By Brett T. Green
Kittyhawk IV (P-40N)
The Curtiss Kittyhawk always seemed to be one step behind its Allied contemporaries such as the Spitfire, Corsair and Mustang in terms of performance and glamour.
Australia, however, gratefully accepted these aircraft from 1942 and used them extremely effectively in the fighter/bomber role. By 1944, the RAAF was using the final production version of the Kittyhawk, the P40N, in the Pacific and Meditteranean theatres.
This model represents an aircraft of 80 Squadron, RAAF, based on Noemfoor Island during late 1944. This aircraft is pictured on page 71 in "RAAF Camouflage and Markings Vol. 2" by Geoffrey Pentland (see References below).
At the time this aircraft still carried its American factory camouflage of Olive Drab 41 and Neutral Grey. Curtiss was one of the few manufacturers to consistently apply the officially specified Medium Green 42 splotches to the leading and training edges of flying surfaces. Many photographs of P40s, including Australian Kittyhawks, confirm this practice.
Although the reference pictures do not confirm the splotches, I believe that they would have been present on the subject aircraft prior to the subsequent repainting of its upper surfaces in foliage green.
The Mauve P40N is moulded in a shiny dark green plastic which is somehow reminiscent of Monogram. Panel line detail is crisply engraved, and the only surface imperfections on my example were a few sinkmarks on the fuselage wing root area. Mauve's attention to details such as individual exhaust stubs and separate formation lights add to the overall appeal of the kit. The only ordnance provided is a centre line drop tank. Cowl flaps and landing flaps are moulded shut.
The only other gaps were at the trailing edge of the upper wing root join.
The Mauve cockpit is a little bare, so I took the opportunity to use the exquisite True Details cockpit set. This includes sidewalls, floor, gunsight and a seat with a harness moulded on. This clever piece of casting is amongst the most convincing portrayal of a seat harness that I have ever seen.
For the instrument panel I used the "spare" P40N instrument panel in the Eduard P40E brass etched set. I consider etched brass and acetate is by far the best and simplest way to depict an instrument panel.
I wanted to portray a Kittybomber, but the Mauve kit does not include bombracks or bombs. I borrowed the bombs and basic bombracks from the AMT P40 kit and enhanced them with scrap styrene.
I also wanted to show the cowl flaps open. I used the kit cowl flaps as a template and replaced them with new individual flaps cut from plasticard.
The addition of KMC control surfaces meant that I had to build an interior for the exposed flap cavity. I used sheet and strip styrene to scratchbuild a flap cavity roof and forward bulkhead. I also blanked off the inner fuselage.
Although the transparent parts are very clear and quite thin, the sliding section of the canopy was too thick to sit properly in the open position. As I wanted to display all the extra cockpit detail, I used a vacform canopy from my now worthless Medallion P40N Conversion set.
Finally, small details such as brake lines, petrol lines, brass tube machine gun barrels, brass wire external gunsight, True Details wheels and monofilament antennae were added.
Before painting the camouflage colours I sprayed all panel lines black. I sprayed a mix of Gunze acrylic paints to represent faded Olive Drab. The Medium Green blotches were sprayed freehand; as was the demarcation line between upper and lower surface camouflage. Gunze Neutral Grey was used from the bottle.
White theatre markings were then masked with Tamiya 6mm masking tape and sprayed with Tamiya flat white.
The prominent light coloured exhaust stain was achieved by spraying a thinned mix of Tamiya Medium Grey, Flat White with a blob of Flat Base. A Number "0" sable brush was used to apply scuffing, oil stains and general paint damage.
Propeller blades were painted Tamiya Chrome Silver (enamel) and, when dry, sprayed with Tamiya Acrylic Flat Black. This allows the front surface of the prop to be realistically chipped using a knife blade, and the rear surface to be very lightly sanded to represent scuffing.
Decals were from Ventura set V4864. I have noticed that Ventura decals, although opaque, are quite delicate and subject to damage in application. Despite care during application, I damaged the "Angry Bee" decal and had to touch up his wings, legs and bomb with acrylic paints. All the remaining decals sat down perfectly with application of MicroSet.
Mauve have done an excellent job with their P40N. With the exception of the fuselage insert, this was a very straightforward and enjoyable project.
Basic Kit Mauve P40N (Injection Moulded Plastic)
Conversion Parts True Details Cockpit Set (Resin)
KMC Control Surfaces (Resin)
True Details Wheels (Resin)
Eduard Instrument Panel (Brass and Acetate
Flap cavity roof and flap cavity front bulkhead scratchbuilt from strip and card stryrene
Cowl flaps scratch built from plasticard
Bombracks and Bombs from AMT and scratchbuilt enhancements
Brakelines from fusewire
Fuel lines for drop tank from fusewire
Aerials from monofilament
Machine gun barrels from brass tube
Gun camera port drilled out of leading edge
External gunsight from brass wire
Whip aerial from brass wire
Vacform cockpit canopy sliding section from Medallion
"RAAF Camouflage and Markings 1939-45 Vol. 2" by G. Pentland, Kookaburra, Melbourne, 1989
"Spitfire, Kittyhawk and Mustang in Australian Service" by S. Wilson, Aerospace Publications, Melbourne, 1988
Koku Fan Magazine April, 1990, Page 122
Article and photographs Copyright 1998 by Brett Green.
Title and final photographs Copyright 1998 by Pieter Stroethoff.
Last updated 26 July, 2007.
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