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Flying Tiger! 

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48th scale 

By Valentin E. Bueno

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In preparation for the Fall Gun Show's theme of WWII Fighters in 1/48th scale, I decided to build a P-40B Tomahawk. The main impetus for this decision was the availability of the old Monogram kit. In other words, I saw it on the shelf at Weller's and impulsively decided to buy and build it.

The Kit Demons

The old Monogram kit was first molded sometime in the ancient past, not quite when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but definitely when the Rolling Stones were still young lads. It is said that this kit is accurately shaped. I cannot attest to this as I do not have any really accurate reference drawings of the actual vehicle to compare it to. This kit has raised rivet and panel line detail and thinly molded plastic parts. The cockpit was decent for a kit of this vintage, but with the flaps open, you can see all the way through the model. Most of the Monogram kits I have built had notoriously poor fit, let's see if this oldy moldy did too.

The Build Affair

The construction of this model started with sandpaper. No, not to sand off all the raised detail but instead to clean up all the flash on all the parts. I also sanded off all the locating pins and filled the most visible of the knockout pins. And you thought I was going to start with the cockpit, didn't you? Ha!

Next up, I painted all the interior areas and pieces a mix of Polly S Panzer Green and Ghost Gray. Why these colors? Because as my stocks of Polly S paint gets thinner and thinner, I don't have all the necessary colors and I have to mix them up from whatever I have got left. I'll be hanged, drawn and quartered before I go back to using enamels, I cannot stand the stench anymore. I've killed too many brain cells as a kid smelling those fumes.

And as usual the little details were picked out in the appropriate left over colors, mainly RLM 66 Scale Black, RLM 22 red, RLM 04 Yellow and so on. Why all the RLM colors? Because I used to build Luft 46 and that's all I have!


Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale


After all the painting was finished, I started gluing parts together. Not so bad so far, who said Monogram kits had awful fit? Little did I see the oncoming train…

The cockpit parts were glued in place while the fuselage parts were held together with clothespins. I wanted to get the parts centered in the opening rather than have it lean too much to the left like a cheese eating surrender monkey liberal.

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

For some odd reason, the thickness of the upper fuselage forward of the cockpit was very thin. Thin enough that I had my doubts as to whether or not it had the strength to withstand a normal sanding and polishing. I bent a piece of left over sprue and glued it behind the joint as reinforcement. This was then liberally coated with thick Zap-A-Gap CA glue. After this had set up hard for a week, I glued the rest of the fuselage together. This went off without a hitch. Is that the sound of a train whistle I hear in the distance?

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

I offered up the one piece lower wing to the fuselage and it fit pretty well. I cut off the locating pin for the underside fairing and that made all the difference in the fit of that area. After this had set hard for a week, I test fitted the upper wings.

ACH DU LIEBER! The gaps at the roots were large enough to drive a train through! I knew II couldn't get all the way through a monogram kit without something not fitting correctly! Hmmm……

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

I used strip plastic and Thick Zap-A-Gap glue to fill in the gaps. A few iterations of sanding with some 180 grit sandpaper got all the holes filled. It wasn't all that bad; it was more like an oncoming moped.

The only other place that required serious filling, grinding and sanding was the nose part and the spinner. No gaps here but sizeable steps between the parts needed to be smoothed out. I figured I would draw in any missing panel lines with a pencil later after the model was painted.

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

The horizontal stabilizers were added next. These had some seriously deep ejector pin marks and like the lazy bastard that I am, I elected NOT to fill them in and made sure that they were on the underside when installed. This is a mall model, not a contest winner.

The Rattle Can Patrol

Without the time to use my airbrush, I have resorted to painting everything with Tamiya Rattle Cans or by hand brushing. I sprayed the entire model with Tamiya's Neutral Gray and fixed up any remaining seams, holes and pits. Next up was the Tan color. I know it's supposed to be Dark Earth, but the Tamiya Dark Earth I had looked REALLY dark, so I elected to go with the tan.

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

Looking at photos of the AVG aircraft, I noticed that they all had hard edged camouflage of olive green. So I broke out my various sizes of Tamiya tape and started masking off the areas I wanted to remain tan. In a departure from normal methods, I covered the model roughly with tape and cleaned up the edges by cutting the tape directly on the model. This made sure the tape was burnished tight against the model, but also put a small groove in the paint and plastic where the two colors met. Humph. OK not one of my better ideas.

The model was sprayed with Tamiya RAF Green and the tape removed. The ridgeline from the paint and groove from the knife was very visible. Ok Okay! I know, not one of my brighter moments!

I pulled out my trusty sanding pads and used the 3200 grit pad to sand back the ridges. In the tan areas I sanded the raised detail right back to the plastic…..heeeeyyyyy wait a minute here. That doesn't look half bad. I did this on the green areas sanding until the tan was visible. This also had the effect of slightly polishing the paint and making it smooth enough to add the decals.

The Decalomaniacs

The kit decals looked slightly yellowed and thick, but I decided to use them anyway. Unfortunately, the instructions didn't come with drawing showing the decal placement! What the bloody hell! Good thing I had a Hobby Boss Flying tiger P-40B in 1/72 scale which came with a great full color drawing. I actually used it to lay out the camouflage masking as well.

Despite the thickness of the decals, they snuggled done quite well with a heavy dosing of Solvaset. Once dry, I sanded the decals until the raised detail came through.

A #2 pencil was used to indicate chipped paint around the ammunition access panels and the engine panels. The pencil was also used to replace any panel lines that were sanded away during the construction of the beastie. More was added underneath the cockpit. Oil stains under the belly and from the engine panels were added with streaks of dirty thinner. Staining from the guns on the wings, and nose and the exhaust were made from black, brown and gray pastels.

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

The model was coated with Tamiya's Clear Flat from a rattle can. Clear gloss was hand brushed over the Flying Tiger logo on the fuselage as this really was a decal that the AVG added to the planes. The tiger artwork was courtesy of Walt Disney.

I sanded the flat surface a little to add another level of distress to the paint job. This was followed by post shading with Tamiya's Weathering sets. I used dark yellow on the OD green areas and OD green on the tan areas. Soot was used on the undersides to add interest here even though as a mall model it will never be picked up and seen. A few more areas were hit with a Berol Silver pencil to add another color for the paint chipping.

The Final Push

Now I added the landing gear, landing gear bay doors, canopy, gunsight and pitot tube. Oh wait, before I added the canopy, I did

add a pilot figure from Modelkasten's 1/48th scale Japanese Pilot Figure set. HUH!?!?! I know I know, but the kit pilot was too scrawny to use. He looked more like a POW survivor than a corn fed all American fighter pilot. The Japanese Pilot figure looked a lot beefier and unless you are an expert on pilot uniforms of the Allied and Axis forces, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. This is a Mall Model for goodness sakes! This fellow was painted in US pilot colors, given a wash of black pastels mixed with dirty thinner then dry brushed with khaki oil paint.

And that, dear modeler, is that. Almost straight out of the box and not built to any standard but my own interpretation of what a Mall Model needs to be. It wasn't all that hard, but then how hard could it be?

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

Monogram's P-40B Warhawk In 1/48thscale

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