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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH72374 P-40N Warhawk -- 1:72 Scale



The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was one of the great fighter designs of the late 1930s.  It was not only one of the most prolific designs of WWII but was also one of the most widely employed aircraft of the conflict, seeing action in every theater.  There have been a lot of kits of the P-40 in all the major scales, and here, it seems that Special Hobby is aiming for the title of “Best 1:72 scale P-40” with their late 2017 release of the new-tool P-40N.  Let’s see how it looks.         

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The Curtiss P-40 was designed to meet the requirements of a pursuit aircraft for the U.S. Army Air Corps in the mid-1930s.  It was an evolution of the Curtis P-36, and among other new features did away with a radial engine and replaced it with a liquid-cooled, supercharged Allison V-1710 V-12 powerplant.  The prototype XP-40 first flew in October 1938 out of the Curtiss facility in Buffalo, New York.  The airplane was designed to be relatively inexpensive, adaptable to harsh operating conditions, able to soak up significant battle damage, easy to repair, and to be highly agile at agile at low and medium altitudes. In that part of the envelope, a P-40 could out-turn almost any opponent, but its single-stage supercharger meant that the P-40 would always be a plagued by poor performance at higher altitudes.

P-40s first saw combat with the British squadrons of the Desert Air Force in the Middle East and North African campaigns in mid-1941.  It was with the RAF that the shark-mouth logo, rather inseparable from the identity of the P-40, was first applied.  Between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played key roles with Allied air forces in North Africa, the Pacific, and China along with other noted contributions in Eastern Europe, Italy, and Alaska.  None may have been more famous than the Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group operating the P-40B in the early years of the war as a volunteer unit within the Chinese Air Force.  The Warhawk performed quite well as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort, and fighter-bomber.  Some 200 Allied fighter pilots achieved the status as an ace in the airplane.  Production ceased by late November 1944 with the P-40 being produced in greater numbers than any U. S. WWII fighter with the exception of the the P-51 and P-47.

The P-40N was the ultimate production model of the Warhawk.  The -N model was manufactured between 1943 and 1944, and featured a stretched rear fuselage to counter the torque of the larger, late-war Allison engine, and the rear deck of the cockpit was modified to provide improved rearward visibility.  Early -N airframes deleted a .50 caliber machine gun from each wing to reduce weight and improve its climb rate, but the guns were later reintroduced.  Different production blocks of the P-40N ranged from these early four-gun "hot rods" that were the fastest of all the Warhawks (top speeds clocking in at 380+ mph) to beefed-up airplanes optimized for the fighter-bomber role.  With the USAAF, the P-40s were retired not long after the end of the war, but with other Allied nations, the P-40 flew on, progressively retired, nation by nation, until the sun set on the last operational Warhawk flown by Brazil in 1958.

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Special Hobby’s 1:72 scale P-40N kit contains three light gray injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 75 parts, and 14 of those are not used in the P-40N.  Panel lines, rivets, and fasteners are all represented by engraved, recessed details.  Six clear parts are present on a single sprue.  The full-color black-and-white/color instruction booklet organizes the build over 12 steps.  Decals and the markings guide cover four P-40Ns:

Strengths:  The Special Hobby P-40N is a very promising kit, and it reflects the increasing quality of Special Hobby kits over the last several years.  I think it might be one of the nicest of their 1:72 scale kits to date.  Parts breakdown and engineering are both simple and straightforward.  The exterior of the kit is very nicely molded revealing very smooth and flawlessly produced surfaces, panel lines, and a sparing number of rivet/fastener details.  The cockpit it very nicely done, with separately molded sidewalls, a nice instrument panel and a decent seat.  The left and right wings are molded as a continuous part (for both upper and lower wing halves) so that getting an equal dihedral won’t be a problem.  Also, the rudder is a separate part and it can be positioned as the builder wishes. The clear parts are also really very nicely done: not too thick for 1:72 scale and they are crystal-clear with pristinely smooth surfaces.

The injection-molded parts for the carburetor intake screen faces are almost as nice as a photetched metal part.  There are alternative parts for closed and opened cowl flaps.  The main gear well walls each come as a separate four-sided part that drops into the space between the wing halves, and just like that, you’ve got a very nice and complete gear well.  Detail on the landing gear and wheels look quite nice, and the kit also includes a pair of bombs and two styles of underwing drop tanks.  I also like how the complete gun barrels are molded over to the bottom of the upper wing half.  This makes the fit with the bottom wing half and any necessary cleanup a lot easier and virtually trouble-free. 

The paint scheme options are really well-chosen, and the 80th FG airplane, “Butter Bean II” with the giant skull nose art, is one of my favorite P-40 schemes of all time.  There’s also the two unique Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force schemes that represent the same airplane, “Snafu,” at different points in time including after the war.  The decals themselves look awesome.  They were printed by Cartograf and appear flawless in every respect.  

Weaknesses:  There’s not a lot that I can critique regarding this kit.  I see no obvious flaws in shape, detail, or other elements.  The only observation I might have is that for some scale modelers, the panel lines on the fuselage and wings might be a little overscaled – a little too wide and a little too deep.  Personally, I think that once a few coats of paint are on and a panel line wash or a pencil treatment is applied, they should look a little less pronounced.  And while not a critique per se and more reflective of my own preferences, I do love separate control surfaces.  Too bad for me the elevators and landing flaps are not separate!

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Special Hobby has done a really nice job with their P-40 in 1:72 scale, and it has a lot to recommend to it, from the very impressive level of detail to the markings options.  Special Hobby’s sister company CMK released, timed with the arrival of this kit, a slew of resin detail sets, from cockpit parts (new sidewalls, control column), four different wheel sets with differing tread patterns, four different styles of pilot’s seat, and… wait for it… separate control surfaces for scale modelers like me.  Overall, the level of detail that can be put into this kit at the end of the day is quite impressive – but even without any aftermarket enhancements, you can count on this kit as being able to build into a very nice model of the renowned Warhawk. 
  
Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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