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AMTech 1/48 scale P-40E Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Manufacturer: AMTech, 5109 Aspen Dr., Suite No. 1, West Des Moines, IA 50265, 515-221-2343
Kit: No. 484602
Scale: 1/48
Comments: injection-molded, 73 parts, decals
Pros: Two engine exhaust options, recessed panel lines, optional bomb or fuel tank, provision for open canopy, excellent decals
First flown in the mid-1930s, the P-40 needed upgrades by the time the United States entered World War II. An 1150 h.p. Allison V-1710-39 engine, six .50-caliber machine guns, and the ability to carry one 500-pound bomb under the fuselage and two 100-pound bombs under the wings were the main improvements in the P-40E. Although outperformed by the Bf 109 and Zero during the early years of the war, the tough, well-armed P-40E and its pilots held on until fighters with greater performance were on line.

AMTech's "new" P-40E comes from the same molds that produced AMT/Ertl's P-40N, K, and F. The E model was never issued by AMT, and I'm glad to see AMTech pressing forward with this much-needed version. The kit has the short rear fuselage of all Es (and some Fs and Ks). This part of the kit is made with a mold insert, and on my sample the rear fuselage was molded slightly offset. AMTech provides a corrected fuselage (mail in the UPC label from the box and AMTech will send you new parts).

My sample also suffered from a few mold blemishes along each fuselage half that marred some engraved panel lines. Sanding, polishing, and rescribing cured the ills.

The large, well-executed instruction booklet includes a list of the paint colors needed to finish this model. Four-view drawings for each of the four sets of markings are included, along with a brief P-40 history. Recently discovered black-and-white photos of two of the aircraft represented on the decal sheet are reprinted in the instructions.

The cockpit interior is good for the scale, but the seat is the type installed in later variants. I substituted a resin seat from my spares box. The side consoles not only look great through the open canopy but are easy to detail-paint. The raised detail on the instrument panel is shallow, but high enough to be made visible with dry-brushing.

AMTech's kit goes together with few hassles. The fit is generally excellent. Wing halves and fuselage halves lined up so well that they needed no filler. Minimal sanding was needed to smooth the seams and to remove the mold parting lines on the landing gear, wheels, and propeller.

The one fit problem I had was closing the gap between the fuselage and the upper surfaces of the wing. I strapped a hefty rubber band around the wingtips and over the top of the fuselage to bring the wings up to close the gap, and tried to avoid using filler. After I removed the rubber band, the seams popped open again, requiring more work. Shims were added to the lower fuselage center at the leading edge of the wing in order to raise the fuselage sufficiently to level the fillets with the upper wing surfaces.

You may want to add a few details missing from the kit. There are no ring-and-bead sights for the top of the fuselage in front of the windscreen, the elevator trim tab actuators are missing from the bottom surface, and the position lights atop the fuselage spine are absent. The machine-gun muzzle fairings should be more hemispherical and the barrels should be a little longer. The undersurface wingtip panels should be flat and slightly upturned for that classic P-40 look.

The landing light that fits in a hole in the bottom of the left wing seems as though it should be inserted from inside the wing. I followed the instructions and the lens sits well outside the wing surface.

If you want to pose the canopy open, the sliding section is too thick to sit properly over the razorback. I made a vacuum-formed copy, which is much thinner, so I could show off the kit's interior.

I painted my P-40 with some of the discontinued AeroMaster enamels. I should have read the instructions about colors more carefully; I painted the bottom of my model in neutral gray when it should have been a much lighter sky gray used on the P-40E-1s. The topsides were painted in RAF dark earth and dark green. The first P-40Es produced were destined for England but were instead used by the U.S. Army Air Forces. Even the numbers on the rear fuselages were RAF serials.

AMTech's beautiful decals went on flawlessly over a coat of clear gloss using Micro Set and Micro Sol. A coat or two of clear flat brought back the war-time matte sheen.

The finished model sits right and scales very closely to published measurements of full-scale aircraft found in numerous publications. Check out Bert Kinzey's P-40 Warhawk in Detail & Scale (Part II) for photos of late P-40s.

For modelers using an airbrush, this kit is easy to build and fun to paint. Everything except the wing fits without trouble. If your "thing" is World War II fighters, you're going to want this kit!


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