.