Aircraft In Progress

AMTech 1/48 P-40E: Making The Best Of What You Get

I think I may have an odd sickness in scale modeling. I’m not sure the clinical name for it, but I suppose if there were one, it would be “repeat-itis”. Basically, I like building the same kits over and over.

And you may have heard the old definition of insanity… “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome”. I suppose when it comes to modeling, I am guilty as charged.

At this point in my adult modeling journey, I’ve built 286 models in the last 12+ years. Of those, 83 have been various marks of Spitfires, 23 have been P-40s, and the P-39 clocks in at 8 builds. Over one-third of my plastic output has been focused on three types!

And for many other kits, it’s not uncommon to look over my build list and find 2 or 3 examples. It’s the rare type that I only build once, in fact.

Part of it is driven by a like of those types, of course. And most types have multiple sub-types, and a wide variety of markings. 

The P-40 is a great example. While there aren’t loads of kits available, there are quite a few types within the P-40 family, and when it comes to markings, it’s hard to name an aircraft that has such variety. I once read that the P-40 was the only aircraft used by every Allied nation, in every theater, during WWII. I’ve not checked historical records to verify the veracity of this, but I’d certainly say it would not be surprising.

I also think part of my obsession with building the same kits repeatedly is some weird attempt to get it right. Not that the past ones were bad, really. But I always come away from every build thinking “I could have done that a bit better.”

So I try again.

Yeah, Right, Good… What About This One?

Of the 23 P-40s I’ve built, 7 have been of the AMT/AMTech brand. They kitted every variant of the P-40 from the E through the N. I can’t say the kits are spectacular… they’re certainly not bad, but nothing to write home about either. The fit is mediocre, and the surface detail is average. In every way, the Hasegawa family of P-40s in this scale is superior.

But….

A few years ago I purchased A CASE of these kits. A box with 24 models in it, to make the P-40E or the P-40F/L. The whole case was only $40, so I figured “why not?” I sold enough of the single kits to recoup my cost, but that still left me with more than a dozen kits.

So build the AMT P-40s I do.

The cockpit on the model is not too bad. The sidewall detail has plenty of relief, and while not particularly accurate, gives a nice enough representation of the interior when viewed on the finished model. The cockpit floor has some simple detail that works, The seat is… well… less than stellar. The instrument panel has some nice detail, but the relief is so minimal it’s difficult to do a decent drybrush job on it. And the little rudder pedals that hang down from it are almost comical.

I started the process with a coat of Badger’s Stynylrez Gray Primer, followed with a coat of Vallejo’s Model Air US Interior Green. I gave the raised details a drybrush of a lighter green color. To be quite honest, I don’t recall which one…. I grabbed the nearest pale looking green and went to work. (My methods are very precise… 😉 ) I then followed up with Vallejo Model Color Black Gray for the various boxes, and painted the headrest and a sidewall box Vallejo Model Color Leather Brown. A few other bits were picked out in silver (Citadel’s Leadbelcher, I think?), and then random knobs and buttons were painted white. A few were then given a coat of red. I feel that base coating all the knobs, buttons, and things that go “ping” in white helps the later dots of color stand out more. The instrument panel was painted with the Vallejo Black Gray, and various knobs picked out in white, with a few in red. I “scuffed” the floor a bit with a mechanical pencil. Using pencils for scratches is very convenient. They leave a silverish shine, but not so bright as using silver paint would. And because the tip on a mechanical pencil can be sanded to a fine point, the scratches can be very petite and in scale.

For the seat, I went to my absolute favorite resin to replace the kit seat, that being Ultracast. They have a huge variety of seats available for just about every WWII aircraft. For the P-40 alone, they have every variety you could think of – square and round back, with and without belts, early war lap belts, USAAF and RAF harnesses… you name it, they’ve got it. I highly recommend their seats. Because I planned to finish this model in the USAAF neutral gray/olive drab scheme, I chose Ultracast’s 48036 Curtiss P-40 Seats (American Harness for B-M variants).  I primed it with Stynylrez also, and gave it a coat of Ammo of Mig Matt Aluminum. The belts were painted with Vallejo Model Color Beige.

With all the basic colors applied, I brushed on a coat of Future as a gloss coat. Because drybrushing was not a good option for the instrument panel, I used decals for the instrument faces from Mike Grant Decals. These are great looking additions for any instrument panel, and include various cockpit placard decals. Various dials were cut from the sheet and applied, using Solvaset to pull them down tight. A few cockpit placards were also added to help the visual interest.

A wash of Ammo of Mig Deep Brown Panel Wash was applied over everything. I really did just slop it on. When dry, a cotton bud was used to remove the excess. This really helped pop the detail out, especially on the seat.

Everything was given a coat of Vallejo Mecha Color Matte Varnish, and the parts were assembled, using Tamiya Extra Thin cement, and super glue for the seat.  Because the entire cockpit assembly is later slipped into the assembled fuselage from underneath, I’ve found it helpful to tape the fuselage halves together, and do some test fitting. This makes sure the rear cockpit bulkhead and the instrument panel are aligned correctly.

While the finished cockpit is nothing spectacular, I was quite happy with it. It didn’t take too much time, and once inside the fuselage, it looks the part. There are resin replacements available, and they do look quite good. But I tend to stick with the kit parts, as it just seems to simplify my life and keep me focused on enjoying the process.

Next in this build will come assembly of the fuselage, and then the wing to fuselage join. I’ll be providing some (hopefully) helpful tips for that in case you should ever build this model. It does take a bit of work, but they’re very inexpensive, easy to find, and look the part when completed.

Because a modeller can never have enough P-40s! 😉

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *