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Hobbycraft's 1/48 scale P-40B
AVG Hawk 81

by Dale Cleary

 

Curtiss  Hawk 81 (P-40B)
American Volunteer Group, China

 


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Introduction

 

Here is my Hobbycraft P-40 Tomahawk in AVG markings I built back in 2000.

I used the Cutting Edge resin cockpit, and Verlinden 1/48 PE ring and bead gun sights. Decals are from the Academy version of the same model. I will discuss these decals at a later time..

The Hobbycraft 1/48 scale P-40 is a fine kit, although not without its faults. The first fault that evident is the incorrect frame work on the windshield. The Tomahawk had the earlier, curved windshield seen on the Curtis Hawk. This framework needs to be removed, or replaced, if one wants a somewhat accurate P-40 Tomahawk.

The other fault is the external trim tab on the port aileron. This needs to be sanded off and a correct tab needs to be scribed into aileron in its proper dimensions. The air intake above the cowling can also use some reduction, being that it appears to extend too far forward. This at least is how it appeared to me.

The cockpit supplied in the kit is basic, although does contain enough equipment to make it passable with a set of PE seat belts.

 

 

Construction

 

Construction began with my Dremel tool being used to thin the sidewalls in preparation for the Cutting Edge resin cockpit. When this was done I commenced sanding the framework from the kit windscreen. This was going well until I became too complacent and snapped it in two! I couldn t be bothered sending away for a new one, so I just went and bought an Academy Tomahawk and began, more carefully, to remove the frames. Happily this went as planned, and after the frames were removed I then polished the clear plastic with toothpaste and it came up a treat.

I then fashioned a bullet proof, glass plate from clear plastic sheet and attached it to scratch built frame and installed it within the windshield and set it aside.

 

 

I then painted and assembled the Cutting Edge cockpit. This was most enjoyable because this particular set is lovely. This was painted interior green and the various details were painted using colour references. Seat harness was painted off white with buckles detailed in silver. The instruments were detailed with artist s pencils and ClearFix was used to emulate glass on the dials. Various wires were installed here and there around the dashboard and butts representing the cowling machine guns were fashioned and installed to complete the job.

The next task to accomplish was to correct some panel lines around the cockpit. (I can t remember exactly which panel lines these were at this later stage. However it was done.) With this complete the cockpit was fitted and the fuselage cemented together. The nose machine gun barrels were then drilled out and fitted to the model. I also made a blank sheet to fit in the rear of the chin intake so that one could not see straight up into the model from underneath. This was painted black.

Next the exhaust stacks were drilled out and fitted.

Wing assembly followed. I had considered fitting canvas covers into the wheel bays, but then in mad build decided on another aeroplane that possibly saw harder work, I decided to leave them out. As a consequence the bays were painted in the standard interior colour and weathered. Wings were then cemented together and the fit was perfect. The kit undercarriage was lacking some struts for the rear undercarriage doors and these were fashioned from sheet plastic to await final assembly. I drilled out the kit wing gun barrels at this time and they were bagged and set aside.

Construction then moved apace with no real problems being discovered.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

The next step was painting. I had originally intended to build this aeroplane as an RAAF machine fighting in North Africa. I had made my own decals, read up on my references etc in preparation for this, but a book changed my mind. While I was working on this P-40 I had picked up my old copy of Col Robert Scott s book God is my co-pilot, detailing his adventures with the AVG. The RAAF idea was ditched rather quickly after that, and armed with a couple of photos of an AVG machine covered by Academy s decal sheet, I was all set and bursting with enthusiasm.

Unhappily the shots I had at this time must have been slightly soft focus, because I could have sworn the camouflage was soft edged. Not to worry, I had fully intended to go for atmosphere, more than straight out accuracy on this kit anyway. I had the idea that I wanted to show the hard work evident in Scott s history of the AVG. This kit was going to be heavily weathered. Right down to the rubber surrounding the wheel rims being frayed.

I used Gunze Sangyo and Tamiya paints for all painting on this model. Aside from the metal base coat and propeller, which was Model Master Aluminium, and MM exhaust. Here is how it was done, in fact how I always paint.

The fabric covered areas were first painted linen, followed by a dull red to represent a factory base coat. Once this was done they were masked and the metal frame of the aircraft was sprayed Model Master Aluminium. This showed up any areas in need of attention. Happily everything was okay and I was able to continue.

The rest of the airframe was then given the dull red undercoat used earlier on the fabric surfaces. When this was complete I painted the underside Gunze RAF Sky.

Tamiya Dark Earth was used on the upper surface areas, as was Gunze Dark Green. The masking was done with the Blu-Tak technique and went according to plan.

 



I then masked off the areas where the original RAF roundels had been on the wing tops, and began to weather with exposed paint work. I used a number of methods when doing this. I mixed about 6 shades of each colour and then set about fading the camo . I also used pastels to both lighten, and darken, areas exposed to harsh sunlight. The fabric surfaces received the same treatment.

When all of this painting and nearly to the point of being complete, I began to rub the paint work back in order to thin it. I utilised sandpaper to thin and expose the undercoat. This was done to places where harsh ware and tear show themselves. You can see this in the photos, especially around the fabric surfaces.

I then gave the model a clear coat of Gunze gloss in preparation for the decals.

Having decided on the Hell s Angels , AVG version, I began to use the Academy decals. These decals were like cardboard, in fact the thickest decals I have seen. I had to assist these decals by using Mr Mark Softer, and pressure from a damp clean cloth. Believe me when I say that in order to get these things to sit properly, I literally spent hours watching over them and helping them settle. I am happy to say that after much effort they did in fact settle, and there was no silvering. The model was then given a clear flat coat and the weathering was completed using artist s pencils, an oil paint wash of burnt umber around the engine, and pastels. The exhaust was sprayed on using a diluted Gunze light grey mixed with clear flat. Exhausts were painted Model Master exhaust and dry brushed with Model Master gunmetal. I then exposed some metal around areas that see wear and tear when pilots and ground! crew walk on aircraft. This was done using a scalpel. A scalpel was also used to expose the metal coat underneath around the cowling. The model was then given a coat of Gunze Flat Clear.

 

 

Finishing Touches

 

The undercarriage was completed next, painted Model Master Aluminium and then set in place. Complete with the scratch built struts attached to the rear undercarriage. I then painted the wheels and applied the decals. After this was done I then attacked the rubber around the rims with a thin brush. I had been studying a beat up car on the street and wanted to represent the frayed rubber around the rims. This can be seen to good effect in the shot from below the front port quarter. I also left things I would normally have corrected, such as the areas where the spinner connected to the sprue. I decided that when painted, they looked like dents. You can also see these in the aforementioned shot. I quite like the effect. I even attached the brake lines as if they were in need of help. Looking rather ragged really, just as I'd wanted.

The final things added were the Verlinden ring and bead sights, an aerial made from invisible mending thread and then sprayed gunmetal. And wing gun barrels and the tail wheel.

The kit was later entered in an IPMS contest, and I was most pleased when one of the judges told me he thought it was going to take off!

Of course later I was to get a better quality photograph and was saddened to see that the original camo was hard edged!

Oh well, it was an enjoyable project and I would recommend both the Hobbycraft P-40 and the Cutting Edge cockpit set without hesitation.

 

World War 2 US Army Fighter Modeling
Modelling Masterclass
 

Authors: Jerry Scutts, Brett Green
US Price:
$29.95
UK Price: 19.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 September 25, 2003
Details: 128 pages; ISBN: 1841760617
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model and Text Copyright 2004 by Dale Cleary
Images Copyright 2001 by Pieter Stroethoff
Page Created 07 September, 2004
Last Updated 08 September, 2004

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