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Hasegawa's 1/48 scale
Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.I

by Fernando Rolandelli


Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk I
AK919 LD-B, Sq. Leader Mike T. Judd, 250 Sqn. “Sudan”, RAF, Western Desert, May 1942.


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale P-40E Warhawk is available online from Squadron




Nowadays, American experts are undoubtedly willing to rehabilitate the P-40, formerly one of the “culprits” of the 1941-42 debacles , as a rugged and reliable machine which, though outclassed by first-class fighters every where, could do its job to a fair degree of efficiency. 

No doubt the yeoman services of Tomahawks and Kittyhawks in the Western Desert, flown by Commonwealth pilots in the early days, and of the USAAF Warhawks later in the campaign, have contributed to this reappraisal. 

Still in the pure fighter role (the first “Kittybomber” squadron, the famed 112, was declared operational in the fighter-bomber role later that month), nº 250 Sqn took part, on May 10th, 1942, in a long-range interdiction mission on German air supply lines, a forerunner of the better known operations later undertaken by USAAF Warhawks. Ten machines, fitted with Hurricane external fuel tanks, set out seeking German transports over the Mediterranean. Finding some 16 Ju-52 escorted by three Bf 110, they promptly shot down most. Flying AK919, Sq. Ldr. Judd, though not leading the squadron this time (the honor fell on Wg. Cdr. H. Mayers) claimed two transports as his first victories. He went on to claim two more kills with the squadron, while a fifth came while serving in Europe.

The Kit 

Of course, it is the now well-known Hasegawa 1/48 kit. One arising mixed feelings; it’s been proclaimed as “kit of the year” by some as well as declared “unbuildable” by others. As often happens, truth lies in between. 

The kit makes extensive use of multi version molds, making impossible, among other things, to quote the exact number of pieces involved! More important, in trying to serve as many versions as possible, the parts breakdown is unnecessarily complicated. It must be said that the “normal” assembly joints, i.e., wing to fuselage, tail planes, fuselage halves, etc., are very good. It is the self-induced complexity which gives trouble, and has incensed the modeler community. Having by chance bought the “Dragon USA” boxing, a little, but very useful, PE set including a good US type harness was included.





The Cockpit

It is of the “bathtub” type of engineering. It prevents sink marks on the outside where the internal detail is, but the resulting cockpit is normally a bit undersized. This is the case, and it shows in the instrument panel, small and “compact”. Otherwise, the cockpit detail is very good, though if you are a hard-core detailer you may be left wanting. I chose to add a cheap Eduard Pre-painted Zoom set, nº FE 241 which, though designed for the AMTech kit (I would not rate it as “enough” for that one!) adds very interesting and colorful details. The instrument panel is a work of art, though some clever cuts in the cramped cockpit must be done for it to fit. The panel lacks a coaming, and the kit faithfully reproduces this; I simply added all the detail –and then some more- to the back of the PE panel, and replaced the solid gun sight glass for an acetate bit. The mounting frame behind the seat is too tall –nobody else reported this, so may be my sloppy assembly- so I cut the braces to size. The radiator ducting has some nasty seams which are difficult to eradicate.



Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The interior was painted “Curtiss-Berry Green”, as per the latest fashion, made by mixing normal Xtracolor Interior Green with some undefined Light Grey. The radiator bath –where PE facings were placed- and the wheel bays were also painted this way. The seat was painted NMF; the harness is a Sutton Hoo type sourced from somewhere else and painted Khaki.

The Airframe 

I opted for “rebuilding” the fuselage halves and then gluing them. It worked with the rear insert, but not with the quarter light one. I assembled the fuselage halves and then the quarter light pieces, one by turn. After much puttying and sanding and priming and rescribing, the assembly joints seemed OK. The same with the small inserts in the cheek louvers and the carb intake. After all that fuss I am happy to report that the wing to fuselage joint was very good, though, of course, I needed some putty. The spent cartridges exhaust ports insert fitted very well, also, being the only part of the kit I did not. The tail plane assembly was also very positive, as was the rudder (though I fitted it at a much later stage). 



At this point I made the mods needed to depict Judd’s machine. I obliterated the ventral rack slot (a mistake) and did not open the holes for the braces. Instead I scratch built the mountings for the Hurricane tank (the front one could have gone inside the slot, adding to its strength…) I did not have a proper tank, but I had a SAMI-provided Spitfire “torpedo” tank, which seems very similar, so it was earmarked for use. The hole for the missing antennae mast (or it is for a navigation light?) is clearly shown in pictures of both AK919 and AK846, as is the short antenna wire. 

The canopy is also an issue. The quarter light windows are reported to be ill-fitting, but I found no problem with them, provided you sand the ugly rivets in the recesses. Painting the edge helps eliminate the ugly shiny effect. The windscreen fits wonderfully. The hood is another thing: it has that funny angled cuts in the front frame, to accommodate the molded in triangular reinforcement plates. Why the people in Hasegawa has designed it that way is beyond my limited comprehension; it means that the hood can only be posed closed –the thickness wouldn’t allow an option, though- but even so, it would be incorrect for the early machine the kit is meant to represent. Anyway, I had bought the usual Squadron vacuformed replacement, so I hacked off the small plate and that was it. 

This job done, the kit was primed and preshaded.



Painting and Markings


Camouflage Painting 

What is straighter than RAF Desert Scheme? But my hopes of a relaxed painting were unfounded. First, I should decide if this particular machine was one of those delivered in Temperate Scheme and repainted. It seems that ALL Kittyhawks Is and IAs were so no much problem with that. But then the DE should be the infamous one in the DuPont range, and not standard RAF’s! And the serial number on the port side should be in a DG (again, Du Pont) rectangle. Still not much of a problem. But a picture of this very machine in the timeframe I intended to represent showed two things: some extensive repainting in the rear fuselage –hardly surprising-, as well as a light painted leading edge! Now, it is common knowledge that the Yellow IDs were not applied to Desert Scheme Kittyhawks as a norm (though there are exceptions). Even so, the whole leading edge from fuselage to where the picture showed was painted (the Yellow ID should start from the outer gun muzzle) What’s more, the contrast of the leading edge against the Middlestone was very stark (Yellow tends to blend, as the outer edge of the fuselage roundel in the same picture) I opted for biting the bullet and painted the whole leading edge White, albeit without any confirmation from any other source. It certainly looks like the picture. The quarter light recesses were painted as the camouflage goes. Current opinion is that so they were finished at the factory. Were they repainted with the rest of the airplane, or were they left in the original colors? In some pictures they do show a uniformly dark shade… 



The only unsolved part of the puzzle is the color of the undersurface. Would it have been left in Sky Grey (Du Pont range) even after repainting? Would it have been painted in some of the elusive Sky Blue shades? In the picture it does seem quite light, but that can be an illusion. Following Color Police rules (“deviations from standard must be thoroughly proved”) I stuck to the standard Azure Blue, though it does seem darker that what the picture shows. 

In modeling terms, all paints came from the Xtracrylix range. They work wonderfully and have a glossy finish. If you spray full strength, thick coats, you would be able to put decals on them without problems. I usually spray rather thin coats, so the finish is satin, but it accepts gloss varnish easily. Main disadvantage is that they clog the airbrush tip fairly quickly. I used normal Middlestone and Azure Blue, and mixed my own Du Pont Dark Earth with part of FS 30219, part of 30140 (Polly Scale) and RAF Dark Earth. The Red spinner is a mix of RLM 23 and Black. The model was weathered with oils, a postshade glaze, and pastels.


The kit’s decals are the slightly better quality Hasegawa ones of recent issue. They are well printed and seem accurate for the two machines depicted. The camouflage schemes do not: 

1)     I’ve seen no picture of Maj. Rector’s plane, but, if indeed a two-tone camouflage example (the contemporary and better known 23rd FG commander Col. Scott’s is an OD/NG machine), it should be painted in Du Pont DE/DG over Sky Grey. That means approximately FS 30219 and 34092 (both mixed with some of the original RAF shades) over 36473. The fuselage roundel would be the American one, over painted in… OD nº 41?, and of course there should not be over painted roundels on wings. 

2)     Though there is a picture of Lt. Vaught “Rob’s Robin” showing a couple of suspiciously darker areas, there is another showing a perfectly normal OD/NG camouflage. Of course both can be right and the additional paintwork may have been done after repairs. I would go for fresh OD instead of Black, then. But upper camouflage color should in any case be OD nº 41, never FS 34102. Obviously, the reinforcement triangle in the canopy sill  is clearly absent in this early machine. 

In my case, I used the excellent, aftermarket quality AMTech decals, most of which went without a glitch over the glossy surface. Some images are a bit big, however, a common occurrence with high-quality decals. The troublesome looking Red Arrows were cut over the cut-outs in the rear exhausts and the gaps completed with some Red paint. A big hole was carved around the fin formation light in the flag marking, which was then filled with White paint. The lights themselves were first painted Silver and then in the appropriate color from the Tamiya Clear range (I did not use the clear replacements provided, but you could) Propeller decals came from a Superscale P-40E sheet. 



After that I proceeded to fix all the small pieces, undercarriage, quarter light windows and propeller. The ring and bead sight came from the Eduard PE. The exhaust stacks were manually bored. Of course I used the provided cranked pitot tube. I placed the mirror on the centerline as per the picture of AK919 I have, but I suspect it was not a standard one. The picture shows very clearly the short aerial and another to the wingtip, which I left off, due to the travel from Nairobi to Buenos Aires the model will hopefully face in the foreseeable future.





The kit certainly poses some construction challenges, but, once finished, it looks great.

Problem is, when had you imagined this would be said of a Hasegawa kit, instead of about some Czech limited run contraption?

The separated spine is a classic in modern P-40 kits; even the small Academy 1/72 one has them (but not the P-40E, which has a wholly new fuselage) Some sort of multiple cheek sections is also present in the AMT/Ertl or AmTech kits. But the leading edge inserts for the gun muzzles are very odd. In the rare event of wanting desperately to build a four-gun P-40N-1-CU, I’d rather have the appropriate gun as a separated tube and an optional blanking stub, or even hack it off! Worst idea are the separated spent cartridges ports panel; only the 22 P-40Ds had their four gun armament matched by four exhaust port panels. They fit great so I shan’t complain. But the notched canopy sill is pure insanity. Anyway, if you sort through the obstacles, you will be rewarded with a very accurate, well detailed, great looking representation of a P-40E.

I would build several, and of course cross-kitting would produce a long tailed K or M. But I wouldn’t replace the Am Tech Es, or the Mauve/Eduard Ns I already have. 





  • “P-40 in Detail and Scale Part 2”, Bert Kinzey;

  • “Tomahawk and Kittyhawk Aces of the RAF and Commonwealth”, Andrew Thomas, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces

  • “Curtiss P-40”, MBI Publications

  • “Warhawk Aces of the Pacific” Carl Molesworth, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces

  • Hyperscale website Forum (various threads)

  • IPMS Stockholm (P-40 variants research document)



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Modelling the P-40
Hawk 81, Tomahawk, Warhawk and Kittyhawk
Osprey Modelling 15

Author: Brett Green
US Price:
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 January 10, 2004
Details: 80 pages; ISBN: 1841768235
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Text and Images Copyright © 2005 by Fernando Rolandelli
Page Created 20 October, 2005
Last Updated 20 October, 2005

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