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CraftWorks 1/32 scale Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk

Kit: No. 32101
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: CraftWorks, 872 SW 174th St., Seattle, WA 98166, phone 206-242-8272
Price: $99
Comments: Mixed media, 125 parts (39 resin, 41 white metal, 47 photoetched brass, 6 vacuum-formed plastic), decals.

A new kit in 1/32 scale is rare enough, but I couldn't wait to grab this P-40, my favorite aircraft. CraftWorks' first kit features excellent resin castings and outstanding cockpit detail. It's a complete kit, not a conversion for the old Revell P-40E.

The major parts are well cast in polyurethane resin. The quality of the cast-metal landing gear is not as crisp as the resin, though. Many detail parts for the cockpit interior are photoetched brass, and this includes canopy framing!

CraftWorks' instructions are comprehensive, with 27 illustrated steps, seven photos, and decaling diagrams. The decals are top-notch and provide markings for three American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers," one British plane, and one U.S. Army Tomahawk.

This model is not a weekend project. Despite the high quality of the castings, overall fit is only fair. Follow the instructions to the letter; they take you by the hand to solve many assembly problems.

Each step features painting directions. Steps 7 through 14 cover the cockpit interior. I had to sand the back sides of the interior walls before inserting them into the fuselage. The interior provides contest quality right out of the box - even the armored glass plate is provided inside the windscreen.

I ran into two major problems. The kit wing is cast with insufficient dihedral, and the rear fuselage was warped. I "persuaded" each by heating it with a hot-air gun (used to strip paint). Once the resin was softened, I bent and twisted the parts to the correct alignment and let them cool. Since the wing is cast in one piece (including the fuselage fillets), manipulating it to the proper shape was difficult.

A pair of vacuum-formed canopies is provided (a spare in case of mistakes). I spent several hours adding the photoetched frames, bending them over the provided resin form. A couple of coats of Future floor polish improved clarity and prevented super-glue "frosting."

The landing gear is well detailed, but the main attachment points were puny. I reinforced them with aluminum tubing around the strut locator holes.

A nice feature is three sets of photoetched machine-gun jackets. Roll them around a drill bit and slide them over the white-metal barrels. It's tricky, but looks great when finished.

After assembly, I scrubbed the model with soapy water, sanded it lightly, and sprayed on a lacquer primer. Color coats are AeroMaster acrylics. A Future overcoat prepared the model for decals.

I chose the markings for R.T. Smith's No. 77 Flying Tiger. The decals were thin but opaque and went on without problems. The shark-mouth fit was good; I had to touch up a few tiny sections.

The finished P-40 is impressive, but correcting the wing dihedral and tail warp, improving the fit, and assembling the cockpit took a large part of the nearly 100 hours I spent on the project.

The model measures within a scale foot of the dimensions in several references. My reading materials included Pistole's The Pictorial History of the Flying Tigers, and Shamburger and Christy's The Curtiss Wright Hawks.

CraftWorks' P-40 is a project for experienced modelers only. Take your time and you'll end up with a winner.

- Hank Borger

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