1/72 Academy P-40E Warhawk

Gallery Article by Mark Littrell on May 25 2009

  Memorial Day 2009 


This is the Academy 1/72 P-40E. I have had mixed results with Academy smaller kits like this. Their 109E-4 had some accuracy issues that irked me a bit. So I wasn't keeping my expectations up when I picked this up at a local Hobby Lobby for $10 (USD). To my eyes it was a cheap distraction, when many small-scale kits run triple this price or even more. Win-win, as long as you have no lofty expectations.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with the end result. I'm not an expert on the P-40, but from what I've seen this captures the feel of the real thing. This model actually rekindled my admiration for the Warhawk in general, and let's face it, as a model builder that's one of the best results I can hope for!

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The box has some nice art work, but is on the small side. Rather refreshing to sprues actually use the box properly, instead of having a giant box and mini-sprues inside it, and empty space! The sprues were fairly compact, with several extra parts that are not used on this P-40E, but are used on different boxings of P-40M/Ns. Note this kit has the short tail, so you cannot swap the parts in for a quick-and-dirty P-40N. Good news is there are plenty of boxings for this kit in different versions.

The parts go together quite well. Cleanup is a breeze, and they all fit quite well. Detail is not the best, but better than you might expect. Funny, I've described several 1/72nd Academy kits that way, seems to be a pattern! At least it had a full instrument panel. Not much other interior details, but the instruments hold up nicely with some dry brushing. There are only 2 areas I would caution future builders about. First is the instrument panel. It's too wide, and wants to force the fuselage halves apart. Shave down the sides and dry fit, and all is well. The second is the leading edge of the wing roots (top and bottom). Bottom needs some filing or sanding, but top needs just a small dab of putty to fill in this triangular dimple where the wings meet the fuselage. It's a design flaw, not a mold flaw. You'll see when you dry fit. It's very localized.

The finishing and painting flew by. I brush painted MM acrylics and enamels as needed. I applied the wrong underside color at first, but this was remedied with a lighter shade. The surface detail is nice and lightly scribed, but I don't know how accurate it is. The decals come with several interesting sets of markings, but each of those sets skimps on the actual decals you get. All of the decals were too thin, and the colors underneath were easily visible. The tiger head decals left and right didn't seem to be mirrored, and didn't quite fit perfectly. Despite being transparent, they withstood about 10 doses of SolvaSet (and 5 of MicroSol before that). They still are not perfect, but close enough that any more fiddling and I would have ruined them forever. The tail band decals did not want to sit evenly, and as a result were somewhat damaged. I repainted them with white paint, but didn't have the patience to repaint every white star and stripe on the model. Finished off with some dullcoat and some minimal weathering/detailing.  

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the forums. On this old, ancient, archaic, camera that I've had since 1999 or 2000 or whenever, I finally discovered it had a macro zoom after all of these years! The final photos I have of this model were taken using this handy feature, and it makes focusing much easier!

This is the flaw on the upper wing joints. I puttied the dimple, smoothed it out, and was on my way. Should be easy to fix and spot ahead of time.  (See photo 07 below top left)

Mark Littrell

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Photos and text by Mark Littrell