Curtiss Kittyhawk III
Kit: No. 0082
Manufacturer: Mauve, distributed by Military Model Distributors, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 214-242-8663
Comments: Injection molded, 85 parts, decals.
Curtiss P-40E Warhawk
Kit: No. 5921
Manufacturer: ProModeler by Monogram, 8601 Waukegan Road, Morton Grove, IL 60053-2295, 708-966-3500
Comments: Injection molded, 64 parts, decals.
Curtiss Kittyhawk III
The familiar P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk recently has become the focus of several kit manufacturers. Mauve, from Japan, has started producing a family of 1/48 scale kits, while ProModeler (a new line from Monogram in the United States) has refurbished an old classic. Let's compare the two latest renditions.
Mauve's family of late P-40s includes the first release, a P-40N, and this Kittyhawk III (P-40M). New canopy, wheels, seat, and aft cockpit bulkhead make the difference between the two, along with decals for a shark-mouthed No. 112 squadron RAF and a No. 450 squadron RAAF machine.
The kit's recessed panel lines are some of the best I've seen. Other impressive features are individual exhaust stacks with recessed openings and clear navigation light lenses.
The parts are molded cleanly and went together with only a couple of snags. Test fitting the fuselage to the wings revealed gaps at those joints. Spreading the fuselage halves apart will fix the joints but adversely affect the fit of the aft canopy (D3) and bulkhead (C39). I inserted sprue to spread the bottom of the fuselage, then pinched the top to fit the bulkhead and canopy.
Cockpit detail is good, but superdetailers may want to dress it up. Before closing the fuselage halves, insert a strip of styrene underneath the top-mounted carburetor intake. Be careful installing the radiator splitter (C23) as it can be misaligned easily.
The instructions call for the instrument panel (C10) to be installed under the coaming, but I found it fit better attached to the end of the coaming.
Mauve's design of the aft cockpit windows makes it easy to install them and leaves no unrealistic shiny edges as usually found in P-40 kits. Be careful with filler and sanding as the seams are close to the windows.
I painted the dark earth, middlestone, and azure blue camouflage with Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby Colors. The kit decals are printed accurately and conformed well -- even the shark-mouth markings fit over the compound curves of the radiator housing. The white areas are translucent, though.
My Mauve Kittyhawk took 22 hours to build and paint. It looks good according to the photos and dimensions in Profile No. 136, Ernest R. McDowell's P-40 in Action (Squadron/Signal), and the Czech Curtiss P-40 by Vlastimil Ehrman.
Curtiss P-40E Warhawk
ProModeler's P-40E Warhawk is a revamp of the late 1970s kit from Revell. New cockpit parts, wheel wells, alternate exhaust pipes, flattened wheels, and two standing crew figures elevate the old moldings. Scale-Master decals are provided for American and RAAF Warhawks flying in Australia.
Perhaps the biggest and best change in this ProModeler kit is the instructions. Departing from the diagram-only trend, ProModeler uses extensive text, tips, and photos of a real P-40 to help illustrate each of the 10 assembly steps. The paint guides also include photos of the American subject "Star Dust."
ProModeler's parts feature the raised panel lines of the original Revell release. Building is quick, but my sample had a major stumbling block -- a warped lower wing. I received a new one from Monogram, although the process delayed my project three weeks. I noticed a lack of dihedral when I dry-fitted the wings. I modified the upper wings/fuselage joint and applied upward pressure on the wings while attaching them to the fuselage with fast-setting super glue. I also added a strip of styrene to provide a bottom to the carburetor intake.
The canopy fit to the fuselage was poor, so I posed the sliding section open even though it rides high.
The instructions provide approximate Federal Standard paint colors for the camouflage schemes, but I followed Dana Bell's camouflage article in the January 1995 FSM for the sandy earth, dark green, and pastel blue motif. I used Polly S and Pactra paints. The decals went on without a problem.
My ProModeler Warhawk took 17 hours to complete. After struggling with the wing and canopy, I was surprised at the outcome; it really looks like an early Warhawk. You should have a little experience curing fit problems to build this model.
The Revell P-40 wasn't a bad kit to start with, and the ProModeler additions make it even better. But Mauve's cleaner moldings, better fit, and recessed panel lines make a better-looking model. If you need an E or a four-gun D model (an easy modification), pick the ProModeler. For the later long-tailed N and Kittyhawk III, go with the Mauve kit.