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Hasegawa's 1/48 scale
Bell P-39 "Cobra II" Racer

by Pat Donahue

 

Bell P-39 "Cobra II" Racer

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale P-39Q/N Airacobra is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

The model is a replica of the Bell P-39 aircraft modified into the Thompson Trophy racer Cobra II which won the 1946 race flown by Alvin "Tex" Johnston. Cobra II won the 1946 Thompson Trophy Race going away. It was able to achieve a true airspeed of 420 MPH at sea level, and was unbeatable that day.

 

 

Construction

 

This is Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Limited Edition kit with the following modifications and additions:

All military items on the model were removed and the gun positions were sealed. The cockpit had all military items removed and was modified to the racing configuration using data available on the racer, including a different radio setup, removal of  switches and instruments, fuel selector valves, bomb gear, the aileron and elevator trim controls, etc. The throttle quadrant was modified; throttle bell cranks, door escape pulls, and gear and flap switches were added. Also added were the additional door latches, carburetor heat knob, primer pump, various wiring and tubing and brake master cylinders. The front windshield frame and windshield were recountoured to remove the armor plate.

 

 

The additional fuel and oil fills were added, along with the additional vents seen on the racer, tubing and brake lines added to the landing gear and wells along with stiffeners, and, hoses and the circuit breaker box to the nose gear well. The oil and coolant radiator flaps had the push rods and clevis added.

 

  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
  • Hasegawa 1/48 scale P-39 Racer Cobra II by Pat Donohue: Image
Thumbnail panels:
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The 4 external stiffeners were added to the rear fuselage, along with the extended rudder trim tab, external starter dog, windshield reinforcement cable and the 12 stack exhaust and the enlarged carburetor intake scoop.

The racing Airacobras had the control surfaces re-skinned with metal to prevent flutter and improve control, after the controls were metalized it was possible to see the frame outline on the surface of the controls. The aileron and elevator trim tabs were made ground adjustable only the rudder trim tab remained operable. The a/c is depicted at the finish of the qualifying heat where it won the pole position for the Thompson race. 

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

The model was sprayed with a 50/50 mixture of Testors Gloss Chrome Yellow and flat Insignia Yellow. The green interior color was  WEM green chromate, which I hope is a reasonable substitute for "Bell green". The Hasegawa decals were used and were some of the best decals I have ever used. The only black painted areas on the model are the control surfaces and prop spinner; all other black markings are Hasegawa decals. The only items not included in the kit were the enlarged airscoop, extended rudder trim tabs seen on both racers and the external stiffeners and windshield reinforcement cable that was added to Cobra II after the loss of Cobra I possibly due to the torque on the fuselage which caused the windshield to implode. These we added to the model.

 

 

One of the decisions I had to make had to do with the final finish of the model. Looking at photos and an archival 1947 color film convinced me that a Ferrari type gloss finish would not be appropriate for the Cobra II. I sprayed the model with Future applied in narrow swaths of about 3/4 of an inch wide, into areas outlined by panel lines, this gave me a not too intense gloss finish with no orange peel.

The panel lines were done in a sharp #2 lead pencil with the excess wiped off with a moist cotton bud. In retrospect the panel lines looked a tad too dark so I ran a wash of the base color into the panel lines which toned them down more to my liking. The exhaust stains were applied with a Paasche AB airbrush using Testors Brunt Umber enamel. Small variations in the intensity and shape of the stains were introduced  due to the corkscrew airflow of the air around the fuselage from that big prop.


Model and Text Copyright 2013 by Pat Donahue
Page Created 18 February, 2013
Last Updated 18 February, 2013

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