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Curtiss P-40M Warhawk

Trumpeter, 1/32 scale

S u m m a r y :

Description and Item No.:

Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk

Contents and Media:

132 parts in grey plastic, 14 parts in clear plastic, three flexible vinyl tyres, 30 photo-etched parts on two frets and three marking options on the decal sheet.

Price:

GBP£59.39 UK Price (£49.49 Export Price) Plus Shipping at Hannants

and hobby stores online and worldwide

Scale:

1/32

Review Type:

First Look

Advantages:

Nice surface textures including finely recessed rivets and panel lines; insert-free assembly; good fit; fast build.

Disadvantages:

Poor and inaccurate cockpit with flat floor and lacking depth; simple cockpit detail; wrong instrument panel; rudder pedals too close to pilot; inaccurate instrument coaming; exhaust openings too tall and wide; propeller spinner too long and too big in diameter; poorly shaped propeller blades; chunky nose; vinyl tyres; some annoying design choices.

Recommendation:

If you replace the cockpit and can bring yourself to live with a litany of pretty much unfixable issues, you might just have some fun with Trumpeter’s 1:32 scale P-40M Warhawk.

Reviewed by Brett Green

Introduction

 

The P-40 was a dependable warhorse produced in far greater numbers than any other USAAF fighter during 1941 and 1942, and one that continued to provide valuable service until the closing days of World War II. However, the Warhawk is often overshadowed or even ignored in the annals of aviation history because it did not shine as brightly as its more glamorous counterparts on both sides of the conflict.

The P-40 had its origins in the Curtiss H75 / P-36, a conventional radial engine fighter first produced in 1937. This Curtiss Hawk boasted modern features such as retracting undercarriage, a monococque fuselage, a three-bladed constant speed propeller and hydraulic flaps; but even in the late-1930s its performance was no match for the emerging generation of European fighter aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Spitfire.

 

 

In 1938, the basic airframe of the P-36 was mated with the in-line Allison V-1710-33 ‘C Series’ engine. This combination became the Curtiss P-40. The earliest operational variants, the H81, P-40B and P-40C, were used to great effect by the famous ‘Flying Tigers’ in China; by British and Commonwealth forces against distinguished Luftwaffe fighters over North Africa; and represented the first line of defence for the United States.

During 1941, the P-40 airframe was redesigned to accept the more powerful Allison V-1710-39 ‘F Series’ engine. The more compact crankcase on this engine resulted in distinctly different nose contours, and a slightly shorter fuselage. This version, the P-40D, was produced in limited numbers and was soon replaced by the similar P-40E. The main difference was an increase of armament to six .50-cal. machine guns in the wings. It might be argued that the P-40E was the most important of all the Warhawk variants. It bore the brunt of grim fighting against Japan in the Far East, South Pacific and Australia/New Guinea during 1942, and formed the backbone of the Desert Air Force in the Middle East.

 

 

Perhaps the greatest asset of the P-40 was its availability in times of desperate need. The performance of the Warhawk always lagged behind other Allied and Axis fighters, in spite of ongoing development. The P-40 was especially deficient at high altitude, but its top speed and climbing performance were also lacking. On a more positive note, the Warhawk’s pilots appreciated its rugged reliability and ability to absorb punishment. Below 15,000ft the P-40 was capable of tackling enemy fighters on equal terms, and its six .50-cal. machine guns represented heavier armament than that of most other fighter aircraft of the time. The P-40’s diving capability was superior to virtually all of its adversaries too, and this could be used to advantage either in attack or in pulling off a fast getaway.

In an effort to improve high-altitude performance, the P-40 was mated to a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. This resulted in a deeper intake chin, a squarer nose profile and the elimination of the long carburettor intake on top of the engine cowl. The Merlin-powered Warhawks were designated P-40F and P-40L. The P-40L also incorporated weight reduction measures, including lighter armour, lower internal fuel capacity and cutting the six .50-cal. machine guns down to four. However, the two missing guns were often refitted in the field. The P-40F and L were both produced in short-fuselage and long-fuselage production batches.

 

 

Other developments of the Warhawk included the P-40K, which was fitted with a large fillet in front of the fin. Later production models of the P-40K introduced a longer fuselage, extended at the empennage, which was to become a characteristic of all subsequent Allison-powered variants. The only external difference between a late P-40K and the next Allison variant, the P-40M, was a perforated carburettor bypass panel in front of the exhausts.

The next development, the P-40N, was intended to deliver a faster, lightweight Warhawk. During initial production, armament was once again reduced to four guns, wing racks were deleted, fuel and ammunition capacity was reduced and lightweight materials were used in construction. Smaller, spoked alloy wheels were also fitted to the P-40N. Despite these extensive changes, the main identifying factors between an initial-production P-40N and the earlier P-40M was the style of wheel and the four wing guns.

 

 

An improved canopy was fitted from the P-40N-5-CU production block. The new design consisted of a clear Perspex arch replacing a large section of the fuselage spine behind the canopy. The fuselage fuel tank cover was angled back to permit maximum visibility through the new glazing.

Internal frames of the sliding canopy section were deleted to further improve the view. A new style of pilot’s seat with a squared-off top was also installed at this time. From the P-40N-15-CU production block, the six .50-cal. machine guns and bomb shackles were reintroduced along with a bigger internal fuel capacity than any earlier Warhawk. The P-40N-20-CU saw the last major changes, with the installation of a 1,360hp Allison V-1710-99 engine, wing racks for 500 lb bombs and a capacity for up to 450 gallons of fuel in external tanks.

The P-40 might not have received the same recognition as the Mustang, Lightning or Thunderbolt, but it continued to provide reliable service alongside its more glamorous cousins in the Pacific and the Mediterranean until the end of World War II.

 

 

FirstLook

 

After releasing a 1:32 scale P-40B Tomahawk to mixed reviews in 2013, Trumpeter kicked off their 1:32 scale Warhawk family with a Merlin powered P-40F in 2018.

This was an exciting prospect as it was the first time that a Merlin powered Warhawk had been released in 1:32 scale.

Sadly, the kit suffered from a number of serious accuracy issues, especially the curve of the upper nose, which should really have a flat top all the way from the windscreen to the spinner, and also missing out on the higher thrust line of the Merlin powerplant.

A number of other issues also blighted the reputation of this model. I read some reviews of the kit at time and decided to pass.

In the last few years, Trumpeter has released two more 1:32 scale Warhawks, a P-40N and most recently a P-40M.

I received a number of HyperScale submissions of these kits built and painted. They looked pretty good, so when I saw the kits in a local toy shop, I snapped both up.

Trumpeter’s 1:32 scale P-40M Warhawk comprises just 132 parts in grey plastic, 14 parts in clear plastic, three flexible vinyl tyres, 30 photo-etched parts on two frets and three marking options on the decal sheet.

 

  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
  • Trumpeter Kit No. 02211 - P-40M Warhawk Review by Brett Green: Image
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Australian-sold kits also include a bonus set of decals inserted by the local distributor. This depicts a 76 Sqn RAAF P-40M with large nose lettering and a busy bomb log on the side of the fuselage. The decals are designed and produced by Ronin Graphics.

Unlike Hasegawa’s 1:32 scale P-40 family, Trumpeter has moulded the fuselage halves as one piece each side with no inserts. This will make assembly faster and reduces the need for filler.

Surface textures are really nicely done, with very finely recessed panel lines and restrained rows of rivets.

 

 

Control surfaces are depicted with shallow scalloping representing stretched fabric. This looks pretty good although rib tapes would have been more accurate.

 

 

Sprue attachments for the major parts are moulded on the mating surfaces of parts, so be careful when removing the parts from the sprues - it's easy to damage the visible surfaces of the parts.

 

 

The cockpit is really poor. I find it astonishing that Trumpeter has once again repeated their error of a flat cockpit floor, while the real floor was the curved top profile of the upper wing. The flat floor compounds errors, resulting in sidewalls, the pilot’s seat and the rear bulkhead all noticeably lacking in height.

 

 

Sidewall and floor detail is quite simple for this large scale.

 

 

The seat is neither here nor there. It seems to be attempting the earlier seat in the P-40E to M with the rounded-off top of the back rest, but Trumpeter has designed it with a partially flattened top. Trumpeter supplies the same seat for the curve-top early version and the squared-off version seen on the P-40N-5 and onward. The kit seat is not correct for either option.

 

The assembled Trumpeter kit seat (left) compared to Hearns Hobbies' 3D Printed P-40B-M seat.


 

The instrument panel does not look too bad but it would appear that Trumpeter has provided a P-40N style panel instead of the P-40M. I bought the Trumpeter 1:32 scale P-40N too, and that kit seems to have the P-40E-M panel. If you have both kits you can just swap the panels.

 

 

Rudder pedals are mounted too close to the pilot. They are also moulded with spurious texture.

The instrument coaming is simplified and inaccurate.

If you are building this kit, at the very least I would urge you to replace the pilot’s seat. This is highly visible through the Warhawk’s big cockpit opening. Hearns Hobbies has recently released a nice 3D Printed P-40B-M seat, Item No. HWS0044.

If you want to go further, there are a number of aftermarket P-40E-M cockpits in 1:32 scale. These are designed for the Hasegawa P-40 kits but they can be adapted to the Trumpeter kit without too much trouble. I used CMK set no. 5050 on mine and it was a massive improvement. The Avionix cockpit (Item No. 32054) is another option.

Moving on, the openings for the exhausts look too tall and wide. I compared the openings in the nose of the Trumpeter kit with the Hasegawa P-40N. Dimensions of the Trumpeter exhaust openings are 5mm tall by 36mm long. Hasegawa’s opening is 4 mm x 31 mm. Although we are talking about relatively small differences here, they are visibly noticeable. It also means that Trumpeter’s nice hollowed-out fishtail exhausts are too tall and toothy as well as being fat at the bases. The overall result is that the exhausts don’t look quite right.

 

Hasegawa exhaust openings (top) and Trumpeter's (below).


 

The spinner also appears to be a bit too long, conical and too large in diameter. The diameter of the Trumpeter spinner is 26.5 mm compared to 24.5 mm for Hasegawa’s. Length of the Trumpeter spinner is 26 mm compared to 24.5 for the Hasegawa kit.

 

Hasegawa's spinner (left - with dog hair) and Trumpeter's (right).


 

The propeller blades are a bit short. They also suffer from a weird profile.

 

 

To my eye the whole nose looks a bit too chunky – not fatally so, but I think I can see it.

There are a few airframe options. Open and closed lower cowl flaps are provided. Trumpeter offers separate upper wing ammo box covering panels, although there’s not much to see underneath. The flaps may be built in the lowered position too. Photo-etched structural parts are included if you are a glutton for punishment.

 

 

Three photo-etched intake faces are also included.

 

 

Undercarriage bays are adequate, but some extra wiring and maybe some retraction gear detail would not go astray.

Tyres are soft black vinyl – not my favourite. Rather confusingly, the tail wheel is referred to in the instructions as the “nose tyre”. Sounds like it must be heading in the wrong direction!

 

 

Clear parts are free from distortion.

 

 

Unfortunately, the fuselage attached to the clear plastic of the windscreen. I think I will paint a narrow frame at the bottom of my windscreen to improve my chances of a clean join. The sliding section may be posed open or closed.

 

 

I have finished basic construction of this kit and I can report that fit is excellent.


 

Markings:

The kit decal sheet is well printed but the red of the RAF roundels is too bright and the yellow is too pale.

 

 

The bonus RAAF decals are up to Ronin Graphics' usual high standards.

Registration and colours are good. I particularly like the RAAF Sky Blue codes.

 

 

Instructions and diagrams are helpful

 

 

Conclusion

 

I know that I have just spent about 900 words trashing this kit but it has some virtues:

  • It looks like a P-40
  • It is available, while the Hasegawa family of 1:32 scale P-40s has pretty much disappeared (if anyone has a spare Hasegawa 1:32 P-40K, P-40M or P-40N kit stashed away, please let me know!)
  • It is a fast and easy build, and
  • Fit is almost flawless, in sharp contrast to the insert-a-thon putty party that is the Hasegawa P-40 family.

If you replace the cockpit and can bring yourself to live with a litany of pretty much unfixable issues, you might just have some fun with Trumpeter’s 1:32 scale P-40M Warhawk.

Purchased by reviewer


Review Text and Images Copyright 2022 by Brett Green
Page Created 13 April, 2022
Last updated 15 April, 2022

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