P-40N "Natural Metal"
Editor's note: The kit's title is "Natural Metal"; however the author opted to use a different scheme for reasons explained in his text.
The P-40 history is covered in plenty of detail. The P-40N was the last and most produced version of this iconic fighter. In 1943 the 49th Fighter Group was stationed in the Southwest Pacific. They had been flying the P-40E, but they were getting very war weary. Enter the P-40N. The N model was assigned to the flight leads. One of those was Lt. Sammy Pierce. At that time he had three kills from flying the P-40Es. In keeping with his practice of naming his aircraft after a feature film, the P-40N was emblazoned with “Kay The Strawberry Blonde”. The crew chief side had “The Hialeah Wolf” on the right side.
Eleven sprues are molded in light grey plastic the kit features fine recessed panel lines and exquisite detail. The Hasegawa P-40s have come under criticism for having all the inserts so they could do multiple models from the molds. Well good news is that the P-40N is the version they had in mind when they built all those inserts. There are three clear sprues that have the canopy and, uniquely, a sprue of position. The instruction sheet is the typical style of instructions. They are clear and concise, but you better look over them as there are numerous things that need to be filled. You get a choice of two ‘Natural Metal’ P-40Ns. Typical of Hasegawa; this re-boxing contains different decals from previous boxings. The decals are the only difference in this release from earlier ones. They are perfectly printed and in register. As always they look thicker but when added to the model they work perfectly and are very thin.
Like most kits this one starts with the cockpit, but before I did that I deviated from the instructions. I added the tail sections to the fuselage halves. Hasegawa would have you assemble the tail section and insert it into the fuselage plugs. I found that it makes more sense to assemble the left side and right sides as separate pieces and then attach them together. This way I was able to take my time and align the tail into the fuselage which will minimize any filler. I didn’t need any; just a swipe with the sanding stick and the part was finished. Also don’t forget to fill the lights on the fuselage side and on the underside of wing.
Once all that was filled and assembled, the cockpit is a beautiful rendition. It is one of the finest cockpits out of box that I have seen. It builds up with no drama whatsoever. I painted mine with Tamiya IJN Green. I know a Japanese color on a P-40? Yes the IJN Green is the closest match you will find to the Curtiss Green. A little wash and some detail painting and the cockpit was ready to be installed.
Attaching the tail to the fuselage early in the construction makes this a real non-issue. That said I did have to clean up some panel lines but that was about it. Nothing dramatic as they were all straight lines. The fit of the fuselage halves was very good. I did have to clamp the fuselage halves so they stayed flush. All the inserts fit perfectly in place with no filler.
The horizontal tail surfaces were a breeze and fit perfectly. Take care when adding the rudder as there are some tabs and holes that have to align.
The wings represent no problem whatsoever. You can decide to remove the molded on position lights but I elected to leave them on. The centerline rack is a little ‘sloppy’ when in position so care must be taken. The inserts were quite nice and everything fit perfectly with no filler.
Offering up the wings up to the fuselage showed a very good fit with just a little bit of filler at the back side.
All the little things on the bottom of the aircraft, such as the sway braces cowl flaps, fit well and have positive fit.
Using my new CB Landing Gear Alignment Tool, aligning the gear was very easy and perfect.
I masked up the P-40 windows with some Tamiya tape and added the front and aft portions to the fuselage. With that the model was ready for painting.
Painting and Decaling
A quick wash with some grease cutting detergent and a swipe with some Polly-S Plastic Prep and the model was ready to go. I used Alclad Grey Primer as my primer of choice. I filled some very small areas that needed it but was quite happy with the fit of everything.
I started by laying down a pre-shading coat of RLM-66 before painting some Tamiya white for the tail and US insignia. After letting that dry, I masked the tail off with Tamiya tape and applied the Montex masks. Adding the Insignia Blue around the outside of the markings prepared them for the Montex masks. I weathered the blue to indicate the harsh conditions the real plane operated in. The rest of the masks around the stars were added at this time.
This was followed up with some RLM-04 Yellow in the areas for the nose, number, tail band, and prop spinner. The tail band was masked off with Tamiya tape and the nose numbers with Montex masks.
Now it was time to work on the underside in a Neutral Grey. This was weathered with some lightened grey. The same was done to the topside Olive Drab ANA-41. A coat of Future was added to the whole model to prep the kit for the decals. The Montex masks only give you markings for the left side. So since I was going to have to use custom decals on the right side I decided to decal both sides of the nose. I had the decals made by Joseph Osborn of Fireball Modelworks. The right side is not as prominent as the left so we did our best at interpreting the artwork. The decals fit like a champ and reacted well with the setting solution. Another coat of Future sealed the decals and a coat of Polly-S flat prepped the model for weathering.
The weathering process actually started back at the pre-shading stage and the lightening process. I decided to have some fun with the weathering and really dirty this model up. The first thing I did was to add a filter to the entire model using different Sin Filters. This was followed up with Mig Pigments, Tamiya Weathering Pigments and War Pigs Pigments. This really changed the look of the model and made it nice and dirty. This was followed up with a wash of Burnt Umber artist oils along the panel lines. Using a highly thinned grey acrylic paint the exhaust stains were painted with short vertical strokes of the airbrush building it up carefully. This technique imparts the wear pattern of exhaust streaking with the rain. What I didn’t like I used a paint brush dampened with thinner and stroked some pattern in it. Some Mig Pigments were added to the gun stains and wheels. With that the weathering was done.
Final Bits and Pieces
The final parts were added such as the drop tank and antenna. The antenna mast was cut down to represent a smaller antenna that Sammy had on his aircraft. This is the only aircraft I’ve seen with this smaller mast, but it is visible in one photo. Some EZ Line antenna was added to the model and it was done. The masks were removed from the canopy section and the sliding portion was added.
I have to say that this model has been a joy to build since opening the box. Yes I know it isn’t ‘Natural Metal’. The kit decals are useful and can be used to make the natural metal aircraft. Either one of the aircraft would make a quite unique looking P-40. Of course, the P-40 is more likely to have the OD/NG paint scheme.
I’ve built almost ever manufacturers P-40 now and I have to say that this one is as close to perfect out of the box as you are going to find. Speaking for myself, I am very happy that Hasegawa released this version again. If you don’t like the ‘natural metal’ airplane don’t let that stop you. The only thing that makes this model natural metal is the decals. There are plenty of decal options out there for those so inclined. If you want a P-40N I have to say that this is the best kit of the P-40 I’ve ever built. I loved it.
Thanks to Hobbico and IPMS/USA for this kit to review.
- Walk Around- P-40 Warhawk, Lou Drendal, Squadron/Signal Publications, ISBN 0-89747-361-2, 1996
- P-40 Warhawk in detail, Bert Kinzey, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-888974-15-X
- Osprey #55 P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific, Carl Molesworth, Osprey Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-84176-536-8
- World War 2 US Army Fighter Modeling, Jerry Scutts & Brett Green, Osprey Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-84176-061-7
- P-40 Warhawk Walk Around #8, Lou Drendel, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-89747-361-2
- Curtiss P-40 in action, Ernest R. McDowell, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1976, ISBN 0-89747-025-7
- P-40 Warhawk in World War II Color, Jeffrey L. Ethell, Motorbooks International, 1994, ISBN 0-87938-928-1