Jerry Scutts & Brett Green
Fil'Sl pubUslw:d ,n GTnl Rriwn in 2003 by
Osprey DInS Court, Chapd \\'2);
&l:ky, Olford 0X19LP, United Kingdom.
o 2003 Publishing
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ISBK 1 g·H76 061 i
Editorial b)' lli"s Puhlishing, Oxford, UK
(w",'w, iliosp"bli.'
Design: Kcn V,il Graphic Dcsign, Cambridge, UK
b)' David \Vonhington
Originated by Digital Imaging, Leeds, UK
Printed in China through World Print Ltd.
03 I}tOS 06 Oi 1098i654321
A ell' ClllalQg record for Ihis book is from
Brilish Libnry
Osprq Dircq L.SA, c/o :\-iRll'ublishing, P.o.llox I,
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E-mail: info@......preydi=sa-com
Ospre)' Dircu UK, P.o. R<u 1-10,
Wellingborou.;h, Nordunrs, NN81FA, L'K
IntrOOut.:tion __ .. 6
Chapler I: Getting starred . _.11
Chapter 2: Reference sources .
Chapter 3: Available products .
Chapter 4: Basic construction .
Om.ptcr 5: Ad\':mccd consrruction .
Chapter 6: Sp<..'Cial lcchniques .
.............................................. 43
...... 57
.... 65
. 91
. 115 The gallery .
Appendix A: Useful addresses and websilcs ..
Appendix B: Sclccl bibliography .
Index ..
................. ... 12-1-
. 125
..... 127
. 128
ince bl:ginning to collect plasti(; modd
airplane kits in the lalC 19S0s/carly
1960s, I realize looking back that I've
wimessed the gradual growth of an entirely new
hobby almost from day one. Liule did I suspect
",hal a thin-winged, blue plastic Airfix Spitfire
packed into a polythcne bag "Quid k':ld to. h
.... nOI too long before there were enough
models on the marker for indi\'iduals to stan to
specialize in World War I aircraft, the RAF, the
LuftwarTe or the lJSAAF and so on. The more
models there were, the morc this was possible-
if only we'd had some decent references for
the huge range of color schemes waiting to be
unearthed. A full set of Alrcraji of the Filil/mg
Power" was only of limited help until William
Green published Famous FIgh/us oj the Stcond
World IVar in 196L That did it - we finally had
a comprehensivc O\"Cryiew of the main Allied
and Axis fightcrs. Armed additionally with our
monthly copies of RAF Flying and Ai,.
Pittona/, wc began slowly to build up the
picture although as far as we knew (or did not
know) the dab we had then was the \"CI)' tip of
the iceberg_
Color was virtu:ally unknown in those d:ays -
the "real" equivalents of the gray shades seen
in monochrome photographs were not even
quoted, let' alone published in color - but things
did change with such milestone books as Ai,.(t"ult
und Ma,.klngs /907-1954, This kept
the pot boiling while Airfix (plus Frog, Revell,
Aurora, etc.) continued to impro\l' their kilS.
Special paints formulated for use on polystJrcne
plastic appeared and we began tcntati\-e1y to
finish models in the few a1tl-mati\"C schemes
we'd found in the refCTences. The finished
models probably weren't that good, but we
enjoyed ourseh"cs.
With reb":l.rd to specialization, I simply can't
remember when aircraft with stars and bars
began to hold my interest - maybe it was when
Airfix released their P-51D-S of the 380lh
Fighter Squadron, 363d Fighter Group, named
"Fool's Paradise IV." 1 doubt whether we'd even
ha\-e been able to find those derails then, but a
silver aircraft finish ""1lS certainly a bit difTCTent
to camounab'C, so maybe that was it. In any
event, that Aim'\': kit, plus a few others., more
or less hooked me on the hobby of plastic
modeling_ As an idle mental exercise, I'm still
wondering how long it took me 10 find the
ahove data aoout that Mustang because few
model companies then shared such with their
Suffice to say that in trying lO keep pall' with
the growth of an entire industr}'. albeit a small
one b)' Wall Street standards, the supporting
cast has oftcn proved as fascinat-ing as the stars.
Many of us have, I suspect, had our intl'TCSt in
the various wanime air forces stimulatl-d by a
particularly good and new kit, and from this
impetus other areas (dealing with the same
subject) have beckoned, fed panicularly by
books and films. That more or less happened to
me. the downside being lhal' less and less time
could realistically be devoted to simply building
kits. I'm ccrtainly not alone in confronting that
These days, all 1 and numerous others can
do is attcmpt to keep abreast of the flood of
models and accessories, but some fundamental
rules do not change: I trUSt therefore that the
pages of this book inspire some to set aside a
few hours a week to indulge thcmsch-cs in what
is after all a ycry absorbing pastime" At the time
of writing, the references, the decals, the painrs
and the kits are on a different planet compared
to the pioneering days, so much so that the
subject of this book may be explored in great
depth, at many different levels,
The art of solid model airplane con.<;truction is
now much casiCT than when the hobby first
to gain popularity during World War 2.
Prior to then, making a model aircrafl usually
meant building it from a range of sofrwoods,
balsa being the most popular. The complet'e
airframe structure was usually built and lhen
finally co\'ered in tiSS\IC Of other material.
Littlc thoughl was given to the application of
authentic markings, there being an almost total
concentration on the aeronautical aspect and
mdeed, the desire to fly the finished model_
The a\'ailability of a number of kits
containing pre-fonned wooden parIS and known
initially as "solids" was a step forward for those
who had no wish to actually fling their model
into the air ....ith the inherent risk of it being
smashed beyond repair in the first
Thos<: individuals would instcad turn their hand
to non-fiying model kits, thc range of which
extended to many different typ<.."S during World
War 2. These re,1t:hed a degr<.."C of wphistication
and induded pre-formed plastic propellers,
canopy s<.."Ctions and wheels, but thc skill lewl
rcquin.x! to turn out a first rate model was still
De\·elopmeDt of the industrial tcchnique
whereb)· polystyrene plastic could be injecred
into a metal mold 10 turn out pre-formed pans
in grc:at number, all of them c.xaetly the same,
was about to make a world of difference to
one branch of the hobby of air-modeling. From
large household items such as buckets and cups,
the injection molding process made ir possible
to make a set of scaled components that, once
:assembled :and glued together, constituted
mini:aturc :aitplanes :md \·ehieles. ::\"0 longer did
the individual need to spend time whinling and
forming the correct :lirfoil shape and fuscl:age
contours out of wood, thus postponing the
p:linting and finishing sugcs.
Plastic construction enabled a jump to be
made to :trguably the most interesting phase
of modeling, that of choosing a (;Olor scheme
and applying it. Completion of ,1 model air-
plane mnsequently became that much quicker
and the emphasis changed completely from
what might well be termed "structural" to
"cxterior." What went on under the skin
was now of only passing interest to the model
maker, who began searching for national
insignia styles, c:amouflage pattt:rns, (;Ode letters
and personal markings applied to mark om a
successful pilot.
J\'lodel kits of the early 1940s kept pace with
aeronauric:al development, as while there was
still some emphasis on the airplanes of World
\Var I, those of the then current conflict soon
became the core subject for the manufacturers.
Allied and Axis ty)X."S predominated while
American fighters were unden,.t:mdably few:
the prototypes of the famous fighters of World
War .2 were onll' then being tested but to
pro,-ide an international balance, kits were
released of such exotica as the Curtiss YP-37.
A popular one, it remained a\llilablc for some
time as thc P-37. How many kits of the early
Curtiss fighter do we ha\'e today;
ABOVE Tamiya's recent
1/48-scale P-47D Thunderbolt is
beautifully detailed. accurate and
provides plenty of options for
the modeler. This kic represents
the current standard in a hobby
that has been developing for
half a century.
North American
1/32 Scale mE
ABOVE Revell's 1/32-!.C3.le kits
of the 1960$ were highly
desirable models in their day.
Many of these kits featured
operating control surfaces,
retracting landing gear and
sliding canopies. Unfortunately,
due to the requirement for
styrene hinges and rails, these
working features often robbed
the model of finesse and
impacted on accuracy_
Kits of the 1960$ frequendy
sported thousands of over.;ized
rivets. Revell's 1/32-scale
P-SI BJMustang III kits certainly
fell into this category! However;
a few kits from this era are still
worth building today.
Along with the componcms thcmsch'cs,
manufacturers orlhe early plastic included
a set of markings [0 cover the baSIC essentials of
national insignia and so forth, so that when they
appeared in due course, a reasonable looking
example of the P-51, 1'-47 or P-38 could be
built. In some model releases, their
were so demonstrably worried that the simple
task of applying national insigma via waterslide
decals (transfers) might be misinterpreted
that they scribed the outlines into the surface.
Ihis practice did not last very long.
Early model airplane kit transfer shccts made
few concessions 10 authentic markings such as
wdc letters or ro numbers and those thai \\ere
included were seemingly chosen al r.lndom.
Sheets of ehed:ers and numbers became
a'-:1ilablc, these being Iinle more than recognition
aids based on nying model decoration. And kilS
of wartime fighlCTS made in America usually had
USAF r.lther ,han USAAF national insignia -
so it is nOI hard to S(:e how far we\'c come
in this TCSI>CCI alone.
The outline ,lccuracy of these early consl'rUCliun
kits was not always all it might have been and the
qucstion of scale - i.e. one model comparable
\\;th another in terms of rclati\'e dimensions -
was somt..timcs e\'cn dictated by the size of the
box the model came in. This made for some very
odd "ocnn:en scale" parts, ofrcn (00 small to take
full ad\-:1ntage of the subjecl. This was true of
larger alfcTaft such as bomhcrs however, the
fighters being a generally more convenient size
with whidl to work.
Once there W,1S a perceived marker, the
industry in the Uniled Stales soon occame
organized and manufacturers released most
plastic models in whal is somelimcs referred to
as "quarter scale." This translated the full-size
aircraft's dimensions 10 model components that
measured out al a qU:lTIer of an Inch to the
foot. This scaling could be entirely relied upon,
as non-amformist models cominuc-d to appear,
but in general bigger \\-:15 better in the US.
Interestingly, the UK market had already
appreciated the undoubted ad,-antagcs of
models in this larger scale. The Chingford
Model Aerodrome was, by 19+1,
offering a range of quartcr-scale solid models
which ineluded a P-3S, P-39 and P-H.
Equally popular W:IS the range hy
TruscaleofIloumemouth, L"K, \\'hich ascarly as
19{() had released an Airacobra and Tomahawk.
At that time of course the US Air Corps had few
other full-sizc designs of which models could be
made. That did not mean AmeriGlll fighters wen:
overlooked and lacking anything more dC\'elopcd
for service use: the P-37 had to suffice until
dctails were relcasL'<! of [he IkI1 VP--{i3 and the
carly P-IOs. Dimensionally about half the size
of a 1/+8-scale model in terms of a
fighter, each of [hese smaller kits included
pre-formL'(j wings and fuselage, metal propellers,
hardwood cowlings, national insignia transfers
and glue. Again there was a lad of squadron
markings, prooobly due to wartime national
security restrictions.
\Vith the war O\'er there was a temporary
re\;sion to traditional model aircraft pending
reorganization of the industry from wartime to
peacctime footing. When plastic kits became
3'v'3ilablc in England, there was a general swing
towards 1/72 scale, while the Americans
generally suyed loyal to the larger scale. Those
kiLO; that crossed the Atlantic from the US always
carried [he penalty of a higher price, and in
"pocket money" terms, the low price of a
bagged Airfix kit successfully created a firm
brand loyalty - despite their rebtive crudity
compared to wh:'ll came bIer. Another reason
was that lhese kil'S lapped into the
"collector" inslincr, for Airfix, Frog and other
manufaClurcrs put out a stt':ldily increasing
number of subjL'(;tS. With regard to singlc-scal
fighters, although the finished results were quite
small they weI"C L"Onvcniell! to build and easy to
line up along a bL'<!room shelf, Additions In [he
smaller scale soon overtook the fewcr l/-l8-scale
models Ihal appeared in those days simply
because IhLTe were fewer of the l:lner and they
were not alwa)'s easy to obt:1in,
As rime passLxl and the product generally
impro\"ed. model company engravers became
increasingly aware that the necessary heavy
metal molds for plastic kits were adaptable and
capable of reprodu6ng components with verT
fine scale detail. On the actual plastic the work
of toolmakers appeared as raised or recessed
panels, lines of rin:ts and numerous optional
pans designed 10 enable the builder to complctc
one or more versions of the S:tme aircraft.
J\ lodds of the machinL"S that flew in lhe
colors of the United States Army Air Forces
were early arrivals on the plastic modeling
scene and the popularity of the "big three"
(the 1)-51 Must:1ng, P-47 Thunderbolt and
1'-38 Lightning) was quickly est:1blished. That
LEFT Old books can sometimes
be found at bargain prices. Many
books frum earlier decades are
still valuable reference sources.
All of the books pictured here
were published in the 196Os.
They feature a wealth of
wartime photos, and these
images are as relevant today as
they were when they were first
published. However, be aware
that research has uncovered new
facts about aircraft varianu,
details and color schemes over
the years, so color profiles and
drawings in these old books
may need verilia-tion against
modern sources.
ABOVE Old blueprints and
technical drawings are also
helpful reference material.
this popularity has hardly ever waned is not
difficult to explain. So many of the decisive air
cOmbats of the war were fought by American
and Allied pilots flying these types and, via
their fathers, youngsters were imbued with a
keen sense of patriotism.
With ten air forces in the field by 1944, all
of them with their fighter component, the
USAAF had, like most air arms of the fighting
powers, come to appreciate the effectiveness
and economy of pursuit aircraft, those the
pilots first nicknamed "pea shooters." The role
of a category of aircraft historically regarded in
the US as much less useful than bombers had
changed radically. Very early on in World 'Var
2, American fighters were adapted - and soon
built - to carry external ordnance, which
brought their basic combat duty partially into
the realm of the bomher. Burgeoning numbers
of single- and multi-seater fighter bombers
now demanded a comprehensive system of
markings schemes aimed at rapid air-to-air
and "friend from foe" recognition. Different
theaters of war saw differenl fighter markings
schemes, for instance those of Europe and the
Pacific regions.
As the War progressed, basic markings
schemes for American fighters developed
to encompass local conditions, the various
configurations of the aircraft and above all, the
need for concealment on the ground and
instant recognition in the air. Each theater of
war had its own detail requirements for
markings although there was a considerable
degree of commonality regarding paintwork,
once the early-war anomalies resulting from
diverTed contracts settled mto standardization.
These often conflicting reqUIrements of
blending into the terrain to elude the enemy and
being recognized by pilots on the same side
resulted in a plethora of colors, code letters,
numbers, bands and stripes being applied to all
US fighters in combat. Reliable and adaptable
systems soon emerged.
Arguably the most effective markings system
used on US fighters during World War 2
was developed for the RAF whereby each unit
was giycn a code consisting of two letters
(sometimes a letter and a number) with a third
leller identifymg the individual "planc-in-
squadron." There was tar less visual confusion
after this system was adopted, but the first
American fighters based in England were also
given an additional recognition scheme. Thus
white nose, wing and tail bands over camouflage
finish marked out the P-47 and P-.:il, fighters
that could conceivably be confused with
their common German adversaries, the Fw 190
and Bf 109 respectively. Untold numbers of
Thunderbolt and Mustang pilots probably owe
their lives to this paint scheme as they dived
through bomber formations in pursuit of the
Luftwaffe Jagdflieger. "Friendly fire" incidents
continued to occur but the whiTe bands
minimized this risk.
Colors were used as an additional recognition
aid and so diverse did these become rhat the
whole subject of aircraft markings eventually
became a separate field of study, largely divorcer.!
from technical development, combat operaTions
and first-hand pilot narratives. Many of those
wartime fighter color schemes, marching a well-
documented key, survived via an unprecedented
visual and written record, so that 60 years on the
publication of still photographs and the
widespread availability of movie film footage
enable the enthusiast model maker to acquire a
comprehensive library of reference.
Books devoted enlirely to the subject of
wartime American fighters arc lcg-:ion, be it
their technical development, performance, the

combat record of their pilots, or the camouflage
and markings the aircrafr carried. With this
gradual increase in quantity and quality of
printed material, the model manufacturers were
made aware of what people wanted to build
as three-dimensional replicas; for rheir part
the makers had ro gamble that the enormous
financial im'estmcnl in metal molds and indeed
the plastic raw material would be justified by
high \'olume s:lIes.
As polystyrene plastic is a by-product of oil,
its COSt is volatile. There ha\"c been periods
when supplies of "black gold" indirectly
curtailed the production of new kit releases, or
forced prices up. BUI in the main me ompUl
has more than kept pace with demand at
generally reasonable cost. In lime, the scale
accuracy of successive releases impro\"cd lO the
point where today, individual kits are about as
true to the original machine as anyone is likely
to get. In a competitive world, plastic kit
manufaclUrers will of course duplicate some
items, particularly the beuer-known wartime
US fighlers. "If it sells, it should be in our
range," is Ihe understandable \'iew inside
Ihe induslry.
This fact has also driven Ihe search for
definitive qualily, something that has only
benefiled Ihe modeler. These days, scales that
were pre\'iously neglected have also had new
ilems regularly added so lhat with a fell' nomble
exceptions, a range of US fighlers can be built in
all five popular scales from 1/100 10 1/24. Not
quile SO popular, simply because lhe number of
kirs is so small (and rhe investmenl by the
supplier so large), is 1124 scale.
The smallest of the scales has had some real
gems added to it o\·er thc years and many
people find the tiny singk'-(.'fll,rinc fighters that
resull jus, right for ,hem. One advantage here
is if Ihe modeler wishes to portray a scene
lhat includes multiple aircraft. A whole group
of i"luslangs or Thunderbolts, c\·en a (at;tory
production line for e.>o:amplc, would suit 1/100
(or I/H4) scale subjeos vcry well withOUT the
need 10 O\\'fl the equi\'2lent of a fuU-sizc hanger
in which m store Ihe finished articles.
In parallel with Ihe increase in the number and
diversity of injection-molded construction kits,
the more limited runs possible with the \"'3CUum-
formed (\'2cufonn) plastic process has enabled
e\'en more gaps, represented by the more
obscure types or \"3rianls, to be filled. "Ibis
means Ihat if the modeler desires, sa); a 1'-39 in
1/32 scale, il is possible 10 build one, provid<:d
that the undeniable e.xlra I\"ork stages dl:mandcd
by this lype of kit are raken into account.
The range of kil options has oc-en further
boosted by the rise of companies spt'Cializing in
conversion sets, usually of panicul3r itl."J1ls -
wheels, radomes, fairings., flaps and so forth -
designed to be incorporaled into injection
molded kit parIS to enable an alternative earlier or
laler production variant to be produced. 1n many
cases, these conversion SCtS offer more accurate
replacement parts because the specialist is
seemingly able to focus more closely on a
particular area of an aircraft replica than the
commercial supplier is.
BELOW The development of
the hobby over the past decades
allows us now to produce
authentic miniature replicas of
OUf favorite aircraft.

adhesives are available for
different requirements.
Cy.moacrylate cement, more
commonly known as supergtue,
is helpful for securing small
parts. This glue dries very
quickly, but the bond is
somewhat brittle and the fumes
from the drying glue can fog
dear pam. Watchmakers'
cement is a good alternative for
bonding clear pam. It is strong
and clear when dry.
There are many choices of
cement for gluing polystyrene
plastic parts. The Revell
"COntacta" cement pictured is
equipped with a handy needle
applicator for precise placement
of the cement.
BElOVV RIGHT Sanding tools
are an essentiaJ element of the
modeling loolbox. From the left,
we can see a sanding stick.. a
buffing stick and emery board.
These can all be cheaply
obtained from the supermarkel
or pharmacy. The needle file
permits smOOlhing of hard-to-
reach areas of your model, and
the sanding block is ideal when
large areas of plastic need to be
eLling started on a modern kit is
therefore easy and requires very little
extra financial outlay over and above
a set of paints and a few basic 1001s. The
i:mer will vary according lO the individual's taste
but me successful completion of any kit requires
a sct number of steps lO be followed before
any gluing of partS is undertaken. These include
immersing the entire set of errier sprues in a
solution of washing up liquid in lukewann watcr.
Thi.. is necessary to remm-e any traces of the
"release agent" used, as the term implies, lO
slip each sprue out of the mold smoothly, with
no pulling or sticking and without a film of
thin plastic known as "flash" inadvertently
emhracing the component parts. This very thin
plastic film still appears on some modem kits
bm in general it has been eliminated from the
products of the major manufacturers, whose
quality conlT()1 is generally of a high order. A thin
film of plastic has irs uses in some an:as of
modeling as il is strong enough to shape into
o-rra panels, lO replicate into battle damage an:as
and so forth - so follow the old adage of "never
throw anything awa)," Even the carrier sprucs
have meir uses. Stretched under a fhmc those
long straight Sl.octions of plastic have historically
been the source of ultra thin aerial wires on
innumerable models. The advantage is of course
that, being plastic rather than any other matcrial,
you can rely on its strength and ability to bond as
well as the kit componcnL<i.
In my experience though you need to
experiment with the plastic used by various
manufacturers. As will be noticed when
assembling lhe kit, some plastics have a softer
compound than others. The ability to "SIring"
the hc:ued sprues lO thin lengths depends on
the degree of densi!}·.
When each washed sprue has dried, some of
the partS need to be rcmm'ed from the carril.T
frame, a lask that always requires gTeat care,
particularly where small, delicate comJXmenrs arc
concerned. These should not be pulled or twisted
away from the sprue as a pit may easily be made in
the smooth surface of the component which will
require filing off or, in extreme cascs, filling and
sanding down. Some kits are beller than others in
this respect: occasionally it seems that no matter
how careful ~ ' o u arc at scpar:ulng the parts from
the sprues, a riny raised area remains on the
component and stubbornly refuses to disappear.
h is therefore an area that al....1lys needs close
anention and a "damage limitation" approach
right from the stan. This applies particularly to
the canopy and othcr transparent partS. Pla!t"tic
kirs ha\'e hiswrically been packed into plllythenc
bags - several bags in the case ofsome laq,ocr scale
models - and I always uke the precaurion against
transparencies gening scratched by lca\ing them
in one of the bags. Alternatively, wrap them in
tissue paper. Don't let the clear parts rattle
around in the box because lhey arc prone to
damage and breakage in extreme cases.

TOP LEFT Here are three. different-sized
hobby knives and two pairs of sassors.
These will be some of your most frequenlly
used modeling tools.
TOP RJGHT A high quality sprue cutter (on
the left of this pict\lre) will supply a clean
Cut and save a great deal of time that might
otherwise be spent trimming. unding and
filling.A selection of razor saws will also find
their Wil'/ into the modeling toolbox.
MIDDLELEFT Different tools are required
for different uses. Each of there tools
(pliers, tweezers and a self-closing
hemostat) has a particular application.
MIDDLERIGHT Here are some tools that
change the surface texrure of a model:
two different styles of scriber and a
dressmaker's pin wheel. The lauer is an
inexpensive tool useful for replicating
rivet marks in plastic..
BOTTOM LEFT A pin vise is simply a
small drill that holds tiny drill bits. This is
another frequently used element of the
tool kit.
BOTTOM RIGHT It will usually be
ne<:e55ary to fill seams or gaps on a model.
A large selection of putties is available for
this purpose. The old lener opener at the
tOP of the picwre is ~ e d as a trowel for
applying MId smoothing putty.
ABOVE LEFf Tape is useful in
many aspects of modeling. The
Dymo tape on the left can be
used as a self-adhesive scribing
guide on large kit parts. while
Tamiya Masking Tape can be used
for preparing kits for painting"
ABOVE RIGHT No modeling
rooIkit would be complete
without a selection of good
quality jnintbrushes in various
sizes. An airbrush is Vl important
tool to help achieve il realistic
finish.The airbrush pinured here
is Testor's Anek A470.
In recommending the tools needed to get a kit
project underway, the separation of parts from
the sprue will reqUire a strong pair of rin
snips or sprue cuners to st.'yer the often tough
"trees" that hold the pieces in position. These
auachmelllS have to be fairl}' substantial, as
some kitS need to be shipped haIfw"ay around
the world before they reach the modeler's
hands. Sucked on shch"cs., not always by
people who appreciate the delicacy of what's
inside, [hey can get damaged; so strong
retaining pins are needed on cach of the sprue
frames. Tin snips will easily remove the most
importalll parts including the two fuselage
halves, the engine cowling and the wing
sections in order for the modeler to make
the initial dry or "dummy run." Carefully
check the fit of all these components, ensuring
especially that the attachment pins align
correctly. If they don't, an unsightly seam or
step might result when the glue is applied
which will laboriously ha\'e to be sanded down.
If pin alignment threatens to create this fault,
trim off any offending ones at this stage. Other
useful tools are dealt with in the images and
captions on pages 12-14,
Our "getting started" modeling subject will be
the p-t7 Thunderbolt, with particular reference
to Tamiya's 1/48-scale 1'-470 Thunderbolt
"Razorback", modeled by Brett Grccn in the
images that accompany this chapter.
With such a \'ariety of 1'-47 kits available,
across several scales, i, 's always a good idea to
check thc wing and fuselage sections for
outline accuracy against a multi-view drawing.
Plam of P-47s showing three or more views of
the aircraft have been published in magazines
and books in great number and few modelers
will be unaware that they vary a good deal and
that the most modern plans arc nO£ necessarily
the most reliable. The answer is to use the one
you feel best reprt:sents the full size machine
in order to check the dimensions of plastic
kit JXlrlS ab'ilinst what is, after all, a "nat" and
therefore false representation - and indeed one.
that no manufacturer ever needs to huild the
real aircraft.
I take the view that scale plans are only parI
of the literature the modeler needs on World
War 2 aircraft and nobody should rely one
hundred pcr<.-cnt on their accuracy. After all, a
plan is onh another individual's interpretation
of a thrcc dimensional object in one plane -
which of course has been drawn up, reduced in
size and reproduced, a process with numerous
opportunities for error.
A friend who draws scale plans for side
views has made good usc of a computer 10
measure dimemions between known poinls
on an airframe and come up with some
surprising answers. But those nf us who arc not
professional draughtsmen or engineers may
not fully understand the close tolerances
aerodynamists ha\"e to work with - nor do
we reall)' nCl.:d to know for the purposes of
modeling, My o\"erall advice i . ~ to run your eye
over what you consider to be the most reliable
plans but make a cllN: concurrent study of the
best possible quality photogl'2phs.
Read any model magazine and sooner or
laler there will be some pundit who "ill
inform the listening world that such and such a
manufacturer's kit is two millimeters '00 shon
in the fuselage. Really? What if the plan used
was scaled down from an original drawing (as
most reproduced plans arc) and happened to be
undersized by just that amount? How would
our "expert" know that?
Dimensions can of course be checked with a
scale rule or calculator - provided that the
reference that quotes the figure seems right.

Fine - but now check another \xlol:, thcn a
third or fourth. CJJ.anccs arc that someone will
ha\"c added a few eighths of an inch to the
quoted oycrall length. My personal \'lew is
simply to ignore any tiny discrepancy between
kit and plan that is not glaringly obvious or
that docs not cxceed about five millimeters. it
seems that few people can ever get these
questions of dimensions tOl,llly right, for the
above reasons which arc often beyond one's
control. I feci that it is simply nOI wonh the
effon involved to add some tiny extension to a
kit, onc probably involving a good deal of work,
that few observers will even notice unless it is
brought to their attention. Oh\'iously shape
matters and if an error in the Q\'crall length
of the P-47's fuselage is a result of a poorly
defined rudder or a short nose; then some
remedial work should be undertaken.
As your modeling experience builds, so ....111
your "third eye" imprO\·c. This hypothctical
combination of gray matter and optics is an
aid to accuracy in reproduction and will comc
into playa grcat deal in modeling good scalc
replica of aireraft. Study of pholographs will
also reveal the finer points of design and
<:onstructlon of the full-size machine, those
"make or break" areas that have to be spot-on
for a model to work in its own right. Sooner or
later the common pitfall areas, those where the
kit manufacturer has to pay close attention to
his own plans in order to pr<X1ucc an accurate
replica, will be quickly notiu:-d and closely
ch(."(;kcd before anything else.
All machines have lheir idiosyncrasies of
design, none more than aircraft so it seems. On
the Thunderbolt there are a number of arC;lS
that can be problematic if they have been
poorly designed as kit components or if there
has been some fault in the moldings. If the
r-47 kit version is :1 "T3zorback" mudel prior
to the P-47D-25, the top line and shape of the
f(''3f fuscl3ge will stand OUl if il c1c;lrly lacks
the tfue sharpnC'ls ob\'1oUS in a thr(.-c-quarcer-
fear view of the full-size aircr:lft. If you fccl
that the Thunderboh looks bener with the
canopy open, try positioning the !cit cockpit
before cuning it from the windscreen.
Chances arc that it won't fit, and will ride a
scale foot or so too high. The reason for this
disparity is that the greenhouse canopy on
pre-D-25 versions of the Thunderbolt was
very thin. Two handles sel into the lower
framing were used hy the pilot 10 brace the
l;anopy apart so that it would align in the
runners on each side of the fuselage. It had
to be thin to be light enough to move easily
and align snugly with the coarning behind
the pilot's scat. Therefore, scaling it all
ABOVE Tamiya's lI48·sale
P-47D Thunderbolt "Razorback",
model by Brett Green. Late in
2002, Tamiya released their
lI48-scale P-47D Thunderbolt.
This kit features superb levels of
accuracy. detail. engineering and
options. It sets a new standard
for a plastic kit straight from the
box. Some modelers claim that
this is the best 1!48,scale aircraft
model released to date. One
thing is for certain: if you want
to build a model without the
expense or complication of
after-market accessories, but you
still wam a well-deailed replica,
Tamiya's lI48-scale P-47D fiu
the bill.
RIGHT The sprues ofTamiya's
1/48-scale P-47DThunderbolt
are packed in separate plastic
bags. This is important, as it
prevents partS on different
sprues from rubbing together
while the box is in transit, which
could result in fine scratches and
scuffing. The sprues contain a
wealth of options for the kit,
including bombs, rocket
different styles of drop
tanks. alternate propellers and
optional position landing naps.
cowl naps and fuselage outlet.
down means that no ralorback model fuselage
section is really going 10 be narrow enough if
the clear section is to align with it when open.
Depending on the desired scale, the modeler
has to chose either to til a canopy from another
kit that is slightly oversized (they all \'ary to some
degree) or mold one ill material thin enough 10
sit far enough down to rest on the sliding rail
and generally line up squarely when located in
the open position. The only otht.-r option is to
laboriously pare down the plastic behind the
l"OCkpit until i[ will 3lttpr the den section that
is supplied with the kit.
The chord and shape of [he rudder has also
presenred a few challenges to Thunderbolt kits
in the past, as ha\-e areas such as the alignment
of the eight blast tubes of the wing machine
guns, the o\-erall shape of the cowling, the size
RIGHT It is even more
important that the dear
parts are packed separately
as they are far more
susceptible (0 scratching.
lEFT Before the p<lru are
removed from the sprue, it is
sensible to paint some of the
imerior details. Elements
including the cockpit, wheel
wells, undercarriage doors ilnd
the inside of flaps and the cowl
were first sprayed black. This
"shadow COat" is followed by the
appropriate interior color for
the particular componenc.. In
the case of the P-'47D, the most
likely color for the cockpit is
Dull Dark Green and the
remainder of the interior would
be painted Zinc Chromate
and shape of the fuselage turbo waste gates., Ihe
cowl naps and [he
Taking [hcse check poinn; in no panicular
order, the chord and outline shape of [he
rudder should be ehecled ab"3ins[ phoLOs and
plans. As is ,wll known, all eight machinc guns
should oc sct in a horizontal line and no[ follow
Ihe dihedral angle of the wing:; the turbo
should be wcll defined, with the [\\"0 small
exhaust doors aft of Ihe cowling sining proud
of [he fusclage; all cowl naps should also be
thin enough for [he scale :md preferably no[
nil in :I "wide-Dpen" position, and [he large
ventral exhaust ports should be the correct size
and shape.
A common scale problem on Thunderbolt
kits is that the waste pIes lur the turbocharger
on each side ofthe center fuselage arc often too
thick if the mm·eable doors arc molded open.
Ll"cn if they come as separate irems rhey
should he to seale thickness.
You'll also need LO ehl.:ek whelher or nO( the
main landing gear doors are in their correct [hree
sccLions" On older kits, Ihey mighr well be
molded:ls one piece [hal has to occut info mree_
That tiny door section at the rop of each oleo leg
s(.'CfIlS to throw manufaClurcrs, who oftcn mold it
as a protuberance at the top of the "straight"
Sl..'Ction of the doors. In extTt.. 'ITle cases I\"c known
kits to ignore Lhese tiny doors completely and
merely engra,-e their outline on [he outside
f.1c..'C of [he main door_ Although these ircms are
"cry small, without thc..-m Ihe 1>-47's unusual
(;.\"[cnding oleo \muld have lx'Cn cXlx)SC(i to more
dust :llld grit and once YOll know the doors
should he separa1e sections, yOUl' conscience will
crcate a need 10 reproduce them.
As with all World War 2 fighters, the forward
rake of the undercarriage and the toc-in of the
wh!.:cls of rhe P-17 need careful auention:
certain Idts are seemingly designed to make this
alignment more diflicul[ to aehie\'e but if you
feel they ha'"e it wrong, me loca[ing pins
- or do your own [hing!
Other areas of P-+7 kits mat need scrutiny
include the shell case exit doors in the \\ ins:
undersides, how well the dl'tail of the auaehed
(or separate) main wing racks for drop lanks
and bombs has been aehievc..-d, and of course,
the outline shape of the cockpit canopy, nOt
forgetting the unique shape of the windscrc..'en
on the early model rawrbacks.
Ain.. Taft details can look remarkably dilTert.'Tl1
from certain camera angk-s, and with the P-.J.7
the upper line of 1he forward fuselage will
appear to vary considerably. This optical illusion
has led kit manufacTurers something of a dance
insofar as designing the bl-St way to attach lhe
cowling to the fuselage and "mold thc dip" that
always appeared where the fuselage curved
downwards to meet the cowl flaps. The war the
naps arc molded in the kit often has a bearing on
atturacy of owline. Various approaches ha\·e
been adopted by kit manufacturers 10 artlch the
CO'I\-Iing and the engine components, but [hey
usually comprise a straight join in,'oh ing
ccml'Ilting Ihe circumference of the cowling.
Undcrncalh, the Thunderbolt (depending
on the sub-type) can appear differenr as well-
quite poI-bellied in some 'lews and regularly
curn:d in others, Some machines from the
P-f7C-5 did indeed have an extrn "keel" section
to enable sttengthened belly tank/bomb
shackles to be fitted. There was a distinci bulge
on the undcrside as a result. Em the trouble
with that kind of modification is that iT mises
lhe following quesTion. were all suh-types
similar in outline from that point on? If the
RIGHT Next, major parts are
removed from the kit sprues
using sprue cutters. These can
be used to make a clean cut
close to the plastic part.
minimizing later "clean-up."
answer is a qualified no., it docs nOl 3ctually help
the modeler much. Comparing the kit p3ns 10
as many photos as possible is the only W3Y 10
decide if the plastic matches the met3!.
So, having washed all the parts on the sprues
and thoroughly scrutinized what came OUI
of the box, and assuming that the 1'-47 kil
you arc building is accurate enough not to
require major surgery with a file or scalpel,
construction of the main sub-assemblies can
proceed. Dy this stage you will have cut off the
twO fuselage halves and the wing to see how
they match up.
It goes without saying that you alsQ need to
check that the horizontal tailplancs 3re ready
for assembly thc right way up. This is because
they may h3\'e previously oc-cn detached and
sub-assembled. In case you have done this
preparatory ,"ork but neglected to check if the
trim tabs and any prominent mass balances are
where they should be., consulr the instructions,
which should male this clear. The same
goes for trim tabs on the ailerons and the
wings. I"'e seen numerous references to the
fact that kit manufacturers have lert these on
the kit when they were in fact omined from a
given sub-type.. And of course the opposite is
also true, so knowledge of the sub-IYpe of
aircraft you're working with is quite important.
These arc annoying details to find oul laler
when painting a trim tab that your particular
variant did not in fact ha\'c!
Previous mention of a scalpel brings us to
another essential item III our tool kiL Any form
of sharp knife will suffice to cut what is osually
relatively soft plastic, mducling those that
have snarroffhlades. Those by Swann Morton,
sold with a range of different-shaped blades,
arc probably the most versatile. 1 find a lOA
blade [0 be the most useful for trimming
plastic components, as it is not too long to
risk breakage. Also, the blade remains sharp
enough to enable repeated trimming or
scraping lightly along a SL'am to remove a
glue bubble without any surface scralching, as
happcns when using the "wet and dry" sanding
method. Those annoying hairline scams that
can appear on upper and lower wing surfaces
when gluing - no how matter how careful
you've been during the dry runs - can easily be
removcd by a scalpel held at an angle to the
offending joint.
Also, I ill\'ariably usc Swann Morton blades
as drills.. Gently rotated, the pointed blades are
ideal for making that c.xtra locating hole or
opening out a gun trough. Provided that due
restraint is c:.:erciscd (the blades otherwise
being liable to snap in half or at least lose ,heir
tip) such work can be completed without resort
to an electric drill. Patience, that supreme
modeling :lid, applies. A round flIe can be used
to clean up thc machine-gun port, Inlake or
whatever area you need to drill oU[. On 1'-·47s a
\\ ing root camera port may need to be added if
the kit does nOl indicate it.
"Wet and dry" sandp:lpcr is lL'iUally sold in
sheets varying in surface roughness, \\;th the
working side in black with a plain backing. It is
one of those time-tested modeling aids that is
invaluable for a whole rangc of sanding from
'·cry light to heavy duty. Repc3t usage ....;11
result in a \·ery smooth surface that remains
idcal for very light sanding of canopy edges and
so forth. Any hea\'y sanding is bcst carried out
with a sheet of wei and dry attachcd to a firm
base and onto which considerable prc.<;sure may
be applied.
If scratches on the plastic surface persist
despite liberal use of wet and dry, a proprietary
metal polish product sUl..:h as Duraglit Silyo
will add that final sheen. The subsequent coat(s)
of paint should cover the surface abrasions.,
particularly when applied by airbrush. Care
nceds to be taken when using: :my abrasive
however worn it might be as there is a risk of
rcmm·ing the paint undcr that authemic sheen
you're trying to achieve. Scratches on canopy
sections are particularly :lnnoying but polishing
with ordinary toothpaste can restorc d a r i t ~ ' .
In e."treme cases., where a (:oat or two of paint
will clearly not cO\·er gaps or surfacc abrasions.,
model filler or what is generally termed "body
puny" should be used. My personal choice is
Green Putty, an American product that has
been on the market for many years hut has
since been joined by similar products produced
elsewhere. Even the best-fitting kits may
require a Liny spot of putty, particularly if the
mold maker has been a little over cnthusiastic
with extracting component parts from the
locating pins inside the mold. This action
sometimes leaves a sink mark or dimple or two
on the plastic surfacc, which should be filled.
Kever use too much, as the rubbing down
process may itself create supplementary
indentations, which also need filling! All such
pUllies intended for usc with polystyrene
plasric are pliable as they comc out of the
tube and remain so for as long as they need
10 be induced into gaps.. Left to harden ofT
o\'emight, the)' can then be smoothed ofTto the
point where any unsightly join line is all but
Having gone through thc above initial
stages., lhe modeler should havc all the main
sub assemblies trimmed and ready for sticking
lOgelher and the fuselage sections cleaned
up ready for mating. Don't forget to lightly
roughen the butt joint edges to improve
adhesion. Then comes the question of painting
the interior of thc Thundcrbolt's cockpit.
Fortunately the P-47 had quite a crowded
crew position and with Ihe seat, armor plate,
instrument panel, gun sight and control
column in situ, few of the details on the
fuselage sidewalls ean readily be seen, due
mainly to the cun-arure of the fuselage at that
poin!. This means that a black "shadow coat"
followed by base coat of Dull Dark Green, with
some structural part... painted in zinc chromate
and black can be all that is needed_
There were se\'cral shades of prolective
chromate paint used on CSAAF aircraft, most
of them varying from yellow to a liverish green.
These days most model paint manufacturers
include a chromate green as part of their rangc
and the shade chosen will be one of the first
ABOVE The P-'17D propeller
assembly is broken down in a
unique fashion that accur.llely
represents the join between the
front and rear of the hub, and
also guarantees the COf'l'ect pitch
for the propeller blades. This
little assembly was prepared by
p;linting the hub silver. followed
by a wash of black oil paint to
highlight bolt detail. The
propeller blades were then
painted black with yellow tips.
LEFT The P-47D engine
comprises only eight parts but
the detail is very good indeed.
Careful detail painting and an oil
wash maximized the detail on
the plastic parts.
paints to hc applied to the mode!. Areas
such as the tailwheel and mainwheel wells
and the edges of the undercarriage doors which
on P-47s, \\·ere often quitc visible as a chrome
yello\\·; orange shadc, nced to he so treated.
Some P-47 kits extend to a canvas dust hoot
around the tailwheel oleo and this may need to
be painted at this stage, along with the two
retaining rods that kcep the tailwheel doors
open. Simulatcd on some kits, these rods may
be added as separate items if the modeler so
wishes. The cockpit console and sidewalls also
need painting at this stage, as do the seat and all
areas of the cockpit visible through the canopy.
l\tlost fighter models require thc cockpit
detail to be completed at an early stage, as this
sub-assembly will be trapped hy the fuselage
halves when they arc glued. Some items such
as a separate headrcst and radio sets that arc
located aft of the pilot's scat may be left until
later. As a considerable degree of handling of
the model lies ahead, you don't need flimsy
parts that arc liable to come lose snapping off
and perhaps being lost forever.
]0 sum up, the less you rcally necd to add
before the aircraft has its fuselage and perhaps
wings assembled, the better.
By studying the accompanying instruction
sheet, the modeler will now havc a good idea
of how the kit has been broken down for case
of assembly and the number of stages this will
I find that kit instructions always need a
modicum of personal interpretation at certain
stages of construction although famillarity with
the aircraft type will soon enable much of the
assemhly to be completed without constant
reference to them. In recent years manufacturers
have almost dispensed with the cost of
translating instructions into six-plus languages
and instead have reverted to illustrations. This
means that anyone from Yorktown to Yokahama
is theoretically able to assemble the kit with the
minimum of trouble - certainly not bccause a
word (or ten) cannot be understood. In fact kit
design for American single-engine fighter
models follows much the same pattern and few
people should run imo difficulties in assembling
a Thunderbolt. On the other hand, the various
stages have to be elearly understood to ensure
that the sheet does not suggest, for example, that
the assembly of the main landing gear is not
tackled too early. It is well known that alignment
of a kit's wings and tailplane against the \'ertical
is vital: if the dihedral angle is 100 steep, the
landing gear oleos will im·ariably be too high and
the wheel toe-in (or out) will sutTer. Vertical
alignment of the mainwheels also needs to be
carefully done, so the landing gear assembly
should ideally to be completed althe same time.
Should the kit instructions suggest early
attachment of the gear, ignore them. Applying
adhesive to all three undercarriage legs mUSI
wait until the wing angle has been obtained
satisfactorily, otherwise even the best model
risks !rJining a few scale degrees of dihedral on
RIGHT The Tamiya kit's
instrument panel is quite good. It
features blank instruments and
offers the option of either
painting the dials or applying a
decal over the top of the whole
panel. Instead, I decided to apply
individual instrument decals for
each of the dials after punching
them from Tamiya's kit decal
sheet.A Waldron micro Punch
and Die was used for this
precision task.
LEFT The individual decals were
sealed with a spot of floor wax
to reinforce the impression of a lens in front of each
instrument. The detail on the
Tamiya P-47D kit's sidewalls
looks great too. Detail in silver,
white. red and even semi-gloss
black (over the flat black b.lise
coat) was picked OtJt with a fine
one wing compared \\-ith the opposite side
while the adhesin' that fixes them in position
drics OUI. Cnsighdy gaps rna} also appear at
the wing rooLS and require use of filler and
sandpaper to eliminate them. But if basic
precautions are raken, the dr)-run fitting of
pans should result in a near perf(."(;t marrying
up all round.
Wing (Q fuselage joints oftcn pose problems
in alignmelH, as do OIhcr major wmponents
that arc molded separately tu onc another on
the sprue. There can be few things more
irksome than to ha\'e a wing- jUt forward of the
root fillet section and overhang at the trailing
edge. What to do? Tn extrcme cases the only
remedy is to employ filk... to build up the fillu
before the wing halvcs an.: joined to it. Then,
using ample adhesi\'e, aim to obt:Jin as firm a
bond as possible before S3nding the offending
ioim down after the wing is att:Jchcd. I low
much work you'll ha\e 10 do depends on the
design of the kit in qucstion, but the butt joint
is still commonly used on models of P-4-7s and
single-engine aircraft of similar configuration.
Should you now be a little impatienl to complete
your Thunderboh and add the finishing touches,
rhere is no reason why time nt.w be spenl
on adding extra detail to the cockpit area.
Today, most good kits, induding the excellent
T;lmiya one shown in thc photographs that
accompany this chapter, come with all that the
nlOl.leler needs to give the rC(luired depth to
this area, including dCl'als to be attached to a
plastic section representing the instrument
panel. Cockpit sidewalls, with lheir \':Irious
instruments, boxe:i and IC'lTfS, are im-ariably
molded in relief :md need only careful painling
and rna} be a little additional d ~ - brush wear and
tear, 10 bring them out. Paint the inside as
accurately as possible. both from your rcfcrcot.'CS
and the kit inSlructions.
It is of course entirely an ehoi(.'(:
how much :additional work [Q put into thc
cockpit interior. For example, do you want
merely 10 pick out the scat harness with paint,
or add your own hom a multi-media accessory
kil, such as the Eduard one shown in the
jlholOgraph on p:age 22i [laving decided
whclher or nOI to h:ave the finished model with
an open or closed hood section will oftcn
determine Ihe .answer. In the elosed position,
howe\ er e!<,'ar the transparent sections of the
razorback "greenhouse" are, there \\-ill be some
distortion. The degrec of delail \-isible through
lhe bubbletop CJ,nopy of a P---17D is also limitt.'<!
due to the brace mt."(:hanism behind the Jlilot's
seal, the hc:adrcst and in all \'ersions, the
nOlable eu!\-ature of rhe fuselage al that point.
II should be stressed ar this junelure thaI
the foregoing is intended for the enlhusiastic
beginner to do as the chapter heading s.ays - to
gel Slarted. NOl for a moment would I suggcsI
that the highly skilled builder who also intends
to enter his model in a competition would wanl
LO skimp the cockpit, particularly bearing in
mind th:1( event judges invariahly carry pen
torches to probe the model's innards to see
exactly holl' mut:h has been put in - or left off.
ABOVE The only extra item
destined for the P-47D kit was a
harness from Eduard's set No. 49
00 I: Seatbelts USAF & USN
WWII.These photo-etched belts
have been pre-painted and are
microscopically detailed.
Building a model straight out of the box,
using only what is provided by the manufacturer
without any modification, has been legitimized
by the International Plastic :\lodeling Society as
a competition in its own right: there could
hardly be better proof of how high a standard
today's kits have reached, such as the Tamiya
P-47D shown. Above all, modeling should be an
enjoyable, absorbing pastime, not a stress-ridden
search to acquire every accessory on the market.
Like football, which was once only a game,
model making can become a high cost, angst-
ridden, reputation-risking business. Don't ever
let that happen to you!
There still many modelers who have never
quite mastered the art of spraying models with
an airbrush, and who get along with the time
honored hand-held brush. I suspect however
that such individuals are in the minority,
particularly if there is a penchant for the larger
scale kit. An airbrush is almost essential for
covering relatively large areas of plastic with
paint, although 1 note that the number of coats
necessary for complete, in-depth coverage can
be quite high, and the time it takes is not
insubstantial either.
Having been totally in the hands of a
succession of inueasmgly beat-up Badger and
Aztec airbrushes in recent years, I've come to
know my place. 1 spray how the brush wants
to most of the time but holJ the option of
replacing the thing if it flatly refuses to comply
after repeated deamng and bathing in thinners.
Stripping the brush nght down to give il a
thorough clean remains a last resort although
many people won't do this on the grounds that
it might not go back together correctly, thereby
postponing completion of the model. You can
actually get away with merely spraying through
the old color and regularly washing the brush
in thinners and/or a proprietary cleaner that
comes in aerosol form.
Obviously, successful airbrushing requires
the user to follow some cardinal rules,
including using light shades before dark ones,
and taking care when spraymg silver or
aluminum to clean the brush (even more
thoroughly than usual) to avoid conumination
of other colors.
The rapid amount of heat generated by
the average compressor in about one hour's
spraying is surprising. The model I currently
usc has a nasty tendency to jam if it becomes
too hot but luckily gets going again when it has
been allowed to cool down. As an alternative
to a compressor, canned gas propellant will
"drive" an airbrush: although it gives a high
enough pressure to activate the brush, the
pressure can vary. If the '--"Oln has been stored for
some time the contents can go flat, leading to
uneven pressure and the need to constantly
shake the contents into life. This on-off
tendency alone soon makes people invest in a
compressor. Those on the market arc either
universal, or intended for usc with a certain
brand of airbrush, the prices varying to suit
different needs and the degree of features.
These include a pressure regulator, a water trap
and the capacity to operate more than one
brush at a time, if necessary. Homemade
compressors still figure in modeling, the
advantage with this type being that extra
features can be fitted for convenience and
flexibility in spraying.
\Vhatever paint applicator system one
employs, the difference an airbrush makes in
obtaining a smooth finish to a model cannot be
over-emphasized. That is not to imply that
hand brushing no longer has a place in model
making, as a se[ of fine sables is indispensable,
ideal for bringing ou[ in[ric:ue dc[ail in [he
aircraf[ cod:pi[, [ires, wheel hubs and engines,
[0 name bm a few areas. Running [hinned
paint into pand lines to emphasize wear IS
ano[her important func[ion of small brushes in
typically 00, 0 and 01 sizes. Brushes are also
necessary to place decals correclly and where
necessary, to apply a coal or I \\"0 of softening
'10 return to our P-47D: having sprayed or
hand painted all areas of the interior that will
be visible once the twO fuselage halves arc
attached, and completed lhe eodpit, our
model is a further step ncarer to completion.
By this stage a choice holo!> to be made on thc
final color scheme, based eilher on an overall
camounaged effect or nalural metal finish
(:\"MF). II is not [hal unpainted USAAF
fighters ever remained in prisline conditioned
(,.'omp3.roo to their eomemporaries in olivc
green and ncmral gray camounage paim - it is
just th3.t [he weathering effec[ was somcwhat
different. From the modeler's viewpoin[, a
poor joint thai can be hidden b} sc\ eral coats of
Oli\-e Drab will nOl be quite so cas}' to disguise
\\'i[h a plain finish.
Aluminum or sih'er paint has slightly
different propenies to Ihe pigment m all
o[her color shades and some model pamts
arc specially formulated to be Iightcr for
application by airbrush. The coats will
therefore be thinner, allowing the model's
surfacc detail - or scral ches - to show through
that much more easily. Care and patience
should result in hardly any bad joints being
visible - but the old adage dIal if things can go
wrong, they in....ariably will, applies as much [()
modeling as any other human endeavor -
probably more so for some people!
At this poin[ we need to look 3.t the range of
adhesi\'es available. The mOSt popular arc the
liquid cement [ype m3.rketed b} such firms as
Humbrol, and hC3\"ier duty lubc-ccm(:m type.
This Ialter is also sold by commercial suppliers
and model kit companies 3.nd is mOSt widely
used for firmly bonding joints such as wing
sections to the fuselage - anywhere that a
sl'ronger join is necessn}'. L'scd less tOO3.Y than
il once was, tube cemenl would, if you arc
clumsy, craze the plaslic sur(;u..:c. On the one
hand this may assure a bettcr bond as the two
plastic faces lend to melt into ea<.:h other, but
the drawback is l'hat the cement can lie on the
surfaces, suy pliable and bulge out of [he joint
when two surfaces are mated up under
pressure. As with :1.11 aspects of this hobby, 3.
light touch when applying the cement will p3.Y
di\'idcnds. Ilelp is at hand \\ ilh Re"cll's
Comaeta cement, which comes in a
fk.xipack with a slim nozzle applie:.ttor. This
metal extension rube is ideal for gctling
adhesivc into [hose inaccessible corners where
an cxtra drop or [wo \\ill ensure that nothing
comes loose, panicularly inside the fuselage.
Otherwise, liquid cemenl will cope with
most modeling tasks. Applied sparingly, it
leaves virtually no trace on lhe plastic surface
(although it certainly will mark the plastic
ABOVE The Eduard beltS were
mounted on top of the rail behind
the pilot's seat. representing the
V«f they looped oYer md behind
this bar.The brown he.ildrest
received a wash of thinned IQw
Umber oil paint to make it look
more leather-like.Tiny silver chips
were added to the seat. the floor
and the rear bulkhead using a
silver pencil.
BElOW The P-47D's raised
ribbed flooring is very impressive
and free of any molding
BElON The pre-painted P-47D
componenu were brought
together in preparation for
assembly. Note that even the
edge of the wing root has
painted Zinc Chromate Yellow.
This forms part of the main
wheel well. The assembly at the
top right-hand side of the photo
is the wing spar_This guanntees
mat me wing dihednl will be set
at me correct angle.
if :Iccidcntally spilled) :md without the
"stringing" cffect that tube cement can creatc.
Liquid :adhesi,-c is applied with :I small
brush - often supplied with the boule it comes
in - and works by capillary :lction so that it
creeps quieldy along the smallest of joints_ Its
general non-staining properties m:ake it ide:ll
for attaching clear parrs to solid sections, such
as cockpit canopies and formation lights_ It
has the slight disadnntage of sometimes
drying so quicl:ly on contact with :lir thar
rept.':l.( :applications are necessary. This type of
adhcsiw, which has all but revolutionizcd
plastic modeling, is becoming more efficient
and substances that come into the plastic-weld
(3 liquid adhesi,-e is marketed by .\"licros(:ale
under thar name) category em occ:tSionally be
used to close up gaps that \\ould otherwise
n..quire filling and filing - fWO chorcs that I.
and 1 suspect many others, dislike intensely_
I}crsonally, I ne,-er use enough adhcsj'·e.
0ver the years, and maybe remembering the
d:ays when models ,,-ere marked by the amount
of dricd adhesive one could actually sec in
the joints, I've taken the warning "use glue
sp:ll'ingly" rather to heart. nut today the range
of adhesi,-cs to cover all modeling tasks is
wide and you can chose the one that suits, :J.
combination of l>olystyrene cement and liquid
adhesive being ideal for most modeling tasks.
If all else fail... (superglue) will
surely do the joh. The one drawback in using it
is that, lad:ing the nexibility of other model
adhcsi,'cs, you ha\"c to get the positioning right
first time and closely monitor Ihe drying Out
To ensure that the glued parts hold together
along their entire length, Wf3.p elastic bands or
adhcsi,-c tape around them, check continually
that no slippage has meanwhile occurred
between left and right or top and bonom
hah'cs, and lea"c ,hem to dTy This
is where :a useful and simple modeling tool
comes into its own - allaeh household
clothes pegs along the wing leading and
trailing edges. This can be prefcTablc to clastic
LEFT The fuselage fits together
beautifully. The prominent wing
spars can be seen protl'1Jding
from me fuselage. just as they
did on the real aircraft.
oonds, II hich might snag an in silll aerial or
other delicate l,:omponent. On a P--47 kit you
may for exampll.:, ha\'c had to fit two carriers
for lhe eight wing guns within the two wing
hah'{,'S prior 10 gluing. The blast tubes will of
course sTi,k out of ea,h kading edge and any
hea\'y-handcdncss in wrapping The rubber
bantls around the wing mighT risk
sn:lpping them off, so :l humbk peg or two
cum,s in I"cry handy.
For dClal1 painting, decal application or
tasks such as anchuring aerial wires securely, a
desk-Illouilled damp may be the answer. Set
at any given angle with ,I number of jaws to
hold The model rigid, these m:lY be used in
conjunctiun with spedal daylight lighting
(bulbs or specially-{\esignetl l:lmps) and hand-
held or rigid magnifiers, if required.
Special adhesivcs will be noccssary if your
modeling branchcs out into using brass etch
and othcr customizing accessories. A range of
cpnoacrylatcs arc a\'ailahlc from specialist
supplicrs, thc adh(.'si\·cs sold for model making
often having bccn specially formulated to
get good results from bonding otherwise
incompatible materials such as copper, plastic
and rcsin. The hcst guide to determining the
correct adhcsivc for the job you have in mind is
to check guides that appear from time to time
in the modeling press, ahhough the mail order
hO\L<>CS will be happy to advise 011 what product
will best suit your particular requirements.
The accessory it'Self (or the ret:ailer who slocls
it) should also pro\'ide some guidance in this
One reason for great care in checking wing and
tailplane alignmenl and making surc they will
indeed fit well wit hout need for much post
adhesil"e rubbing down is that it is perfectly
possible to digress considerably from the
instruction sheet. By this I mean completing
all the work on the 1'--17 fuselage including
painting and maybe applying the decals before
assembling and attaching thc wings.
Any work on the fuselage, where most of the
decals and det;til painting :ll'C grouped, will be
far casier wilhout the wings and tailplanes
sticking Oul al righl angles and getting in the
way. You m;ty also IVan I to postpone attaching
the engine cowling for a similar reason.
.\hsking for painting will thus be far easier and
should lhere be any need for hand painting, i.e.
as an alte1'llali\'c 10 persuading a decal to lay
down around lhe nose ring of a 1'-47 cowling,
lhen working on an uncluttered fusdab"C will
pro\·ide much more fn.. -edom of mo\·ernenl. It
should be emphasized here that before tadding
lhe fuselage lhe fit of the other parts will have
been checked for good alignment
and trimmed \\ here n(''CCSS:1ry.
Once you are sure. thaI c\'cf)1hing will fi[
well when you are ready for final assembly, the
wings may be attached t'O the fuselage. When
this is carried out, O\'cr half the job will ha\'e
been done. More time will be S3vcd if you pre-
spray the wings and t.tilpJanc and any other
parts when you apply the fuselage color: the
importance of oondueling se\'craJ dC)' runs
cannot be emphasized enough, Check again
tD 4 4' •.
ABOVE The kit's engine cowl
fits well even without glue. The
flaps are connected via three
hinges per side. Different hinge
partS are used depending on
whether the flaps are raised or
lowered. Ideally. if the flaps are
to be depicted dropped. they
should be left off until after
painting to avoid accidentally
breaking them off dUring
that the wing to fuselage alignment is correct
and the dihedral angle is right. If so, each
undercarriage leg can be located and set ;1t the
correct forward-rake angle, taking care to view
these from head-on and from each side to
ensure that the toe-in IS also as per the original
aircra£[' It is very important [0 consult a
reference photo or twO for the correct "hang"
of the undercarriage legs., as kit instructions
can be vague and thrce-view plans simply
wrong aboul Ihis delail. Also make sure that
both oleo legs are in line on both sides. The
legs an be left [0 dry out by suspending Ihe
model inside an uptuml-d box lid (or tWO paint
tins of equal height). Any suitable lightweight
object can be used as props [0 suppon Ihe
fuselagc and ensure Ihat there is no mo\'emenl
of thc Icgs while Ihe adhesi\'c dries OUL
Once the undercarriage anglc has been sel
(;orr<;etl}, work can be carried out on any exrra
detail such as brake or hydraulic lines rhat need
to be run from lhe whl'Cl hub up inw the
well. While wartime fighters were not nearly
so complex in [his area as their modern day
counterparts, any small items you add 10 the
model should have logical anchorage points
Illside the well. Sway braces to kccp the
inboard undercarriage doors in place in rhe
down position also need to be attended to,
although these will usually be part of the kit.
When the oleos hal'e dried firmly, attach the
wheel well doors thaI: have been pre-painted,
and fit the wheels to their oleo pins..\hny kits
provide a choice bet\\een hub blanking platcs
or "open" hub spokes. If the kit you have
chosen does not, and the chosen P--47 subject is
a late-war e.'\:ample, ",heel hubs with the spokes
visible might need to be found from elsewhere.
This sort of deuil is often hard to check:
aircraft wheels usually had hub plates but in
some theaters of war the ground crew regularly
left them off if they were prone to a build up
of mud. Then there is Ihe fac[Or of different
wheel hubs being fined to laler production
aircraft - but you won't find many P-17
references going into such dClail, so the reliable
yardstick of "model whal you sec" holds good
in this insrance. PholOgraphs arc once again
the most reliable guides and it is pleasing to
sec that modern kits (and decal sheets) are
increasingly including reference photos on
their instructions.

Wheels on fighter kitS have only recently
matured to the point where we gel treads and
"flats" for an aircraft under load. This is a
definite plus on behalf of the manufaClUrers bm
do dH.'d: that Ihe degree of l03d is nOl excessive
to Ihe point where if the tires were as flat as
shown, the aircraft would nOl roll. Many kits
still have "round" wheels, in which case
make your own Oat area on each tire. Also of
importance is to check the cross section of the
wheels supplied in the kilo While things are
much better in this respec1 !.han £hey used £0 be
in the dars when tires were generally too thin
.....hen viewed from head on, manufacturers
can still slip up. In addition, the tires should
ha,"c the corn.'C1 tread p2uem: a dose srudy
of photographs and manwls re\'eals noticeable
differences over the length}' production lifetime
of an aircraft such as the P-47.
Apart from references to the fitting of low-
pressure tires (not necessarily on P-47s), not
even the manufacturers of tires were closely
identified with supplying the wartime aircraft
companies, Republic in this instance. The
houschold-n:;amc m:;anufaClUrers of today were
doing just the same during the w:;aT. Our
how man}' pt.'Ople can Slate categorically "P-47
wheels wcrc always fitted with Goodyear
tires"? If so, how much did the patterns vary?
Wartimc US combat aircraft did not, [Q my
knowledgc, havc different tire compositions
and tread patterns for different operating
conditions such as the variety fiued to Formula
1 racing cars, for example - if only life was that

So, in dealing with this kind of \'exed
question, ne\'er assume anything; JUSt gi\·e the
model wheels to match those in the reference
photos as closely as possible, You may say that
nobody ....;11 notice, which may be true - bur
once you get an eye for these things., you at least
know .....-hat looks better on your own model.
Before leaving the subject of p...\i wheels,
indi\'idual examples of the earlier machines
sported a variety of designs on the hub plates.
These included white numbers, different
segments painted in squadron colors and even
a reproduction of the unit insignia - rake a
close look to see what can be detected in
photographs. You may well come across a nice
little extra detail that can be added to further
enhance the model, For c.umple, on late-....-ar
P-47Ns, idemi£)' on flight lines was enhanced
by repeating the aircraft number on the
mainwhee1 covers.
Final detailing of your P-47 includes loc-ating
the propeller, running an aerial wire from
the radio mast to the fin, and auending to
any ordnance you wish the model to carry.
P-47 propellers had at least four different
blade shapes but the most important thing is
the source of the manufactutcr because their
LEFT After assembly,.lI tiny
Se.lItTl line W<1S visible on the
P-470's lower fuselage. This
W<1S filled with Mr Sumter
.lind sanded lightly with fine
.lIbrasive paper. This wu the
only filling .lind sanding required
on me entire kiL

ABOVE Aeromaster sheet
AMD48-71 includes spectacular
markings for a hard-working
P---47D in natural metal. The
decals perfonned perfectly. with
no Q-nier film visible even
before a sealing coat over the
markings. The meGllic surface
was wetted with Micro Set
before the decals were applied.
A thin coat of Micro Sol setting
solution was brushed over the
decals to ensure tnat they
settled right iow panel lines..
Step by step photographs on
achieving the nawn.! metal finish
on this model will be dealt with
in Chapter 6: Special Techniques.
S ~
product was nOlit:eably differcnr. Does thc
reference indicate the Curtiss Electric type
(quilC poimcd, with blade cuffs) or a Hamilton
SlandarJ, which was broader without (uITS!
The hubs ',-ere also different, Ihc Curtiss ')"PC
having a more pointed front end while the H$
had a rounded, more domed appearance.
While there may eYen be a choice of
propeller in your kit, the radio aerial will be a
standard fitting. Cheek that il is of the right
height and strong enough [Q support the aerial
wire. using thin fishing line or stretched sprue,
add the wire stretched between the maSt and
the fin. A small drop of rube cement should be
enough to replicate the condensers, which arc
often the only items visible in photos to provc
that therc was a wire there at all. Anchor the
wire firmly with superglue.
Selecting the drol' tanks, bombs or rockets
your Thunderhoh (,.';Jrrics will depend a lot
on the wartime date. Different drop ranks and
ordnance were introduced progressively on
wartime Thunderbolts bUl kil manufacturers
get carried a wa)' sometimes and throw in all
the bombs, tanks 3ml rockets they can fit on the
sprues. Faced with all of this, the novice may
not realize the stress limitations that prevcntcd
the entire lot being loaded at once!
Various sub-types of P-H - and most other
fighter types - were built and/or modified to
rake '·anous types of Stores, so some familiarit}'
with serial numbers of the variants soon
becomes a necessity. Even armed with the
information that explains on which sub-types a
particular item of ordnance was carried, field
modifications to update older aircraft can hold
hidden pitfalls for the modeler. In WillC combat
units older Thunderbolts rarely gave war
entirely to new replacements, as there was an
acute shortage in some areas. \Vhen you 3re
aware that it was not unknown for a front-line
group to receive a half dozen P-47 sub-variants
at one time, the notion that for example, the
bubblelOps replaced the razorbad:s is, as a
general statement, far from truc. This brings
the record of actual e,-cnt..., p1:l.ccs and dates
into the realm of modeling more than mighl
initially be realized.

Having: d<..'Cid<..'<! on the markings our P-I7 will
gel il is time to choose the decals, either one of
the options pro\'idl:d in the kit, or a commercial
sh<..'Ct with scveral altcrnati,·c subjects, such as
the A(.'Tomastcr sheet shown on page 28. The
Janet will not always include the national
insignia, which is suppli(:d on the kit sheet,
so these should be cut as closely as possible
and applied. Now comes another of lhose ncar-
impossible questions rcg.uding markings. Prior
to D-Day all tat.1icll P--I7s had an additional
55 or 60 inch (the diametCJ" of the st:ar on bluc
roundcl) size national insignia under the right
wing - but when was it rcmo\'oo?Thcrc docs not
seem to ha\"C been a published order covering
this requirement, and the modeler will nore both
marl.:ing styles remaining in usc for some time
after D-Day. In fact he often won't actually sec
the underside of the subject aircraft dearly as
even good quality reference photographs arc
invariably in deep shadow if they haye been
through a reproduction process. And of course,
the only reference photo you ha\·e may have been
taken from the "wrong" side anyway. The fact
that the national insignia appears on the
underside of the starboord wing is no indicator of
whether is also appeared on the port side.
The I)oint of all this in modeling terms
is that the 1:Irgest size underwing national
insignia on P-47s was paimcd on before the
pylons were arrached. The kir instructions
should be a guide to {his and the decJI sheet
may include the exrra insignia with a couple of
spots to indicate where {he pylon I)ins go - but
don't bank on this always being the case,
particularly if the kit decal olnions are not
lL';cd. All the modeler can do in this instance is
assume that in the European Theater after a
given d:lte an 8th or 9th Air Force p-·f7D will
haye had the additional insignia applied.
The prohlem of determining P-H markings
at a certain date wit h IOtal accuracy is
somewhat compounded by replacement
aircraft. ~ [ o s t groups suffered losses during
combat mis..<;ions in 19++--45 and lxnh new
production and older :lircraft \\ere recei\·ed.
A grcat many P-4jDs, both r:lzorbacks and
bubbletops, were passed on 10 the 9th Air Force
by the 8th Air Force as its groups com·erred
to :\lustangs but I don't know the full e.nent
of repainting after the.c;e latter machines were
refurbished at depots. Photogr:lphic evidence
would hO\\'e\·er appear 10 indicate that a
pristine exterior for tactical aircraft was the last
thing to trouble AAF planners al that time.
Thc p-.J.j combat groups themseh'es
worked under the pretext of "if it isn't broken,
don't fix it": photos show razorbacks in service
at thc end of the war complete with their
LEFT A thin coat of flat vamish
was sprayed over the model to
tone down the contrast between
the panels and to blend the
decals with the model's sumce.
The kit's canopy fiu quite
securely wimour glue. The
windscreen is recessed into the
forward fuselage, and the sliding
canopy section snaps into
position. effectively locking the
windscreen into place.
RIGHT The completed P-47D.
unit's final color recognition markings and as
one would expect, a preay beat up appearance.
Invariably the shiny, recent replacement
bubbletops can be noted on the same flight line
- all of which makes modeling the American
wartime fighters a fascinating if occasionally
frustrating pastime.
Lastly, our P-47 needs fuel 10 get to the
target and something to attack it with. Here
again reference to color phOlOS will confirm the
shade of paint used on the \'arious types of
drop tank, but there arc guidelines. If we lake
the standard cylindrical I08-gal. type, the
ruling was that those manufactured in the UK
were painted gray while those tanks from 1.:S
production were NME Anomalies occur when
pholos indicate a darker shade of color on
lanks as these were sometimes taken from
aircraft and stores daring from the rime that
camouflage was in usc. Another reason 10
check those dates.
As 1.0 the design of tank hanging under your
subject: model, photos (and experience) will
soon enable you to sort out the cylindrical
from the fiat type, even if the aircraft is viewed
in profile and the tank is hard lO see in
those shadows mentioned before. Thc leasl
confusion is provided by a le:lrdrop-shaped
75-ga1. tank.
When it comes 10 adding ordnance., the
I)'pe and color of bombs carried by P-47s must
be taken inlo consideration. ThanHully,
model kits have finally reached a level of
sophisTication that has made toolmakers largely
stop the practice of incorporating the rack into
one half of the bomb. Such molding-in makes
model kit bombs look less than amhentic but if
Ihis old type matches the size you need, simpl)'
cut the pins ofT thc "smooth" half and stick
two male/female halves together. You'll need
to havc several kits or a heahh)' spares box to
get enough male or female halves, bUl this is
preferable LO hacking an inlegr3l rack ofT the
Also irksome are bombs with grooves in the
surface to enable them LO altach firmly. Once
a ~ " 3 i n , many recent kiL<; comain correctly scaled
attachment points for bombs and drop tanks,
complete with tiny screw down clamps which
WCtC usually angled inwards from the carrier
rack. I feel that pins designed [0 penetrate
the surface of kit bombs is all right provided
that the scale is correct. Firm altachment of
ordnance can be trieL:)", especially if the model
needs to be mo'·ed around, so an extra drop of
cement may be vcry necessary to keep them in
Formnalely, many of toclay's fighter kits
also pro\'ide separate bomb fins. In a
continuing attcmpt LO obtain true scale
accuracy the manufacturers are achieving
vcry acceptable thin scclions in these tiny
components. Bm there is a limit to whal Ihe
molding process will stand. If you be3r in
mind that no plastic bomb (or rocL.-et) used
on a P--47 kit (in any scale) would look out of
place with fins the thickness of a piece of
typing paper, you'll quickly reject all but the
\'cry best and vcry thinnest of kit components.
This will unfortunately clean out almost all
your plastic armament stock because so many
bombs have in the past had fins that wcre far


100 thick for scale accuracy. Re-culting them
all from plastic card is the real answer but in
suggesl'ing this' do not dismiss the complexity
of the task, especially when dealing with
bombs filled with those intricate box-type
fins. If bomb improvement proves to be too
lime-<ol1suming, there's no reason not 10
delay finishing the rest of the kit - you can
always detail the bomb(s) hiler. It's not a
bad idea 10 resene painting and marking of
bombs and other items of ordnance until such
time as you can complete enough for se\eral
models. Focusing on this one aspect of model
making does breed familiarity with colors and
markings. Selting aside the bomb(s) may also
be advantageous if you are awaiting deli,"cry
of the latest brass-etch accessory with which
10 detail the fins and add arming wires and
those liny fusing propellers.
AnOlher job in this area or the kit is to
check Ihe detail orrhe wing racks. As is obvious
rrQm photos. P-47 racks were some or the
Iargesl e\ er filled 10 US aircrarl. With their
prominenl sway braces they were also always
oovered in stenciled instructions, these being
supplied as decals in many current kits. The
laler type or P-47 rack also had a lever arm at
the rear 10 push Ihe bomb away rrom the wing.
This may need to be added to your kit.
Refernng back a minute to the undcrwing
insignia - if you arc modeling a P-47 opcr.tting in
the ETO and thc kit is onc or the old ones rrom
Monogram, the wing racks might ha\'c to be cut
oIT. This is a paln but the option chosed may
require you to apply the extra i n s i ~ ' l l i a under the
rack and to detail the rack. Alternatively, simply
cut the national insignia decal and set the
bars inboard of the racks on both sides, This will
also need to be done on scvCTal lin-scale
Thunderbolts that have their racks molded as
part or the wing too.
Rereren«s ror the oolors and markings of CS
wartime ordnance are rare. so to speak, as there
are rew handy guides to what is an IJ\'erlookcd
subjttt. E\'en the massi\,c camounage and
markings tomes do nI){ deh'c into the paint
schemes or air weaponry to any extent.
Fortunately, the books dc-.'Oled to the aircr.tft in
question can PrQ\'ide us with such information
and much else or imerestwthe modeler. Tne ~ t
sources are the widely a\-ailable books or color
photos, and magazine articles. Specialist modeling
journals have oovered Ihc subject: of bomb colors
o\'er the years, bUI in case the reader does not
ha\'e access to any or these, the standard USAAF
bomb colors are lisl:ed on page 114 of Ihis book.
BELOW A three-quarter rear
view of the completed Tamiya
P-47D Razorback.

odelers of wartime USAAP fighter
aircraft are arguably better otT than
those whose interests :ue cenrered
on virtually any 01 her aspect of a\'ialion, in
thai the amount of available reference malerial
is enormous. Most people will stan with a
few books, approaching the subjcct either from
the modeling end per se or from a study of
the historical aspecLS - campaigns, combat
operations, special missions, biographies of
pilots and unit histories. .Fortunately, all such
references will im'ariably contain phoLOgraphs
of relevant aircraft in monochrome or color,
and possibly, a page or I wo of color illustrations
in I he form of side-view profiles.
Recent decades have also seen the rise of
numerous "overview" books which detail
American wanime fighters in varying degn.. 'Cs
of depth, illustrated with photographs and
schematic drawings. Although the enthusiast
will most likely have purchased one or more of
these as m:w when t h e ~ first appeared or as
second-hand volumes since, he will prelty
soon learn that they lend to be continually
repacbged - like some kits - and contain the
same hackneyed color profiles and cutaways.
These 1:ll'ge-format, heavily illustrated tomes
do howcvcr havc some value for checking basic
dimensions and ~ o forth, providing lhal the
data contained lherein is reliable.
Every current monthly or quarlerly a.via.tion
maga7.ine, and many books aiming at :l high
volume readership and a share of :l lTowdlxl
matket, tend to include color profiles \\ hich \-ar)'
in quality to a significant degree. Oflen thcre is
also notice:able duplication of subject, for out
of all the thousands of CSAAP fighters th:lt
sa\\" combat, only a certain percentage had all
thcir markings fully rccorded. These ha\'c
been illustrated as sidc-vicw profiles many
times, simply because although the potential
\·ariatioll is vast, the numocr of aircraft about
which complcte details are knOlln seems to
expand only slowly. Therc is also the reality that
publishers will often re-usc existing material
rather than bear the l-ost of commissioning new
artwork! This situarion has in the past led to
bookshops being crowdl-d out with "pot boilers"
that should largely be ignored by the enthusiast
seeking to expand his horizons.
}oor these and other reasons, mall}' books on
J.;SAAF aircraft contain \-ariations On the same
old theme; "favorite" P-5ID J\'luslang schemes
such as the 361st Fighter Group's ++-1.f181/E2-
D "Detroit J\·lisg," and +4-13926/E2-5, various
Thunderbolts of the 56th righter Gl'OUp
RIGHT Aircraft profiles can
often provide inspiration lor a
modeler. This attr'3ctive
rendering of a P-40LWarhawk
was created digitally by Thierry
Dekker. It was used as the box
an on AMtecll·s 1/48-scale
P-40FIL kit.
\Volfpaek, Medal of Honor winner William
Shomo's F-6D ++-72505 "The Flying Under-
taker/Snook.<; 5th" and Ch:ules Nbd)onald's
P-38L "Putt Pun Maru" to name but a few, are
still regulars in modern bool.:.s on the subject - as
they arc bound to be, integral :IS (hey are to the
story of the rcspectil'e aircrafl and (he operations
they flew. These and olher well-known fighters
have :llso had \\;de exposurc as kit and
commercial decal subjects, the dr:lwback for the
modem modeler being th:lt these (,'Olor schemes
ha\'c already been used by oountkss mher kit
builders all O\'er the lI'orid.
In the unlikely cycnt th:1t no alternative
scheme can be found, a repn.:sl.:ntati\'e collection
of models of Srh Air I'"or-.:e l\tlustanl.,'"S will
prohably include these hackneyed old fa\·orites.
Modelers with access to better data will have
shunned these well-known schemes in f:lvOf of
something fresh. The sicuation :Irises wherehy
the modeler is able 10 complete a dozen kiL<; in
the markings of othcr ain"Taft in a gi\'en group
aCler publication of a new, wdJ-illustf:lted unit
Ob\'iously the :lrt work in somc books. either
airbrush rendered or computer sourced, is only
a.c; good a.c; the individual :.artist's references., his
interpret:llion and the techniC31 difficulties
involved m reproducing digital Images
accurately on the printed page. It is true to
say that the subject of US fighter colors
has expanded significantly in terms of fresh
schemes in the laSt ten years or so. While \\"C
still sce the fa\"orircs, they increasingly share
the single or double-page spreads of books and
magazines, as well as UCI.::t1 sheets, with less
familiar subjects. It is l'hese that ofler the
opportunity for new modeling projects.
Anolher welcome phenomenon of r(,'(:ent years
hac; been Ihe increase in the number of wartime
images, bolh printed and on film, in full color.
Many of Ihe stills Ihat have been reproduced
were uneartheu across the liSA
by the late Jeff Ethell and it is to him and
like-minded indi\iduals th:u the modeling
fraternity should be grateful for:1 whole area of
new data. It LOok decades, but those long-held
color \"iews h:l\'e finally seen public:uion. Books
such as Fighter ComJl/uni: Tlu Histor)' oJ
Aircraft Nf)Se Ar!, Wilr Ellglu ill Or/irinal Color
;\lld ?lIofic If-ar Eagles have added immensely
to our know1cuge of fighter camouflage and
markings as actually applied "in the field."
Color pholOgraphy has brought confirmation
(as lI'ell as contradiction) regarding the details
of certain aircraft, subjec1:S which, we ah\;IYs
assumed in our ignorance, were shot only in
monochrome. There is no reference as good a..c; a
color pho[O, hO\\e\er poorly it may have (raveled
in the 60 years since it was snapped. Onl)
through this can we pfO\'e that what C1,"eryone
thought \\as:a black tail stripe was in fact painted
in red or dark blue.
Among Ihe most valuable fcat\lT'CS of color
photos is confirmation of the shades used for
nose :lrt\\ork names and Jt is wcU known
that USAAF front line units used combinations
of red, ycllo\\ and while - in other words Ihe
most \'isible colours - to personalize their
machines, but it is pleasing to ha\'e thc faci
oonfirmed. Reds and yellows arc notoriously
difficult [0 determine from monochrome photos
and some individual aircraft schemes ha\'e been
the subject of guesswork for ycars.
Most experienced moJclers will usc the
standard p;\ckage of monotone photographs,
ABOVE Osprey Publishing offers
a wide selection of books in
their Aircraft of the Aces series.
These include historical nOles,
operational descriptions, many
wartime photos, line drawings
and profiles.
RIGHT Squadron/Signal
Publications cover a huge range
of aircraft subjects in their In
Action series. These soft-cover
books are presented in a
standard landscape format with
50 pages each, packed full of
photos and scrap view drawings.
The center pages feature
color profiles.
-i::' I
written evidence, plans and color drawings, plus
some color photos. Unfortunately it is not always
possible 10 extract all the information required
from a single \'olume. There are books that
indeed trap almost all there is to know bet \\een
two covers hm this is hardly e\'er the case in
regard 10 widely used aircraft such as US Army
fighters, so vast is the subject. Taking all war
theaters together, fighter color schemes run into
the hundreds if not thousands.
Another fascinating area of markings that
has been given the hardback hook treatment in
recent years is nose art. There are various liLIes
available but for the subject under rel,iell' US
Fighter Nose ",lrt by John and Donna Campbell
and Jeff Ethcll's The Ili.anr)' oj" /lircrllfl ,\'0.\(
Art arc both indispensable guides to the
subject. The latter volume not only shows the
reader the original calendar art from which
many of the pin-ups stemmed, but some
biographical notes on the artists themselves.
The Campbell tome is handily divided into
theaters and although not always prm'iding as
much caption detail as hoped, the hook can
set an enthusiast on the trail of the rest of the
aircraft, as of course only the front end is
usually depKted. One exception is the artwork
widely applied to the cockpit doors on P-39
Airacobras, a fighter type that remains 10 be
researched in depth to determine further
details, including III some cases the RAF serial
number. The question is: did the aircraft
have one applied or not? A model could be
incomplete without iT.
The vanety of published referem;es
outlined above prol-ides the modeler setting
up a library with most of what is needed to
complete a number of plastic kits. There arc
many very good value titles on the market and
although a high price will often be asked for
imported books, tlllS additional cost is offset by
lhe fact thJt full color books do not appear
every week.
In Europe there has been a steady flow of
published data on USAAF fighters despite
Ihe fact that some favored series such as Profiles
and Aircam have long since disJppeared. Osprey
has done much to redress any perceived lack of
an informative, English-language aviation book
series with their highly acclaimed Aircraft of the
Aces, Combal Aircraft: and Production 10 Front
Line series.
Some of the titles covering aces have
presented many hitherto unknown marking;s
details to delight lhe model maker. The
\'arious authors of these titles also do their best
10 unearth photographs to back up the color
profiles (which are usually of exceptionally
high quality), as lhis is ultra-important to the
modeler. Types such as the P-40 Warhawk ha\'e
received little prior covcrage with regard to the
most successful pilots who new them after the
American Volunteer Group had completed its
stint in China and Burma. Carl _I'vlolcsworth's
two titles covering the 1'-40 units operating in
the CEI and rvlTO are the most comprehensive
yet on the markings of a vcry significant
-w Ik Alound
a P-40 Warhawk
3::LOW Squadron's Walk
Around focuses on me
dealls of me particular aircraft
subject.. The photographic
subjecu are usually a
combination of operational
aircraft and museum models.
Having ta!.:en o'"er distribution of the Detail
& Scale series, Squadron/Signal is also
currently offering even more titles of interest
to the modeler of USAAF fighters, with rca:nt
titles on the P-39 and P-W to add to those
pre,·iously released. Detail & Scale ha,"e, in
what I fccl to be a deuimental mo,·e, cut bac!.:
on the kit review section from some of their
latest titles. These rc,"iews were not intendcd to
be anything other than basic plus and minus
points of kits but they did co,"er the entire scale
range - very useful if the subjecI aircraft was a
relatively new type in modeling terms and the
individual was in some doubt as to which is the
most accurate kit and the best value for moncy.
WarbirdTeeh is the generic name of yet
another popular US series edited by Frederick
A Johnson, which has a slighdy different
approach in that e3ch title contains a wealth of
technical dr:awings copied from official
sen'icing manuals, the son of visual data that is
invaluable to modelers. Sectional breakdowns
of areas such as undercarriage operation, gun
sight mountings, ammunition stowage and
canopy construction arc bm a few of Ihe
informatil"e visual fcasts thal this series
presents. In addition, WarbirdTech ,·olumes
include a regular color photo se<:tion that
usually brings to light some fresh markings
schemes 10 add 10 thc bank of knowledge on
Ihe type in question"
Other gaps in thc single-type em"crage of
wartime aircraft arc rapidly being filled by
A perennial fa\"oritc with the modeler, the
P-W has never looked back since reliable data
was first released on the carly models nown by
the famed Tigers. Few other aircraft
markings ha\"c made such an impression as
the AVG sharkmouth: perpetuated far beyond
the products of Curtiss, these double rows of
deadly white leelh were first popularized by
r\o. 112 Squadron R.A.f: Not thai color profiles
ha\"c been '"ery kind to the aircraft of the
AVG: the latest research shows that for years
the colors, particularly of the undersides, were
wrongly assumed to be closer to those used
by the RAF than was actually the casco This is
another reason not to rely on data, particularly
artists' impressions, published in books
some 30 years ago. Always check if there is
something morc up to date.
As a general poinl on color drawing
references, il may also be found that the artist
has cleaned up the aircn:lft for Ihe purposes of
clarity, so the importance of reference phOlos
to chec\,; this and other points cannol be O\'er-
emphasized. As with preHy much. e'"ery other
of research, in time the modcler will
come to !.:now which referl."Ilccs, authors and
artist.. to rely on and those to treat wilh some
As far a... core references to fighter unin; and
markings go, I don', know what I'd have done
without the magnificent Air .Forcc Story
series hy Kenn Rust. Published in the 1970s by
I Iistorieal Aviation Album in the US they
eo'"ercd all US air uniTs serving overseas c..xcept
the II th Air Force in the Aleutians. Before they
appeared we were floundering, nOI knowing that
much aoom Ihe order of fighter color schcmes
and to which group aircraft bclongc::d. Some
g3PS in our knowledge remain to this day bm
90 per celli of this type of dala is there in nine
,"olumcs. In some instances Ihey rC'"dled details
of units we pre,"iously kne" little or nothing
about - and ha,-e had liule else since" If you
don't ha'"e Ihese titles, IT}' to find them if you
can - the search will be \\el1 rewarded"
In the 1;S, Squadron/Signal continue to
c.\':tcnd Ihe In Action series 10 include I.'yer
more unusual types. For Ihe modeler of the
P-47, two titles by Ernie McDowell arc
excellent. Di,'iding the aircraft's combat
operations into Europe and the _'11'0 and the
CDr/Pacific theaters, he shows the sequential
markings of all units, backed by
the usual top quality artwork for which these
books are renowned.
ABOVE Ben Kinzey's Detail &
Scale series of books are a great
resOlJrce for modelers. As lhe
name of the series implies. the
subie<t aircldh is examined in
detail with plenty of photographs
and stale dr.rNings. Recent titles
include a generous selection of
color phOtos.
numerous profiles from Eastern Europe. These
books "ary in quality but have the ad"nntage of
a modest price tag and generally good content,
including pages of multi-vicw drawings,
which arc vcry useful for modeling purposes.
The detail these titles go into is e.\:trcmely
impressive in some instances and as the
contents arc h<"'a\'ily biased towards the visual,
the language barrier is not the drawback it may
at first seem. The continuing proliferation of
these rilles would suggest that model makers
eagerly seck them out.
Another r(.'(:ent addition to the co\'Crage of
World War 2 fighters arc the Walk Around
series publish<..'d by Squadron/Signal, and the
comparable Aero Detail. Both arc heavily
illustrated, high quality series, the latter
imported from Japan. Chock full of close-up
photos of ncarly evcry inch of the subject
alrcrafr, these books can be invaluable in
determining the exact size and shape of items
such as slals, slots, hinges, rods, grilles, seal
harnesses and many other details that are
not n:adily visible in photos of the full aircraft.
The one reservation I would pass on abour
such books is that the color photography,
magnificent as it is, sometimes takes its subject
matter from flyable warbirds or st:ltic museum
examples, Nther than a stock origin:al.
There can be numerous differences between
the two: hislOrie aircraft refurbished to flyable
starus h:a\e often been subject to :l certain
number of internal and uteTior modifications
to enable them to incorporate modem avionics
and meet current air safety standards. And
whilc new blade aerials or reposilionecl D/F
loops 3re obvious enough, rhe fact that the
cockpil may have been cleaned up compared
to wartime examples may he overlooked. Such
modcrnization is most obvious in the ;1rea
immediately in front of rhe pilot. The
intrusive, often bulky gun sighr, which could
m3ke a nasty mess of the pilot's face in the
event of a crash !:anding, was a wartime
necessity. Today it is not and rhe sight and its
heavy-duty mounting bracket have imari:ably
been removed.
Cockpil instrumentation has also becn
given grealer readability by being seL in a panel
in contrasling colors, usually lighter than
the uni\'ersal black that was used oribrin311y.
Instruments have also been rearranged for
enhanced readability. Warlime blad-faced
instruments on a black board can indeed
be difficult to read and rhe changes arc
understandable - but authentic they arc not.
Wartime fighter cockpits :also had a plethora
of knobs and levers sticking out :at angles.
Although they wen: vital to a combat role,
modern day warbirds arc long past their days of
action and restorers do h:a\e a tendency to
rcmo\'e items that no longer have any useful
function. This may be to save weight, because
some items of equipment are unavailable, or
to allow the pilot to exit the cockpit that little
bit faster, should a mishap occur - all vcry
understandable, but not to be slavishly copicd
on a scale model purporTing ro represent :1Jl
accurate wartime-"intage fighter. Be wary of
areas th:lI might for v:lrious reasons be non-
Static museum exhibits are in a different
e:ttegory. Aircraft that :are no longer required to
fly can be fully rc:.1:on:d down to the last rivel
:and bolt with absolute authenticity. One only
h:as to see a photo n:cord of such rcstorntion
work being undertaken to know that what you
sec is lotally faithful to the original. Museum
stafT also go 10 great lengths to ensure that
all the colors of parts arc correct, so modern
aircraft rehuild projects could in some cases be
the best reference available to rhe model maker.
Any self-respecting modeler's reference libnry
will include one or more of rhe color-guide
type book which purports to be a complete A 10
Z of USAAC/CSAAF/CSAr markings :and

camoufl:lge colors in tf3nsition from the l:lle-
1930s to posl 1947. I person:llly find some of
these books diS3ppointing, as while they will
exh:lusti,'cly list - and indeed show in full-page
illustrations - the exact dimension.. of the US
national insignia, list all known color spec; and
perhaps provide color chips, they tend to skip
the numerous e.xceptions to the rule that make
this subject so fascinating. In the real world
things were often rather different to \\hal
was officially slipulatc..:ti, as many modelers will
In terms of color guides, Dana Dell's work
will be all many modders need to obtain a
comprehensive overview of what is a vaSl
subject. An acknowledged expert in his field,
Dana has been delving into paint schemes and
markings for years but he would be the first 10
admil lhal lhere is still more to be unearlhed.
Whal he has published so far is admirable in its
depth and scope.
Equally g()()(] bur in an enrirdr different
format were the Camouflage & Markings
bouldets wrinen by Roger Freeman for
Ducimus Books of the CK some years ago.
Cmering the mam US wmbat types in great
deplh (considenng the limited number of
pages) these publications arc also iO\'aluable for
checking insignia dimensions., strles of serial
numbers and code letters., and other details
that always seem to need looking up, such as
the dates when the US national insignia was
supposed to haye changed from a red outline to
That this dirccriye was not complied with
overnight is inevitable when one considers the
magnitude of the task of remarking hundreds
of aircraft; actual speed of compliance at unit
level sometimes depended on lhe perceived
importance of the new marking directive.
The complaim from the Pacific Theater that
at a distance, :lny red in the insignia could
be mistaken for a Japanese Ifillomam (or
"meatball") hardly applied in Europe. When
the paim shops got around to it, the red outline
was temporarily overpainted in a dark blue
that is often ,-isible in photos. On the other
hand, some p:lim directi\'es were imm(:diatcly
complied with. The sheer \olume of work
undertaken on June 5, 19..... 10 :lpply AEi\F
black :lnd white stripes to every L:S fighter,
medium bomber, IranspOrt and liaison aircraft
in England was rarely if e\er equaled.
The Dueimus series had unfortunately a
few gaps. No P-39 or 1'-40 litles were included
in the USAAf seelion; while we're on the
subject of color a few noICS pertaining to these
types arc relevanl It' is surprising, for instance,
just how many P-+Os in US sen-icc in 19.J2-H
were camouflaged in British-style shadow
shading. Various references will mislead on this
subjl."ct when artists, refernng to dark
photos.. interpret lhe top surface shade as
oyerall Olh'e Drab. True, the camouflage took a
battering in the tropical climate in which
P-tOs operated bUI there arc enough photos
about for this kind of detail to be double-
1\. similar situation existed with Airacobras,
which in many cases not only carried Bril ish
camouflage bur serial numbers as well. These
were rdatively rare on I'-+Os, but both types
reached American hands vIa depots afler
havlllg been painted af the factories following
l\linistry of Aircrafl Production patrcrns. This
leads us into another gray (or should that be
green and brown) area regarding the actual
shades. American painls were used to finish
many hundreds ofP-39s and 1
---IUs ordered on
British conlracls., so some '-anation in relation
to the paints applied to aircraft buih in
England will be noted.
Several widely reproduced oolor photos from
the early to mid-war period will help match
model paints to the correct hues, the early "sand
and spinach" scheme being aa:ompanicd by Ihe
"desert scheme" ofdark earth and middle stone.
Light and dark brO\m shades later met USAAF'
"desert pink" to cloud the issue further. I\'!any
P-40s in lhe :\ITO had two-tone
GIlllouflage bUl soning out the exan shades can
sometimes be difficult.
The abO\'e comments feg;arding variation in
paint shades apply equally to the camoun,\ge
on P-4lls in other theaters, particularly lhe
em. Aircraft tended weather to the point that
determining the demarcation of colors at
this distance in time, oftt:n from poor qualil)
photographs, can be a near ImpossibililY.
Throw in the odd reference to the usc of three
top surface shades (a probable comment On US
Oli\-e Drab used for patch-up purposes) and
the confusion deepens.. The problem is., as c,'er,
the preponderance of monochrome phoros as
the primary reference source [() wartime
aircraft; all the modeler can therefore do is
to bear in mind but not be totally swayed b)
pre-determined, sel-in-stone patterns and
.. regarding paint application. What
the reference photo indK"ates may bear no
resemblance to any official order.
As black and white photos can also
vary widely in quality the modeler can only aim
to reproduce exactly what he sees, w,lns and
all. Bearing in mind the colors in vogue al the
time and in the place, a model can look quile
ABOVE The Japanese Aero
Detail series is another good
source of information for
modelers. The aircraft plans
included in each volume are
especially useful. USAAF fighters
covered in this series so far
include [he P-47 Thunderbolt
and P-SI Mustang.
RIQ-fT Motorbooks produced a
series of books on ain:;rah., called
In World War Two Color. These
books offer valuable detail into
the colol"S of ain:;raft in service,
and the effects of weathering.
exotic in its broadly imerprcted camoullage.
Unfonunately, the upper surfaces of real
fighters arc (unlike models) rarely photo-
graphed from above and behind to show the
full camouflage panem.
To return to the books, most of us know that
when a highly desirable new reference title
appears on the market it IS far better to buy
sooner rather than later. Such mlumes ,'ary
notoriously in the size of their print runs and if
you defer your pUI'chase, the demand for the
first edition may be so high that you find
yourself waiting around for a reprint. There is,
in some cases, no guarantee that this will
appear and you arc reduced to scouring the
second-hand shop&, or stalls at book fairs and
air shows. The last resOrt may be the speei:tlisl
dealer's list. But if Ihe book was so popubr the
hr!>1: time :tround, you may wait years for a copy
to tum up.
The antidote to all this is to commit to
a steady book purchasing plan to a,'oid
disappoinnncnt. All aspects of a\'i:ttion history
have a handful of groundbreaking titles thaI
are at the core of any collection although these
do not appear very (requeml}'. Authors of
sueh works of reference need to put in years
of research in order 10 I.:omplete their
manuscripr..., which does at least give the buyer
a breathing space!
One area of special interest to the indi,·idual
studying USAAF fighter operations is the
unit history. Often put IOgether by one or
more c.x-flight or groumkrcw veterans of
the unit in question, these books have olle
thing in common high prices. The quality,
tends 10 \':1ry l'Onsiderably frOIll
photo-packed excellence to \'olumcs thai arc
very modest with "ery few illustrations of usc
in model making. On the positi,-e side, the
information and photos may be quite unique
and as we are losing World War 2 scniccrnen al
an alarming rate due t'O the passage of time,
Volume I
ABOVE A huge range of hard
cover and soft cover general
reference books are available on
the subject of USAAF Fighters.
Acl'5 alld (2 vols)
focuses on USAAF fighter units
in Europe.


taken over a few years or regular
orders can offset this drawback by genuine
A number of relati,'cly new, private book
dealers are also helping the individual to build
up a useful personal library. Operating a
mail order service, most of them regularly
publish catalogues of specialist interest. As
many references to USAAF aircraft and color
schemes are currendy out of print, the second-
hand dcaler is the only source for somc of the
more rare rides. As most of the dealers state
in their catalogs, they welcome lists of "wanted
books" required by individual customers.
Some will conduct a free search or do this in
return for a small fee.
Many modelers a\'idly allend the aIr
events that fill the calendar each year. Air
shows present an exciting mix of and
static warbirds and contemporary aircraft,
Ilhalc,·cr they nmmllt [0 print has some '-alue.
Their modc:.-r effort at recording h(lll it was, at
least from their personal standpoint, can nevcr
be repeated in quite the same Anothcr
reason fOl" while you Cln.
Unit histoncs arc published these
S, although those on fighter squadrons or
groups arc generally fewer than tomes dealing
with thc bombers. At the timc of writing, most
of the Sth Air l'orcc fighter groups have had
a history of sorts published, only ,he elusi,·c
.J.79th ha,·ing not been eo'·ered in recen, years.
(For more details, Sl'C Appendix 2.)
It is quite true that a high number of AAF
units put together a record of their recent
history immediately after World War 2, but
many of thcse haye only a rarity value
compared with modern book production. Early
pOSt-war paper was of such low quality that
photo reproduction was often bad, an aspect
generally perpetuated by a handful of modem
reprints. Some do manage to improve
the quality a little - but don't expect this always
to be the case.
Library borrowing can help supplement
personal collection of 1:H>oks. In the CK, if
the public library should prove unable to
supply what is required then there arc also the
reference libraries such as those of the Imperial
War Museum, the RAF Museum and the Air
Historic Branch of the Ministry of Defence.
\,·/hilc all of these establishments arc well
worth yisiting, research will have to be done
on the premises rather than at home - none
100 conyeniem for modeling purposes, where
i<.kally the reference should be 1:0 hand while
construction or paiming proceeds.
In the UK, the Public Record Office at Kcw
and the Documents Section of lhe IW.\1. and
RAF Museum hold a great deal of pnmary
source material on .....artime air operations
and although the main focus is naturally on
the RAF, much l;SAAF m:nerial is available
for scrutiny. Such documentS will help areas
likc narrowing down operational flights by
indi"iduals and units on gi\·en dates, targets
and so forth - an example for some of how
an interest in model making opens up
broader horizons.
Book clubs are another way of obtaining the
aviation literature you need. A small saving on
Ihe regular cover price (often it must bc said
eroded by postal charges) makes some titles
less of a bargain than lhey first appear although
No.1: US Export Colors ofWWII
Dana Bell's
Aviation Color Primers
JPM5-USA National Com'ention Special, Virginia Reach, August 2002
Other fomage, taken by pilots and groundcrews
who werc in the variolls war zones, is also
a\':lilable. If )'ou'rc building a vidco libra!")', the
scries from AVI enrirled Tht Gatti PlulI(J
includes llluch 10 inrerest the modder. It covers
thc main USAAF fighrer rypes in some
dcpth, placing rhe aircrafr in a historical
context with interesting conremJXlrary footage_
Such \'ideas ill\-ariably consist of a mixture of
monochromc and color film, the laner bringing
forth some re:al eye openers regarding salient
details of interiors. landing gear, propellers, :llld
so fonh.
Equally good from rhe detail JXlint of view
arc copies of wartime inSTrucrional films, ,\hieh
include walk-round c:\:tenor checls and full
flight data. Using a good quality \'ideo recordl."T
incorpor.uing a reliable "freeze frame" control,
this foorage may tx: palL<;ed and srudied at kisurc.
Ongoing computer sophisticarion means that
srills ma) also tx: obtained from \'ideo as well
as thc Intemer.
Film sources can add 10 an
indi\'idual's knowledge of CS fighter color
schemes during World War 2 because film
has a fascinating habit of turning up some
anomalies that arc not quite as per regulations.
}\ (ull color image of an aircraft mo\'ing across
a screen can hardly be challenged as t1efinitive
\Vith all this data coming at us from all sidl.'S
and in various mediums, surprisingly there arc
st:ill gaps to be filled, e\'en in conncction with
something as familiar as the combat markings
of USAAF fighter groups opcrating ttl the
European Theater. Certain units seem to
havc had less coverage than others for yarious
reasons and the fact that a short pIece of film
finally confirms something Ihal has been in
doubt for decades, is \'cry The same
goes (or the aircraft flown by the top pilots as
well as the rank and file - there is nothing quite
like seeing their images on mOVIng: film.
there is that relatively rl.'Cent hut
incrC"Jsingly popular addition to the home
cntert:linmcm SUile, the llVD player. This
syStl.'ITl offers images on disk of the Ix:st a\-ailable
quality and significanrly superior (() videotape.
1'\umerous telc"ision programs arc put straight
onto LWD, enahling rhe enthusiast: modcler to
purchase b'"OOd qualiry comb:n footage as soon as
it hits the local supplier.
A"'.-. j"A ..... ,,"" _
, ..."" ..... _ ""«.."'.. cs_•.,."' .... ,....·
...... _«O".F_"..... _ ..... A__.
lr.lde stands and other auractions. In the CK,
venues such ,1S Duxford, Olr.! Warden, Biggin
llill and the Royal International Air Tattoo at
Fairford arc supported by a large number of
book dealers and model kit stockists and rhc
cnthusiast is often able to combine half a year's
purchasing ar various other outlets to ol)(ain
all his needs at one or two shows. Xumerous
bargains in kirs, "ideos, photographs and
cphemera arc available and if you miss onc of
the c\ems early in the, there arc usually
two or rhree dozen more latcr on both hcrc
and abroad. The main sho\\s with an airdispla}'
element are imerspersed with smaller ('\'ClllS
such as jumbles and book fairs, enough to
keep the enthusiasr away from home for e,'cry
\\cckend of the year. or as long as the wallct will
beJr it.
oorro......._ " •.,'(liOI: _ ..y .. .
"". A_ ......'''''' ,
___,.... .. " __
,_ s·_ ,,"" , ,.... , ....
-..... , ....""'1 ,.,j." '·_ 1
ABOVE Occasionally. limited
edition reference works will be
made available. This excellent
summary of US export colors of
World War 2 was self-published
by historian Dana Bell to
accompany his seminar at the
2002 IPMS National Convention.
The pn:'sentalion of this stapled
book is simple, but the
infonnacion is outstanding.
IlithCTIO unsccn film records of World War 2
combat continue to appear as commercial videos..
And yet with all the data currently available on
US fightcrs, some questions will remain. j\loot
modelers will ha\'c expericnced rhe situation in

LEFT Model magazines are
another good source of
information. Pictured here are
Scale AIrcraft Modellin,1{ from
the United Kingdom, and Rrplic
from France.
LEFT Some books on
artWOrk. such as TomTullis'
Eotgles Illustrated series. Minirml
text allows room for many large.
attractive profiles. These
represent both inspiration and
reference for modelers.
flJG-fT In addition w Aircraft of
the Aces, Osprey PtIblishing
offers several other aviation
The Combat Aircraft series
deuils the history, technology
and crew of milia.ry aircr.lft.
Each book examines a particular
aircraft type. and scale drawing5
and colour profiles illustrate the
major variants of each machine
A relatively new addition to
Osprey Publishing's list is the
Aviation Elite series, which
examines the combat histories
of fighter and bomber units.
·fu....w'n.IIII"'.. co:
Thomas Gh-ie
which an artr:aetivc color scheme has been
noted in a new book or on film. The time,
place, unil and cvcn pilot are known, but the
final few derails important in the finishing of a
sale model arc still missing. Se\'eral wartime
US fighler groups dispensed wilh serial
numbers when Ihe fins were o\'erpainted with
unit markings; bUllhat doesn't mean Ihallhere
is no reason to unearth the serial number if
only as a clue 10 Ihe manufacturer's block
number and Ihe equipment changes il would
ha\'c had over the previous one. Serials arc the
key to variants and technical changes thai may
be important for a model. Although the
majority of lighters did display rheir AAF
identity on the vertical tail, not all the digits arc
359th Fighter
\'isible on phologrnphs. So you need it for a
model but can'l find il- what t h e n ~
Forlunatd)' Ihe forward fuselage dala block,
if readable, will yield those derails. But if they
can't be discerned, and a similar situation is
duplicated a few limes o\·cc in conjunction with
different aircraft types, then iI's no wonder
thai many kits languish. Sadly il is a fact of
life that lhis remaining data may lake years to
surface as reliable reference. My advice would
be 10 proceed rel,'":lrdlcss: finish the model in all
the markings you can confirm and worry about
the missing serial number !ater. Alternatively,
make up a lypical serial number for the type
in question or add a zero or two in pla<.:e of
missing numbers to remind you.

n this chapter, we'll take a look at the history
and development of kits and accessories
relating 10 L"SAAF modeling, across a
\"3.rictr of scales. With such a wide "ariety
3.Y'ailable, a somewhat personal selcrtion
inc\"iubly needs to be made - so I premise this
wilh an :l:dmission of indulgence for w\'ering
some of my personal fa\'orircs (as well as the not
so fi1\'orite!) that ha,'e appe:ired in the previous
decades. A list of the most recent releases
appears at the cnd of this chapter for quick
If we count up the number of first-line aircraft:
types thai are em'ered by the subject marrer
of this book, we gel a baseline fi,-e, namely
the Bell P-39 Air-acobra, Curtiss P--40 WarhawL:,
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, North American
P-5\ Musl'ang and [he Republic P-4,
Thunderbolt. These were the mainstream
fighters that sustained the USAi\F's groups
and squil.drons throughoul the war, the Mustang
along wilh lhe P-(il nlack Widow of course
being me latecomers in that they were nOt ready
for US sen;ce until 1943 and 194-1 respecti\e1y.
The enthusiast modeler of is able to
double that figure, assuming the yardstick is
kits of aircraft that fired their guns in anger
while bearing CS markings. By adding the
Boeing P-26, Se,-ersL:y P-35, Curtiss P-36,
Douglas P-iO, Deaufighter and Spitlire \\e\-e
already done so. All of those lisled abo\'e ca.n be
built from injection-molded kitS, depending on
scale_ Any that can't are increasingly appearing
in the lislS of the short-run kit manufacturers.
Further expansion of the list could
encompass the Republic P-H and the P-SIH.
The first P-82s also flew before the end of the
war and if our hypOlhetical colleClion is
expanded yet again to lake in any American
originating fighter type that flew between 1939
and 1945, a lengthy list of prototypes may be
acquired as models, In a differenl league to the
types but still a legitimate model
subject is America's first turbojet lighter, the
Bell P-59 Airacomet,
Many of the lesser known one-off and
prototype contenders for US fighter contracts

LEFT USAAF model kits (ome
in all sizes. Big, 1n.4-suJe kits of
the P-SID Mustang are avaibble
from Aimx. Bandal, ilnd more
recently Trumpeter of Chinil._
Table 1: list of US Army fighter designations, 1935-45
Type Manufacturer Notes Type Manufacturer Notes
CW·21 DelTon Curtiss p'oouctian for foreign XP-S3 Curtiss project anfy
XP·j4 Swocse Vultee protorypes only
CW23 Curtiss oroduction for foreign Goose
Xp·55 Ascender CJrtiss oraject on'Y
YI?-25 Conso!'cated p'ojeet onfy
P-26 Peoshoo-er
5oei"9 produc'ior for USAAC & XP-56 B.od orth'op p-ojec only
lore'gn CUsfOfTlefS BJIe'
YP-27 CC>r'l5Olidated project on,y XP-57 Tucker lightweight oroject
YP-28 Consolidated praiect only XP-58 Gain lockheed oroiect onfy
YP-29 Boeing p'oject only
P-30 Consolidcted producion for USMC
P·59 Bell Airocomet prototype & test series
XP-31 Swift Curfss '-st monoplane design
P-6Q Curtiss project only
oy COtnfXlf'y; preleci any P-61 Black Northrop proouc'ion for USAAf
P-33 Consolicoted pro:ec arly
XP·34 P'ojed cesign fe-
XP-62 CJrtiss OfOjecl only
Ilghtvveight hgh'er P-63 Kingcobro Bel production for loreign
P-35 Seversky proouCion lor foreign
custOMers & USAAF
cJs'omers P-6L North American proouction for fcre:gn
P-36 Hawk Curtiss oroduction for USMC &
:oreign cuslome's XP'65 Grumnan F7F Tigercat forerunner
YP-37 CJ1iss deSign forerunner of P-40 P-66 Vongl.ord Vdtee produc'jon lor :oreign
P-38 lightnirg lockheed p-oduction for USAAF Bet W.cDon'lel1 rx0ieCt ony
P·3Q AiToco:xo Bel p-oouc'ior lor USAAF & XP-08 TorroOO Vu!:ee PfOjecl on.y
Io'eign cLslOmers
X?-69 .:<:epublic p'oiecior 01 P-47
P-AO Wornawk Cur-iss oroducfon ior USMF & design; p-ojecr only
:oreign customers
P-70 Douglas daptation 01 A-20;
XP-41 Seversky project orly producion for USMF
XP-L2 CJ'tiss pro"eet only XP-71 CJrtiss orojecl O'lly
P-43 Loncer Republic p-oduction for fore;gn XP-72 Republic orojection of P-"7;
custome-s project ony
P·44 Rocket RepubliC proCUC"ior lar foreign X?·75 Eage risJ-er p-ototy:oe cesign 101
CJS'OfTlefS hg,ter
XP-46 Cur:iss :::>reject ony XP-77 lightweight prototype
P·47 Thunce"boIt Republic & produdic1 for USMF XP-78 North American project only

XP-79 Flying Rom Northrop project only
XP-48 Douglas p'oject only
XP-80 Sheoting prototype lor F·80 series
XP-49 lockheed project 011y based on Star
XP-81 Convair p'oject only
XP·50 Grurrmon A-my ve"SlCfl of XF5F-l
P·82 Twi" North American pl"odl.lcior lor
P-51 MJstans No<-, production lor RAF & M.stong JSAAf/USAf
Arrericcn USAAf
XP-52 Bel,
prOlect only
Note: Sor-e of the rrissing numbers we'e neve' token l.p
althol.·gh several were allocatee to deSigns for novy ligh-els or
aircrcft in other categories, In t1is instaree 'project" con indicate
either aircraft actually constructed or 0 design exercise,

have already bl,.'Cn modeled in 1/72 scale and
ahhough there may not be kits of all these
designs:1I l imc of writing, somebody, someday
will gel around to dosing any remaining
gaps, and probably quite soon. All thar will
concemralc the mind of the purist is whether
the scale is right, as chances arc that mote of
these fascinating footnotes of aviation history
",ill initially appe;lr in the smaller scales., if only
for the faci Ih:1t anticipated sales will probably
be modCSI and not merit larger investment-
Hl\'ing said that, a gl:mcc at recent model
journals reveals lhat manufacturers wishing 10
inject a lillie eXOlic:a into their lists are certainly
nOI neglecting the larger scales. One can only
praise their enterprise in this respect - how
many Mustangs will be built in me relatiyely
new scale of IllS, I wonder?
JUSI how e.xt<:nsi\·c the US fightcr design
scene was betwtcn the 1930s and thc
can be seen in Table I on pagc 44. Some of
the rarer ones would make \·cry impressive kits
in I / scale and happily not cvcrything is
restricted to thc smaller size on the grounds of
When it comes to modeling possibilities,
foreign aircraft types flying in USAAF
markings can extend to the Hurricanes of the
Eagle Squadrons (some Sea Hurricane XIIs
were also mJrked with US nJtiona! insignia
for Operation ·lurch) plus a number of second
line types. FJmous fighters flying new flags
included the [>-47Ds of the Brazilian I"
Gruppo, which fought in Italy, the P-4iDs of
lhe Mexican Expeditionary Force in the
Pacific, and last but by nu means least the
P-40B/Cs of the Chinese Nationalist Air
Force, alias the FlyingTigers.
Slretching Ihin6"S a lillie further, the B-25
Mitchell did a turn as a night intruder in the
Pacific and cm so that too could legitimately
be included in a representative collection of
US Army fighters.
If our list may be lengthened further to
include Iypes thJt did not sec combat but were
widely used in a Statcside training role, the
Bell P-63 Kingcobra can join - as of course can
all the first-line types employed not only a.<;;
lrainers bUI in a host of !K:condary roles after
becoming "\Var Wearies." These latter fighters
can yield a great many off-beat markings
schemes, occasionally more c-\:O[ic than those
appliL-d by the front-line squadrons. :'Jeedless
to say, the Stateside fighter training program
was hugc and required a constant supply of
surplus l'-4()Bs, P-47Bs, P-38Fs and 1'-51.;\5,
to mention just a few of the early sub-l ),pes.
Fighter training schemes for models were
brought to wider public notice by the Japanese
;\-13uve company when it relcased a 1/48 P-4()N
in a very bright S(:hcme applied strictly for Zone
of lhe lnterior tuition flying as one of the kit's
decal options. Thc painting on the box tOp e\'en
depicted an aircraft in this non-combal scheme,
which showed admirable confidence lhal it
was the kit, not the decal sheet, that modelers
want.ed first and foremost. To read some kit
reviews and note the moans aimed entirely at
below-par decals, you (;(luld be forgiven for
t.hinking that it was actually the other way
Warrime US fighters also fulfilled a hOSl
of useful but oflCn passivc roles as monitOr
aircraft for hcavy bomb groups, weather scouts
and general "hacks." Some of these bring into
play very unusual markings schemes: for
example, you may find a natural metal finish on
a long serving example of a gi\·cn type when 90
percent of ils brethren in front-line senice
were camounaged. Such unusual schemes,
ideal for lhal different model, still turn up from
time 10 lime.
1\AF bomber unit histories can be a
particularly rich source in respect of unusual
fighter schemes. In the ETO, the P--Ii tcnded
[Q predominate in support roles simply bectuse
there were so many c-'\:amplcs in in\"cmory
when lhe fightcr groups generally changed
o'"er to the 1'-51. Ikst known in this respect are
ABOVE Mustangs must be one
of the mOst kine<! model aircraft
in history.Tamiya's 1148-scaJe
P-SI B is accurate, beautifully
detailed and well engineered.
Hasegawa's 1/48·sc.ale P-SI 0,
released some years earlier, is
also an excellent kit.
probably thc P..·I7Ds of the 5th Emergency
Rescue Squadron, thc markings of \\hich ha\'c
been wcll documented.
The years of thc late-l990s - early-2000s
saw a positi\'c explosion of new hIS, many of
them from Eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union. These products swelled the kit
market to a significant degree, leading to
new manufaClurers making an impact with kitS
of aircraft that had rarely been replicated
previously. Thus such American fighters as
the almost forgotten Vultee P-66 Vanguard and
Republic 1'-43 Lancer, not to mention the
one-offs and alsQ--rans, joined the ranks.
Part of the first generation of US
monoplane fighters, those mentioned were
largely imended for the export market and
morc familiarly appeared in foreign rather than
American colors. In some cases, particularly in
Olina, these deliveries re\-erted bad: to US
control where they wore that country's national
insignia, often for Ihe first time. But whare\"er
thc circumstances, if fighters and prototypes of
what mighl be termed the adolescents of an
industry still malUring ill the wore
the ,,·hile star on a blue ficld, then they may be
included in a USAAF model collection. In this
""ar a true chronological history can be created
in miniature.
Currently the international kit market
makes this possibility much more realistic than
it once was. nOlh the 1'-66 and P-43 arc kitted
by Air Collection ami Classic Airframe
respectively, to 1/48 scale, a model size that
rolls on with a burgeoning after-market list of
accessories seemingly appt.'aring on a monthly
basis, My earlier remarks about the Curtiss
forerunners of the P-40 appt.'aring as wanime
kits must ha\·e been overheard as I note thai the
US company Joe's has now added a
YP-3i to its l/iZ-scale range.
If the modeler needs to keep p:lce with
en:rything that is released, subscriptions to a
number of journals and periodicals will be
Titles such as Scak /It-iarion
from the UK and the American Finc Scale
MoJ&r arc \"Cry on the ball, publishing as they
do many fCviews of kits, decals and producr..'i
from paint to power tools. The former of these
t\\'o ma!orazinc.<; is sllCCifie to aircraft kits while
rSI\1 is general with the advantage of carrying
small ads for some of the more specialist
products from mostly US suppliers. Anyone of
those advertisements may ofTer the rcry item
you need to complete a model project, be it a
plan, a specially formulated paint, a custom pari
or a new set of decals.
Arguably the leading journal of its kind in
the Ltc, SA.M carries full lists of actual kits.,
forthcoming rele:lses and fascinating, weU-
founded rumors of fmure presemations from all
o\"er the world. In any given )'e:tr the enthusiast
modeler will be able to update an C\-er-<;hanging
"wants" list purely from the pages of this one
publication. To show what is actually happening
in the real world of competition modeling, the
editor and staff regularly attend shows to feature
the best exhibits. With the advantage of
being almost full color throughout, SAM is
undoubtedly a good buy.
France and Germany have become leading
producers of top quality modeling journals,
with the advantage that a slightly different
design approach pro\'ides the reader with some
exceptional pholographic spreads of featured
full-size aircraft, invaluable to compleling
models. Among these lilies are Aero Journal,
ALions, Jet f5 Prop, L'Albl/ln and Repli,. Of
course the text is nOI in English, but thcn ab'3in
phofOgraphs arc international. Should you
peed these publications but do not wish to
incur additional bank charges by personal
foreign currency transaction, subscriptions
may be placed in the UK through The Aviation
Bookshop or Midland Counties L'ublications,
among OI'hers.
The Widespread availability of American fighter
types in kit form has accelerated in recent years.
This has significantly extended the possibilities
of interesting new color schemes - there has
ne\'er been a better time to construct a table-top
air foree. While all the core USAAF Iypes have
been kined al some point in the three decades or
so since the hobby of plastic aircraft modeling
established itself, a few gaps remain.
Today more kits arc oo\'cring hitherto lesser-
known ,wants almost to the point where, for
example, aU the wartime Mustangs from the
XP-51 to the P-51H can be built in bolh the
most popular scales. The main question for the
modeler is whether the L:it is 1'0 the scale he or she
fa,'ors., but I\'e rarely leI that o'·errule the
purehase of a favored type. Pro\;ded it's no
smallcr than 1/72 scale, I go for it. But in terms
of scale accuracy it S(.'ems 10 ha\'e been inevitable
that some aircraft ha"e lent themselves better to
the scaling process than others. To paraphrase
a well-worn saying, when it comes to plastic
aircraft kits, size docs seem to matter if it's
quality you want.


In general the original American quarter
scale has hislOrically sen'cd this purpose better
than :my other. The standard was undoubtedly
set by Monogram, a company which as long
ago as the 19605 pl'Ouuccd a range of 1/48-
sC:llc kits that left the rest of the industry
standing in terms of 3CCur'lCY. It took years for
the manufacturers concentrating on producing
kits in 1/72 scale to catch up, which they now
hayc to a degree.
But for years the modeler of this undoubtedly
convenient s(;a!c had to cut, sand, mix and match
almost c'"cry part of the airfamc to obtain a
decem 1'-51, P-47 or - well, you name it, that
accuracy challcll!,'C \\'38 always Quite
why this situation prc\'3ikd for so long is hard £0
[1tholll. Monogram and a few other 1l00abie
manuf:u..turcrs surely had no monopoly on rneir
sources of reference 10 lr:lIl,<;fcr me dimensions
of a full-size airplane into a metal mold and
ullimatcly a good plas6c conso-union kil. To
show that rney could worl.: me trick in sizes orner
Ihan 1/48 scale too.. when rncsc manufacturers
occasionally n:nturcd into 1/72 scale rney heal
Ihe established opposi6on hollow.
The modeler of today beginning to build
kits of American fighlers has a significant
ad\-:.J.mage O\'cr his contemporary of, say, 19/0,
All the mainstream USAAF aircraft can now
be built in a \-aricty of sales, particularly if
the vacuformed and multi-media kit is brought
into the equation. These latter types of kit
play a role, as some aircraft arc not yet
obtainable as injection moldinb'"S in the larger
scales, particularly 1/32 and 1/24. Less robust
than injection molded kits, the v3cuform
process offers the skilled modeler a real
challenge as there is mUl;h more work umkr
the skin before the final result emerges.
:\lany seemingly kits arc back on the
market, re-released in the;r original boxes.
Whether or not this is a good thing is a matter
of opinion; for these kits, if largely unchanged
since rney were first released, arc sharing shelf
space with items thaI are delinitely superior in
many important respects.
O,"er the years kil'S hal'e been obliged. for
\'anous rea.'iOns., to change their badges and
appear "under new management," such as the
Japanese Otaki line of 1/48 lighter kits which
is currently a''ailable from Airfix, There arc
plenty of orner e.xamples. The modem scene
can therefore be quite confusing: which kit docs
the newcomer chose? One answer, apart from
reading re,'iews and keeping filcs on the details
therein is ask members of a group of specialists.,
who should be able 10 answer such qucslions..
ABOVE Academy's P-47D
Thunderbolt offers a fairly
simple parts breakdown,
accurate outline and plenty of
several British aircraft in Europe.
including various marks of the
Spitfire.ICM offer a Spitfire
Mk.VIIi with USAAF markings.
Economics han; not surprisingly, govcrncd
the plastic kit market since day one. All
manufacturers make a substamial inn.--snncnt
every time they decide to release a new
injection molded kit and for Ihat reason thc
molds Seem to survive even if the parcnt
comp:!n)' goes to the wall. This happened to thc
well-known UK range of Frog kits when the
molds were shipped to Eastern r::urope III the
days when the Iron Curtain still cxisted.
Despite dire predictions that kits such as thc
1172-SC3le Curtiss P---WB would nc\·er be secn
again in the West, thc situation rarely (x;curred.
What did happen was that specialist suppliers,
still able to obtain rarc kits, hiked Iheir pnccs,
sometimes 10 Ihc point of absurdil); with
largely unobtainable (and often very basic)
models becoming potential moneyspinners for
the fell'.
Re-rclcase of older kits stabili"les Ihe market
and brings prices back to a more realistic
level. This is an important consideration if
the younger modeler - those the hobby must
auraCl in order to keep it alive and viable -
perhaps with limited funds to spare, is to
persevere with a pastime that these days has
enormous competition from Olher sectors of
the toy and lcisurc industry.
1\01 Ihat thc modeler of American fightcrs
has had much ClUse to complain of any
lack of tbe essential raw materials with which
to work. There have always been kils of })-47s,
P-38s and 11-47s., or so seems and cvcn if
they were once tcrrible, well, it was that or
nothing. You have to go back to 1he dark of
plastic modeling in the UK to a point before
Airfix released their first 1I72-scale 1)-5ID,
to find liule or no choice at all. But by the
latc-l950s Ihe LS modeling scenc had got
underway with several quite exotic kits, which
many UK modelcrs considercd way beyond
thcir means allhc time. Thc linc-up ineluded a
P-47N and a number of Navy fighters and jel
types in 1/-1-8 scale from such manufacturers as
Lindberg and Aurora.
Soon other tirms including a hard-core
group in Japan, added furthcr type.s and unless
the modeler was particularly quick at building
and painling, another option had arrived in Ihe
local store before the first wa... completed. It
was therefore hard to a\·oid suning a collection
of comparable models even if this had not been
the original intention.
As the 1/iZ-scalc modelers passed through the
scvenries and eighties, they saw things gradually
improve in tenus of the quality of US fighter
kits and must have been quite cnvious at' times.
More versions of the most famous fighters
were also "discO\·cred" by the manufaclurers,
undoubtedly assistcd by regularly published
"wanl" or "wish" lists in the specialist model
Things picL-t.-d up only gradually hO\\c'I'cr;
onc or two manufacturers e\'-en turncd the
clock back by releasing appallingly inaccurate
models, a particularly bad Muslang in 1/72
being recalled by the writcr some lime after
rival firms had gO[ it more or less right. These
wcre also the days when complctely nel\'
companies appeared, and ,llthough they alien
started their range with the inevitable (and
safe) Spitfire, Hf 109 and perhaps a rvlust':mg.
wc hoped for bcller; and the subjecl mailer
indeed got more ambilious.
Decal companies also began to explore the
potential for offering far more comprehensivc
subjects Ihan the small shcets that accompanil.-d
the kil parts padctl in a bag or box. This was
fine, provided that enough good kits could be
purchased 10 build, for argument's sake, a
rcprcsental'ive 1'-51 from cach of the Air
Force groups.
In 1972 Lesncy Products ma.d!,; a
contribution towa.rds the mass production of
models by releasing an acceptable P-510 in
their Matchbox range. llere was a kit that while
only basically dctailed had the right outlinc
shape and could bc built in some numbers, Ihe
rcsuh looking well enough to hang on.
Ihe R\.,,·dl concern, nO\\ an amalb"3Jl1
of German, British and American interests with
some buying-in ofJapancsc molds, has rek':lS<..-d a
LEFT Conversions and detail
sets can a-.msfonn an ordinary
plastic kit into a spectacular
replia.. Uttle Fokkers produced
il ?-40BlC nose in resin [0
convert Hobbycraft's series of
?-36 kits to the Tomilhawk.. The
Eduard photo-etched brass set
and resin wheels from True
Details would also enhance
this projecL
further range of ll72-scalc fighters, among them
a P--IOK, P-51 Band D and a P-47M. The laner
is particularly goOO and probably lhe first rimc
that anyone has secn fit to label a late production
P-fiD update as such. AL<;O, i[ is only recemly
that i1 has been possible to buy a P-4QK marketed
by a mainstream manufacturer as such In any
Although it was changed considerably under the
skin, the 1>-47M was c:tternally similar [Q the
P-47D-30 and D-40, me Re\'ell kil providing
the useful bonus of mcluding a separate fin 611eT.
Yes, I know we'\'C all hand cut Thunderbolt
fin filletS in the past but the section is very thin
in [his scale and the fairing-in was exacting
and took considerable time and effort. N()\\; as
with numerous other examples of P-47 kits, the
manufacturers ha\-e removed mat chore. But to
remm 10 an earlier mcmc, how long has il taken
to markel a decem "bubblctop" P-47 in this scale?
The Revell !)-47M is not the only useful
Thunderbolt in me popular smaller scale to hit
the sheh'es, as Hasegawa pul OUI tWO \'ersions
(razorback and bubbletop) in [he seventies, both
of which were pra&-d in thcir day. I always fclt
lhey were a shade under-sized, lacking the
chunkiness that one always associates with the
T-bolt. This was particularly [ruc if compared to
Ihe old Frog razorback.
To bring things up to date, Hasegawa has
recendy released a second P-47D razorback,
which from all accounts appears to be a suitable
replacement for the earlier kit thai is no longer
generally avail:tble, The smaller scale end of
the markel now looks healthier in terms of US
fighter subjects than it ever was.
Lesney/ Matchbox had a stab at a razorback
T-bolt and at least achieved an excellent rear
fuselage profile, accurate enough for the inspired
modeler lO cross kit this with some parts from
others to produce a good representation of
Republic's mighty machine,
1/48 SCALE
Moving up a scale, the pinure vis-a-\'is accuracy
of oudine is and \\--as, much more satisfying.
From the day in 1%7 that l\-lonogr-am released
their superior 1'-470-25 bubbletop complete
with cylindrical and "flat" drop tanks, bombs
and M-1O rocket launcher tubes, the art of the
plastic kit look another upturn. In this scale
a new Monogram release rardy disappointed.
Bold enough 10 in\'cst money in ever-
larger kitS in 1/48 scale, this US concern
delighted the modeling world wlth ever more
desirable, popular - and some quite esoteric - kit
\Vhen the came out in 1974, the
standard of kit looling took another gianl leap
ABOVE Cutting Edge's resin
replacement cockpit for the
P-10BlC seen in dose-up, Today's
genen.tion of cockpit sets
feature exquisite detail, and they
are available for a wide range of
USAAF fighter ain::raft. Brands
such as Cutting Edge. Black Box,
Aires and CMK maintain a very
high standard of detail.
fon\'ard. h beat Ihc prcYious l>esl of this aircraft
in the larger scale., mat from AurorJ, a company
that was a plastie-kil pioneer bur
unfonunalely lacked the design expertise 10 be
found at 10rlOn Gro·,-e., Illinois. No OIhl..T US
manufacturer seemed quite able to equal
.\lonogram's prolific program of new 1/48--scale
which spanned some 30 years. There
were subjeeLS Ihat the company did not b'"Ct
around to while it remained independent. Sold
to Mattei before being absorbed by RC\'ell, the
expertise of irs now appears under a
differem label. "fhe Important thing is that the
quality of the kiLS has not slipped.
Not that the name on the box really
matters as long as the contents are accurate.,
well molded and, hopcfuliS depieling a \-:lriam
that has not prenously appeared. Huge
duplication of kit subjocts (many, it must be
said, being of US fighters) must ha\'e had a
delrimemal efreel on the sales ligures of
some companies, particularly if the kils they
produced appeared to be o\·er-priced. As a rule
though the piclure has been positiYe e\'en if the
build up of different aircraft types, and the
filling in of long standing gaps (such as an
accurate 1)-4713), has been slow,
Over the ycars Ihe Japanese brand leaders,
particularly I Iasegawa and Tamira, ha\-e
masten"t! thc an of releasing types Ihat fit
neally into what was a Monogram-clominatcd
scale but without 100 much duplialion.
Tamira's 1997 release of a Bcaufighter is a
ca..<;e in point: finished in American markings it
makes an interesting comparison with thc
P-61. Reccntly the USAAF night fighter trio
has been completed by Academy's P-3S:\I, a
\arialion on their existing P-38J IL kits in 1/-+8
Also \ery importanl to Ihc AAF order of banIe
was Ihe Spitfire in various marks, mamly the II,
V, VII, IX and XI, thc laller a photographic
reconnaissance varialH lhal did sterling work.
The Spitfire kit picture in ] f.l.8 scale was not
too rosy for many years: Monogram was Ihe
first to put out a 1\'lk IX thai was not quite rhe
company's best effon, although again the
inclusion of a cylindrical belly tank showed just
ho\\ careful the company WllS in its rcsc:trch.
Then Otaki added their \'crr acceptablc .\Ik
vn, Airfix followed wilh a .1\1k V llnd before
roo long we all got some reliable prmtcd dctails
on Supermanne fightcrs marked with "stars
and bars." These rC\'ealcd that there were
many more American Spitfires than we'd e\'er
imagined. During the 1990s, four more
companies released I/-+R-scale Spitfires. These
comprised Hasegawa, with seyeral variations
on the Mk V, l'vlk V1I1 and Mk IX; Tamiya, with
a Mk I :llld a few .'vlkVs; Ocidental, with a !'olk
LX :md Mk XVI; and ICi\I, with MksVlI, VIII,
IX and XVI.
Finally, there was the P-70. An eXI..-client l/-+S-
scalc Douglas Han>e from AM"I:'ERTL broke
new ground and although being a lah:r A-2OG
"arianl wilh a rear turret the kit can bc
com'erted back to produce a P iOA with "open"
rear gun position, as used in combal In thc
Pacific during 19.J.2....H. Thi... injection molded
kit follo\\ed in Ihe wake of a superb \':lcuform
A-2OGI] fTOm Koster Axia[ion Enterprises that
was equally adaptable to a P-iO.
While the 1/-I8-scalc Thunderbolt situarion
remained much the samc as il used 10 be in
1/72 by being dominatcd by varialions of
thc early or late l'--f7D, in 1995 Academy-
Minicraft released an excellent P-47N followed
by another from Re"ell-Monogram/I'RO-
shortly afterwards, thus doubly
tilling an01her gap. Long gone \\',\S the Aurora
1/48 scale P--l7N which the aurhor recalls
laboriously rurning into - well, :1 P-47N. I still
hal'e the prop, and wonder what ever happened
[0 the rest of iL
Ila!'>Cgawa me:mwhilc had produced lhe all
but definili\e late P--I7D-30 model complete
with the dorsal fin strake. This was followcd
c"en more recently by a razorback 0
which, compared to the still "cry acceptable
.\tonogram kits, had fine engra"cd pane1lines.,
items such as optional flattened tires for a
typically loaded down fighter bomber, plus a
full range of ordnan<:c. 'lamiya's 1/48-scale
P-47 Ra:wrbacL: rc!eas<.:d in 2002 signaled
yet another slep up the quality ladder, with
beautiful surface texture, excellent del ails
and many oplionsincluding bombs, drop lanks,
mckets, three alternate propeller styles and
dropped flaps.
Rqprding lhe underwing munitions, one has
only to collecl a sma1\ number of kits to quickly
accumulate a full US ordnance depot's-worth
of aeri:ll weaponry in plastic form, almost
e\'erything being a\'ailablc in increasingly near 10
S(;a[e dimensions- One an:a the manufacturers
h:l\"e thus far shied awa)' from has been to release
any parachule fT:lgml.:ntation bombs. Hung on
fighter wing racks or garlanded around a 500 lb
bomb, thc small but deadly "par3frags" were
widely used and it is to be hoped that one of the
cottage industry suppliers is e"cn no\\' worbng
on a set that rna) be adapt<..'(] to Soc'oeral fighter
kits, a.. well as bombers. E"cn in one of the
larger scale<; parafrags would be "cry small, with
tiny fins and attachment IUb'S - but they would
(:ertainly be a useful addition to a pl3stic arsenal.
Ordnance has indeed come a long way since
the pioneering days of plastic modeling. USAAF
drop tanks, ferry tanks, bombs and rockets either
in triple M-lO tubes or the high velOCilY
type suspended from zero-length launchers,
constituted by far the numerous add-ons
for the wartime l;S fighter bomber, irrespccti\'c
of type. In the more exotic category \\ere the
20mm cannon suspended from the wing racks of
somc 8th Air Force 1'-t7s.ln passing, I'd suggest
thaI [his arrangement would make a vcry
interesting model subject:.
.\'lore L'S fighlers wcre fitted to use high
\·eloeity aircr:lft rockets (HVARs) than is
perhaps generally realized. The P-40N was
adapted to carry lhe M-lOs and some aircrafl
were fitted with lhem for operations in China.
Alternati,'c1y, six HVARs per wing on zero-
length as tanlalizmgly indiColted on
scyeral breaker's yard photographs taken afler
the cnd of the war, was an allema[i\'c. This was
I belicl'e. a very late production addition to lhe
1'--10 and one possibly restrlct<..'d [0 US-based
c,xamplcs for training purposes. good photos
of P--IOs carl')ing a full compliment of I IVARs
seem to ha"e surfaced as )"CI but timc will
undoubtedly tum up confirmation.
HVAR rocket launchers can also be added to
the P-61 while the P-38 carried the M-1O triple
wbes attached to the fuselage pod. Nwnerous
photos exist of Lighmings lcsting "trees" of
HVARs in the US and recent literature indicates
that these were fitted to first-line air<"Taft in the
Pacific, mainly in the immediate postwar era
when AAF groups undertook occupation duty in
The PA7Ns operating in the Central Pacific
also carried the M-IO launcher 10 somc extent,
LEFT Some companies nave
specialized in particular areas.
Ultracast of Canada hu built iu
reputation on its super
replacelTl('flt pilots' Se<lU and
aircraft exhausts. Note the
superbly deD.iled seat and
harness., and me wafer-thin resin
waSte between the frame and
the seat. This will only require a
few seconds to clean up, ready
for painting.
BELOW The subtle profiles of
propeller blades are sometimes
lost on model manufacturers.
Ultracast also produce accurate
propeller blades. These are
Curtiss Standard Cuffed 4-Blade
Propellers, designed for Tarniya's
P-S I kits.
although the later model Thunderbolts were
more commonly filled with zero-length
launchers. Some of these rockets had shaped-
charge heads, which were not unique to the
theater as they were also seen on operational
Thunderbolts in Curope.
In terms of the number of available kits in
each of the most popular scales, the selection
gradually dwindles the larger you go. 1'lodels
in 1/32 scale ofTer quite a challenge but with
e;.;citing possibilities for a very dramatic end
product. Limited in subject matter and
showing considerable variation in quality, this
scale seems 10 be relatively low in popularity,
probably because of the work involved in
rectifying faults. So few are the injection-
molded kits in this scale that lend themselves to
1:S Army markings that a list (subject to some
current updating) of well established kits
is quite short: 1'-38 (2); P-40B (2); P-40E (1);
P-4iD (2); P-5IB (2); P-51D (4); and Spitfire
(2). Even the 1'-38 entry, the Revell kit, should
be qualified as bemg: a basic P-38J and an
alternative "droop snoot" version using the
same molds but mcluding the necessary clear
nose section used by a navigator/bombardier.
The P-40B total includes one conversion and a
full multi-media kit.
One of the later Mustangs and one Spitfire
V, both by Hasegawa, are exeellenl while the
Revell 1'-40E is a potencial competilion winner
provided that a fair amount of work is carried
out. The same cannot be said for the two
Revell P-4is and the P-51B, at least not as
they come from the box. Things are however
improving in this respect and Craftworks of
the US has recently released a 1/32-scale
P 51B. Resin model manufacturer J- Rutman
has also recently released 1I32-scale kits of
the 1'-51B Mustang, plus Ra:wrback and
Bubbletop versions of the 1'-47. These kits are
very accurate and well detailed.
The other Spitfire V is another Revell kit
which was superseded by the later Hasegawa
offering. This superb kit is appropriate for
conversion 10 an early Eagle Squadron example
of a Mk Vc, as widely used by US units in the
The j.\lustang listing rounds otT with the
two early Monogram kits of the P/P-51D
which were released both as a standard kit and
the so-called "llhantom ,Mustang," which had
a completely transparent airframe designed to
show the essential mternal details inside the
fuselage and wings. It came complet'e with a
control plinth that retracted the wheels via a
battery--Dpcrated lever and also released the
wing bombs.
If that kind of activity does nothing for you,
it is fortunate that either of the 1/32-scale
IVlonogram kits may be adapted to impro\'e
the Revell 1'-5IB, pnnClpally by enabling it
to borrow a nose section that suggests that a
Packard-,\lerlin is ll1side rather than something
with much more modest power output as
indicated by the slim nose of the 1'-51 B out of
the box. The chopping: and changing process
docs work and the result shows a spectacular
improvement in outline.
Many other areas of the Revell kit need
changing or modifying but an acceptable model
can be made, particularly if the kit's optional
.i.\-lalcom hood is chosen. This will at least reduce
the number of heavy hinges cut \llto the opening
sections of the sL'\:-piece canopy in order to
provide operating features. These are otherwise
acceptably thin and another example of "spoiling
-- ----
LEFT Squadron offer a
huge range of replacement
canopies in crystal clear
vacuformed plastic. These
are especially useful if the
modeler wants to position
a canopy open, as they are
scale thickness. The canopy
piettlred here is designed
for the Mauve l/48-scale
P-40N kit.
the ship" for want of a little more care. But me
real answer is to have a completely new canopy-
of either type - moockxl scparalclr As noted
earlier a new kit of the 1'-518 in 1/32 scale has
been announced and hopcfuUy, it will render all
this hacking up of other kits unnecessary.
Incidentally, Revell latef fe-Iooled their
1132-sCJlc P-5IB into a 1'-510. Although
I've never secn the kit, it was apparently updated
only in regard to the obvious canopy and
fuselage changes., the many other errors being
perpetuated - c1l..':lrly an opportunity wasted.
Revell's option of a razorback Thunderbolt
h:ls some exciting possibilities in this scale - but
again the wmpany nearly ruined a potentially
fine kit by cutting corners on some important
details. \\"hcn thl,; earlier kit was joined by a
1'-470·25 bubblcrop, it was disappointing in
that [he designer had the shape
of the canopy, It the characteristic high
point of the hood aft of the windscreen
sLx1:ion, nuking it impossible to use unless a
replacement can be molded.
Re"e11 also gave the modeling world the sole
1)-38 in this scale. Like its single--engine
contemporaries, the o\'erall size is impressi\'e
and with work, the fighter can be made £0
look particularly com'ineing. Locomotiye style
rivets coyer the entire airframe in the majority
of these kits, the Lightning being no exception
and a substantial amount of smoothing down
is necessary prior to assembly. But with a
basically good outline shape, the big Lightning
goes together well enough, with the prospect of
adding a considerable :lmount of detail to bring
it up to competition-winning standard.
With such \\ork carried out it could stand
\,...ith the P-WE as one of the best two kit.<; in
1/32 scale by Revell, no major airframe
modifications are called for. The Warhawk
and oLhers in this series arc re-released by
the company from time to lime, so you won't
necessarily have lO pay collectors' prices for
Otherwise most of these older l/32-scale
kits can still he found in outlets:
astute modelers, realizing that these wcre quite
long term building projects, invested in a suite
of drop tanks which wcre released as vacuform
sets by US manufacturers while the kits were
still relal il'ely new. Thus the P-38 and the other
US fighters in lhe series could have their
distinctive additional fuel tanks, few of which
actually were provided in the kits at least on
their first-run release. Later kits did include
tanks, however.
The l/32-scale Revell P-38, P-40 and P-4-7
all contain removable panels to expose areas of
the engine, which can of course, be dctailed
ol'er and above what the instruction sheet
recommends. Allhough the 1'-38 kit only
includes one Allison, there arc enough model
engines in [his scale to add the other one and
detail both if required. With both power plants
In rilu and more panels removcd this could be a
challenging projec!. Displaying each engine
adjacenl lO the model itself is an
altemati\·e. In any e\"lmt, some work certainly
needs to be done in regard to engine panels on
these large-scale kiTS, as those on both the 1'-38
and P-47 were st:emingl}' afterthoughts with a
poor fit.
Finally, a 1/32-scale RC\'ell Bcaufighter
could be completed as a USAAF night fightcr.

ABOVE Separate control
surfaces are helpful when
depicting deflected ailerons and
rudder, or dropped flaps
and elevators.
USAAF "Deaus" carried the stanuard vanety
of arm"ork and names as applied to other types
and there is a choice of variants.
At 112-+ scale there arc three P-SIDs, by Airfix,
Bandai, and morc reccnLly Trumpcrer. Kone
unfortunately is without its nail'S, but dedicated
work and a degree of cross-killing should bring
about an extra special model that is undeniably
impressive. Airfix again miscalculated the nose
contours and repeated the same eTTor for a
second time on a 1/72-scale P-51D. The profile
of the Trumpeccr P-51 kit nose is also poor:
this new kit has other shape deficiencies 100. But
the sheer size of a .MusL1ng in this scale is
inspirational, ideal for the really long Term
projects that can incorporate a massi\'e amounT
of scratch-built detail, perhaps incorporating
brass etch and!or resin components.
Whether or not you model figures to go
with kits, the l/24-scale Mustangs also inspire
The keen modeler to incorporate the pilot. Being
large enough to be of recognizable human
proportions, he might look good leaning on The
wing or posed getting into or out of the cockpit,
perhaps clutching a handful of maps or holding
up live fingers in time honored fashion to signify
The achievement of "ace in a day" status.
model figures appear a little squashed and rather
wooden but the larger size enables limbs to be
reset so that your own composition may be
All three of these large-scale kits \·ary
considerably 111 detail and design approach.
\\-'hile BandaT opted for a smoother surbce
with acceptable scribed panel lines (including
optional transparent covers over the gun
breeches to show the detail) Airfix went
overboard with countersunk rivets which \\Tre a
liTtle over scale. Numerous coats of paint will
reuucc the effect of these but the kit's outline
errors incline the modeler more towards the
Japanese product. The latter shows a \'aried
approach m that it has zero-length rocket
launchers molded mto the wing undersides.
Airlix also provide HVARs, but with separate
launchers. The Trumpeter kit features relatively
restraineu surface texture compared to its 1/24-
scale counterparts, and a generally high level of
demiling. However, specific items including the
cockpit and the machine gun leading cdge
fairings still need plenty of extra work.
Each kit contains parts to build up the
engine, the result of which is, not surprisingly,
a substantial in its own right. By
spElling the servicing access pancls in a similar
way [0 the real thing, Airfix make it relatively
difficulT 10 leave the engme out, should this be
preferred 10 save time. Displaying the J\lcrlin
engine as a separate subject alongside the
aircraft will mterest those who "ish 10 add
super delail to it, although the Bandai produt.1:
prescnls a simpler kit Ihat may be built withoul
incorporaling: the engine block, gi,·ing thc
modeler morc of a choice.
Bandai also mcluded a pair of transparent
gun bay eO\'crs through which the Brownings
and their behs may be ,"iewed. One of se\·eral
similar approaches by kit manufacturers, this
idca ncvcr really lOok off.
The most recent US Fighter addilion Ihe
thesc giants is Trumpeter's Spitfirc Mk Vb.
This imprcssive kit is well detailed and quite
;lceuralC in outline. In fact, it is possibly the
best kit relcascd in 112+ scale to date. Airfix has
also modified its old large-scale Spitfire iVlk I
lO 1\lk Vb standards, including options ofVokes
filter, Aboukir filter, clipped wingtip&, Rotol
or De Havilland propcller :lssemblies and
alternate canopies. Howc"cr, the impressive
of exlras docs not compensate for Ihe
dilTerencc in o\-crall tooling quality between
the Airlix kit and the much better Trumpeter
As far as LSAAF subjects were concerned in
112+ scale, thaI was Ihat. Xo P-H, no P--W, no
Ihing else thai could readily carry white
SlarS, oUlsideof a major conversion oftheAjrfix
,Vlk I Spitfire 10 a later \llriant to creale a
USAAF operated machine, We wait, probably
in vain, for a P-H to appear as a complete
injt>t:lion-moldt."d kit in 1/24 scalc from onc of
the m:linstream suppliers. Even the I'acuform
kit manufacturers largely shy away from such
substantial investments in plastic: se\'eral 1/32-
S(,'ale fightcrs have released hut the writer
knows of no rt":luily available in 112+
s(,.'alc at time of writing.
Howc,·er, the old adage tells us thal if you
wail long enough, it happens. Current "entures
inlO sc,:veral shoTler run, multi-media kits to a
large scale may well bring about more big
t;SAAF fighlers. II would be good to be able
to put a IJ2+-scale P--l-i, P-39 or P-40 on the
competilion table in future year.., so here's
The keen modeler can do no better than to buy
through one of the mail order specialists.
These can take the hassle out of buying direct,
as unless there is a particularly good hobby
shop in your town, supply of new relcascs can
be patchy at best. Shops usually order small
quantities of kits at a time, there usually being
a restriction on shelf space; they scll the firsl
batch, then wait for Ihe distTibUlor to restock
them. If there is any problem al the shipper's
end, you could end up wairing months.
Altem:ttivcly an :tccount taken out with any
reputable mail order spe<:ialist, should ensure
that specific requiremems are catert.-d for with
the minimum of delay_ ;\5 always, much
depends on whether or nOl the kit is home
grown. If it is imported, this certainly has a
bearing on the speed of delivery to local
outlcts. Fortunately the larger companies use a
network of agents who also distribute the kits
within various countries.
To emphasize the ongoing popularity of
kits of US fighters, the list that appears on
page 56 eo\'ers some of the models released
or annount;ed in the last fi\'e ycars or so. Not
all arc new, as the current sccne includes
numerous re-issues with new decals and maybe
new parts, plus changes of manufacturer
wherein molds are either lransfcrrt.-d or L:its
arc bought in and marketed firms under a
different name from that of the As can
be seen, the appearance of a hilherto rare type
in kit form seems to spawn a spate of imitators
- there arc no less than three 1/+8-scale Vultec
1'-665 in this list.
BELOW Many different engines.
both radial and in·line. are
available. Probably the most
prolific supplier of these resin
power plants is a company ailed
Engines and Things. The quality of
detail and Gl5ting does not
match the best after-market
items of today, bllt they do
represent a :sound basis for an
accurate engine.
RIGHT A mind-boggling
selection of general accessories
is available for the 2lst-cenrury
modeler. PiCtured here are
replacement 20mm gun barrels
and colored resin stock for
creating formation lights.
Spitfire ,Mk IX
/ /72
LF Models
High Planes Models
Wingnut International
Planet lI'lodcls
RS .\1odels
RS .\1odels
1/48 scale
Historic Plastic Models
S Models
Fonderie !vIiniature
Aircraft type
Briswl Beaufightcr
Douglas D13-7A
Spitfire Mk Vb

Republic XP-72
Vultce XP-54
Swoose Goose
Hawk 75
(nrious marks)
Spitfire Mk IX
Spitfire :\1ks VII/ IX
Vultee P-66
Vultee P-66
P-47D Razorback
P-63A Kingcobra
Manufacturer Aircraft type
IC.\1 Spitfire Mks VU/LX
IC\.1 P-SlD/C
Pend Oreille Model Kits Vultee P-66
Jl12 scale
Combat Models
J118 scale
ow basic is "basic'? It must vary
depending on the age and skillle\-e1 of
the indhidual modeler, the range of
tools her or she is able to usc with confidence,
the time 3\"1lilablc to devote [0 modeling and
numerous other factors. The detail some
individuals manage to cram into the smaller
scale kits shows truly outstanding skill. To
those who consistently win prizes for their
work, the rest of us an have nothing but the
uonOSI admiration.
MOSI modern injection-molded plastic kits
pro\,jdc a straightforward step by step guide lO
building each sub-assembly. If there is a choice
of varianls the alternate parts are clearly
bbclcd. That said, it is uscfulro run an eye over
the salient design points of the differenl
aircraft under Tel'iew. The bulk of (his chapter
will therefore describe "';lrious primary-type
L:irs (the Lightning, Thunderbolt, Mustang
and so on) following !\Orne of the general
assembly steps which, with obvious \"ariations,
arc similar for all injection-molded plastic kits.
The general shapc of the American wartime
fighter is of course \·cry familiar to those thal
have studied even rhe most basic reference and
it goes without saying that the miniaturized
\ersion should ha\'e all the major paw;
duplicated accurately. With due regard to
certain limitations of the molding process and
lhe relatively small size of most plastic kit
parts, kit design may f(.'Suh in a different
breakdown of parts but the end result of
assembling kir A from manufacturer Y should
end up looking much like that of kit B from
manufacturcr Z.
In the real world there is more variation
than one would expect but much depends on
the scale, lhe age of the molding and in essence,
something one might well call ·'tradition."
This latter factOr ml,.-ans that a range of kil.o;
from the same manufacturer will usually have
one-piece horizontal tailpi::ancs with location
slots whereas a kil from a rival range may
LEFT A 1I48-scale Bell P-39D
Airacobra, modeled by Brett
Green.You do not always need
w build a new model in order to
have a new USAAF fighter
aircraft in your collection. With
some care and planning. it IS
possible to obtain good
results by refurbishing an old
model - a process that we will
demonstrate in the photOgraphs
that appear in this chapter. This
model IS Eduard"s excellent
1/-48-sca.le P--400 kit that was
originally built as an Australian
P-39.Thanks to the
refurbishmem process. it is
rlOW wearing a new identity.
RIGHT This shows the kit as
originally built, an Austr.l.lian
P-39.A1though initial
connruction was free of majo..-
problems, a couple of basic
shortcomings of this model were
not addressed the first time
around. These were the thick
tr.I.lling edges and the uicky fit of
the characteristic "car doors_"
The first issue was ignored.The
second issue was initially avoided
by depicting both doors open.
Reconditioning commenced with
the removal of detail parts.
Fortunately. parts including the
undercarriage legs. gear doors
and car doors were secured
with Superglue. Superglue
provides a strong join, but it
does not actually weld plastic
parts together in the same way
as polystyrene cement. Finn
pressure is often sufficient to
break the britde bond without
serious damage. Small details
were stored in a ziplock plastic
bag to ensure they were
not Ion. The next wk was the
removal of decals. First, brown
packing tape was applied over
the tOP of the decals, then
ripped off. This method is usually
very effective at removing decals,
but these markings proved more
stubborn. Even the generous
application of decal softening
solution made no difference.
There was no choice other than
to sand off the markings. first
with a sanding stick followed
by progressively finer
abrasive paper.
imariably break the railplanes down into six
separalc sections (top and bottom solid
section plus a pair of elevators) and perhaps
also pro,·ide a pin which passes through thc
fusc.bge to support the ele,'aLQrs.
This in 10m is the result oflhe s:lmc design
team opting for a similar appro:lch no mattcr
whal lhe subjcct may he. For the moddcr this
approach is a mixcd blessing. II may add up to
increased building time, especially if the solid
tailplane, as per our example, ends up looking
exaetly lhc same as the morc complex onc
once the lancr has been assembled. It is an
unfortunale fact of modeling lifc that extra
sub-assemblies do n01 always guar:anll;e tbat,
for c..xample, trailing edges of n) ing: surfaces
end up as thin as they should be.
AnOlher factor is the highl) accl;ptablc
increase in Iargcr ahernate pans such as nose
and tail sections. These are either included in
the kits as standard parts or
as solid resin sc.uions which are designed to
bun joint an appropriately truncued fuselage
in the aS€, say, of a new nose. Such a large new
section obviously requires areful alignment
and use of an effecti"c adhesi,·e, because in thc
main resin is a good deal denser than plastic
and therefore heavier.
In reg-.Hd to buildin!;" an alternative version of a
kit, I surely cannot be alone in having made the
understandable error in cementing logether
two pariS of a new ,·crriallailplane and finding
an annoying: joint line or step has to be sanded
away. Understandable? \\'e1I, this poor resuh
is often only lx'(;ausc Ihe instruction sheet has
been foUm\cd to Ihe lencr: what one should
do is to make Ihe necessary curs to remme the
existing cailplane and anach the male aod
female hah-es separately, before cementing the
fuselage as a completc half in the usual way.
This T find minimizes the risk of crealing a
stepped joint, onc that can be surprisingly
difficult 10 remove once the fuselage hahes are
together. Once dry, the inside face of the
fuselage thl; edge that takes the adhesiw,
can be sanded down. This is important as Ihe
alternate pari may be slightly deeper than Ihe
The genel"31 advice here should be thai in
some kits, Ihe separate parts pro,"ided for :In
ahernate \ersion cm be slightly larger or
smaller than Ihe main fuselage moldings, or so it
scem.<;. The difference an h:lrdly he measun..-d
but it will be revealcd the minute the adhesi\c
dries, so always be alert to the risk of a bad fit.
Othenvise, )ou'll invariably find out :lboUI il at
an advanced slage of construction. II is doubly
irksome to ha\e to sand do,,·n more than usual
or in e.xtremis to havc to prize a sub---assembly
apan to re-:llign a bad joint.
Remedial work is of course a possibility, as
we can see from lhl: accompanying images of
the P-39 reconditioning, but in modeling, as in
many other aspl;cts of life, prevention is betler
than cure.

Years of I) ing dormant :u \-aTying temperatures
can have a dctrimcnt'al clTl."Ct on older kits, the
parIs of which appeared to be a perfect fit when
il was purchased.
Some components do not :l.gc well at all.
Unbeknown 10 me the "rcal rubber" PVC tires
issued in the Airfix P-510 lost
their flexibility over the years and have almost
molded themselves sulid to the wheel hubs.
This and uther large kits du nut always ofkr
a plastic ahcrnatin:, so if the rubber boots
have perished, replacements might be
diffil.:ull. If you hal'c ,h(,'Sc kits in the luft it may
be worth chl.'Cking un the state of their tires.
Diffcring design methods of achicnng the
same end may frustrate the modeler who likes
to cross-kit to obtain a ..uoJ result by utilizing
the best f(,:3turcs of se\"Cral. Let's assume that
a 1/72-s1.::1le 1)....7 is being made: there will
be two methods of mating the winb'5 to the
fuselage - butt-jointed, or as a one-piece lower
St."Crion which incorporates part of the lower
fuselage.. the objct.1 presumably being to obtain
the correct dihedral angle and a more aCCllr.lte
10wt.T fuselage line when "iewcd in profile. This
docs not always happen, of l'OUrsc because model
kit manuf:at.'turcrs arc only :IS good as their
reference sources and occasionally end up as
oonfusc..-d :IS the rc!>'t of us. Don't assumc th:at
they n0CCSS3rily h:a,'c much more (;umpreh(:nsi,-e
references than you do. a... the somctimcs
refUlc this.
A few examples will emphasize the problem.
Thc Lesney Matchbox P-+7 in 1/72 SC'"Jle has
a ra7.0rback profilc t1ut makes it a desirable kit
to tackle although a glance at the conte11lS of
thc box almost makes one wince. The kit
sprues were originally colnred a bright pO\Hlcr
hlue and navy hlue - hardly an inspirational
choice, but typical of most of this company's
early products. Two-tone plasl'ic was different
to the way most other kit's were sold and the
marketing men appeared 10 ha\'e belicvcd Ihat
this approach was a winner,
This particular P-47 has some redeeming
features but others that arc nor so. Although
the airframe outline aft of thc engine firew:all is
acccptable, there is much rcsen'alion on the
vague way the cowling flaps arc presented. The
cowling itself scems to fall into one of tll"O
categories used by manufacturers of 1/72-scale
Thundcrbolts - too slim or 100 f.1t.
The .M:atehbox lit errs in the former
category, which is marginally harder to correct.
But assuming that an alternati\'c cowling is
not to hand, the flaps need to be rcmo\"ed
and replaced by a corrcrtly scribed, thin strip
of Plasticard or a sct cut from another kit.
Other fuselagc details need attending to at the
same time, particularly the \·cntral inukes and
exhausts associated with thc function of the
supercharger, plus the w:lSte gates in each side
of thc fusclage. As molded. all [hese deuils are
100 small. Thc distinctj,·c turboblowcr intakes
LEFT With the decals removed,
the trailing edge of the kit wings
were thinned on the bottom.
Coarse sandpaper on an
aluminum block was used to
sand off a large amount of
material, followed by a. few
minutes ose of a sanding stickA
smooth finish was achieved with
fine abrasive paper: By this point.
most of me panel lines on the
bottom of the wing near me
trailing edge [induding the
and aileron hinge lines) had been
obliterated by the heavy sanding,
These were restored with a
using self-adhesive Dymo
tlpC as a guide.
and exhaust doors in the lower front fuselage
also need improving before lhe next stage
in conslruclion is reached. One option is to
smooth down the cmire fuselage at the
same time as re-sl.:ribing the cowl Oaps. Sets of
Airfix and Frog P-47 kit wings can be made to
fit without loo much filling. fortunately, the
Matchbox kil, in conunon wilh many orner
Thundcrboh modcls, has slraightforward burl
joint top and bonom wing sections. Be warned
Ihough, the sheer time taken LO conven one
lin-scale P-47 into what il is supposed to be
in Ihe first place is disproportionately too high
at time.-".
The building up of one or more spares boxes
can prove invaluable in any conversion work
with lin-scale plastic kits. "Building up" is a
r.uhcr misleading Slalcmem, as spare parts tend
to accumulate rapidly seemingly without
much help from the modeler. The source may
be unused e...tra pans supplied with kits to
build alternative n.. Tsions or, as is SO often the
case with military aircrafl, large amounts of
ordnance. Everything is worth keeping for future
usc although I have to admit that after a few years
you have more spares than you'll ever be able
10 usc. In something of a "C.1tch-22" situation,
as kits improve, SO thc need for doing your
own customizing lends to lessen but spares
slill aocumulate because multiple e.'l:amples oflhe
same kit will of COUTSC keep yielding an almOSt
equal nwnber of spare itcrns.
A long tcrm fa\·orite with modelers, me Nonh
Amencan Mustang line began in model terms
with the larer production \'crsion, the P-51D.
Rardy did any other variant see the light of
day for years and [hose that did were less than
worth mc effort. The brcakmrough came when
Accurate Miniatures released Iheir first four kits
S(lme years ago. The Allison-cngine examples
were follOYi·ed with the recent P-51B/C kits,A..tI,1
climbing me P-51 \'lIr1amladdcr from the right
direction, so (Q speak.
in thc larger scales the Mustang fared
quite well, the American and Japanese model
companies ,ldding it to their respective lists on
a regular basis. Hawk created something of
milestone with a 1'-510 in 1/48 scale, which
firsl appeared in 1962. For years Ihis was the
yardstick againsl wruch other Muslang kits
were judged and there was an interesting
rider to its appearance. IP.\'lS USA's Qllarur/y
Journal ran a review, complclc with a list of
items necessary LO delail the kit, plus some
Technical Order manual drawings of the
cockpit interior. Unfortunarely these werc in
error insofar as the manuals wcrc for an 1'-510
rather than the warlime model. The upshot
was thai model ]\'Iuslangs began to app<.-ar with
radio aerial wires stretching from Ihe canopy
to the fin. These were nor actually needed
on World War 2 Mustangs hut few peoplc
appeared to know this including model
RJQ-fT The magniwde of the
problem with the mHing edges
can be seen in this photo.
The tOp view shows the thick,
unmodified trailing edge, and
the bottom view is the wing
after thinning. This will be very
noticeable on the finished model.

manufacrurers, who Slaned to market kits with
a liny hole in the canopy to lake the wire.
Later kilS, such as that by Fujiffii were not
really superior, despite in [his case, a full set of
moveable comrol surfaces (the Hawk model
had none) including flaps, engine detail and so
fonh. Separate flaps were quite unusual items
to .find in any plastic kit at that time, which
is rather odd, as mo\'eable ailerons (rather
pointless items for an aircraft on Ihc ground)
have long been staple items in kits. The pity of
it was thaI Ihc rest of this particular Fujimi kit
suffered from some obvious outline errors that
tended to put modelers off.
Tamiya's subsequent release of a much
superior 1'-51 D was followed by a P-51B in this
scale, another example of manufacturers, ever
mindful of the competition, filling up gaps in
their own list. I)ity the poor modeler, who may
nOt, for various reasons, wish lO aUlOmatically
purchase :all the Mustangs and Thunderbolts in
a g1\<en scale as Ihey appear, tTy1ng lO sorl out
which is the currenl best. In a world where
lOday's hil is IOmorrow's second place kiL, he
mUSI be confused at times. Added to that is the
fact that the afler-market firms always seem [Q
go one bener than even the mOSt highly praised
kil b}' releasing corrected pans even before
}'ou've e\'en acquired the kil and noticed it to be
e\'en slightly below par.
The only answer is to read as many reviews
of the ncw arri\1I.1 as possible and to
arri\'e at a personal judgment: we\'e all seen
the model magazine article that praises a kit
beyond compare yet prints an accompanying
photo that can contradict this.
Cnderstandably one of the mOSt popular of
model kits subjects, the superlativc 1'-51
f\iJustang in all its guises ....'lIS a war winner in
every sense of the phrase. From its British
inspired origins to occupation in a defeated
Germany and Japan, Mustangs flew thousands
of sorties 10 speed Allied victory. Along the way
they were painted in a dazzling array of color
schemes and personal markings, enough to kl:ep
the enthusiast modeler in work for as many years
as the P-51 remained operational. That time
span would of course tale in the colors of
numerous air forces other than the US but the
units equipped with il during World War 2 have
gi\'en us hundreds of markings schemes; so
many that a modeler could happily spend his
entire time making only models of the 1'-51 if
that were his choice.
For years the only injection-molded plastic
kits available represenled the revised, bubble
canopy P-51D of late-1943, six variants or so
into Nonh American's eventual production
cycle of some 15,000 examples. But the
whole range of the aircraft that originated
with the NA 73X of 1940 may be built in model
;\'!:ustang floors .... ere simple wooden boards, as
you can readily tell by the hea\'Y effect
LEFT A replacement resin seat
from was installed
when the kit was originally built.
The remainder of the interior
was built straight from the box.
This resin accessory has a
hamess molded in place. The
interior was otherwise left
untouched dUring reconditioning.
Deuils in this area are very
good, as can be seen by the deep
surface texture on the for
the pilot's armored glass.
The canopy was originally glued
in place with
cement. Despite determined
tugging, the canopy refused to
come free, so it was left in place
than risk damage to this
prominent feature.
RIGHT The remainder of the
paint was removed with thinners
and a clean rag. I wanted to
show off the cockpit detail on
one side of the aircraft, but
retain the clean lines of the
fuselage on the other side while
retaining a view of me
nice Interior.The windows in the
doors of the P-39 rolled down
like those in a car. I sliced off the
[Op of the port side door (the
section containing the window),
drilled holes in me window
around the inside of the frames,
then used a sharp hobby knife to
cut out the "glass:' The empty
frame was glued on[O the
canopy, then the door itself was
test-fitted. Some trimming was
required [0 achieve a flush fit.
somc kits ha\'c on Ihis componcnt part. It
would bc a ycry coarse piece of \\'ood indeed
that slil1 showed lhc slightest trace of grain
C\'cn in 112-l scalc, so all the modeler needs to
do is to paim it an appropriate color and add a
little discoloration in the form of faded or
darkened patches.
i\hny operational V-SIs had the mechanism
at the lower end of the control column
protected by a c:am'as or k":lthcr boot, \\hieh
is usually represented in kits. This is painted
in an appropriatc shade of dark brown to
represent le:lther or lighler brown to indicate
fabric - although I am lhe first to admit I have
no idea if and when the difTerem materials
were used. My gues.s is that ea.r1ier aircraft used
k":lthcr but as production built up, a cost sa\'ing
was made on the m;e of this material, and a
ehc:aper fabric was then used.
t\ \\"arbird or any good close-up photograph
will rc\"Cal salient points about the which
might need slimming down for greater scale
accuracy. These include lhe central rod in
the belly air intake; the "solid" or perforaled
engine breather plate on e:1ch side of the
lower nose; braces for the taih,h(.'CI doors (plus
an oleo dlLst boot); formation I;ght lenses and
the curved, perforated canop,. brace in the rear
cockpit behind the pilot's head.
One item tha.t no kit I know of
includes is the 3dmittedly liny 3crials on the
fin for the ANI APS-1J tail warning radar.
Numerous operational P-51J)s had this set
filled at thc cnd of the war and the aerials arc
quite dc:ar in photographs. When modeling
such a kit remember thaI lhe array consisted of
a fore and aft rod and a cent'ralloop. As such
an addition can he a lin1c delicate it is best
to fix it to the inside face of each lin half
before assembly. In this way whatcyer mater;31
;s chosen, either plastic or fine wire, it c:an be
anchored firmly.
With lhe foregoing comment'S in mind it is c1(.':tr
that the avid modeler 11';11 ine\';tably accumulate
,1 stack of kits that arc at best superseded by 01 her
newer one or arc in gener::ll terms unusable, at
least on the f::lee of it. I found this with the P-IO.
I la\-ing acquin..-d nwnerous 1172-scale kits of thc
type o\er lhe years I found the :\10nograrn
P--40:'\ was there in abundam;c in my abandoned :\1y liking for late-war fighters in general
was the reason for this, lh::lt and the fact that
no P-I{)l\" W3S otherwise available - in any SClle
- for dectd(.'S, I built a few of the !vlonog:ram
offerings but neglected to carry OUI Ihe
modific:ations n(.'Cessary to bring the kit up 10 a
more reasonable standard. Was there still a use
for a kit th3t was not only o\'erS/.:ale but also qUllC
basic in that when [he large r;\'Cts were sanded
away all trace of the flying surfaCOi disappeared
too? As the inugcs in this ch::lpter shO\\;\,hcn
things don't tum out as expt-<:ted or hoped, all
need not be lost.
One of [he most aesthetically appealing of the
wartime fighter trainer conversions, the P-l-O
W;uhall'k came as a dual scaler in a number of
guises. The most amhitious was Ihc reworking
of a number of P-IONs to accommodalc a
second cockpit behind lhe exisling onc with a
dear Pcrspcx section linking lhc 111'0, plus a
few other detail additions. One such is what
I can beSI describe as a fuselage side plate
adjacent 10 the second cockpit plus an elevated
mirror device muunled abm"c Ihe from hood to
enable the instructor 10 see whal the pupil \\-as
pushing and pulling during Ihe flight.
1 oom"Crtcd the Monogram P--KlN imo the
TP-fON without 100 much trouble. An !':::.astern
European manufacturer known as l.r r..lode1s
released a 1172-scalc TP-W sometime in 1999
- bUl the object of the exercise was fO show that
you can rt:cyc1c old ones.
KiTs of other American fighlers can be
adapted to trainer configuration. [he early razor-
oock Thunderbolt ;lI1d MuSlang looking: (he bc!.1:
in my view. The P--f7Ds used for Ihis purpose
had elongated cockpit glazing in some instant"Cs,
while the stillborn TP-l7G, onl} twO of which
were built, had the standard cockpil mOR"d
fon\-ard a few feel. II \\as nOI sek'Cwtl for
production but £hose P-l7s used as front-line
rraincrs had c..xrra glazing afl of the Stantlartl
cockpir. The singlc-seat \·crsions thou sired such
:urcr:J.ft can be readily adapted, Ihe addition of a
second scat beingsimple enough using kitS in thc
mOSt popular SCllcs.
Examples of the early i\luslangs were also
adaptt"d to (rainer configurarion in a similar \\-ay
to the other types, the P-5Jn/C h:I\'ing:
c.xtendti! aft glazing to rhe greenhouse canopy
while in the field modifications to the P-51 D 10
accommodate two people resulted in the canopy
sometimes being cur into three Sttrions.
BElO'N After these
modifications. the model was
painted and the smaller details
were reinstalled. These details
were repaimed too.A hobby
stand was used to hold the
model upside down while the
details on the lower surface of
the model were added.

R1Q-IT The only other addition
to the kit was il set of six-stack
exhausts from Ultracast.. The
starboard door Wil.S glued in the
open position. The attractive
decals were sourced from
Cutting Edge Decal set
CED48146,Airacobra #4.
or all the lrainer conversions of i'llustangs,
the P-51D is probably the most satisfying in
modeling leTms with the added auraction of
some unusual color schemes, such as the o..-erall
red used on one example flO\\1l by the 4th
Fighter Group.
Two sears were occasionally added under the
wartime P-5ID's huge canopy and there was
also a TP-51 D, which had an elongated hood
designed to give the second occupant greater
At the other end of the fighter trainer
spectrum was the quite odd looking TP-3l)(t
With a second canopy perchcd on the nose
fOD\-ard of the original, the result was not only
the worst looking two-scat com'clsion but in my
view thc world's most: ugly aircraft!
.\'loving up 1'0 the Bell P-63, this had at least
m a projected trainer vcrsion, a second cockpit
added in the fuselage aft of the standard position,
making it another candidate for a (wo-seat fighter
oom·ersion. Like almost an:rthing associated with
the wartime USA...>\F the model possibilities are
mueh wider than they may seem as first sight.
he questions of modeling skiJl leyel
and task difficulty arc hard to quantify
with absolute pn;cision: the answer
has surely to come from a personal viewpoint.
That kits carry labels stating that rhe contents
arc intended for different levels of modding
expertise surdy docs not inhibit the purchase-
yet some people may find that the complexity
of the components, particularly rhe multi-
media type kit, indeed represents a task more
difficult than imagined.
Some accessory kits have noll' reached the
stage that used to be morc associalcd with
model engineering. They incorporale a range
of non plastic parts that require a different
approach to attaching such minute components
as flap hinges, oleo scissors and dive brakes.
These after-market kits are fine for those who
require such ultra-fine detail but cerTain aspects
of modeling seem still to he a challenge as
rebrards the final, generally external, etYec!.
Some often prefer to see greater emphasis
placed on the external finish, areas That can be
viewed when the model is completed such as
gun bay doors, stores racks and other "Things
under wings" than parts that may well be
hidden away under cowlings and so f(lrth. The
argue that mosT USAAF fighters give little
choice to view (he interior ho\\"Cvcr detailed
a kit may be unless The modeler resorts to
artificial cutaways or a complete strip down
with the airframe pared to the bone, as indeed
it might have been during a major sen'ice.
However it can be rewarding to opt to f(Jeus
on one or two areas of The kiT. ·j'bere is plenty of
scope. Relatively few of (he smaller scale kits
have pro\"ision for open gun bays for example
but cutting these om and adding new ones
from Plastieard can considerably enhance the
finished item - and they're far more likely to be
visible than flaps, which on some aircraft at
least arc hardly ever seen in the down position.
Some might also argue (hat multi-media
accessories can be disproportionaTely expensive
and add greatly to the task of completing what
may alrC"Jdy be a fairly complex kit. Extra
time will have to be spent on (he building
stage, which in total hours, can almOST double.
However, multi-media accessories are very
much up to the individual modeler, who must
choose the one or two that will enhancc a
particularly favored, detailed project. By no
BonOM The AMtech 1!48-scale
Curtiss P-40F Warhawk. modeled
by Brett Green. During the early
I990s,AMT released a series of
1148-sGile P-40 Warhawks that
were quite accurate in outline but
somewhat basic in detail.They
earned a reputation for challenging
fit, especially around the wing roots
and the engine cowl access panels.
Ocher WarhawklKittyhawk variants
were developed by AMT but, for
unknown reasons. were never
released. In 2002, a new company
called AMtech finally used the
first of these unreleased molds
to launch their P-40E
WarhawklKittyhawk Mk la.
The P-40F Kittyhawk II was
powered by a license-built version
of the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin
engine. This development was
intended to improve high-altitude
performance of the P-40, which
was greatly il1ferior to it5 Axis
comemporaries. However, in
the final analysis. performance
was only marginally improved.
The P-40L was a further
development of the Meriin
equipped Warhawk. This type was
intended to be lightweight (with
the reduction of equipment,
including the deletion of two
wing-mounted machine guns) and
therefore faster.The disappointing
result was an increase in speed of
only around four miles per hour.
Many P-40ls were later retrofitted
with the extra twO wing guns.
Very early P-40Fs and ls had the
same short fuselage as the P-40E.
Later production machines
featured a longer fuselage and
repositioned horizontal tail planes.
AMtech launched their P-40FIL
"long tail·· version in eariy 2003.
This new company was not happy
with the profile and detail of the
fuselage nose as molded by AMT
AMtech therefore commissioned a
new, accurate solid resin nose to
be included in their kit. This
permitted modelers who were nOt
happy with the shape of the kit
nose to cut it off and replace it.
Less experienced modelers could
simply build the kit with the plastic
fuselage intact. In the modeling
project that appears in this chapter,
we will use the resil1 110se, address
some of the fit challenges and add
a detailed replacement cockpit to
the model.
mcans should the less experienced be
persuaded to buy all and sundry c.xtras: should
they pro\'e difficult or frustrating to ineorpor:lte
into a kit, the modeling community might lose
anothcr would-be convcrt., on the other hand, as the images
that accompany this chapter show, the una
time and effort dedicated to adding ad\'lnccd
modeling detail 10 a kit, and the experience and
confidence gained as a result, l.-an make such
projects \'ery worthwhile indl.'Cd,
In the following pages of this chaptcr, we'll
attempt to highlight those areas of each of
the c1as.sic CS fighter models of World War 2
that always seem to need special attention.
and more ad''lnced modeling skills as a rcsult,
irrespective of the kit and 1:0 some extl.-nt the
Beginning at the front, the propeller(s) of
all wartime fighters bear scrutiny, as these varr
10 a surprising degree e\'en between the same
aircraft Iype to Ihe same scale_ Different
manufacturers naturally design their propeller
(.'Omponcnts in a variety of ways although some
time ago thcrc was simply one, an integral
spinner with the blades attached. Th(."Se days,
propeller blades are increasingly presented as
three or four separate items plus at least t\\·o
more for the front of the spinner and its back
plate, The latter is usually molded wilh pick-up
points to hold the hlades rigidly in position -
but this can provide a challenge insofar as you
need to manually set the angle of each one.
There is some flexihility here of course but do
check several photos to get typical blade anglcs
Two-piece spinners are relati\·ely straight-
forwanl on aircraft such as the P-40, P-38
and 1'-51, with the proviso [0 ensure that both
halves go together wilhout an annoying: Step
that may be difficult to !'>and smooth once the
blades are In position,
Should you kel that the propeller blades
supplied in a certain kit are undersized there
are seyeral afler-market alternati\--es. The US
Kendall Model Company (KMC) of Miami
offers one. I have [\\"0 of their resin Curtiss
propeller blade scts for l/48----scale P-Hs that
are excellent. Thc pointed-blade type is
ad:tptable to \'cry many Thunderboll kilS that
may ha\'e the blades a Iinle too short,
I spray propeller blades almost any color
other than straight black. By adding a minute
amount of blue, grccn or brown to mall black
(the laller nOi stirred up complctely so as 10
retain a sheen), propellers will look suitably
different to olher black areas of the kit. Don'l
forget the reverse faces, particularly where
photographic e\'idence shows the blade painl
to havc ocen worn away by the effects of
slipstream-blasted sand. Aircrafl based in
desert areas often lost painl from propeller
blades and sc\'eral references show the erTecl to
I ha\"c a small horror of kit instructions
that simply tell you painl seyeral areas -
blades, tires, guns and some cockpit interior
instruments - black. I often wonder how many
people end up with models thai look most odd
in this respect.
Detailing engines is a subjCd in itself :lnd
modeler.; of US fighters end up with a sizeable
stock ofPran & or Allison
cngines, which are not always incorpor:lll.:d in
the kit if it can be compleled wilhout lhe
c..xtra work powcr-planl delailing entails. .\1ost
manuf:1crurcrs producing kits in sc:ales from
1/48 upwards provide al least a rudimcntary
engine block if only as an anchorage point for
thc If the engine is used, few sclf-
ro;pccting modelers would dream of letting it be
viewed without some additions_
Wartimc piston engines were complex and
exhibited masses of pipes, supports, fuel lines
and wiring, some of which arc visible even with
a single panel removcd, so again it is up to
individual tastc as 10 how much extra work is
put in on a part of a kit Lhat can otherwise be
hiddcn - or trcated as a separate component in
its own right. Suffice to say that if extra engine
detail is undertaken, the result can often be
most impressive.
For the sakc of economy, some smaller kit
engines havc what would be separate items
such as clcctrical leads or small diameter
pipes., molded into Ihe plastic block, so these
should be carefully remo\'ed and replacetl with
new brass etch, thin wire or stretched sprue
components to gi,"e a more realistic threc-
dimensional cffect.
Enbrine bearcrs or mountings on wartime US
Anny fighters consisled of quite substantial
lcngths of round or flat section sleel, the latter
often being drilled out 10 saxe weight. All the
larb'Cr SCl1e kits incorpoT:lte these distinl.1lyc
pieces, as do SC\'cral in 1/48 scale_
If the kit is designed in such a way that
Ica\'ing out the engine inml\'es adding blanking
platcs behind the exhaust ports and maybe
somc imcmal bracing, Ihe engine might just as
LEFT Cutting Edge Hodelwork$
pmduced a beautifully deuiled
resin cockpit for AHtech's
P-40FIL kit more than six
months before the kit itself was
released. The cockpit comprises
a new tub (not seen in this
image). sidewalls, a seat with
cast-on harness. kidney armor
plates, instrument panel with the
option of aceUte instrumenlS,
gun sight, headrest, control
column and other details. The
production quality is superb.
well be used and enhanced a linle. Going a
step further and deciding to show the work
\'ia detached inspection panels will, as many
modelers will know, involve reducing the
lhickness of the plastic. As they come, most
plastic parts ha\"e over-scale edges to allow the
adhesive to be applied. This entirely practical
approach docs not however allow realistit;
display of remo\Td panels without some work
with scalpel and file.
A study of many of the fine references
to aircraft POWt;r plants, particularly the \Valk
Around and Detail In Scale series of books, will
rc\eal (apart from many small ancillary ilems
that can be Iflcorporated in the engine area)
fhin melal snips around all the main inspeclion
panels. These wcrc punched at inten'als to
accept ri\·ets and hold the remov'Jble panels
in place. Such strips arc hard to fit after much
assembly has taken plaa:, so for an engine
detailing project they should be added first.
This is not necessarily because all the panels
are to be refined but the fact that the support
strips show up as bright yellow chromate on
many reference photos. Miss them out and the
lack will surely be obvious, as will the fact thai
they are ser too f.1r in if rhe plastic walls have
no.[ been thinned down.
In addition to preparing the bays to
make them more realistic, work on the engine
itself can be as extensive as the individual
modeler Wishes.
Clearly there arc many who detail engines in
1/72 scale as if the work was second nature but
personally I prefer to resen'e this acti\'ity for
the larger scale kilo Eyesight may well playa
part here, but to some of us rhc larger kit can
be that much more impressive because you
can more readily observe the work carried out.
It is of course perfectly possible to pick al
engine dell1iling, i.e. (0 do just that amount of
work to show what goes on under one panel
on one side of the fuselage, as indeed many
kits recommend.
.Many kits inspire you to go several stages
further than the raw materials supplied. I find
this to be particularly true in 1132-scale kits,
some of which represenl only the raw material
for an endless amount of super dctailing in
\-anous area of the airframe. Depending on the
configuration of the full-size aircraft. there
will be \llrious SCi:tions of intake trunking,
associated mesh dust filters, as well wiring, that
can be incorporated by scratch building.
The P-tO is a ease in poinL It is fascinaring to
see hull' for example, the engine cooling system
worked on this fighter when the entire from end
is exposed. The modeler could be inspired to
build up the three circular air intakcs under the
engine proper and add as much additional detail
as possible.
Either of the two 1/24-scale Mustang kits,
which contain an impressive number of piece..<;
to build up the main block, supercharger,

ABOVE TOP It is possible for
experienced modelers to scratch
build details for their models, but
the current generation of resin
accessories offers a supreme
level of detail combined with
simplicity and speed of assembly.
Compare the difference in detail
and fidelity between the kit
sidewall (left) and the resin
replacement sidewall (right).
ABOVE The pilot's seat is
usually me most obvious feature
inside me aircraft.Apart from
the more accurate shape. the
resin seat in this cockpit set
(right) includes a clever
representation of the pressed
metal ribs (on the front and back
of the seat). and an authentically
draped hamess. The kit"s seu is
also shown here, on the left.
:\Ilcillarics and mountings for a c01wincing
Packard l\lcrlin arc good for this.
:'vlcntion of engines and exposed panels
bring us 10 what the modd willlooJ,; likc Wilh
Oluch of its interior on show. American
fighters, unlike their German cOlinterpartS,
gencrally did not have a plethora of hinges
froOl which to hang thc panels. No doubt wC\'e
:111 admircd moods ofHf 109s or FW 190s with
cI'crr :lCCCSS p:lncl open while still heing, so to
spC".lk, in one pl<.'(;e. The Germans employed
Ihe uni\crsally exn:lIem Zeus f:lsleners so th:ll
inspection p:lncls, often quile large ones,
mere!} hung down (or were braced upwards)
with thc aid of Stays. They usually remained
an:lched to the aircraft - not so with Ihe Allies.
The P-38s should b":lm :In honorable mention
:IS an e.\:ception in this respect as iUi nose panels
hinged upwards to :lllo\\' access to the gun bay.
This means, In mooeling terms.. that in-line
cngine fighters such as the P--40 and P-51 will,
if thcir inn:lrds arc displayed, he ClSt inslantly
into diorama mooe. Therefore to keep Ihe kil
display area within reasonable dimensions. the
dislocaled cngine panels will nced to he rested
against lhe wing: or tailplane or laid out on the
wing. hinge panels that were not
normally detachcd and add any retaimng rods
necessary to hold them open if the kit sprues
do nOt include them. If a more elaborate S(."Cne, A
perhaps incorporating figures, is reqUired, then
the panels rna}' be plac<.-d. on trestles or other
work benches. Alternatively', they can simply' be on the ground adjacent to the aircraft.
As part of their kit package, Monogram
incorporated wing dihedral pi<.'(;cs In some
1/32-scale kits, an addition that could well he
incorporated into a detailed mooel to sho\\' the
wing StrOClore in some way. Such items are
useful when f(,,"Crcating banle damage, with
some of thc surfa<."C skin pl:c1ed back as it was
occ:rsionally wont to do under fire. Damaged
airframes pro\·ide numerous ways for a display
model to be that bit different.
Rcvca.ling what went under the skin as a result
of the aircraft being struck by shot and shell docs
however dcm:md that the modeler indulge in
replicating portions of the basic structure to
sc:rle dimensions. This is a fascinating aspect of
aircraft modeling and one thar should he far
rcmovc:..'l! from the Hollywood iu<.':\ of a line of
bullet holes stitching the skin as neatly a
scwing machine. This and other approach<.';; to
rel'ealing what is hidden under a !>OEd plastic
eX1erior might be thought of as turning the clock
bad: to thc days when modeling meant building
the airplane's structure first. Not so. T()day the
modern plastic kit is adaptable enough to provide
[he ideal compromise for revealing part of the
S1ruCture, but thc work involved can he timc-
One way not to create battle damage is to
make the mistake ofrrying to pare down plastic
10 a thin enough section - it'll take hours.
Instead cut away the entire pancl(s) and
substitute thin sections of I)lasticard suit;lbly
10m and holed. More card may he cut and
shaped inlO part of the airframe longerons
under the skin. When trapping this new
Structur:al ctT<.'(:t hetw<.'Cn two wing sections,
)ou can cheal a little by supporting it on the
existing lower s<."Ction, which remains as it
comes in the kit.
The \'ertic:rl fins of fighrCTs often took flak
or cannon shell hits tha[ peeled back the
skin, and this effect may he created without
difficulty. Either study the photos of a
particular air<'Taft in order to reproduce c...actly
a damage pattern with specific markings or
complete the model with typi<;al damage. For a
diorama of wing damage, how about placing a
pilot figure with his head and shoulder poking
through the hole?
i\'1any model dioramas go for a crash
landing - one fighter displayed on a baseboard
invariably with its prop blades bent back, and
maybe, without and other items. i\ pilot
or ground crew figure may be in attendance at
the 'Heck. But such lah/raux do nOl always
completely coO\'im;e. The modeler should get a
feci for not only where crash-landed aIrcraft
break, but also how they break - simply
hacking the pieces off will not look convincing.
Bending back the prop bladl'S IS probably
the simplest form of battle damage, but even
this needs to be done correctly. One method is
to he:u the blades gently o'·er a naked flame,
just sufficient to make them pliable enough to
bend. You may want at the same time to mist
them off center. Kcep the reference to hand
as you carry out the creati'·e vandalism and
you should be pleased with the f{.'Sult. It goc'S
without saying that you should test the method
first, and then perhaps usc an old prop with
poorly-shaped blades for the display model
rather than sacrifice a good one.
If none of the foregoing attr.lets you, there
another way: the Japanese company Bandai
suggested that after completing their 1/2-1 scale
P-51D the mo(1clcr wishing to show off some
of me imerior could lllke a hot knife to it. The
instruction sheet duly showed a kit with iL<;
canopyeU[ imo and the aircraft's center section
partially exposed after a jagged edge chunk had
been rcnlO\·ed.
The view will often be lllken that detailing
an engine and perhaps adding items sueh as
transport, senicing st:lncls and figures,
puts the model firmly imo the diorama C:l.tcgory.
This will often be the "iew of show organizcr.i
and judges., should tbe model be r(;quircd for
entry in a competition. E.-..:tr:t worI.: will of
be rl"quired to broaden out what may ha,-c
lllartl-d OU[ as a single, rebti"ely simple alrlTaft
projl'Ct, so pl:m in acl'"3nce what you want to
achieve with any kit you tackle. Numerous
scenes "ill suggcst themselvcs from the pages
of suitable books and magazincs dl'3ling wim
\\"3rOme fighrer operations.
LEFT The solid resin nose on
AMtech's P-40F/L is cast in a
hard. cream-<:alored rm.teri;il.
The distinctive intake inside me
chin of me caw! is beautifully
rendered as a deep undercut in
mis single part. Panel lines are
crisply recessed, matching the
high-quality surface texture on
tht:': kit's plastic parts.
AFY::JVE TOP Some of the
differences in shape and panel
location can be seen in this
comparison between the resin
nose and its plastic counterpart.
The resin casting plug, as
indicated by the vertical line at
the back of the part, must be
sawn off to achieve the proper
fit inside the kit fuselage.
ABOIE The kit fuselage halves
are marked and a razor saw is
used [0 make the (W() shoTt cuu
per side required for the
conversion. When you are
marking and cutting, always cut a
little less off than you think will
be required. It is easier to trim
before fitting than filling and
sanding a gap afterwards!
If a number of items are to be detached
from the model for display purposes, the
builder may well opt for a diorama type exhibit
by placing the aircraft on a suitable base. A
diorama. does nOt of course ha\'e [0 enend to
Ihe ultimate realism of greasy mechanics, oil
drums, bowsers, cnt;inc hoists and work stands
but merely a neat group of dctached partS
displayed, preferably [0 show off any markings.
On the other hand, replicating a full size
sen'icing scene is an anracri,'e proposition, so
again Ihe final design of the display is to the
modeler's choosing.
If we look at .the salient design points of the
\':lrious USA!\F fighters, we find obvious areas
that should when duplicated on a model be
100 per cent accurate if Ihe final result is to
be convincing. These areas come into what
might be termed the "male or bn:ak" category.
T.1king Ihl.: modcls through in numerical order
of it is easy to identify where each
could fall down if these arc overlooked.
Although the world's manufacturers currenlly
seem bent on rcproducing all thc main combat
fighters in aLi their sub-types, plus prototypes,
onc-()fTs and e\'cn "paper pb.ncs" in kit form.
\yc can'l CO\'cr thcm all here. Of those aircran
projects that wcre allOC:lled type numbers,
rclati\'e!y fel\' actually entered full-scale
production for USAAC/USAAF sen·ice. As
noted in 'Elblc I on page +t, the rest exisled
only as prOlOtypes or pre-servil.:e test examples.
Although its was a lale--1930s. pre-war design,
the P-35 was one of several obsolescent fighters
that found what modesl fame it garnered
under US (:olors during Ihe debacle in the
Philippines. O\'ertakcn technically as wel1 as
tactically by the rampaging Japanese, the P-35
tried valiantly to hold orr the likes of the
Mitsubishi 1\6.\1 which sll'epl O\'CT Clark Field
in the early hours of 8 December. Overwhelmed
by the CS pilolS ne\'CTthclcs." g-JI'e il
back in enough mcasure for the modem modeler
to include the tJJ>C in a representative fighter
Color schemes for both :'\'\'IF ,and
camounag(:o examples may be found for Ihe
linlc Se\ersky, well exemplifying the US
transition from peace to after Pearl I Iarbor.
As with the 1'-36, IIobbyeraft and Academy
seem to have followed each other to release the
1)-35 in 1/48 scale, there being little to choose
between them in terms of fine surface delail. I
fccl thaI Ihe Academy has captured well the
contours of the 1'-35, and reproduced lhe
hump-backed appearance of lhe original \\ilh
its modest dimcnsions. i\'lolded in lighl gray
plastic Academy's kit is very delicate - to Ihe
point of being adversely affected by any
rubbing down of joint lines. Surbee scratches
that would normall:y on other kits
persist on the 1'-35, so a heavy-handed
approach will cause problems, particularly if an
N.MF scheme is chosen.
A rugged and mean performer, Ihe P-36 found
arguably more fame in French and Finnish
rather than Americ';In hands. But as one of
the few USt\AC fighters Ihat managed 10
knock down some of the Japanese attackers on
Oeeember 7, 1941 it has an indisputable place
in aviation's mythical hall of famc. A fine
cxhibit in the USAF Museum at Day[on, Ohio
now represents the actual aircraft of the
IHth PG that claimed the first aerial victories.
Having thus been widely seen this particular
1'-36 might be too familiar for many modelers
- but there are alternatives. Even if your
model theme is to be strictly post Day of
Infamy, enough color schemes can be found.
Several 1'-36 kits have appeared over the
years with l'vlonograln leading the field with
a neat l/7Z-scale rendering many moons
ago. Hobbycraft and Academy have released a
total of limr I/4S-scale Hawks, all of which are
satisf)·ing to build. The aircraft lends itself to
numerous well-documented US.A....>\C markings
schemes, a selection of which are available
on commerCial decal sheets, among them
Tackling the Academy P-36A rcpresents
few problems, provided that the instructions
concerning the mounting of the engine are
followed to the letter. Failure to do this can
result in the cowling not fitting over the engine,
which is actually desib'l1ed to be positioned
too far back. The mounting boss needs to be
lengthened to ensure this error 1S remedied.
These minor drawbacks apart, this kit, which
lacks some cockpit detail, will be snapped up
by those who wish to add it. Alternatively it IS
attractive enough to be built straight out of the
In 1//2 the 1'-36 has fared quite well, also
being produced in this scale by Frog and
Hasegawa, among others. Not having examined
any of the smaller scale kits I can't really pass on
any comments as to their accuracy. I'm sure then
that Bert Kinsey, author of the excellent "Detail
in Scale" series of books, won't mind if I borrow
a few observations from hiS review section in the
first volume of a covering the 1'-40
variants. Reb'arding the snialler scak-s it would
appear that Bert and his renew team plump for
the .Monogram kit as the yardstick agaillst which
all others are measured.
In common with most US fighter kits,
contemporary models of the 1'-38 are quite
comprehensive, the aircraft generally being
down well. Assuming that the more
experienced modeler has decided to work with
one of the latest 1148-scale offerings from
Hasegawa or Academy, there won't be much to
complain about.
As with any kit, detail can be added to the
cockpit area: the Lightning's canopy featured
roll down windows on each side and a roof
section, which was hinged to flip up and back.
Faced with a one-piece model canopy the
traditional method of enhancing a P-3H as a
display model was to tackle the delicate job of
separating each section and displaying them all
III the open position. Today the modeler can
often lay aside the razor saw as the canopy parts
are often already separated. In addition, the
better kits will enable the nose gun magazines
to be fully or partially exposed under separate
doors, and some engine detail will be visible Via
separate panels. The list of accessories from
Verlinden, Kendalll'vlode1 Co or .I\tissing Link
.l\tode1s, to name but a few, can usually supply
super-detail extras for more than one variant of
the 1'-38. The scale of the original aircraft has
a bearing on what is available for model kits and
as a rule of thumb 1/48 scale offers slightly
greater scope.
l\10re aware than ever before of the
conversion possibilities wilh one basic airframe,
the mainstream manufaclurers often revise lheir
kits to afTer more variants, particularly if they
are similar in most other respects. The shape of
ABOVE TOP Constant test
fitting is an essential procedure
to achieving a perfect fit. In this
picture, we can see that there
are only a few minimai gaps
before trimming and sanding.
ABOVE This view provides a
more complete picture. Note
the slight step between the
top·rear of the resin nose and
the fuselage, and the ridge at the
bottom of the nose. There are
two ways to deal with these
minor problems. We can glue the
parts as they are and sand the
parts until they match; or we can
adjust the parts to fit when they
are glued. Excessive filling and
sanding can lead to ioss of
surface details. so we will be
making a few more adjustments
before assembly. The cockpit
parts have also been test-fitted
to ensure that they do not
interfere with the resin nose.
Ihe cn!,olne cowlings instantly disdnguishes a
P-38F/H from a P-38J/L but there are more
subtle differences lhat the kit tool makers may
not nea:ssarily ha\"e picked up"
Giwn all these integral wmponcnl parts, the
adranccd (;ol1version possibilities arc relati"ely
few with thc P-38 as the two distinctly diffcrent
types of cowling for the Allison engincs havc
Occn killed a numhcr of times., as has thc radar-
cquipped, night fighter twin SI.-ater, thc P-38;\'1.
As the "last of thc LighLninf,rs" just missed aerial
comoo.t, the interest factor for somc modelers
will underst:mdably be borderlinc - but the
aircraft doc'S 1001.": impressi,·c and makes an
interesting comparison with the P-61 - in an
equally battered fini..m. Available photos show
that rhe finish of the p-38rvl suffered almost as
much weathering as earlier counterparl aner a
few weeks in the Pacific. The books lell us thai
the [WQ---SC:l\ l'vlkft the US in a glossier shade of
black hUI it seemed not to ha\"c lasted too ,veiL
The ra(br-equippcd P-38JVl's all-black color
scheme lends itself to further comparison with
an early model P-38FII-I similarly finished in a
man night fighter scheme. Pb.eed alongside the
camouflaged day fighters, this would be a nice
contrast. The early Lighming variantS saw some
limi[ed Pacific combat as a stop g:Jp pending the
delivery of sufficient
.\lonogram were once ag:Jin the firSI
manufacturer l'O sec the altrnction of a "nighl
Lighming" and offered it as an alternali"e
"crsion 10 their P-38L as long ago as 1966.
Beautifully riveted and paneled, the detail is all
raised, but 1his call to turncd 10 advantage. The
kit includes some crystal clear transparencies
to go o\"er the raised second seat of thc P-38.ivI.
I recently found details of one of four aircraft
that rcached Japan after the end of the war and
saw sen·icc with lhe 4lSlh and 421s1 Night
Fightcr Squadrons, a good modeling topic.
As onc might expccr, the elimate wrought
hawlC on the paintwork of these machines. You
might reproduce this finish with a coat of blad
o\er the sih'cr plastic, lightly sanded 10 bring out
those raised rivets and panels.
In common with other aircraft with a
nosewheel configuration, the Ligh1ning looks
to my mind very impressive with the nosewheel
turned a few degrees off center. This is a
personal thing, but one that many modelers
will surely understand. -"at (hal model firms
readily indulge me in this: [hey hardly evcr
separate the olco legs or mold [he forks at an
angle to make the display of a £urned n05ewheci
casy. This is invariably on thc grounds that the
model's noscwhcd fork section would be evt:n
weaker lh:m it already is_ An}' weight put on the
Icg to balance the model would be
singularly unsuccessful.
As with any tricycle undercarriage aircraft.
the problem of \\eighting lhe nose of a P-38
can be acute, as no modeler worth his $:lit
would drcam of resorting to a lransparent tail
prop to kecp all three wheels all thc ground.
Adding nosc weight to a model with an angled
llosewhecl might be a disaster, so the best
sulutjon may be to cirtum\'ent this and :lUach
the model to a baseboard.
All in all, P-38s sueh as thaI from Academy.
Hasegawa and HobbY<"Taft in 1148 may safely be
a5S<..'Illbled and finished quitc quicl;:]y, although
thc S(.'COnd of the manufaet:urcrs listed hare
apparently built in quite a conSlruction
challenge to their P-3S). Judging from some
re\,k'ws, aligning the tail booms is particularly
tricky which might result in a switch 10 the
Academy which arc simpler in this respect.
The choice though is not easy as the detail of
the Hasegawa Lightning is said to be excellent.
One curious item [ found on thc Acadcmy kit
is two mysterious bulges on the insidc faees of
lhe enginc cO\dings. I'\"e checked thoroughly
without finding similar prolubcrances on the
full-size aircraft and can only assume th:l\ the
loolmakers mi.<>interpret<..x\ the brightly polishl,.x\
oval SI.'Cn on the skin of almOS[ all Lighlnings at
lhal point. These highly polished O\-als actcJ as
mirrors for rhe pilot to check thaI the noscwhl'Cl
was "down and locked" and were of course flat.
Anothcr area. that n<..'Cds attcnding to on ,he
1'-38 is the guns. ,Vlost model manufactul'ers
repl:aredly mold til esc with thc slotted band
jackets visiblc, irresJll:etive of the version. In
faCI the gUllS of latl:t production Lightnings
were 5(:[ into blasllubcs, as pel' thc P---J.7. That
said, 'it is a pity to change these as blasl lUbes
are quite plain and can tend to indicate lhat the
modeler has not bolhered to fit more detailed
guns to his kit. Faced with such a "'can't win"
silUation, individual modelers might opt for a
lillie artistic license and fit thc!.:it guns, \\hieh
usually have nposed barrel jackets.
Lilerally rhc biggesl ehallcnge to detailing a
P-38 lies with the I132-5<..lIe kit from Revell. It
definitdy nl'Cds to ha\'e all the raised ri\"ct de1ail
rcmOI'cd and the main pancllines and the tlying
surfaces n:-seribcd. After :l few applications of
wct and the rather thin pbstic trailing edges
(no complaint mere!) of the wings and lailpbne
lose:t liuk oftheir crispness and some delail m:ty
need to be redefined around lhe trim tabs
On this Ici[ the cotire nose pod - WllL';ually for
a P-38 kit - is a scparale assembly, making any
additional features or the application of nose an,
names and scoreboards, that much simpler. ;':0

internal pans arc supplied for Ihc ammunition
magazines or thc gun breeches :md in this size
there is an almost ilTC'iistible urge to
mis area. After that mere's only the cockpit
interior to t:lcklc, the kit providing a basic floor
and sidewall components to start you off. The
advantage of being able to work on the nose
before the huge wings are allachcd becomes
ohvious with the kit to hand.
In a field full of tail draggers, thc Airacobra
stands alone among first-line US singlc-<:Ilgine
fighters haxing a tricycle landing gear.
This again creates the potential problem of
persuading it to stand corrccrly on ils noscwhccl.
Weighting thc l.:xtrerne forw".l.rd fuselage can
result in similar problems you rna) expcrience
with the 1'-38 SO again, the solution could be
locating the finished model on a baseboard and
lightly anchoring ca<;h wheel with a pin, adhesive
or sticky lape. Three-pointing Ihe tricycle
landing gear of the Airacohra applies equally
10 the other two "twins" - the 1'-6\ and 1)-70,
should your representative collection of L:$A.AF
types e.xtend 10 multi-cngine aircraft and night
In 1969 a 1/-lS-scale 1'-39 was releaSt:d by
M.onogram 10 take and hold the "best kif" slot
for thi... particular tJPC for many years. Providing
build options for a P-400and three 1>-395 (a 0-1,
D-2 and 1.,-1, thc b!>1: in RlL'iSian markings) thc
Airacobra remains an excellent subjcct to \\Urk
with today. Having only recently been joined by
two other P-39s in this scale, a resin conversion
kit from l'vlissing Link Models and an injection
molded example from Eduard (sec Chapter 4),
me radical &11 fighter has not e.xacrly swamped
me display tables in t"OlTlpctition. This may also
be that me P-39 is pcm:i\-cd as me least effe<..-nye
L"S single-seater, plus the faa that ilS markings
ha,-e been rather poorly documented, with a few
notable exceptions.
The 1\'lonogram kit provides useful internal
detail in the nose area, the forward bay of which
was dominated by the barrel and breech of a
37mm or 20mm cannon. The kit inlcrior makes
an extra case for mOllnting the P-39 on a
haseboard rather than adding hallast, as 10 make
room for the amount needed to keep the
nosewheel on the grollnd, some of the gun uctail
would hare 10 be dropp<:d. This i!> a pit)' because
the internals of the 1'-39 may be finished 10 look
quite rom"inring e\'en with no funher detail
A bulky weight stuffed into the nose of any
model risks sacrificing some internal parts
and might reduce the opponunity [0 show the
panels opened up, more so with the 1'-39 due
10 its configuration. "nere is very little spacc
forward and although it is possible to place a
weight forward of the nosewheel without
S3crifi<.--ing the interior, )'ou'll be hard put to find
material with enough density to balance Ihe
A drawhack with all carly Monogram kits,
the 1'-39 being no exception, is the raised panel
lines, All these should be 5.1nded ofT, not only
on the grounds of alllhenticity blll the practit-al
one of getting decals 1O lay down o\-er raist-d
iosl'(:(:tion panels, lines and ri\-ets. Again the
"light sand" can be employed so that some
r.lised detail can show through the paint.
Revell the P-39 fairly well in 1/72
scale many years in advance of its ri'-al'i. Old now
and with its co\'er(.'(\ in ri\Tts, the kit
suffered from a too shallow outline shape, but
was deemed a little bener Ihan the more angular
profile of the Airfix and Hellcr kits releaseu
some time later. The laner kits do however have
a number of parts mat may be used 10 enhance
one of the three offerings if a representative
AiracobrJ is required in this scale. Areas to take
note of include the undercarriage, armamcnt and
any engine access panels.
As with many yimage kits the cockpit
transparency in any of these 1'-395 may look
decidedly forlorn. It is a fact that some
transparencies in this scale were not very
clear even when they were first kined and
suhsequent pressings have done nothing to
improve the molds. This fact:Or, along- with oyerly
heavy framing, makes them prime candidates for
replacement. But using [hree kiLS and a decent
canopy an acceptable P-39 can result.
Many of us who ha,·e these older kits on our
sheh'es sometimes find that a newer release is
not necessarily that much of an improvemcnt
to justify a purchase, leading us 10 drag out that
dus[)' box again, along with allihe spares. This
is certainly lruc for the P-39. As there ha\·c
bcc.n relatively few of them in any scale, thc
"old hut good" adage may well hold true.
The Kingcobra was a fascinating de\elopmcnt of
the P-39 and ofiers an attraeti\'e comparison
10 it." older stable matc. Although sharll1g a
sinlilar configuration, the two aircr.lft were quite
diffcrent in detail - fC\'iscd nosewhcel
four-bladed propcUer, new tail surfaces and
dorsal re:tr fuselage in the case of the P-63C and
pylon-mounted guns rather than integral \,-ing
mountings on aU \"ersions.
ABOVE The P-40F's cockpit
sub-assemblies have now been
sprayed with a thorough coat
of flat black.
For years the only representation of the
"King" in plastic kit form was a lin-scale kit
by the Japanese firm Aoshima_ Shonly before
this book went to press howeyer ~ U ) M and
Toko added the P-63 to their lin-scale
injection-molded ranges. The \'aeuformed kits
from Wings of (he US are reportedly yery
good, though this type of kit demands more
from the modeler in all stages of construction
than is necessary with injection molded parts,
J\lPM has also extended its short-run range
to a 1'-63 in 1/48 scale. Fit of parts leaves
something to be desired and as is usual with
limited run kits [here is much cleaning up to be
undertaken before construction t;ommenccs.
Afterwards you can 1001: forward to wielding
the filler to close the gaps.
This type is dealt with specifically in the
images that accompany this chapter, but it is
worth detailing some more gereneri<: points
too on the aircraft, and the modeling produ<:ts
Adding detail to a P-W model wilJ usually
beb>1n with the air intake and the cooling naps
at the IO\\'er rC,ll" end of the engine bay. These
ha\'e been molded fully dosed, fully open and
RIGHT The above stage is
followed by a coat of Dull Dark
Green. sprayed at an angle to
permit some of the black to
remain visible as "shadows."
LEFT The instrument panel in
Cutting Edge's resin cockpit set
is made up of a base panel,
printed acetl.te instruments and
die from panel. The rear of the
acetate instruments is painted
white to permit subtle dial detail
10 show at the front.
partially open, separately or inlcgr"l, depending
on the kit in qUL'Stion. Moving lYJ<.:k from this
an::J, the belly rack for a bomb or drop tanks may
have !O be added or at Ie-Jst impro\'cd b}' l:s.<;cntial
dClail. Fortunately perhaps from 3. modding
\ iewpoint, L:SA.AF War hawks lcm.kxl to ha,-e a
nC::ltcr SCI of four sway brdCCS to hold bombs in
place than did J...:jttyhawks of the RAl-; with their
ca['s cradle of angle iron hanging
bctwl'C,:n the oleos.
The wnl'Cls of the real P-40 were almost
disproportionalcly large and in common with
Olher 3in:raft, they werc usually fined with
rires. You would nOI have lhought Ihis
10 be Ihc case as far as kil manufaLwrcrs
were concerned as for years they pcrsisll,-d in
supplying only smooth tires in their 1'-40 kits. If
the subject you arc working on had those lovely
diamond-patterned tires (and the kit oncs don't)
an effort should hc made to cut the Ire,ld in. A
beller altcrnatl\'c these Jays IS to scarch Ihe
custom parts lists of thc spc:nalist suppliers
who may well offer a set of tirGS wilh the
(.'Orret:1 tn'ads in resin or 01 her material. This is
marginally l':lSier in the smaller Sl-alcs ;I.e; 1/32
scale al"l"l'SSOrics remain in somewhat limitcd
Don't cut kit lires unless you ha\·c lo,
bm on the other hand, don't l'Omplclc a P-+Q
with complelCly "bald" lires, as it just won',
look right.
Of :lI1l Ihe Warhawk kits produced it is
ralher strange that the majority of them ha\'c
been of the P-WE. NOlwilhstanding the
manufacturers' obsession with Ihe marketing
0ppoTlunities of the sharkmouthed Flying
Tigers, this appears a slrange imbalan(.'C, as
lhe oribrinal AVG flew, of course, the P-40B. It
appeared at one timc Ihat no kit supplier worth

LEFT Details in the P-40F's
cockpil are picked out with
a fine brush in various
RIGHT Careful painting of
str".lf>S and buckles CMI result in
a very convincing seat.
Awell-painted pilot's seat looks
great through an open canopy,
his sail could bear 10 rckasc a Warhawk Ihal did
nor fc:l.ture a sharkmourhed aircraft on the 00):
top, forgelting thar most of the buyers had been
thcre before.
There are now scvcral IJ-JOB and
l.:iL" but the version that runs a c10sc second
to the E model in US service, the F, was for
)1:'3.rS all bUl ignorcd as an injection molded
kit subjecl. This ,'crsion, shown in the
photogr:lphs in lhc this chapter, powcred by a
Rolls-Roycc Merlin, lacked the characteristic
intake on top of rhe nose and had different
engine cowling contours to the Allison-engine
machincs, Other variations of the Warhawk,
the K and L, wcre similarly ignored as kits
until recently, [hal gap being plugged by
releases in both 1/48 and 1/72 M:alcs.
Acro.1vlaster's comeTsion kit for the P-40F
comes as a small 00): containing a new nose,
flaps and rudder and fln fillet sections,
Designed for mating with the truncated
fuselage of the \..lau,'e the com'ersion
a treat and opens up a far wider range
of markings possibilities than hitherto. The
one drawback for the modeler used more
to completing American fighters in 00 and
I'eutul Gray is thai the ''<lSI majority ofP-JOFs
in sen'ice (mainly in the 1\1'1'0) wore l\\'O-lone
RAr-relile <.-11mouflage.
The P-40F and L \\'ere built as "short" and
"long" fuselage \'ersions and were widely
by American air forces, a faCllhat makes their
omission from kit lists for so lung an even
greater mystery, hut better late than never.
Using Ihe Aerofl'laster conversion set and other
kits such as AMTeeh's reccnt release, the
modeler now has the opportunity to build
'rirtually the emire front-line P-40 range,
REVEll'S P-40 IN 1/32
As it comes rhe original Rewll kit lends itself
[Q numerous P-40Es in sen'icc with lhe Sth Air
Force as well as the laller day Tigers
during their tnmsirional period 10 lx."COme
pan of the 23d Fighrer Group of the 14th Air
Force, This parricular unit also used the short
fuselage P--40K, so adding a fin fillet to the kit
expands the markinl,"S horizon a bit further,
Decals for \Varhawks in lhis scale arc not very
numerous so a resorl to masking and spraying
will be the only option for some camouflage
schemes. In any evem decals in lhis size C;ID
be rather obvious, so a "direct on" painting
approach should bring aboul a more satisfying
As it comes out ohhe box, Ihe Rc,'c1II)-+o1::
box is one of the best of the singlc-sl-aters
feamrcd in the original 1/32 scale fighter
series. One reason is thai unsighlly pins either
10 altach the transparent p;arts 10 lhe fuselage
or to hold opening SCClions in place do oot
maT the canopy, I wanted to hand paint some
personal arl\\'Ork and employ stencils rather
than d<.-"C:lls for the national insignia, so this was
an id<.--al kit to srart Wilh,
The surface detailing is reslrained enough
10 bear only lightly rubbing down after a coat
of pamr, Re,'c1l having captured the unique
"planking" effect of the Warhawk's fuselage
construuiun well. The engine and some of
lhe cockpit detail is convincing enough and
although some viciolls ll\\sh was present on
some of the sprues, my o"erall impressiun was
of a kit worth taking time over.
As work procceds, you find youTSClf adding
delail rather than having to resorl t'O the sort of
remedial work thai can be a real chore, Mind
you, such is necessary. "Adding" includes the
stays which held lhe P-40's ,'entral
gills open (they arc molded in this position
on the lit), refining lhe drop tank SUppo.-lS
and adding the flexible fucl lines, generally
improving the tank by S:J.ndwiching the two
hah'CS provided with a thin Plasticard scam
down the middle, and in my case, cutting out one
of Ihe \\IDg bays rhat held the machine gun
ammunition. This ncccs.<;itJted adding the splil
doors and their rClaining rods, plus some of the
ammo. 11/ situ in their bays the familiar belts
of 0.50in. l11rtridges were p\\rtially hidden by
covers similar to those thar werc supplied with
I-Iascg'Jwa's 1'61" Helleat kiT and I inserted some
of lhese on thc Wal'h:lwk after making up rhe
walls of the bay as an elongaTed Plasticanl box,

if you do undertake Ihis "one wing only"
l."UlOut, don't forgel to choose the right wing
:as you don't necessarily want 10 CUI a decal or
compliCltc stenciling of the muiana! insigrua.
.\1r O\m choice was dictated morc for spc:.'Cd than
:mything else, and I opened up the gun bar on
onc wing only. Talking of guns., those on the
P-40E and later vcrsiol1.'i were :lema11)' inserted
into the wing from below \'Ia lhal huge panel
th,lt hinges down at the fron!. Anyone who
has assembled a P--40 will have noticed these
panels (one per wing) became the)' had a couple
of curiolls shaped "swellings" al the rCaT, as
though someone had miscalcu1a1Ccl the true
depth of the gun breeches .md had ('0 beal out
the panel until they These f:tirings arc
un almost all P-40Es - except (of course) the
brgc scale Revell one. The panels themseln:s
arc marked out but they arc slighily 100 angled.
If they arc to cut out they'll bolh need reshaping
and made squarer. Those bulged fairings:
probably all me modeler can do to recrify this
annoying shortcoming - shoTt of remolding
them completely - is to build them up \\;!h
filler or adapt a couple of small bomb halyes
or other suitable item from the spares box
:Jnd fair lhem in, taking due care to leep one
eye on the references while so doing. lney
::aren't \-ery regular shapes so a
p::artieularly elose eye will ha\'e to be lept on Ihe
reference photos, which arc plemiful enough.
The Revell Warhawk's cockpit detail is a
fertile ground for impro\'cment, the instTument
panel being a little random when it comes lO lhe
number of instruments engraved nnlO i1. The
panel indudes substantial supporTing "legs" on
each side which do not seem to appear on the
full-size aircraft and it thcrefore needs some
reshaping and refinement in the form of drilling
out (."ach dial and adding :1 c1earPlasticard
backing. The pilot's scat in the P-40F. had a
roundt-d top as opposed 10 the almosl square
sct:tion of the kit scar. A.<; this is tOO lall as it
(.'Omcs, il i<; a simple maner 10 reduce and
reshape it prior to attaching it OntO the H-shaped
support prO\·ided. The P-40 seat also had
prominent horizontal ribbing \\hereas the
RC\'ell's arc ycnical.
The full size P---IOE did nOi ha\'e a cockpit
floor as such, the pilot's seat being bolted 10 the
wing upper surface spar where it passed
through the fuselage. Revell do provide a floor
and I h,l\'e no argument with that as it makes the
cockpit sub-assembly stronger and thaI much
easier to finish prior to attaching lhe fuselage
The US company ScraTchbuilders released
a kit of resin parts to com'en the Re\'el1 1/32
P---IOE inlo an early P.....wB or C Taking this idea
a few steps further is another American based
company, Cr.lfl\\orks of Washington, which has
pressed ;l complete and wcll-rcscan:hed multi-
media resin based kit of the P-wc' Sufficient
parts are provided to build lhe emire Totn:lha\\ k
airframe out of resin, the kit meluding whil'e
mctal componentS, a brass etched fret for some
of the cockpit and landing bocar detail and very
welcome dry decals.
The outline accuracy of Curtiss Warhawks in
1172 Sc:lle has been variable at tx."St. Almost
everyune has had a stab al Ihe type, mainly in
terms of the Allison-engine P-40E- Air/ix, Frog,
Hasegawa, Ileller, :'vtatchbo.\, Monogram and
Rcvcll to name a few. All rhesc manufat1:urers
havc released examples over the dl."t-adcs, bur the
kits vary and some generally fall short on SI..'\"eral
counts. Frog alone gambled that a P---IOB model
mighr be popular in this scale. It was a fine lin1c
kit if a bit basic, being released at a time when
this British company won many friends with a
range of delicately crafted World War 2 fighters
IlOt duplicatcd clsewhere for years.
That the Frog P---IOB remained the only kit
uf this \'ersion 3\-ailable in any scale for dl.'C3dcs
is strange considering the international fame
of the American Volunteer Group, which
flew this early model for mOSI of its existence.
The modd manufacrurers got around that by
labeling all their P-40Es as "Plying: Tigers"
with inevitable sharkmouth decoration, which
is certainly not inappropriate for a bter .-\VG
aircraft and many others operated by the
CUll Pacific-based groups.
Offcring a light and restrained raised line
surface, the kit is quite straightforward to
assl.:mble with an eye needing 10 be kept on the
fil of parts. Wing root gaps are difficult 10
disguise withoul thc usc of filler as the modd
could soon taL:e on an Q\'er-generous degree of
dihedral. Thai said, the kit has the potcmial for
being turned into a firsl--cla...... replica 2hhough
arc not Ihe strong point and Ihe P-40B suITers
from o\'cr-thick framing.
'Ine kit's docal options oITers no surprises
insofar as the suggested color schemes arc
for 1\VG and RAF aircraft. This kil does
howC\-er lend itself to a \\ide \"ariel)' of early
USAAC/L"SAAF color schemes as mOSI of the
"traditional" fighter groups, those thaI woold
form the nucleus of a modernized air force to
fight in World War 2, f1cw the type. In facl lhe
P-40 is an ideal subject if one wishes 10 show in
maud form the progression of US fighter
markings from the unpainted aircraft of the
RIGHT We get one last good
look <It the P-40Fs sidewall and
footwell detail before it is
encased in the fuselage. The tub
has not been glued in position -
it has simply been tacked in
place with Blu-Tack.
carly-l9-Ws to a similar hare meral scheme as
sported b ~ some P-40:'\s in the Pacific in 19+1.
IIasegawa, a company [hal generally
produces excell(.'1u kits, no.'1 came up with a
P--IO!\. This conlained the requisite number
of delicate, well detailed components 10 the
company's typical high quality, SO far removed
from previous Allison--cnginc P-4Ds, most of
which varied in fuselage length, canopy size,
wheel dimensions and so forth.
Howc,"er [his particular kit, like some others
In the 1/72 scale Hasq,'awa range, seems 10 be
a shade undersized, particularly in fuselage
depth, leading to the conclusion that the
draughtsrncn had miscalculated the dimensions
on this occasion. Of course it could be that
manufacturers other than Hasegawa ha,·e
OVl'rscaled the aircrafl slightly but the quesllon
of why this should be is hard 10 answer. It aU
goes back, I suppose, to which sct of dimensions
the mold makers use. Check P-4D dimensions
in several references and they always var);
indicating that kit manufacturers may just have a
problem or two in this respect.
Older P-40 kits regularly rt.':lppear at model
events, offered either in original boxed form (at
quite high asking prices) or in bags witlloul
inSITut.-tion sheets and consc.."qucntlr somewhal
cheaper. J\lorc recently Russian and Eastern
EUTOpean manufaeturen; ha'"c re"italized the
molds and thc kit.. are once again being imported
into Ihe UK. Newcr P-40B kit.. in 1/72 scalc
ha,"c recently become available too.
As this book was being completed Rc\·cll
broughl out a short fuselage P-40K, a ,·ariant
that had generally been o'·erlooked by Ihe
industry. Another welcome addition to this
scale, rhe kit has fine engra,·cd surface detail,
bur as indicated previollsly, the mainll'hecls
necd replacing with somcthing morc In
keeping with those of the original aircraft.
Acadcmy's P-JOC, rdtastd in 1000, sel new
slandards for the earlicst of the first combat-
wartlly Warhawks, its rcstrained panel detail
engraved inlO the plastic as it should be
contrasting wiLh lhe raiSt.-d line appTOach long
adoptcd by Monogram.
Molded in light gray plastic the A c a d e m ~
kit goc... together vcry well and is one of many
contemporary kits that fall tasily into the "OUI
of rhc box" building eatcgory. One curious
but in my case welcome inclusion is a solid
0/1" loop fairing. :'\0 mention of this item
is made on lhe instruction sheet and
although manufaClurers h3\'e been known 10
add additional parts and indeed whole extra
sprues to bts tIlar are to be part of a series, one
OfF loop is a mystery. It may be that Academy
arc to re-tool tile p-JOC into a P-WK, a sub
type that in some instances had this addition

on the fuselage aft of the cockpit. I'm not
compbining as the part (;arne in "cry useful fOT
just such a model, a P-WK of the 23d Fighter
One other area that needs commenting on
is Academy's slight "dumbing down'" of the
1)-4{)C's internal detail- As it retained cowling
guns the aircraft had the bn.:cchcs flanking the
instrument panet These should be at least
three separate parts. The gun rearming and
inspection panels arc among the few hinged
items that may be incorporated onto a P--40C
without turning the model into a diorama.
In recent years I\'c gone a little OTT for the
\\larhawk and buill the Frog P--lOB, the
HaSCb"3wa P-40:'\, two 1/48-scalc AJ'vlT-ERTL
kits, the J\'lonogram Sn::tp-Titc offering to an
uncenain scale, converted the Tl)-40::"J" from
.'vlonogr.J.ffi kits, dry run the Mau\'c P-40N and
donc cnough work on the R(.·...c111132 P-WE lO
notc thc great possibilities this kit offcrs for
super dctailing.
Within the abO\·e building program one of
thcAMT kits was finished asa P-40F using the
\'lasler conversion parts, and a P----tOK,
onc of se...eral options providcd for in the
A...\IT/ERTL Warhawk \\hich is basically an
"En model bur is sold with the P--+OK's
fin as an optional tail seclion. Forgivc thc many
acronyms, bur banging on about Warhawks and
Kittyhawl.:s would only confuse thc issue,
although I do appreciatc that British rcaders
might morc readily the differcnt P-40s
llsing RAP nomenclalurc.
For a 1/48-scale P-40K, the A!vIT kit is a
good starting point although the I;eneral fit of
parts lcavcs something [0 be desired. Rccc..'iscd
panel lines make for an excellent restrained
surface finish and overall the assembled kit
looks '·cry comincing pro';ding that areas such
as thc wing dihedral can be achie"cd correctly.
Thc kit also has a few anomalies such
as fuselage location points for the cockpit
sidcwalls that do nOI haxe the corresponding
pins. You locate the sidewall sections into the
cockpit floor, which makes for rather weak
assembly until the completed cockpit box is
locatcd into the fuselage halves. Eycn then, the
panels are a little "ofT the walls."
Scparate side panels containing the
exhausts are provided 10 show an engine (no
parts for which are provided) but the
exhausts thcmsch'cs do not duplicate the
fishtail design of the original. Incorrect exhaust
pipe shape is a common fault with numerous
P-40 kits, unfortunately.
The AMT P.-\OK also ineludes a scat back
panel that is incorrectly kinked to angle forwards.
This is doubly odd as the corresponding itt.'ffi in
the same company's P-40L/N kit is a corrcctly
angled back, a straight piece of plastic cont:lining
the headr(:S\ being provided in that instance.
Persuading the P--4QF nose to
mate \\ith a trunClled ,'--\IT fuselage has its
difficullies. AeroMastcr actually recommend
using the Mauye P-40:\" bur as these kits arc a
bit hard to come by and I'd already set aside the
single example 1 had, there was no choice but
to seek an alternative if I wanted a P-4QF in
Carefully cut at the points suggcslcd in the
AeroMaSlcr instna;tion sheet, the AMT kit
will accepl the ncw nose without 100 much
ABOVETOP The next step for
our P-40F: cementing. Some
plastic cements have a needle
applicator that makes precise
placement a simple maner.
Adhesive was run around each
h,lIf of the P-40Fs fuselage.
ABOVE The pam were then
uped and clamped. The fuselage
was set aside until the glue had
thomughly seL

RIGHT The bottom of the
P-40F's resin replacement nose
protrudes into the center of the
wing. The area to be removed
has been marked out. and a
scriber is being used to
accentuate the CUt line.
RIGHT A razor saw was
once again used to remove
this section.
steps and ledges on the resin
nose are dealt with by gluing
small pieces of plastic card to
strategic positions. These pieces
of card rorce the plastic of the
fuselage to line up with the
conwurs or the resin nose.
Several coofigurations were
tested before the best result
was found.
of the adjusted nose proved to
be free of gaps. Steps and ridges.
The plastic and resin was
blended by sanding.
difficulty - that tends to come with the rest of
the kit! Although the component parts arc
well molded, numerous gaps will appear,
particularly ai' the wing roots. .'\s with some
other kits in which the fuselage is sel or
"sprung" inlO Ihe completed wing I he dihedral
angle can become c.\:cessive in an effort to dose
the gaps and Ihe only remedy is to resort to
Plasticard shims and filler.
The complctcd kit is onc of those I hal may
rake a linle gening used lQ: the !\'Ierlin engine
did not euctly naucr the P--40's hitherto
elegant nose profilc and in this case a weighted
nose due to dcnsity of the resin composition
makes you momcntarily wonder where the
nosewheel went! Ha"ing said that, the P-40 and
L were widely used by US groups and
the ht open<; up many markings possibililies
that had previously to be neglected.
On the subjcct of P--40Fs, 1 rcmembered a
rc!ey:mt oddity in my "yet to build" kit farm,
namely a "Snap-Tite" IVlcrlin--engine Warhawk,
(.;rt'3 197.J.. You may recall this .Monogram sub-
series., aimed firmly at the junior end of the
market and maybe bcc:luse of that, not adhering
to standard S<.'3les. These kits st'Cm laIb'Cly to
have bt'Cn ignort'ti by the serious modeler, which
is a little short sightt'ti 10 my mind as caeh one
should 1't::3.II)' st:md alone and not be judged in
dirt'Ct comparison with another. Tne WarhawL;
is Iargc.-r than 1/72 and probably worb out at
1I.bout liM- but the point is that it was the fil1it
P--40F 10 appc:Lr. It builds up well and if any
comparison nc.'Cds 10 be made., 11.00
relcasc..'<1 a P-5ID as a Snap-Tite in the same
scale. Also., Aurora ona: came up with an F.J.F
Wilda! in much the same scale.
With the rider that the over-large anchorage
p<linls of this kind of "no glue" kit need
trimming or removing, a model designed to
be simple and quick to build has some
undoubtcd ad\"antagcs. ny all m(,,'3l1S add
construction strength with adhesive (as
.\Ionogram's instruction sheet suggests) and
do remove thc raiscd panel lines. This kit is
probably worth the cffort as to my knowledge
no P-j.()Fs c."ist in scalc." smaller than l/-t8-
but as the photos herc show, thai sub-type has
been \\'ell recogmscd in the larger scale.
One drawback to an odd SC"J.le kit is thc lack
of correctly sized markings. nul <If:,rain I found
thaI wil'h thc advantage of a bulging decal file,
suil';lble national insignia could be found.
Incident.lIly while searching to find something
suimble I realized that the P-40 is among the
few US fighters to have fuselage and wing
n.uional insignia to the dimensions.
Talking: of insignia, fcw modelers of the
Warhawk will ha\'C failed 10 OOlice rhe
commcmorati\-e, IS,OOOth P-40N \\;th national
nurkings of all the countries supplied by Curtiss.
The l\hu\'e kit has been updated and re-rcle:ts(:d
br a Japanese company called Create 310,
romplel'e with all those markings.
Soon after it first cntcred sen·ice with the
Sth Air Force, Republic's mighl} P-47 was
being weighed down with all manner of "thingJ;
under \\'inb"S." Drop tanks were followed by
bombs, rocket tubes and I IVARs, extras which
m<tnufacturers have not been slow to include
as optional extras in their kits. Unfortunately,
while concentrating on filling up the sprues
with stores, they often appear to have
o\·erlooked the true outline sh;lpc of the old
T-boh and om;e agam the IliZ-scale kits on
offer have historically n:quired crossing-buing
with components from others to build one good
example. In particular, the addition of custom
parts for Thunderbolts included such items
as determining whether a gi,·en cxample was
fined with Hamilton or Curtiss propellers with
standard or "paddle" blades.
In the case of some older models. there
was the chore of constructing wheel well
walls and in addition, detailing srores racks
molded integrally as part of the lower wing,
something that while not critical, could hamper
the camouOage and markings process. Some
of us will have cut our teeth on the ancient
frog razorback kit, which although ignored
these days, was not the worst model of its
type by any means - and it did seem to be the
right size.
RIGHT The remaining fuselage
seams on our P-4QF were tidied
up with a sanding stick. Lacer.
they were smoothed with fine
abrasive paper.
The razorback P-----l-7 is also lhe subj(,.·t:t of a
Re"ell 1/32-scale I:il, \\ hich n.."t.)uircs suitable
modification. :\1ore worl: is n(,.>(.'(]ed to turn
the razorback into somel hing acceptable as
some fundamcnlal airframe eHors ha\"e crept
into the moldings and these need to be
attended to before other Ilork is tackled. :\"ot
all these Rc\"cll kits extended to underwing
stores - or even the racks - bUI the p-·n 1 used
included a pair of racks Wilh Uritish-sty1c
bombs (some kits were marketed with RAF
m:lrkings for an aircraft serving in Burma) and
a suspicious looking eenterlinc drop t:mk.
During the time period whc.'ll these kits
wcrc oriboinally a\-ailable, I illl·cstc.'(] in a set of
1/32-s(;alc \-acuform drop t:lnks m:lrkctc.'(] by
Horizon Com"crsions. fly offering standard
tanks for the P--47/P-Jl, the "'n:lt" tank oftCfl
secn on Thunderbolts, plus lhe lal"b'C ferry
tanks for the P-38, this sel is p:lrIieularly useful.
Armed with the IIonzon drop tanks and any
Olher ill.'lllS more recently made available for
aircraft models in this scale, oldc.... kits may
consequently be lini<;hed to look as they should.
J.:lucri), some of the standard-pattern AAF
lighler drop tanks have been replicated in
1132-s<.;ale injection-molded kits, nOlably by the
J-1ascg'Jwa P-51D, which is adaplable tu the 1'-47,
but the 1'-38's underwing loads SC(,.'lllS to have
been rat her ol"Crlooked in this rcspl;Ct.
Unforlutlntcly the P--47 bubblctop version is
redcmption as it comes out of the box
because the high point of the sliding wel.:-
pit bood is nol reall) present, this part seemingly
being molded 100 short. The consequent "cur
off" look is n:ry noticeable and an alrernati\·c
canopy will h:lve 10 be found. But one can h:lrdly
lea"e out lhe 1) 7 in a (."()l1ccrion of 1/32 scale
American ligtu(. s and by carrying out correctivc
work, the Rercl1 kit can be made to look vcry
impressive indc.'Cd.
The modern day kit sccne shows that thc
manufaClurers are;!l long last aware that North
AmeriC"Jn's finCSI came in distinctly
different guises. A look oock at the releases of
past decadcs pro\cs that ,Monogram apprccialoo
that there was a P-51 B as well as rhe bubblelop
D and duly released kits in 1/-t8 and 1/72 scales
in 1967. The company only added a P-JID in
the larger scale len years later but in rhe
meantime, ilS happy customers sat back and
waited for lhe rest of the world t'O catch up. II
did but slowl), in more ways [han one.
Ir was 1995 before Tamiy:! added a P-51 D
to its excellent 1/48--scale range. The kit, which
had a str.righlforw:lrJ Mustang approoch,
included leardrop external fucl tanks and
separate naps, plus nicely derailed wheel wclls
that were prcs$(,."(1 as separate parts. Two cockpit
canopies, anI; to represcnt an aircraft built al
Inglc\\"ood and 0111;:tt Dallas, were also provided.
A neat \Ouch on lhe four-aircraft subject decal
sheet was the inclusion of an "aluminum" effecl
surround 10 the national insignia. This t:nabled
the subject model, unimaginati\'ely that well
known P-510 (.·(Kkd E2-5 of the 361st Fighter
Group, to be complel'ccI with the masked off
outline around the "slars and bars" nQt being
compromised by awkward masking or a shaky
handheld brush.
This :lnd other P-510s of the 361s[
famously - or notoriously - wore lactical upper
surface camouflage, which for years many
pt:oplc rhought to h:lse been insignia blue or
c\-en red. Only when one of a number of color
photos laken of this aircraft and three othcrs
III a four ship formation was finally subjectcd
to c,treful reproduction did we realize lhat the
upper surface color h;tc! been olive drab all
While 'Iamiya thus demonstrated an
admirable in-depth approach to decal research, it
was nO( really nceded for thc fuselage of this
particular machine, which had the 00 T:u;tical
camounagc touching the national insignia at the
top, without an ::'\MF outline. It was however
masked ouT when 1\£1\ F stripes were applied.
P-51 IN 1/32 SCALE
As the only kit of an early Merlin Mustang in
1/32 SClle I had no choice but to use the Revell
kit as a basis and carry out a liule mixing and
marching. pnmarilr 10 add an engine of the
right frontal cross-section. As it comes the !.:it
has frOIll end contours somewhere between an
Allison and a Merlin but not cxacLl)' right for
either. An engllle section molded to the corrcct
dimensions can be cut from either a "solid"
.'''onogram P-5ID or .he same company's
"Phantom Nlustang" thaI was also pressed in
this SCJlc.
I chose to usc these older kits purely on the
grounds of availability and the f,\ct that the
relC3se of the Hasegawa P-51D quickly put
them into the "spares only'" ('"3tcgor). While
this may be an added reason to usc either of the
Monogram engines, they do not fil perfccrly
all round. I found a degree of fairing-in to be
necessaT)' on the undersides and the thin
wing roots also require building up wilh filler.
Anyone wishing to tackle this converSIOn
would be bener using the Hasegawa kit -
which will in any event probably be the only
Mustang available - as (he engine apparently
mates better with the Re\"ell kit fuselage. Also,
the spinner, propeller and mainwheels of the
Japanese kit are much more accurate.
An carly \CTsion Mustang in this scale
has numerous markings possibilities. not to
mention ordnance loads that will in some C3S(."S
have to be scratch builr. Bombs should be
no problem as numerous kits slipply these
in abundance, even though they may not
necessarily be to 1/32 scale. A large size bomb
in a 1I48 SClle bomber !.:it can usually double
for a smaller size on a fighter in the larger
scale - i.e. a 1/48 scale 1,000 pounder can
become a 500 pounder in 1/32 scale, and so
forth. Customizing plastic rod can be used to
manufacture a pair of M10 rocket launchers for
the P-5IB/C.
LEFT The P-40F's ccxkpit rub
was next into the
The fit W<1S extremely
with the nsembly
clicking in place without the
benefit of glue.A bead of
added to the back
of the pilot's bulkhead and along
the bottom edges of the cockpit
floor to ensure it did not come
loose later.
Without its cngine the trunclted H::ascg:Jwa
r-5 II) could form the basis for::a supcr-detailcd
dior::am::a whcre the building \\ork conccntrates
on what goes on at the fronl end, but below the
slin. Start by inserting a Plasticard fircw:lll at
the point thc cngine has been cut ofT to use on
Ihe r-51B, drill this to take ,·arious :lncillaries
and work slowly fon\-ard from there.. Thc spares
box will provide many of the necessary bits and
pieces ::and when the engine is inSI':llk'd, thc
discardcd sections of the Revell 1)-5 IB might be
adaplcd for display as separate panels. Thc f.1ct
thaI these arc slightly undersized \\on'l r('':llly be
nOliccd provided that they are sandcd down and
Finally, the thought occurs lhat onc could
add lhe uncowlcd, detailed .\'icrlin engine to the
Revcll P-51B and not bother with cuning: up
the l-Iascg'Jwa kit but this would slill k':l\·c the
slight challenge of modifying the propeller
blades and adding new tires of lhc correct
eross-seclion. Then ::again, the conlQurs of the
original Rc\·cll kit nose might, JUSt might, be
adaptablc 10 :In Allison although this \\ould
inmh"c a considerable amount of work.
!\'lanifeslation of an early Mustang in plastic kit
form to INS scale occurred in thc c::arly 1990s
when the US company Accuratc Mini::alures
released nOI one bur thrce Allison-engine
P-5Is: a P-51 (with no suffix letter), a 1)-5IA
and an :\-36. ThIS bra'·e "go for broke"
approach was a that the markel had
vastly inereascd in sophistication ,111d indeed
knowledge lhrough acql11ring the many fine
referenccs thaI have appeared in reccm years. It
worked, achieved sales good cnough 10
keep the company so that currently il is
branching out into other subjects and g'.lining
an em'iahle reput:llion for quality. Thc going
has reportcdly been hard at times., but 10 dalc
AM's stable of early Allison--(;ngine l\lust'angs
has lx..'Cn joincd by a P-SII:I :lnd P-SIC, both of
which ::arc welcome replacements or adjunct<; 10
the lIotill useful kit in this scale.
"'Iore Tt'Cent still is a Tamira release of a P-SI R
which, if prc\'ious kits are anything to go by,
will be little short of desirable.
There is though a downside to all these new
releascs in th::al the modeler mar prefer to build
::a stable of !\'lustangs from the same kit. 11
::all boils down, I suppose, not only to what is
prefcrred but availahility. \Vhile some areas of
the world stock enough plaslic kits t<l cater for
alllaSles at all times, this is not always the case.
An impulse buy may resull in essentially lhe
same kil but with a slight contrast, particularly
in surface finish and a different end result.
Therefore if you wish to build reprcscntati\·e
P-51Bs of thc enlire Sth Fighter Command
it may be worth invcsting in several lits at
once. Which one is entirely al the modeler's
discretion, of course.
In 1/72 scale thc Mustang sirualion was, as
e\·cr, that much gloomier than in 1/-1-8: ofrhem
all only Frog w::as once bold enough to kit :In
injection molded A-36. Unlike the reasonahle
early p-ol-on from this manufacturer, the
Apache represenled anOlher lost opportunity
to corner a hungry slice of the market, as the
kit suffered from somc major errors. Instead of
carefully designing a model that could have led
to numerous cQm'ersion possibilities to creaTe
se\'cral of the Allison-t.:ngine Mustangs, the
modeler was ohliged lQ wield scalpel, knife and
sandpaper to create wh::al it on the box top
in the first place.
At long last Condor (!\'IPC) \\·ith a new.'\-36
has plugged this gap in the kit linc-up of early
Mustang \';lriants in this scale. Ha\'ing nor secn
a copy as yel, I c:l.OnOt say whether it hits the
ma.rl in rega.rd to outline accuracy.
Among [he :lccc:ssory/convcrsion sets for
p-s Is that fromVerlinden Productions provides
a full range of uoderwing Slores for a II48-scale
P-SID. One of the mOSt useful additions., it is
wcll worth obtaining, nOt bCGtuse it introduces
much that is ncw bUl by including a range of
P-SI rocket, bomb and drop tank scctions to
vcry accurate tolerances. This is also one of lhe
few accessory SCIS Ihat recognizes the difference
between the early and later style of main wing
racks designed for Ihe carriage of drop tanks or
bombs on the P-SI n. Broadly speaking these
had the carrier crulehes mounted either at the
top - flush with the wing - 00 <:arlier style racks
::and on the lower edge on the racks fitted to
P-SIDs and ,,"s..
Hy combining resin and photo-ctch parts
this particular accessor) kit en:lbles the modeler
to apply SClIe fins to bombs and "SIr:lPS"
:lround HVARs and drop lanks: both were slll::all
enough on the full-sized :lircraft :lnd [hey comc
out (or should) as positi\'e!y minute when
scaled down. Verlinden's SCI :llso mcludcs the
sway braces for field modifications of racks, plus
a full sct of rod:ers for Ihe triple M-1O bazooka
Photographs indicalc lh::al scvernl methods
were used to 1000le ordnance and fuel tanks
safely under P-Sl wings, particularly in the
CBI, where some P-5111s and Cs actually
carried two drop tanks under each wing, heavily
braced to keep them in pLlce. In a theater denied
almost e\;erything for long periods of time, the
LEFT the wing
nsembly on the P--40F seemed
co confinn this kit's reputation
for an ill-fitting wing root.
However, this problem has a
very simple solution.
LEFT Wedges of plastic were
inserted between the cockpit
noor and the fuselage wing root
to increase the width of the
fuselage where it meets
the wing.
LEFT The wing root gap was
closed without using putty a(ter
a few minutes adjusting the
plastic wedges_ Note thac the
wings are noe even glued to the
fuselage in this phoco.

RIGHT With the P-40Fs
fuselage spread. the dihedral of
the wing W<lS a litde nat. To
address this problem,Tamiya
masking tape WolS attilched
underneath one wing tip ;md
stretched across the top of the
model to the other wingtip. This
had the dual effece of reswring
the correct dihedral and
squeezing an even tighter fit at
the wing roOts.
squadrons were obliged to Jury-rig their own
bomb shackles before the regular items were
hauled O\'er the Hump route from India.
And although the European-based air forces
generally had a good supply of st:lndardized
equipment for their j\'lustangs, \':lriations may
still be found abroad.
The type of accessory kit produced hy
Vcrlindcn is invaluable for ringing the
changes and improving still further the
components provided in kits. Other sets,
intended for detailing P-47 and P-3S kits, arc
available in the range.
!\ purely personal view of the P--61 is thai it looks
far better with its top [UIn'! in place than
without. ;\·lost modelers did not of course c\'cr
h;l\'c to put up with the blast of four "fifties" just
abo,'c their heads, or experience the buffeting
that sometimes resuhed when the turreted
airCN.ft was flung around the night skies of
Europe or the Pacific. 'fbat led to the majority of
the 9th Air Force P-6ls operating without the
turret, which certainly alten:d its dramatic lines.
Turn...'tS were actually fe-introduced onto P-61s
operating in the ETO at the cnd of the war, so all
is not losl for the modeler seeking such a
combination of configuration and markings.
A mighty beast of an airplane, the "Widow"
has a no-nonsense look that makes it an ideal
kit subject. This is parti<.:ularly so in a larger
scale, as Monogram proved vcry well indeed
by offering a superb kit that incorporated both
the "short nosed" 1)-61:\ and "long nosed"
P--61B;eithcr vcrsion can be an cye-cuching
centerpiece of any display.
Again thc kits in 1/72 disappointed, those
by Frog and Airfix indicating a HTy different
approach to the s:amc subject. Frog, whilst
aehic\·ing an au:cptable top contour
(no lurret' was indud<..'d) gave its P-61 odd,
cross-halch surf.'l<.'C detail meant presumably 10
represent rivets, and mcssed up the dimcnsions
of the fusdage, not to mcntion the rear glazed
senion. Frog's UK counterpart covered the
black airframe in "trademark" rivets OUI added
an admirable degree of dctail sueo as separate
wing spoiler!>. an alternativc top turret, drop
lanks and so forth. L"nfortlmately thc lOp line
of lhe fuselage, including the cockpit profile,
was far too square with pronounced comers.
Re-pro6ling was a difficult option as the cockpil
canopy also had sharp comers lhat could nOI
really be adapted without a remolding job. That
said, the Aim\: kit is one to use as a starting
point if an ohler P-61 kit i<; required in lhis SOlIe,
wilh perhaps somc cros.<;-kining using the Frog
offering's bc!.1 bits.
Alternatively the modeler can splash out on
a completely new kit such as lhat released by
Ihe Dragon or Revell concerns.
If your favored model scale is 1/48, the regular
adJition of kits to this size in recent years has
been yery satisfying indccd. The current
situation is that there arc noll' very fell' 6'aps in
the ranks of US Army lighter models., and in
this SClIe at least, the majority of them arc
satisfyingly accurate. The appe;!ranee of the
AMT 1\-20 raised the possibility of conversion
into a P-70 night fighter, a type that could
ha\'e raken a prize as one of the least known
CS combat aircraft of World War 2 until a few
years ago.
While nm marketed as a Il_70 per se., the
1/-18 Af\tT A-20J follo,\ed an excellent
\':J.cuform KOSier J\\'ialion Enterprises kit in this
scale, which also fc:atured two dorsal tUTTet
\':J.riants. I understand, hO\lcI'er,lhat colJ.\-lTSion
sets are available 1'0 tum this or the A.\·IT Hayoc
into the c:arlier \'ersion, forming the basis for the
first US night fighter.
In 1/72 scale, the old ReH:11 kit of
1975 vimage \\"US actually marketed as a 1'-70,
an update of the company's earlier release as
a sl'J.ndard IJustOn. Included in the night fighter
wrsion wa.<; a solid nose section, under fuselage
Clnnon and radar aerials. Pressed in black
pbstic, it remains the best of the early model
A-20/Boswns al"Uilable in this scale, those by
Airfix and Frog h'lI'ing their share of outline
faults. Long after the twO biter kits had all but
disappeared, Matchbox rele-J.scd an A-20G/j:
h:lI'ing fuscbge St.'Ctions incorporating the n:ar
dorsal turret was welcome., although the on:rly
large engine cowlings dem:mdr.-d replacement
with something morc in scale - the 1/72 cross--
kilting saga conrinued. [n any event, all
1'-705 th,lt saw action had rhe rl':1.r gun
position with sliding transparent panels, as
incorporared on 1110St nOSlOn/Havoc models.
In conclusion, a \Yord or \11'0 about kits of the
"foreigners," both the (jg:hters of other nations
lhm wore US insignia and thosc nationals who
nell' US aircraft but applied their o\\'n national
insignia as well as the "Stars and bars." They
bct."Ume an imlXlrtanl part of inventory in the
ETO, MTO and the l':Kific.
Among the non-American aircraft serHng
thc LiSAAF in a wartime fighter role, the
Supermarine Spitfire was the most numerous
and important from the carliest days of the
conflict. From bcing Ihe mount of indi"idual
pilots who joined RAF units, through thc
thn.'C Eagle Squadrons in 19-11--12 to flying
long rangc PR wrties for the 8th Air Force,
Spitfires SCT\'l'll whr..ll nothing (:omparablc was
Operating in the Mediterranean with
the equipmcnl-5t11T\'cd 12th Air rora: when it
was despeT1ltc for aircT1lft to support Operation
Torch,k thc Spitfirc squadrons of the 3Isl and
52d Fighter Groups were well to the fore. A
type that \\'ore a fascinating \'aricty of markings
from large size renderinb"S of Old Glory (so
that Vichy French forces woold rl'Cognize it
during the early days of 'Ioreh) 10
aircraft wearing full Stars and bars and double
code letters, the Spit was an enduring fa\'orite
among many US pilots.
In 1/-18 scale, kits from Otaki and AirfL"
(now one and the same as reprds most of the
former company's fighters) arc among the
legion of Spitfire models, although tht:rc arc
fC\yer in thi..s scale than the smaller ones. Otaki's
original Spitfire was pressed as a .i\ lk Vlll,
making it ideal for a 12th Air l1)rce machine.
Under its own banner Airfix relcasc..'lI a good
V, thc version ,'ery \\'idely used by thc
Americans, both in Ihe l.l( and MTO. Quarter-
scale LXs were thin on the ground
after Monogram produced the firSt one to be
generally anibble in the 196Os., :although the
situation ha... since been redressed by a number
of ncw kits, not to mention resin accessories
Intended for usc with :\Ik Vs to make the
nl'(;cssary changes and updates.
surprisingly a plethora of Spitfires
havc appL-ared from CK manufacturers in
1/72 scale, with the seemingly irH:I'ilable
mriation in accuracy. They ha\·e been joined by
a number of offerings from France, the Czech
Republic and Iloland, proof positive that such a
perennially favoritc subjcet will continue 10 be
added to the \\'orld's kit lists.
As with other types, the Spit(jre has raken
years to grow in accuracy as a plastic kil and
this writer would rccommend looking ror the
most recent kits rathcr than hack older ones
about. Astute modelers familiar with the
aircraft \\'itllook in particu1:lr:11 any kit's wing
underside to ehcck how \\"cll the subtle "gull
wing" effect has been reproduced. This may
not be a personal issue if the rest of lhc kil
seems good enough (the latest Rc\'ell "'Ik V is
a case in point - it has almost nal wing
undersides but is otherwise a fine lillie kit) bUI
the full sizc contours really should be at leasl
indicated, I fccl.
Current Spitfire kits don't need the degree
of cross fertilization in decades past
and the 21st century modeler has far more
references, particularly color photographs, that
were unavailable e\'en 20 years after the plastic
modeling hobby secured a niche in the
commercial market place.
Moying up to the larger scales., both Re\'e11
and Hascg;m-a produced early (!\II.:s I 10 V)
Merlin Spitfires in 1/32 scale as did Airfix in
liBscale. Of these I ha\'e prel'iously built the
Hasegawa kit to produce an Eagle Squadron
, ..
MJ.: V, The L::il is superb, alTering all the major
,'ari:uions on the :\n V Iheme in regard to
tropical filters, different size radialOrs., and a
choiee of st:mdard or dipped winb'S as well
as a choice of standard and bullet proof
windscn:ens. Once completed it surprised me
LO re:l1ize after not a few years of abstinence (at
least in building Spits) jusl how big an aircraft
it is compared to a P-51 in Lhe same scale,
Although the Hasegawa kit IS \"Cry
impressive, despite some hard to disguise sink
marks alon!,; the wings, the fit of partS on my
example also left a little to be desirt'd, probably
due 10 long-term storage. Also, the wing
sub-assemblies are substantial pieces of plastic
which ha\'e to be persuaded to male without
lnOl'ing: out of alignmelH. The excel1ent cockpit
sub-assembly, which is almost a model in its
O\I'n righ..
The mcthod of splicing PlasLic:lfd strip
into the gaps was particularly successful on the
Spit as the lower wing half which incorpor:lled
those long, swt."Cping characteristic wing fillets,
is in one pieet::, Once the top 'I-ing hah'es are
joined Ihis sub assembly is quite weighty and
it must be persuaded to fair smoothly inlO the
fuselage wilh only thin plastic ridges to anchor
it firmly. By inserting plastic strip fore and aft
along one fillet and across the rear joint, the job
,,"as complclcd satisfactorily with no nct.'(j for
f\larkings for the Spitfire V of No" 121
Squadron (latH:rly the 336th FS of the 4th
Fighter Group) posed a problem al first.
Without any custom decals to hand I reSQrled to
an "old three into one" HisAirDec sheel of L"S
nation:tl insignia. With the drawback that the
finished decal is thicker than one would eXIX'Ct in
today's kits, Lhis method ncyerthelcss scrved its
purpose. The yellow nng, blue background
and whitc star combination creates some "strike-
through" hut in Ihis case it didn't mauer. The
majority of Eagle Squadron SpiL'; wcre "hand
mc downs" lhat in\-anably had lheir RAF
roundels o\·crpaintcd with the US marking.
For thc codes I chose relatively "easy" leners
that were mask.ed with strips of Post-It and
sprayed in Sky, the rear fuselage band being
similarly trealed. Eagle Squadron Spitfire Vs
camc with the detail diffcrent.'{.'S applicable 10
the mark, the most obvious being full span and
clipped winglips and standard or external
bullct-proof windscreens. In regard to markings
therc wa." sprinkling of personal decoration,
which included the "double cagle" emblem on
cenain individual aircraft, but only a handful
of scrial numbers can definitely be tied in wilh
codes. As thc serial digits werc not always
painted on the rear fuselage thc problem of
definite idenlificuion remains conjccrural in
some cases. Equally, Spirfires also show
evidence of o\crpaintcd serials., part serials and
a general lack of 6n flashes, as per American
practice. Many indi"idual machines had seen
a fair degree of scrvice before being passed
to the Eagles., SO a \\'(:athcred appearanee is quite
in order on a representative model. Other
USAAF Spitfires operated c.xtensively in the
Nlediterranean and the many kits of the ,,"'Ik V,
VII and IX may be finishcd in appropriate
Although used by al1 thn.'C E.1gle Squadrons, the
Hurricane .Mks I:md II did not remain in service
long enough for any c.xamplcs to adopt U5AAF
star insignia. So evcn though a collection of
American-Qperated fighters could legitimately
include one or two E.agle Hurricanes., they will
seem at first glance to be 1t..:\.F machines. But
all is not lost. During Operation Torch, carrier
borne Canadian-buih Sc::J Hurricanc XIl<> did
luve the "uni' ersal" whitc star marking Clrried
by all aircraft to be operating O\-er that area
of:'\onh Africa and comc in contact with hostile
Vichy French forees. These particular Hurris
with their rellow outlined fusclage insignia
would therefore be more in leeping with a
collection of AAF fighters.
Which kit 10 chose for an American-manned
Hurricane is a moot point: in 1172 scale
currently puts out a neat !v[k II and
there arc sUH'ivors of a long line lhat
has included, apart from the more familiar labels
of Airfix and Revell, a rare venture into plastic
by Keil Kraft, a company prcviously known
primarily for nying Sl,:ale models in wood. This
latter kit was a bit on the hea\'y side but it
had nice detail and was no worse than its
There are se\'cral good lJ.l.8--seale
Hurricanes on Ihe markc.'t and although none
arc, to the \\"filer's knowledge, labeled as a
(hooked) Sea Hurricane !\U: XII, rhe sub-trJ>e
that was the equi,-alent of the :\'ll: lIe Again
though I would olTer an opinion that l\lonogram
docs as good a job as an}" in this scale. The
company's con\"erlible kit ga,'e options to build
the Mk. II, IV and a Iropicalized Mk Vc "ersion
bUl [here was no provision for a "hooked"
airt.Taft. This addition is relatively simple to
make in conjunction with a study of Hurricane
rderences. You will of course havc to modify lhe
fuselage undersides 10 take a tail hook and its
"V" S[futs. There are plenty of scale drawings 10
help with the dimensions.

LEFT I removed tOO much
material from the lower wing of
the P-40F where it met the
nose, so a scrap of styrene was
cut to the approximate shape of
the gap.


LEFT After the gap was plugged
by gluing the styrene in place. it
was trimmed then filled with
Milliput two-part epoxy putty.A
tiny ball from each stick was
mixed together to prepare the
putty for use. It was applied with
my favorite putty trowel - an
old staple remover!

ABOVE The P-40F model is
now well aligned and gap free,
and ready for paint.
A type quite widely used but hardly loved by
the USAAJ:; the Beaufig-hter was a stop gap
lwin that served pending the delivery of the
P-61 The trouble was that most of the pilots
who were destined to fly the Beau operationally
in the M1'O had tmmed on the P-70 - going
back to a tail dragger was seen as a retrograde
step. WiTh the bendit of hindsight we can well
understand their views. Added to an unfamiliar
ground angle was the fact that the Beau had
engines with enough torque to put a Spitfire to
shame anu send the BrIstol twin careering off
rhe runway. It nevertheless helped the erews to
get their eye in over the \Vestern Desert and
Ilaly before the \Viuow (and a few ,\10squitos)
came along at the eleventh hour to re-equip the
squadrons based in the .Mediterranean.
The Tarniya kit broke the seeming embargo
on any Beaufighter kit bemg produced in 1/4H
scale, a situation that had prevailed for years.
An excellent kit well up to modern tooling and
moluing stanuards, the Japanese release may be
built as a CSAAF-operatcJ Beau .\lk VI or X,
with or without the thimble nose radome,
which is supplied.
In 1/72 scale, Airfix again had the field
to itself with a Beau .i\1k X released in the 196Os.
A Frog kit came later with some mlllor
improvements but modelers had another lcnb>thy
wait f(lr anything better, a gap that was filled by
Hasega,,·a only as recently as 2001.
Long bd(lre that, Revell ploughed on with
new additions to their larger scale fighter range
by producing a Beaufighter ivlk I in 1/32 scale
during the course of the 1970s.
A great expanse of black plastic parts, this
kit lacked the internal detail modelers had
come to expect in this scale although its outline
and components were basically accurate. That
was the trouble with this entire range - basic
was usually the operative word and anyone
wishing to upgrade the variant (a straight
tail i'vlk I as originally released) bced a heap
of work. Converting the model into a night
fighter as used by the USAAF is hm\Tver not
an insurmoumablc task. It ean involve adapting
the kit's horizontal tailplane imo a dihedral


unit, changing the nusc wntOUfS to accept
a ccmrimctric T:ldar scanner and improving
the dear bubble over the ubserver's position
to incorporate a machine gun. Alternatively an
carly straight tailed !vlk VI might be found, the
AAF accepting a variety of Heau sub-types.
Using the word "a(k:mccd" is a minefield in
modeling bct-ausc what is a difficuLt task to one
JX=rson will seem to be routine to anOlhcr. But
having b<..'Cn a sucker for American fighter kits
for as long as 1 can remember, I've also kicked
the "strictly all one SC:l1c" viewpoint. As kits
grew ever more sophisticated I was attracted to
try other sizes, the upshot being that now I'll
add a good Mustang, Thunderbolt, Warha",!.': or
whatever, 10 my collection irrespective of
the scale. This is no great revelation in that it
means thaI I now opt primarily for IN8 scale
but like the added possibilities with 1/32 scale.
Another drawbad: of being too partisan for one
comparati,·c size is that one can miss the far
superior releases outside the preferred fa\'orite
scale. Change your habit though and you'll
likely be scrabbling 10 find the fine kits you
missed in this new SC'Jle firST lime around. Not
that this is a great problem: molds for plastic
kits arc expensive and thcy rardy seem to be
melted down or whate\'cr they do with them.
Providing that you can be palienl, someone will
eventually re-release thitt' overlooked model
subject, probably al a much bem;:r price that
those asked by specialist suppliers for "original"
l:it.s that haw rocketed in price. There is also a
distinct possibiliry thaI someone will kit the
subject better than the original you spent time
trying 10 track down.
ABOVE The extra effort spent
preparing the P-40F's parts was
worthwhile, as it saved a lot of
time fiXing alignment and gap
problems later. The resin cockpit
from Cutting Edge Modelworks
was also a good investment due
to its high level of visibility under
that big, open canopy. Note that
the techniques for achieving the
P-40F's finish will be dealt with in
the follOWing chapter.
amounage is a word that hJ$ become
synonymous in aviation terms with two
or mort colors applied to an airframe in
a disrupti\Oe paltern. Such was :l.dopted almost
uni\·ersally by the R.AF as "shadow shading'" of
its combat airCTaft, but in World War 2 nO such
scheme was spt.'Cified for US aircraft despite a
scries of pre-war tests. Extensi\'e painting of
fighters in a \"'J.riety of c.."(perimenral panems
led to the conclusion that none of these quite
elaborate schemL"S would be adopted. Instcad,
a simple overall top surface co,n of Olive
Drab with Neutral Gray on the undersides
would suffice. As all camouflage paint is to
some extem compromiscd by the application of
national insignia and other identiry markings,
it W-.IS felt that IhisAmcrican scheme was \"llStly
superior 10 a brighr natural meul finish. (Sl:C
thc accompanying images on p:l.ges 99-106 for
more details on recreating this scheme.)
While the majority of USAAF fightcrs
conscquenlly saw action in these regulation
colors., many examples left the factories in
approximations of British shadow shading
patterns. There were numerous variations of
outline and dilTercnu:s in color owing lU
the facl thaI Amcm:an paints \\ue generally used
to apply Ihe colors. The matching process
inC\·itably came close only on occasion.
In unit service, when aircraft such :lS the
P-39 and P-W were dh·erted from British
contracTS, the oolors were subjected to e.'l:lreme
temperatures, high humidity le\els and
generally rugged conditions when II"I,."Te
deployed in the Pacific or Ihe !\Iedilerrane:lll.
Some colors took on strange hues Ihat almOSI
defy accurale identification from paint charts
all these years on.
:\"umerous Warhawks and Airaeohras were
given dark green and brown camoullage at their
respccti\Oe factories or modific-.uion the
exact shades often being bro.1dly interpreted. Ln
service, such ain..Taft often appear to sporr a
shade of green seemingly closer to one of thc
L:S Oli\'e Drab mD;:CS rather than RAF Dark
Green. Similar variations occur with Dark
Earth and the underside color, which unged
from lighl blue (known :1,<; Duck Egg Gn:cn or
Blue) LO light gray and the infamous Sky ·Lypc
"5", the laner bemg subject 10 rather broad
RIGHT US Army Air Force
fighter aircraft displayed a wide
variety of schemes. There are an
even wider variety of techniques
for depicting these color
schemes. Three of these
techniques are oudined in the
images in this chapter - painting
a narural metal finish. pre-
shading. and post-shading.
Firstly, the narural metal finish.
This can be one of the most
impressive ways to display your
model aircraft, but the shiny
metallic surface can be yery
unforgiYing.Any scratches and
other imperfections will be
magnified. and some metallic
paints will reward the lightest
touch with a large fingerprint on
the paintwork. Even so, a reliable
and successful natural metal
finish can be achieYed.

inlCrprelalion. See the images on pages
107-113 for further guidance on reproducing
Ihe green and brown camoufl3.b'"C effl."Ct.
Among me re:J.SOns why nuny US fighter
colors do not seem to conform to known l'
s)X.-cificltions are (1) the result of exposure 10
h:rrsh 3.tmospherie ronditions 3.t the time; (2) the
refen..-'Ilce source being on color photographic
th3.t is more Ihan 50 relTS old; and (3) the
'lIbT::J.rics of the process. These the f.1ctors that play 3. pari in disrorling the
modd maker's percep(ion of the true color
actually applied to aircraft :11 fat:tories and
Uut among model makers, there is an
ongoing need to knoll' wh:.!t the al:tual colors
were. Nlllch research has been undertaken to
provide the answer and over the model
rr.linl suppliers ha,·e wrestled with thc problem.
Th:tt Ihey have largely suceeed(.'(j is rcflected in
Ihc C"cr growing range of enamd and acrylic
painls intended specifically for moods.
When thc USAAF generally dropped
Glmouflagc paint for military aircraft in 1943,
Ihe b:J.sic oycrall look of first-line fighters was
radiCllly ahered. Type recognition nurkings and
codc leners \\-ere changed from white or OIher
light color 10 black and for a shorl period the
overall effect was quite pbin, even dull. The
general adoption of color (rim for n.. 'COgnitioll
purposes was made during 19+1- parti(Ularly on
fighters based in the ETO and MTO.
The basic construction of aircraft during
World War 2 comprised a mi.xtllrc of Aldad,
dural, aluminum, titanium and mabrrlesium.
These materials, shaped inlO 3.irframe panels,
n:tturally enough exhibited slightly different
I'Onal v'alues which show up in photographs.
Even aircraft built by sub contr3.ClOrs had areas
of their airframes Ihal were common to the
type. A prime example was the darker panels
running abO\T and below behind the exhaust
stubs on both sides of the P-51's cowling.
These are always yisible on M F aircraft and
should be indicated on any model. Tips and
advice on how to achieve a lop-qualil)' NMF
finish on your model are provided in the
images on pages
An airbrush is clearly lhe optimum tool for
applying weathering on models although
mrious types of paint may also be applied by the
stipple and dry brush technique; other marking
media including graphite, fdt tip or crayon may
be applied using a sort doth as an applicuor.
As a genernl rule, mOSI aircraft irrespective of
whether or not they start OUl \\ith a null or
glossy paint finish or a "naturnl" surface finish,
suITer a dl.'gfCC of wealher d1et.1S once they star!
flying. The air is a hoslile em"ironmcnt, bringing
"ith it c.'I.treme heat and cold, with rain and
humidity [0 effect the finish of airplancs thaI
plough through it. This usually manifcs£s itsclf
in the form of discoloration and fading of the
painlll'ork but the most rommon effect is that of
buffing the surf3.ce to a shiny (or shinier) finish
than it started out with. Added to that were the
results of the reb'1.llar removing and replacing of
cerrain panels undcr general servicing, leading
to chipping of paimed edges, anu the adverse
eITei;:tS on finish as a result of oil and fuel
Wc:athering additionally manifests itself in
Ihe form of exhausl slaining and
in specific art':IS. A light gray or beige colored
streaking or faded effect indiClted that an
engine using k-aded gasoline (pelrol) was set to
run at a lean, more or less cornxt throttle
setting, while a darker color meant a richer fuel
and air mixture, the variation being similar in
principle to the \-arious I)"pes of coloration
\-isible on (he inside of ,-chicle e.'l:haust pipes.
Such efTCCIS are easier 10 achie,'c if they are
3.pplied, for example., in waler paint O"cr an
enamel base coat. Gouache, which comes in a
tube, is ideal for this purrosc as i( has a matt
finish. Water soluble paint has the one big
advantage in that it can be wiped off for rcpeat
attemptS, shOll 1<1 the first application not
in quile wh:u is required. This trouble-ti·ce
method should stand up to a degree of he:l\'Y
handed errors - thin paint, spillage and orher
troubles - without spoiling a good base
surface. BUI familiarity with your 3.irbrush
(and perhaps its limitations) should eventually
resull in the correCI degrce of exhauSI stains.,
grime and fading you are aiming at.
Pristine painlworL: was a \-ery low priority
[() men fighting for their Iin:s., bombed by the
enemy, rneked by diseasc and under allack
from a host of Ihings that crawled, bit and
stung. i\1ode1ers really need to crack those
faded shades if Ihe)' arc to celebrate accuralely
the aircraft flown by Ihose who fought in (hosc
desperate, '·aliant days in far flung theaters of
war. Models of wartime aircraft should
reneet 1he \\'t-ar and tear of from-line
An inleresling surface coloring can be
achieved by varying the paint tones if the subject
is in Ni\1F but is a little more demanding if Ihe
RIGHT This P-47D will wear a
natural metal finish and invasion
stripes on the lower surface of
the fuselage. The first step was
to paint the lower-mid sectioo of
the fuselage white. ensuring that
this coat covered it thoroughly.
Tamiya paintS were used for the
black and white invasion stripes.
RIO-iT Tamiya masking tape was
used to mask off the areas that
were destined to stay white.
NalTOW strips of masking tape
were first applied to the edges
of the stripe. These narrow
strips are required due to the
compound curves and openings
on the lower fuselage. A wide,
single length of tape would most
likely have wrinkles and gaps. A
wider strip of tape is used to
cover the gap betWeen the twO
narrow borders of the stripe.
Note that a small blob of
Blu-Tack has been stuffed into
the supercharger vent, which
was painted and weathered
before assembly of the fuselage.
RIGHT Tamiya Acrylic Flat Black
was in light coats. The
Aztek A470 airbrush used
to paint this model can be seen
in the background.
LEFT With the masking tape
removed, the black and white
stripe5 were revealed. Some
adjustment to the width of the
black stripes w;u required. The
masking process was repeated
until a satisfactory' result was

modd is to depict an OD and Gray machine.
This is where the references 3b":lin come to the
rescue as each US fighter h:ld :m:as of wear and
fade common [0 all theaters. Different degrees
of weathering can also be pcn.:ci\"oo on aircraft
serving in Europe and the Pacific, a fact thaI
rcn(,.'Cloo the extent of ground support and
Some fighter group commanders were
fastidious about ha,"ing smarl aircraft on theiT
flighl line. Crew chiefs would ha\"c c.. .. haust
burns cleaned ofT aircraft after rcd::lcss young
pilots had Tcrumed from missions and messed
them up in the process. Other COS were not
so panicular: if the unit commander turned
a blind eye to such things, more \\"cathered
aircraft might appear on the flight line. In the
8th Air Force in England, for whatever reason,
the 33Yth Fighter Group seems to havc flown
scruffier Mustangs lhan, say, the 352d Fighter
Group in the same e o u n t ' ~ ' .
But despitc all this, how often docs onc see
a model wid} all markings in plaec flown by a
50-mission-plus pilot without a scratch or
some c\'idence of exh::lust stainingr A finish as
pristine a.'l the d::l)' the aircraft was rolled out of
thc factory paint shop makes little sense to my
way of thinking. I do know that there is a
widespread belief that weathering an otherwise
finished model nms the risk of ruining iL, but
if care is exercised, the problem should be
o\·ercome easily.
On larger sc::a.le kits such as the Re\·ell 1/32-
scale P-38 and P-H that arc 10 be finished in
camouflage paint, the notorious ri\'et heads
can be lighl1y rubbed down before applying a
firsl coal of olive drab. Rub lhe rivet's down
again and apply a sel.:ond coat of painl. With
The rivets slil1 proud of the surface plastic, rub
them down for a third time, which should still
havc thcm \'isible through the paint. all somc
\'cry weathered aircraft finishes, some rivet
and panel detail should be seen, bur nOI ne:.rly
to the extent visible on the kit when it is new.
As a final touch, morc 00can be sprayed o\er
those areas nOI so prone to the wcar and tear of
opcrntional fl);ng. A patchy finish so rypic::a.1 of
many first line aircraft should result.
The above ri\·ct retention method ob\<iously
works bc!.1 when the plast:il.: base color is light
gray or "naturnl plastic" rather than say. bbcl:
or green, one reason \\ hy 1 - and I SUSpeCI
many others - much prefer lits molded in a
neutral shade.
Hut even if a kil is molded in darker color,
this can pro\'ide eonlrast as the "rub down
afterwards" method can be used if a weathered
natural metal finish is chosen. One important
BELOW The entire area of
black and white invasion stripes
w;u finally masked in preparation
for the natural metal finish.
Tissue paper was dampened and
pressed gently into the main
wheel wells. This acts as a
malleable mask for cavities that
are otherwise hard to plug.
RIGHT Tamiya AS-12 Airframe
Silver is only available in a spray
can. This is a great shade for
natural metal aircraft - neither
too shiny nor wo dull.The finish
is also quite wugh and durable,
unlike some other natural metal
paints. The only problem with
this color is that the spray can
sometimes produces a slight
orange-peel texture on the
surface of the paint. To avoid this
problem, the contents of the can
wtlre emptied into a small
disposable container. The
container was covered with
plastic wrap, a small hole was
made in the plastic and the paint
was sprayed into the hole. The
result is a pool of silver lacquer
in the bottom of the container
that can be poured into a glass
paint jar. If you are swring the
decanted paint. do nm tighten
the cap tOO much as there may
still be propellant in the paint,
resulting in a possible build up of
pressure in the jar. The silver
lacquer was then sprayed over
the entire model using the
airbrush, resulting in a smooth,
hard base coat.
point to remember here is to obrain a good
eO\'cragc of paint before attempting to rub
down. Aboyc all, remember that you're trying
to din)' up the finish, not ruin the paint finish
you have already applied. 1 know that some
modelers feel they arc treading a \'ery fine line
when doing this and Ihe answer is obviolL<;ly to
practice on an old kit first. A degree of
boldness may also be in order!
Rubbing painnmrk down seem<; to be more
of:m art than it might at first appear. I find that
il is ho\\e\'er onc of thc more pleasing: aspects
of modeling as the efTe<..'t one creates will be
unique to the indiyidual model (and modeler).
The trick is as C\'cr, to kecp lhe wear and tear
within Ihe confines of the visible effects of
weathering: on the full size airframe.
b-en if the available photos of your subject
aircraft do not show that much weathering on
say. the wing rOOt areas, anOlhcr photo of a
similar type assigned to the same squadron
in the same theater mar do so. "Borrowing" a
bit more weathering to boost the final 1001.: of
a model is I believe, quite legitimate. What
you arc then depicting is a typical finish for
the thcaler of operations, which fel\" can
argue wilh.
While decals arc <.:urrently reaching very high
standards of accuracy and reproduction, T
c.'\:ercise a lillie caution in their
application. While not in any way denying that
are an integral part of modeling, they
arc sometimes used ;n my opinion to the
detriment of I he direct application method
using suitable masks or stencils or indeed hand
Looking closely at decals, one occasionally
finds discrepancies between the pancllines on
the full size aircraft and the width or depth of
the docal. There can be cerl'ain limitations
with the artwork/printing process and
perhaps e'-en the accuraq' of Decal
sh<.."Cts are usually prepared from large size
an-work or computcr generated images and
reduced 10 the rC<juired dimensions, and I'\'e
found inSl'ances whl.:l'c for l.:xample the air<;faft
serial numbers in I/ scale do not match
those on the I.:it sh<.."Ct because they arc slighrly
too large. J found this out \\ hen trying to
squ<.."Cze si;\: digits onto Ihe fin of a P-47 in this
scale in the stanJard location between the
leading edge and the rudder hinge line. A
eomp:my that should know better had actually
<;caled all the numbers wTOngly. I found there
was little or no space at each end of the serial
when applieJ to the model, when such is quitc
obvious in the reference_
In shorl, nobody should be overawed by the
reput.1tion of decal companies with voluminous
lists, as they may miss certain I'm not
implying that there is, in lhe hard commercial
world, a race for quantity over quality. But one
could state with some accuracy Ihat there is a
pcrcei\ed ucsire to be first with decals for an
e:"ciring, awaited new kit. If the T':I(."'C is
won hy a poor product tht..n the whole cxcrcise
is a wasle of time. II must surely be preferable to
hold back, the \<lrious clements as accurate
as possible, st':llc the shce! wrrectly and release
it only when ronlrollS s.1tisfied.
In defense of the commen;ial dec;11 firms,
howe\'er, Ihere is the slight problem lhal some
sheets designed around specific kits. If this
ad\'isory small print is ignored or ol"erlookcd,
applying the del-als to an alternative kit can
lead to problems. So be "amed - even if all
P-51s in a comparable sClle appc-Jr to h:1\"e the
same \'ertiClI tail :UC3. :lpplying decals will
show that it isn't neee<>s:arily 50.
Painting m:lrbngs str:light onto tbe surface
of the model must in some instances be
superior to using a decal, which will in\'anably
require \e.. close curting 10 alllr:u:cs
of the c:lrrier film rhat surrounds every ilem on
a waterslide sheet. The larger the decal, the
more acute this prohlem e:ln become. Things
might gel unwieldy with Ihe decal demanrJing
huekets of softening agenl 10 persuade it 10 lay
down on compound cun cs - and I have noted
that in onc or two instances this stuff will not
only stain a light finish and "lift" the surface
p:!int but it Cln fade detail off the decal as well.
I land painting may therefore produce superior
results, particularly in 1/32 scale where acres
of plastic provide ample scope for dispensing
with the oncs al least.
Thc US star or star-and-bar insignia tended
to wcalher very well, on a h:l1Iercd
background, su the facllhat modd dec'lls ofrer a
high \'isibilil); t:1irly dean :.lppearancl: is quite 10
keeping with some subject airtTaft. An exception
would be those quitc numt--rous instances II here
the insignia was deliberatel) clullt'd down on the
grounds of reducing \isibililY.
To confuse this issue, 50me photos will
:tppcar to indicate a glossy application of Ihe
national againsl a matt o\'crall color
schemc_ It W:IS not of course unlmown for decals
10 be uSt.'cl for somc aircraft markings, so check
Ihose refcrenCl'S c1osely_
This question of glossy or man model
decals is a moot one as some photos definitely
show reflections off II'hal is known to he I'cry
mall surf:lee. In gener;ll however a sheen affect,
nOI necessarily uniform o\-er all surfaces,
should be aimed al. If one of lhe
commcrtial matt or gloss \-amishcs C'Jn be
applied to produce a uniform surface mer the
entire aIrframe.
\Vhilt' you are photo references,
scrutillize thc outline of code leners and
numbers. Dead straight t'<il,'CS and absolute
vertical :llignment was often the exception,
\\'obbly Olltlines being vety.apparelll on mallY
aircraf1. IdcntifiC'Jtion on warlime aircrafl
!c'Il1L'<l Ol'er, did not fol1O\\' standard p:!tterns.,
were presented o\'erl:trge or undersize from
regulation dimensions :I.llJ show a placement
that varied 10 say the least.
Some crcati\'e applications such as pamting
serial numbers aligned \\ilh the aircraft's
ground anglc rather than horizontal to the
center axis can give the mooeler a degree of
leeway and:t slightly diffCfCnt remit. In contrast
with dt."t-'":lL" tcnd to pro\'ide the morJcler
with perfectly proportiont-d ktters and numbers
which SOmetimes need a dl.:l\"rec of modiflcation
to make lhem match the real thing.
There arc of course those who helie\"c that
they are totally unable to paint a straight linc and
ABOVE Unpainted aircraft often
featured different shades of
metal on different panels.
Individual panels were prepared
by masking with Post-It Notes
and Tamiya Masking Tape. Some
panels were sprayed with Testor
Metalizer Aluminum, while
others received a coat of a
darker shade.
BELO'N The Olive
anti-glare panel on the front
deck was masked and sprayed
using Gunze acrylic Olive Drab.
The natural metal finish was not
over-sprayed with a flat finish
after decals were added. A light
COat of semi-gloss varnish was
applied to the decals only.
Rows of small Hakenkreuz, Ba{kenkreuz or
less commonly, the Regia Acronautica's bundle
of three fasces, recorded air and ground
victories ovcr German or Italian adversaries,
some of them, it has to said, being more
records of enthusiasm than actual kills. At the
time, more than one pilot swore the enemy
aircraft he fired at was a goner, a fact not always
borne out by analysis of enemy records. Not
that this matters in terms of model markings
although a natural curiosity leads one to seck
out the bcts behind the symbols, the name of
the pilot(s) and some of the sorties flown to
accumulate the visible scoreboard.
The 9th Air Forces' cautious and even
rather reluctant system of awarding aerial
victories to its tactical pilots was the cause of
some controversy, then and since. The curious
"unconfirmed destroyed" was a category
that frustrated numerous pilots and some seem
to have painted the kill on their aircraft
whatever higher authority's ruling was. This
led to some P-47s particularly carrymg
impressive victory tallies, which do not bear
out scrutiny of any list of aces. In this event
esprit de corps was undouhtedly the main ohject
of the exercise.
In the Pacific, similar embellishment of
fighters took place, the rising sun or plainer
"meatball" usually being used to indicate
aerial victories. That said, there arc numerous
examples of variations on this basic theme, far
more than anyone modeler can ever duplicate
over the average human lifetime!
Photos showing well decorated P-3Hs, P-40s,
P-47s and P-5ls might indicate the personal
mount of an ace - or they may not. It is a well
known fact that most of the top-scoring pilots
used more than one aircraft to obtain their
VIctories and in regard to tactical fighters,
particularly those operating in Europe, there arc
for example numerous P-47s showing a row of
kills which arc not obviously attributed to any
one pilot, but an accumulative score hy several.
Enough of these can he found in the pages of
unit histories to start you on a research program
to find out more. And there you have one more
theme, several models of the different aircraft
flown by one pilot.
Scores of USAAF fighters carried mission
symbols in great profusion, making potentially
excellent model subjects. Sometimes though,
there is the problem of complete identification.
Confronted with an interesting missioll log,
cartoon and name in a photograph showing
only part of the aircraft, the modelcr can ha\'e
difficulty in unearthing details of the rest of
the markings. This can lead to endless cross
\Vhi1e not represcnting as large an artwork
canvas for pin-ups, canoons and names as
the homhers, the tactical fighter outfits,
panicularly those attached to the 9t h Air Force,
had many P-47s, Mustangs and Lightnings
covcred with symbols representing combat
missions. Along with names and cartoon
figures, such aircraft had masses of bomb,
broom, umbrella, train, truck, tank and ship
symbols stenciled or paimed on to record the
destruction meted out to the enemy as the
Allies swept across Europe.
would bc complctcly lost if they did not have
acccss to dccals, which is entirely under-
standable. As with any aspect of modeling, we all
have a pcrsonal choice and prefcrences. For some
subjects hand painting, or a mix and match
combination of spraying and decals may yield
more satisfactory results, depcnding on the
RIGHT The result is a crisply
painted set of canopy parts.
RIGHTThe canopy
was then painted silver. Note
that the insides of the clear
parts have also been masked
with tape. This is to avoid the
risk of overspray on the inside.
RIGHT The P-47D's canopy was
also paimed silver. The clear
sections of the framed canopy
were masked with small strips of
Tamiya masking tape. The first
painting step was to spray black
as a base coat.
reference to :til a\-ailable books covering that
particular type, but the search is often
rewarded by the information required to
complete a model. Some help is often
The US practice of including the aircraft
serial number on the forward fuselage data
block always been of great help (given a
elear photographic referem:e) in ideTllification
of individual aircraft, even if only a partial
front-end photo is available. The group and
squadron code and serial number ctn usually
be determined, leaving the confirmation of the
indi\·idual aircraft code letter to be cracked.
That can take more time. Some deed sheets
miss out serial numbers for this very reason but
the kit will be considered incomplele unless
this detail em be unearthed.
However, more and more individual fighter
markinb'S arc being perpetuated in
publications, magazine articles and ever more
comprehensive decal sheets. There seems to be
healthy competition among the various decal
suppliers to come up with new schemes and
Iheir efforts should win nothing but praise
from the moclclcr, as occasionally such data IS
not readily available elsewhere.
Dl.'Clls ha\'c in fact become so accurate and
sophisticated that they are turning themseln::s
into an essential branch of rcsc:arch in their
own right - to the poim that the last thing
anyone wants to do is cut them up for applying
to a modeH
II is at vel)' least worthwhile running your
eye o\"cr the lists of decals published TL-gularly
by mail order houses and modeling
tn ensure that details of the aircraft you arc
looking for ha\'e not been added to any list. If it
has, that may save you a considerable amount of
time, should you have been intending to hand
paint or cut up a selection of sheets lO malt: up
a complete serial number or sct of code 1cttt:rs.
To my knowledge nobody has yet come
up \\-ith faded and worn irregular lines
and markings stained with If you wanl
to make a model look tot':llly authentic, all
such irregularities, if reJcnnt, should be
included. Hand painting or the use of pre-
shaped masks, ctn help obtain almost complete
Final finishing using clear varnishes is
perhaps an overlooked aspen of modeling but
the popu!ar ranges of paint indude a variety of
matt, gloss ami sheen type finishes lntendeu for
spraying over the emire surface of the kit.
I laving rdied on the semi-matt finish inherent
in many modem paintS, Pvc nOI had too mueh
experience of what used 10 be simply lermed
Yarnishing. Otherwise I\c found that a rub
oyer with a soft doth will bring up a sufficienl
sheen on a \'cry matt surface- which leaxe5 the
ongoing problem of gloss) decals contrasting a
BELOW Next we move to
pre.shading weathering on an
Olive Drab finish. Many World
War 2 US Army Air Force
fighters wore a finish of Olive
Drab and Neutral Gray.Although
even the names of the colors
seem to imply an uninteresting
paint job, Olive Drab actually
resulted in a diverse finish due
to its instability and heavy
weathering in service.
Pre--shading panel lines on a
model offer the opportunity to
lend even more definition to our
Olive Drab P-39D Airacobra.
RIGHT The P-39D model was
prepared by simply masking off
the clear parts. The open "car
door" on the starboard side was
simply blanked off by taping the
door in place.
little too much on the model paint surface. The
vilX versa challenge of \"ery man decals is nOt
nearly so widespread. decals-versus-paint
(:Ol1trast is \,"here varnishes may come into their
o,,-n bur ol1e should rale inro account the
of the subject aircraft. j\hu or senti-gloss black
paintwork on aircraft such as the P-61 and
1'-38 often appears ro show the national
insignia glossier than surrounding airframe
areas. This cannot always he the angle of the
sun or the use of decals, but the effect is quite
I'lsible on photographs. It means that the
application of a glossy commercial decal sheet
10 a matt finish will be authentic enough
without the need to bnng the modd up to the
sheen of the decals, which docs seem to be ;1
rather labor-mtensi\'e way to do things. As e"er,
the only answer is to give it a go on an old lit,
principally to see how the \"arnish rc;lCts with
the dl"(;als and the softemng agent, the thinners
used in the pamt and so forth.
On a larger s<.-alc kit the simplest and most
traditional form of mask IS the hard
demarcation line achie\"ed by a l-anl or stiff
edge held lightly in position with rape,
Blu Tad: or e'-cn finger pressure. Carefully
sprayed, Ihe resultant lines on thc kit should
be crisp enough, with the advantage that the
nose an, l-ode leiter, number or whate\·cr, ha.<;
the same renl"Ctive property as the
surrounding paint.
An) pliable material can be osed to blank ofT
pre-paimoo arC3S such as a lXlCkpit interior and
whed wells, COllon 11'001 or moistened [issue
being parlicularly efTecli\'e in any
"creep" of sprayed paim.
ProduCls such as Maskol are line for some
lasks ahhough it has 10 be well mi:.:ed.
PUllcl'ioning by cOI'ering the masked ofT area
with a fine, proleelil'e membrane, \'1askol and
olher similar liquid products can shrink if the
mix is not righe SlOred for any lengTh of time
the producl can harden and gel al the bottom
of lhe conlainer, ill which case il is preferable
ro invest in ;) fresh supply. Older liquid mask
m,ly also ha\'e a tendency to "string" and nOI
cover well.
Adhesive tape such as That sold for
the purpo!'>C b) Tami)'J. be used for masking
small and large areas of models. ·rhe one proviso
I'd add is 10 watch thal a pre\'iously paint'l-J
surface does not "lin" under the tape. Providl-J
thm it is lightly tacked down or used to anchor
a piece of ordinary paper along the line to be
paimcd, Ihere should be few problems. I've
found thai sih"er (or aluminum shade) painl is
prone to lining as this has a .endene}" to "plaIC'"
the surface with difTerent adhesion
properties to colors. depending on the type of
paim being used. tape with adhesion
properties Iha. seem too strong can be
wiped bet'\\ccn thumb and forcfingl'T befon:
application to reduce its Slrenb'1:h_ RC',;ular
anwork masling tape or draubohting tape is
oflen recommended for Ihis work but thlTC is
stillihe risk of gening too grelt an adhesion and
c\·cn a hair\" ed!!e. _ 0
i\ hsbng tape's is achie\·ed by a
heavier maleri:ll-likc backing and should he used
sparingly - it :Ill dCJX'Ods on the complc..'\:ity of
thc :lrC:J. to he masled - and whether in the case
of thc abewe-menlioned !>;Iver, if the model pan..
h:l\·e been washed thoroughly before a start
was made on conSlruetion. Con!>'t3ntly handling
model paris em impart a coating that can he
resistant ro painl, so finb'Cr (;emmet should he
kept to a minimum.
If you prefer that the mask doc'S not actually
:ldhere to rhe surface of the model, it is possible
to usc tape to hold a paper or pbsric edge down
to do the actual "straight line" job by proximity
spraying. The ortiee stationery product Post-Its
arc ideal for this purpose as I he adhesive line on
the pecl--olT edge is gentle l.'Oough not to lift a
p.1int surf:lcc.
There are now numerous custom peel off
masks on the markel, prim:arily for {''":Inopy
frames and n:ltional insigni:a and m:any modelers
will probably ha\"e used these or {,TC:J.te....d their
own similar methods, depending on wh:at they
arc trying to :achieve. iT is well to remember
that e...cry e...enru:llilY for "creep" or overspray
mtt<;t be allowed for as painl will gel through
the sm:allcst gaps unless grC:J.1 care is takcn to
prewnt it doing so. Out careful masking prior to
:lpplicalion of paint for cowling nose rings and
fuselage, \\'ing and tail bands :md so forth can
sometimes he preferable to inducing decals to
lay down on curved surfaces. Wheel hubs
incidentally can he covered by cin:ular self
adhesive stickers that arc sold in small sheets at
stationery outlets. i\Yailable in a useful \-ariety of
sizes, they {''":In prOlCCl the hub while the tin;
color is being sprayed.
The biggest challcngc somc modelcrs of w-artime
fightl.'T$ facc is that of applying CJmounage
convincingly. The scale of the model docs nOI
malt''' ... 100 much as the result should be
similar. The question oflen posed in modeling
journals is whether the paint shades should ha\'e
hard or soft edges. And what is the pn::ferr"xl
method (If application - one ovcrall color wi! h
the second one applied on top or the firS1 coat
applied o\"cr bare plastic with rhc second bUlIing
LIp all Surf.1CCS? As regards edges and
masking, one secs both applied - see lhe images
accompanying this chapter for det;lils of how to
create both.
Doth Iypes of spraylxl edge will he e\·idem in
reference pholOS and copying what is there will
give good results: some areas, those
in shadow under the tailpl:aoc arc impos..sible to
chock should a single monochrome photo be all
thai is a\-ailable. In Ihat ins-rancc all the modeler
CJn do islO follow directiH'Sand paint cham that
expbin ho\\ paim paltems wcre generally
applied 10 Ihe Iype in question.
Commercial companies ha\"e only recently
appreciated thaI a markct niche cxists for
carefully tailored, self-adhesivc masks, hut
having identified it they arc bcm!;: offered in
rapidly increasing numbers. Designed fi.Jr use
with specific aircraft types they arc aV:lilnblc
LEFT Panel on the P-39D
were roughly over-sprayed using
black acrylic paint. It is not
necessary to be very precise at
this stage.
ABOVE Next, the top colors are
next painted between the panel
lines, resulting in a stark
contrasLThe top color was then
over-sprayed in multiple light
coats until the dark panel lines
were barely visible. In the case of
the P-39D, the white tail and
leading edge markings were
sprayed before the main
camouflage colors.
from companies such as ."vieteor Productions
Inc. of .i\lerrifield that has numerous subjects
in the Black 1hgic range, while Eduard of the
Czech Republic markets Express .\hsk.
These products serye to highlight one of
the most demanding tasks in completing a
model aircraft to a reasonably high standard.
Ensuring that the windscreen and cockpit
c-anopy framework is painted well can be the
stuff of nightrnares as there arc few areas that
will make or break an otherwise attractive finish.
Not only docs the shape of the cockpit framing
have to be spot-on, all the lines have to be dead
straight. Shaky lines arc yery quickly noticed,
unfortunately. There arc various ways around
this problem if the hand holding a loaded brush
ll1sists on deviating from an extremely narrow
frame line.
Pre-masking and spraying the canopy
framework is a reliable method although much
depends on how well defined these strips arc
(sec the images on page 98.) Even slightly
raised frame lines can be difficult as what
you are actually doing IS painting a strip with
('hree sides. Rubbing the framework down IS
sometimes an option, prOVll1g that masking
those panels that should be kept free of paint
reduces the risk of scratching the elear areas. A
further method is the application of strips of
adhesive tape. Pre-painted, these StripS may
be cut very finely indeed; providing that the
resuh docs not have an oyer-scale appearance,
this "instant canopy frame" method can he
effective. It can certainly remove lhe hassle
from what rcmams onc of the most difficult
tasks 111 model making. The one drawback is
getting adheSive strips to adhere well. O\'er
time they ,Yill haye a tendency to dry out to the
point of lifting off, so an adhesive suitable for
such a job should be used, but very sparingly.
11 is only comparatively recently lhal manu-
facturers haye ineluded treads on Ihe lires of
fighter kits, the bald variety having long been
the norm. fortunately there are kits that supply
two sets of wheels, in flattened-under-load form
and completely round. Such spares arc valuable
as treaded tires will considerably enhance an
older kit. The patterns varied from type to lype,
so check your references.
Wheels arc most easily painted when lhe
hole in the hub is impaled on a round carrier
such as a wooden or plastic cocktail stick.
Suitably supported, bald tires can also be
worked on to create convincll1g tread patterns
in paint or small cuts, worn effects and "creep
marks" which arc often yisible in vcry clear
photos. Separate hubs might need some
anchorage points for hydraulic lines and there
is of course a need to paint the spokes of
"open" wheels.
Hub cover plates over the wheel centers of
American fighters commonly sported some
form of decoration, in the form of stars,
various designs in several colors or mllliature
insignia. In addition, more than a few added 10
numbers for ground recognition on the
flight line.
Should the kit decal sheet not run to these
items the modeler may wish to add them,
either by hand or after a delve through the
spare decal file. Wheel cover plates - or the lack
of them - is a sizeable subject on its own.
Among the questions one can invariably ask IS
- were they always supplied with a given
fighter type, irrespeeti\T of sub-type? If they
were left o f l ~ was this usually because the
presence of mud could accumulate dangerously
and affect braking? Or were plates generally
dropped on some sub-types later in the war, as
photos would appear to indicate? I'm afraid I
don't have the answers, either!
Kit wheels that traditionally were completely
round until comparatively recently can be
given flats by using a domestic iron. Heat the
appliance just to the point where plastic will
soften and place a suitable cushion between the
surface and the model's wheels. I find that the
LEFT Eduard's P-39 kits include
self-adhesive canopy masks.
These grealty simplify the task of
masking the canopy. bUI some
care was required as the
adhesive is nO[ particularly
strong. The edges of the masks
were bumished with the end of
a toothpick before spraying to
avoid painl bleeding under the
self-adhesive material. The white
wi and wing leading edges were
also ffia.:lked at this stage,
tissue provided as kit d(.-c:ll prot:l,."Ction is ideal
for Ihis purpose. Stand the model on the iron's
surface, nlaking sure that it is level. Gentle
pressure will soon nallen the bonom of the
tires. 'Vith a large kit that \\'on', thrl,."e-point on
the iron, the appliam;e will have to be held level
with a table or other surface to ensure that the
tailor nosewhcel is nattened in equal degrees.
Etjually, thc whcels can be n:lltened separately
but if they're not :lll':Lched to their oleos there is
the risk that the nalS will be uneven.
In rCbrard to wheels and lires, it is well
worth the time to check that what comes in
the kit bears a close n:semblance to the real
thing. l-listoric:.Illy kit wht."els were often too
thin in cross section :md some fighters, notably
the P--IO, had wheels that appear almost
large. Some digging in the
spares box will be necessary to come up with
Ihe righl size if you feel Ihat the kit wheels
need 10 be changl,.'d.
As onc of Ihe major componenlS in plaslic kils
of milifllry airCT:lft, repliC2 guns require special
treatment. should of course not look the
same as tires or propeller blades, the other two
"black" areas of wartime airplanes.. Kit paint
instructions would ha\·e you belien' otherwise,
offering as Ihey do litlle in Ihe way of guidance_
A coat of mati blue/black is indeed necessary
but only as a starting point.
Many kit machine guns arc molded
convincingly with enough engraved uetail
:.Ind require onl}' a "metallic" look to cnhant:e
their authenticity. Paints formulated to h:.lve a
metaU\(; look arc useful but dun't overlook
another method of imparting this effc(;t to
paintwork which is about as simple as it gets.
Graphite frolll I'he humblt, pencil, rubbed
on with a finger or tissue, is a remarbbly
effeClivc we:l\hcring device. IJeneils arc a
surprisingly useful and perhaps overlookl,.-u
model aid. Sha\'ed off lead (any soft grade
from HB to 61l can be used) is simply applil,.-tl
to black-pamted guns to impart a rc:llistic
gunmetal sheen to the surface of lhe barrd
jacket and breech block. It is also easy to pencil
directly onto the surface of lhe plastic to add
deplh 10 the sheen.
The gTaphite method can also be used to
enhance daTi: engine paTtS, radial
cylindeTs and to an eXlcm on silver surfaces to
create a daTi: weathering efTect. As gr:J.phite is
VeT} smooth, a touch of it added to a plaslic
propeller boss will enable the blades to LUm
more casil). I also use a pencil to pick out areas
of \\hct:l \\ells lhat ha\'e engra\ed hydraulic
and e1ectncallines.. At the opposile end of the
\\·ealhering spectrum, while chalk can be
employed to lighlen dark paim surfaces.
1c!>S common typc with a additional br.lCe
angled to impart strength. It appears that most
rcar-\'icw mirrors fitted to US fighters in Europe
continued to lv"Omc from local sources, bur there
were Ameril<ln faclory produced mirrors. On
some batches of P-510s they were sct into an
addilional snull bubble in the nuin, sliding part
of the :\lany !\[ustang kits now include
mirrors but may wish to add a second, which
was quill' a <.-ommon practice, should you opt
to finish a modcl depicting the markings of a
parti<.:ular pilol. liswlly the choice of mirror \\-as
personal to the nun the aircraft, as it was
he alone who needed thc extra behind
him in combat. Once more, the references need
checking elosely to sec what style was fined to
the ain:raf[ you are modeling.
A30VE The camouflage colors.
Olive Drab and Neutral Gray.
were sourced from the Polly
Scale acrylic range. These colors
were applied using the S<lme
technique as the white - first
filling in between the
lines. then successive lightly
over-sprayed coats until the
desired effect is achieved. The
pre-shading can be seen under
the Olive Drab. but it is not tOO
obvious: subtlety is the objective.
Rear-\'iew mirrors are among the areas where
fighler models might be improved. Most pes
had them to a greater or lesser degree, but they
were particularly popular on ;\Iustangs. lon<.:e
nOled Ihat Sth Air Force P-Sl rue and I)
models had at least 25 different mirror
mountings, both on the windscrccn rramc\\orl.:
:ll1d the sliding canopy.
;\1any of the mirrors sccn on USAAF air<.:raft
in England were originally manufactun.. 'd for
Spitfirlv'"S and Hurricanes and their mountings
I'aricd hom a sclf-supportingsingle stem and the
The widespread :Jdoption of baseboards for
indi\idual model.. enables interesting infomlation
about the subject to be presented "at a glance."
Ucpending on what need.. 10 be included here,
the modeler can !>oi\'e his im:Jgination a free rein by
rcnd<..';ng the badge of the JXIrent Wlit the model
in qucstion belonged to, adding a photo of the
full-size aircraft and perhaps, brief written data on
thl.: pilot(s) who fkw it in rumba!. For rumpetition
entries, sollle IX'ople prefer to pro\'ide notes on
thl.: model and llK'tltion any colwcrsion work
thl.:y hare carried OUl, although such data can be
presented on a separatc card if the organizers
prefer it,
RIGHT Individual panels on the
P-39D were oudined with
Tamiya masking tape in
prepar.ttion for the application
of altemate shades of Olive
Drab. The base color was
lightened with a few drops of
Polly Scale US Desert Sa.nd. The
fabric-eoated ailerons
an ev\1n paler shade of Olive
Drab. as these surfaces faded
dramatically in service.
LEFT With the masking t3J>e
removed, the patchy finish on
the P-39D Cln be seen.The
Clnopy was IlUSke<l off once
again in preparation for the
gloss (oa[ and decals"

A b:Ise can, altt."ITlan\"c1y, be just thaI if you
inlerprcl the wonl as a fighlCr disJX'rsal area.
Much depends on the scale of the kil s1:lnding
on il and whal else )'ou intend to display, Threc-
dimensional items such as oil drums arc
minimalist accessorit.os bur if the base area is
larger, a fuel bowser or othcr \'chicles may be
included. Placing the aircraft itself on pierced
steel planking is always eflcctivc :md:l number of
have in th.: past offered flexible
of PSP in \'arious st':lles that need to
be attached 10 a firm b:Isc boord. One I've used
was an American product called Sca.legr.lIe
which, as it incorporates a few tears and
indicalion of repair, makes a \"ery authenlie
front-line basebo:t.rd.
Eduard market bases in plastic wilh the
PSP effect forming the surface upon which the
model srands- Oribrinally available in 265mm by
164mm size, suitable for a single-engine fighter
up to 1/4-S scale, the range has since been
c.xtendcd to include bases double that size. Very
widely used on the often rough fronl-line
airfields employed by USAAF fighler groups,
this handy, instant runway material sets off a
well-made model arguably better than any other
if a realistic, as opposed to an artistic, setting is
As should be obvious frum thc above, a dear
di\"ision exists octll(:en a realistic and a designed
base, both of which arc a step up from plain antS
The Iattcr may well be the modeler's choice for
the quite understandable reason that, having
slaved O\'cr the model, the urge to put the same
dedication into a base is not ncarly so strong!
Fortunately, plain bases, particularly thM( canoed
from fint.'-grained w()()(], look atlraeti\'e enough
and to some eyes, do not detract in any way (rom
the model itself. That's also a valid point and one
that the modeler who wishes his work not 10 be
Judgt.-d a!> a diorama will have to consider i( he is
building for compel ilion display. The problem is
that m<xlem model competitions fcarurc so many
bases that models placed dircctly onto the displa)
table arc !>urting to look as though they ha'"e
something missing
There arc numerous alrcmati\-c types of
baseboard that need nOI be \"Cry rime oon.<;uming
to crc:ttc. Simply cutting up and pa!>"ting dOlI"l1 a
wcU rendered piece of 00" art and/or the l;il
in!>truction sheet on stiff card to your 0\1"11
design c:m work welt Almost an)' rigid surface
Ihat will support a model e:tn suffit.-c, including
mirror tiles which can be butted together to
form as large an area as necessary to show ofTany
addition:.l detail added to the model's lm'"cr
surf.1er..-s. This alfID safeguards agaimt anyone
pil,;king the model up to check if the undersides
have been finished correctly :ll1d possihly
causing damage.
Fuel bows.ers have already been touched upon
but the range of airfield \'ehicles as injection-
molded kit suitable for display with AAF
fighter models is not exactly vast. In 1/72 scale
the Haseg:Jwa J\'lini Box range of tanks and
military vehides included a six-wheel G;\'IC
CCKW-353 Gasoline Tank Truck, complete
with a 5ith Fighter Group P-47 on the box lOp.
This kit, which ran to a two-man crew but nOI
a flexible fuel hose, was nicely detailed for the
scale although such items as wire mesh guards
on lights always need replacing on military
vehicle kits, irrespe<:live of lhe SC:tle.
Several Olher items in the Hasegawa range,
including a Wilys Jeep, a smaller size bowser
and twO differenl trucks, \\ere all inl,ended for
or could be adapled 10, aircraft dioramas. As is
well known, the build-up of the 81h Air Force
in Brilain was glven much mtlliria supporl by
the Brilish before L."S equipment was shipped
o\'er the Allanlic. Therefore model items
such as the Airfix RAF Reco\'ery Set,
consisting of a Bedford OX tractor unil for a
Queen Mary trailer and a Coles Mk 7 crane on
a Thomycrofl Amazon chassis, can also be
adapted for an American airfield scene. The
same applies 10 the Airfix RAP Emergency ScI.
This comprised a pair of vehicles, the K.2
ambulance and Ihe K.6 crash l'ender, both on
Austin chassis.
In regard 10 figures, Airfix put oul several
1/72 (HOIOO) scale airerew selS including
"USAAP Personnel" which offered "-+6 pieces
making 38 assemblies," 10 quote lhe box I'Op.
The eXira pieces consiSI'ed of a single 500 lb
bomb and a one-man jack ITolley. An excellent
photo of this device in use at a P-+7 base
appears on page 111 of Roger Freeman's book
The fighl for the SJ..ies published by Arms and
Amour Press.
I ha\'e not come across a great many airfield
\'ehicles since the above kits were first relcasc:.:d in
lhe 19705 but must also admit to not looking out
for new addit'ions to any great extent' either, so I
may be a little Out of date as to what' is currently
avaih\ble. 1 do know that some extra work is
necessary if I he modeler wishes to anach the fuel
ABOVE and RIGHT Additional
weathering included highlighting
of panel lines with a thin wash of
black oil paint applied directly to
the recessed lines. Finally.
exhaust stains and oil streaks
were added using a thin mix of
Tamiya flat Black and Red
Brown. The dramatic pattern of
streaks and stains on the lower
fuselage was carefully copied
from a photograph or a wartime
P-39D on page 17 of Bert
Kinzey's P-J9 Airacobra In

lines from the bowser to the aircraft and rhu
such a scene almost l.'Crtainly demands the
inclusion of a figure or t .....o, as ground crew .....ere
hardly in the habit of dCpw'ting for a smoke and
leaving a few hundred g:1l1ons of high octane
gasoline TO pump into the wing and/or fuselage
tanks on their own!
In 1/+8 scale the airfield support vehicle
picture has not been quite so rosy as
manufacturers long ago adopted 1/35 as the
st'anclard scale for the larger military ,'chicle
kit. While certain in this scale are
aclaprable to aircraft in 1/32 scalc, vchicles
suil'ahle {or display with 1/48-scalc aircraft
have been somewhat neglected, as least as far as
[he manufacturers arc concerned.
In partial response to this dearth, _'\-lanagram
included a Clctrac tracror in their R-24
l.iberat'Or kit and this, despite a molding that
was a lillie "chunky" and dct:lil that was on the
basic side, was a vcry welcome extra. For a
baseboard display a fighler can be hooked up to
the Cletrac \-ia lOW bars fixed to the landing
gear oleos - once again, do eh<..'Ck the references
ro see exactly where these fitted on different
aircraft Inx:s. As it comes, the Getme has
"solid" sidewalls bctw<..'Cn the tracks, lacks
windscreen glass and any hint that the vehicle
was equipped with a soft-top canvas hood - a
vital extra for English and Italian winters. All
I hese details and others, ean be added wilhout
difficulty to the J\'lonogram kit although
references will also indicate that Cletracs
opcrarcd with the windscreen folded flat.
As a companion to the 13-24 tractor, the
.\'lonogram B-17G mcluded a flatbed bomb
lrailer. No motive power was actually provided in
the kit bUI lhis lrailer \\0"":15 commonly hooked up
[() a Cletrac or a trud. for moving Out 10 lhe
flighl line. Most commonly photographed on
bomber b3ses., thesc important vehicles are
equally adaptable to a fighter scene where they
carried oxygen bonles as well as bombs, rockers
and ammunition boxes.
References ro vehicles diroctly as..'IDCiated
with the operation of fighters arc not,
to my knowledge, tOO thick on the ground
although all encompassing references such as
the M(ghty Eighth H-ar Manual docs include
some basic details and no less than 17
photOgraphs in the chapter entitled Ground
Support Equipment. Obviously majoring on
ABOVE Now we come to
creating post-shaded we<lthering
for Desert Warhawk.. as
shown here on the P--40F.
BELO'N AMteeh's 1/4f8-scale
P-4QF was painted with Polly
Scale acrylic paints - Azure Blue
on the lower surfaces and a base
(:oat of RAF Middle Stone on the
fuselage sides and the tOP of the
model.A few minor gaps were
dealt with using Gunze Mr
Surfacer before painting
continued - it is never too late
to find (and fix) a problem,
RIGHT The disruptive
camouflage on desert P.40s had
a hard edge. In order to replicate
this edge, Blu·Tac.k was rolled
into thin sausages and gently
applied to the surface in the
shape of the camouflage p,anern.
Polly Scale Dark Earth was then
sprayed inside the Blu-Tack
bon:ler, resulting in a herd edge
with the tiniest hint of
narrow overspray.
• i
materiel supplied to me 8th Air 1-oree in lhe L'K
from both British and American sources, this
refcrcnce e:>:tends to ambulances, wreckers,
mobile cranes and runway control vchicles and
trailers, the latter dccked out with a distinctive
bbck and white chcckcrboard finish for high
visibility out on airfields.
Some general guides to military \·ehicles of
World War 2 such as the Obun:u's Fithti"K
Di,retory published by Warne, include
airfield equipment. .\1y aging cdition has
pro\'ed quile useful in this rcspect and
although morc modern titles appertaining 10
Ihe subject have no doubt appeared recenlly.
Numerous vehicles will be observed within the
pages of general fighter group histories; SO
wilh a diorama in mind, now is the time to go
o\'er them again and take a second look at the
\'ehicles \-OU ha\·c missed the first time
As a last word on this aspect of aircrafl
modeling it is nOt wise lO assume that fighter
units III other ,heaters of war were supplied
wilh vehicles and so on to the extent that the
European-based air forces were. In the em,
for example, a heat-up Chinese truck or an ox
cart might be more appropriate lhan a CUSIOOl-
buih trailer for carrying bombs, the units based
thcre being silUatOO at the end of yery long
supply lines.
With the amI of branching out into aircraft
color schemes th.n arc that little bit different,
individual mooclers often pool [heir work into
a group project with a common theme. The
IPMS Special Interest Groups - SlGs - ha\'e
spurred this approach to modeling and the
results of combining the resources of small or
large groups of modelers can be seen 10
advantage at numerous shows. The internet has
undoubtedly assisted this coming togelher of
the SIGs.
In fact many themes suggest themselves lO
models of Americ;m fightcrs. They might
include aircraft flown by the aces, different
aircraft us,,:d by the samc squadron or group,
depicting the c,·cr-popular black and \\hitc
stripes applied for D-Day in Europe or the
invasion of the Philippines and the famous
sharkmOUlh marking, carried at various limes
in different war theatcrs, by all first-line L'S
fightcr typi.:S.
Simple, ,,:ommon themc:s might include
thc u.<;e of stripes and/or checkers as unit
markings; thc eyer popular ladies in various
stages of undr(."Ss; aircraft decoratcd with the
namcs of thc (.'::I1'Ioon characters made famous
by Al Capp, Walt Disney and others - e\'cn
aircraft wilh the same nicknamc might appeal
10 some groups of modelers.
Characters from comic strips, moyie and
song titles provided the warlime US sen-iceman
with a wide range of inspir:lIion when it camc
to naming combat aircraft. l\'ot all names arc
readily traceable to thcir source howeyer and a
worJ.:ing knQ\\ k"<lgc ofAmerican sporn; and card
in \'ague during me war can help 10 Cf:lck
some of [he USI.:<1 10 personalize
aircraft in this way.
One varialion on thc theme idea is to SCt out'
specifically 10 duplicate in plastic an individual
aircraft in a photOs or photos. "Mrs Virginia" a

LEFT The arial wires were
attached to the model prior to
painting. eliminating the risk of
spoiling the paint job with
smudges of superglue. Patches of
Olive Drab were also added on
the assumption tha[ the RAF fin
flash and starboard side wing
markings would have been
painted out. later advice
suggested that these aircraft
probably never canied the RAF
wing markings. so lhe Olive
Drab circle waJi lightly sanded
and repainted with the
camouflage colon.


P-5IA of the 1st Air Commando Group is
well enough known and an id(.-al choICe. With
enginc CXh3USt stretching O\'cr half the length
of the fuselage, this example offers one of the
best weathering subjects anpvhcrc.
Along similar (herned lines arc 3lfcraft
painttxl up specially to mark a such
as the 15,OOOth P....ON with all the customer
national insib'TIia. Enough "round the dock"
halftone and color pholos have been published
for such a model to be l,;omplctcd with satisfymg
accuracy, using the Create 301 kit. Modeling
commemorative aircraft need not stuI' there as
dozens of P-47s sported similar markings to
record milestones in production and those
denoting their purchase thruugh war bond
Most well known of all in this category
perhaps is the P-3SJ painted in o,'erall bright
red with the wording "Yippee" under the
win6'S. The differem:e here of t"()un;c is that the
Thunderbolts saw action while the others did
can naturally extend to an attrat'tiye
display base for the finisbt-d model. A plam sheet
of clear plastic will prott"(.'t photobrraphs of the
full-size aircraft, a portrnit of the famous pilot(s)
who flew it, artwork profiles of aircraft of the
same unit, or an original urut badb'C in the form
of a cloth patch or a dcctl; these arc jus't some
ThroughoUT the foregoing te:\:( [here has at
lea.<;t been the implication that after a fcw years
at the hobby a modcler will hayc acqwrcd a
goodly range of sp:ue parts_ This Illight come
about in a number of ways not least \·ia the
younger gencration. To be brutally realistic
about plastic modeling, it is oftcn only a
passing phase of growing up; youngsters will
just as soon throw a kit together for the sole
purpose of blowing it to bits on Guy Fawkes
night or speed its partial demise in some other
dire way. Such a fate may be anathema to the
more mature modeler bUT he or she t-an bl:nl:fit
from this vandalism by collecting thl: \cft
over bits and removing them to a safe plal:e on
the grounds of dearing up. Few parents will
complain once the wrecker of kiTS has
discovered a range of lllternative interests,
from computer games to - well, you name it!
The llOarding modeler with a few young
relatives can therefore soon be inundated with
a mass - evcn a mess - of truncated winb'S
and fusclagL"S, "'heels, props and what have
you_ Somc parts indeed come in handy for
conversion work but mOSt of the larger items
tend to languish in the spares box incvitably to
be jomed by thc ICftovers from thc modeler's
own kit bashing efforts_ As thc years pass, the
thrce P-5Is, four 1'-40s and tWO 1'-38s (any
combination of numbers is applit-ablc to some
of us) which were once the IatCSt thing but
which you nc\·cr gOt around 10 completing, arc
rt"Tldcred morc or less obSOletC morc
accuratc kirs. Dcep down, )OU knO\\ you'll
nc\-cr build thesc oldcr ones nO\\'. Do thcy have
any USC!
If thc major componcntS havc been
scpanted from Ihc sprues, or you ha\·c
full of pre\-iously paintc:.'tIl..its noo· broktll down
for easy stonge (on the grounds that onc da)
they might lx: usc:.'tI ag:ain), ccnainl) do_
RIGHT Post-shading commenced
with il thin wash of black oil paint
precisely applied to the recessed
panel lines.
One method lli to s!:3ck all the wings and
fuselages together on a baseboard, put all the
wheds in a separate heap, along with the
spinners, cockpit canopies., drop tanks and so
on, and you have an instant comer of a scrap
yartl in the making. Take a baseboard in the size
required, run a section of fence in any material
preferred from card to metal around IwOsides of
il and simply arrange the model pans on lhe
base and againsl the fence. Chances are some of
the winbTS and will have old paint and
decals still in place - so much the beuer, a.s they
""ill pro,,'ide a lout:h of variety. It goes without
saying thai models to any scale may be used for
a boneyard scene :l1though surplus IIn-scale
kits mUSI be the most economical - :md
probably the mOSI numerous.
II is perfeedy pos.<;ible, of course, to super
detail such a diorama in mueh the same way
as any other; bUI the heauty of the basit: st:rap
heap is lhat with some judicious placement,
you can get away with lhe minimum of gluing
and painling. It docs help if you ha"'e a number
of examples of the one aircraft type as, tidy to
the end, the military tcnded, at lea'" in the US.
to park similar aircraft l)'pcs together while
they awaited their fate. Poor surface detail or
any OUlline inaccuracies of the parts can be all
but be hidden by carefully t:Olnposing the
scene; wings stacked on their edge do nOI
re,,-cal much and neither do fuselages if they are
tightly packed together in a line. Paint may be
dabbed on the lcading or lnliling edges of the
wings that are most visible to enhance the
efrecl and where appropriate, the L;S narional
msignia may be overpamted and depicted as a
solid shape. Color photos show lhe shade used
to have been rust red in one inSl'ance but there
were others.
If you do tackle such a proj<:cr, don',
o,,-erlook lhat box of old. briule decals [hat are
not likely be applied ',a any current model. Cut
them up and apply where appropri:ue to lhose
area.<; of the scrap wings and fuselages thar may
be seen.
The modeler can tailor such a display to
taste. A P-40 for example, placed in front of the
stacked airframe P:lrts on its gear kgs with ilS
windscreen in place, will set the scenc well
enough and provide a focus. Ahemari,,-cl}; the
Pacific island "hole in the ground" l)'pc of scrap
scene, will1 P-38s and P-6Is (some with drop
tanks still attached) shoycd on lOP of truncated
bomber parts, might be a more amhitious
project for some people. The referenu.'S are full
of these sad but nCttSSar)' scenes of 1945 as Ihe
Allics systematically scrapped the largcsr air
forces the world had e'!·er SCCI"I.
Aircraft disposal came into three broad
categories: firstly, those where the scrapping of
surplus but complet e airframes took place,
mainly in the US; secondly there were the
locations where airuaft were stripped of
milit.lry equipment and put up for sale; and
thirdly were those areas - mainly o"'-crseas -
where combat damaged aircraft caresses were
simply abandoned. A sub-·cuegory might be
the "active" wartime sLTap yard from whieh
LEFT Once chis seep was
(ompleee, a very chin mix of
Flat Black and Red Brown was
sprayed over the panel lines. In
(ommon with the pre-shading
technique, a subde finish is the
airframes were cannibalized for spares [0 keep
other airCT::aft n)·ing.
In modeling terms, each type of dump
rC<luircs a different approach. for the open
air "h:mb'1lT quc:..'Cn," some deliberate stripping
might be rJcs;f:lblc, nOt 10 mention a degree of
airframe damage from shot and shell, a whecls-
up landing and so forrh. Missing panels, bem
propeller blades and some cutting away of the
airframe to reveal the structure underneath,
arc all areas the skilled modeler can raclde to
make such a scene that much more realistic.
This IS where those saved pieces of flash can
come in handy as the thin plastic makes ideal
damaged panels.
Finally, the references contain numerous
scenes of ain;raft being readied for the smelter. In
the US tht:sc machines were stripped of engines,
tifL'S, props and so forth and were stacked prior
to disposal in a much more organized manner.
LEFT Kit dee.:als were
added at chis
RIGHT Exhaust stains were
applied to the fuselage sides
using the same thin black-brown
mix as the panel lines. A chalky
stn:'ak. using a mix ofTamiya Buff
and Flat Base. was streaked on
tOp of this stain.
Amcrican master modeler Shepherd Painc is
a master of this sort of presentation, and has
based many of his creations on .\lonogram kits.
An abandoned and vandalized B-25 !\,Iitchell
came as part of the paeka6'"C in the original 1/
scale kit. There was also a ditching scene with
the TBO De\-a.scltor kit - these and a whole
range of other ideas arc ad:Iptablc lO
fighlers. Shep published a book, HoII' to Build
DiomllloJ in 1980, an A.f format paperback
crammed with idcas including an :lmazing H-26
.r...'laraudcr production line. Such an ambitiOlls
and innovalive modeling project will appc·JI lO
many, with the ad'-aI1tage of some spaee saving if
adapted to reproducing part of a .. ruming
OUl sing:lc-cnginc fighters.
A further \'ariatioll on this thcme is an
arming area. By placing a P--+7 next to a stack
of bombs and :'<.'1-10 rocket launchers you I,;an
:dso reduce your stocL.s of plastic ordnance,
which proliferates \\;th c'·ery kit }OU buy the'>C
days. A Iasl thoughl if you arc a YOr.Il,.;OUS
modeler who uses many spares, leave the
boneyard scenes intact on the shelf, so at least
can see at a glance how many props, I' hl,.'C!s
or canopies you acrually na\'c withom the nec.'1l
10 son through len different slOragC boxcs!
Finally, there is the e,·er present problem of
sioring models once mey MXC been complcH.'d,
and unless you !i1·C in a com·encd Zeppelin shl,.-d
you'll soon find thal space is at a premium. Dust
very quickly settles on the surface of a plastic
model .... hieh just sils Ihere, c::lling into
an area that you really need for yCI another
reference book - or indeed another model.
I can', sugges' a rl'ady an5\\Tr apan from
Ihe rcmedy of hanging
models from the ceiling. Up therc they will
g:::J.lhcr dusl faster Ihan almost anywhere else and
short of repading them into bo.XC5., wilh some
risk of breaking off the smaller more delicate
pa.rrs, this remains a challcnge proponionare to
the amount of available space. Friends of mine
have wisely buill display cabinets that <Ire
intended 10 line ....';1I1S or alcmes.
If the only option is to pad completed
modcl'> away, a ,-isi, '0 your local wine merchant
might yield a number of wooden boxes. These
come complete with supporting inserts 10 hold
Ihe neck of the bollies A box intended for
a couple ofbonics will aaual!) hold a 1/4S--scalc
P-t7 or nicely with room to spare for
additional cushioning: lTL,1lcrial such as bubble-
wrap. 1\ further model storage idea is a box with
a transparent lid. I.arge enough to housc a 1/32
scale P-51 with il.'> .... hl,.ocls down, these boxes are
a bit flimsy and it is am-L<;:able to remO"e the
propeller. BUl a sec-through lOp of
this type docs keep out the dust :md pre\'cnts the
model from being completely hidden from view.
A sort of bonus herc is that if the mood is
unfinished bm 'isible you can always nag
yourself into completing it some day soon.
I have in the paSI built a floor-to-ccilillg
sla<.:king unit so ,nal you have a number of
LEFT Afinal coat of Polly Scale
acrylidfln finished off this
sheh'cs available. Mcasun.-d on the size of the
baseboard for the largest kit you han:. Ihesc will
then serve as a useful resting place for smaller
kits, and a number of completed models and/or
boxcs can be accommodated. Many stores now
sell modular shelf dcsi!."Iled to squeeze inlo
the smallCSI possible space, and these arc well
worth invcstigaling £0 meet your personal
n..·quirements. Most practic:ll of all are glass-
fronted C:lbinets, eurbo:mls or model display
1,;:lS<-'S which allow the models 1'0 be secn and
which inhibit the ingress of the dn..-aded dust.
If your living room runs to a large coffee
table this might be adapted to take an enclosed
shclf unit for models, \·iewed through a
gl:lss top.
It is howcver a sad fact tbat many of thc
models made up do eventually fall into
disrepair through lack of safc storage space and
although all thc pieces that come adrift are
dutifully kept, lhcrc is some inbuilt resistance
to refurbishing if the choice is between taking
the time to do Ihe necessary remedial work all
O\'cr again. or tackling a new kiL
Garden shed or garage storage of models is
another possibility but in Ihcse locations,
absolute frcedom from damp cannol always
be guaranteed, with a consequent detrimental
effeel on the dCl-als and maybe cven the paint
finish_ Ovcrtime some dl-cals will yellow, erack
and peel off - apart that is from those you
·want to remove to refurbish a kit that may no
longer be available.
If you do ha"e to rl'Sign yourself to storage
which risks brcakage, it is a good idea to
photograph each model as you complete it.
Th:u way even if il plunges to the floor thc
next time you artempt to find something in the
stack of boxes underneath it, at least you witi
ha\·e a record of the way it used to 1001.:.
A 1:l!t1: resort ahernati\"C to your m\TI !>1:orage is
to present built up 10 a local history or
war museum, if one exists with spacc
There are numerous small establishments
sueh as control museum." adjacent to
historie airfields. Oflcn run on a shoestring.
such locations mar be glad of some additional
display items, especially if your model subjttts
arc relcvant to the units that wcrc once based On
the airfield in qucstion. It may only take a phone
call or an e-m2i1 to eheck.
Table 2: USAAF ordnance colors
Bombs (various weights md
ty'pes including HE general
purpose, light cese, TNT or
Amatcl filled, armor-piercing
end semi-crmor piercing md
GP or Le, Tritonal Hed
120 Ib 1v",-41 fragmentation
Photoflash combs
4.5in. M-l 0 rocke- launcher
M·B prolectile
4.5in. HVAR
L..5in. HVAR
4,5in, HVAR
05in. yellow oond betvveen tvvo 1in banes on nose and tail
"IMF tail bse gear and locking nut on extreme nose, usually
contrasted by yelbN spot on extreme rorward flat erea
common to all bombs.
yellow nose rings; clive drab body and fins; black stencihtyle
Gray, no oands; block markings
dark green/clive drab exterior with red inte-ior
olive drab body; yellow head
clive drab head, steel body and fins
half yello'vvjholf NMF head and Wy on shaped charge
type; steel body and fins
red nose, white body, red fins (practice round)


Table 3: colors
Early metallteordrop-shapedl 75 gal. drop
tenks painted to metch underside color of
Im;JregnmoD paper tanks (108 gol
N''€ral Isteell tanks [108 gel I
Elongo'ed teardrop (150--165 gal.)
carried by P-38 and P-47N
All tank riler caps
usually neutral grey or gray: some ir'l clive
NMF [silver doped) with tvva red bands on center
light grey with two red oonds; some in derk olive
.NMF 0' painted to match aircrcft finish, P::lfticularly
Slack on night fighters

LEFT Lockheed P-38 Ughtning.
model by Chris Wauchop. This
is Haseg;rNas IH8-scale P-38J
Ughming kiLThe pdIlel lines and
surface detail are well rendered
on this model. It also portrays
the graceful lines of this twin-
boomed fighter beautifully.
However. the kit is best suited
to experienced modelers due
to the alignment chaJlenges
presented by the architecture of
the aircraft. and the relatively
complex kit engineering
preented by Hasegawa.
LEFT The P-38 was originally
built by anocher modeler and
reconditioned by Chris. He left
the existing decals in place and
actually airbrushed around
them. The model was repainted
using Gunze acrylic paints in a
Testor Aztek airbrush.
LEFT This model features
impressive wealhering of its
Olive Drab and Neutral Gray
finish. Panel lines have been
over-sprayed with a thin mix of
black and brown, then the
recessed lines have been further
highlighted with a thin acrylic
wash. Paint damage and chips
were created using Tamiya Silver
ellafTlel paint ~ p f i e d with a fine
RIGHT This overhead view
highlighu the patchy finish, which
is typical of wartime Olive Drab
paint on USAAF fighters in the
Pacific and in Europe. The tOP
canopy section was replaced
with the equivalent section from
a Falcon vacuform canopy set.A
pilot was also added to the
interio... of the model. Nylon
monofilament (invisible mending
thread) was used for the
aerial wire.
RJGHT The exhaust from the
supen::ha...ger is a chalky gray/un
colo.... Tamiya Buff, a little White
and some Flat Base were mixed
to achieve this convincing effect.
Paint damage on the wing
walkway beside the cockpit can
also be seen in this view.
TOP Curtiss P-40E, model by
Brett Green. This is AMtech's
1/48-scale P-40Warhawk.The
cockpit in the kit is a little bare
so a True Details resin cockpit
was added.This set was actually
designed for the Mauve P-40N.
but it was eventually persuaded
to fit in the AMtech fuselage
with a little help from a razor
saw and sanding stick.
MIDDLE The side view shows
off the distinctive deep chin
intake, the additional intake on
top of the cowling. the framed
canopy and the original short
BODOM The model was
finished with one of AMtech's
high quality decal options
supplied with the kit.The paint
finish is fascinating. The basic
camouflage colors are Dark
Earth and Dark Green, but large
patches have been over-painted
in a darker color - possibly fresh
Olive Drab. The shark's mouth
and the irreverent character on
the tail lend even more interest
to this subject. The disruptive
color scheme was painted with
the assistance of Black Magic
self-adhesive camouflage masks.
The set I used was actually
intended for a P-40B Tomahawk
but the pattern was similar and
it was a simple matter to adapt
the masks to the different
contours of this later version.A
combination of Gunze and Polly
Scale paints were used.The
Olive Drab patches were
spr<tyed freehand. The kit canopy
rides high on the fuselage spine
when depicted open, so a
vacuform replacement was
sourced from Squadron. The ring
and bead sight came from an
Eduard photo-etched set (not
for a P-40 though), a mirror on
tOP of the windscreen was
carved from a scrap of styrene
block and the twin antenna
wires were added from
smoke-colored invisible mending
RIGHT P..... ON Warhawk. model
by Darren MoW<lm. Mauve from
Japan relused three 1/48-scale
P-40 kits in the mfd-1990s.This
P-40N Warhawk is the first of
these offerings. The model
feat\lres excellent surface details
with crisply engraved panel lines.
Clear parts are very thin and
free of distortion, but me fit of
me c1ur section behind me
cockpit can cause some
alignment headaches.
RJGHT The True Details resin
cockpit was added to this kit.
True Deuils' cockpit is
inexpensive and quite nicely
detailed - an excellent
replacement for the basic kit
cockpit. True Deuils resin
W'heels were also used.
RIGHT Mauve's ?-40 was
painted with AeroMaster
enamels. Although the same
markings are included in the kit,
SuperScale decals were
employed for this project. In faet,
twO sets of the parrot's hud
were applied to guarantee
complete opacity of the
bright colors.
LEFT RepubliC P-47D
Thunderbolt, model by Darren
Mottram.Academy's 1/48-scale
P-47D kit was released around
the same time as Hasegawa's
offering. Apart from some
questions about the shape of the
canopy it is a very nice kit with a
straightforward fit. The shape of
the model is accurate too.
LEFT Construction presented
no problems and the model was
completed almost without
modification. The only addition
was an extra rib added inside
each side of the wheelwell to
cover a kit join-line. The kit
cockpit was also used straight
from the box.
LEFT Some British-based P-47s
used stocks of RAF paints to
camouflage their aircraft.
Although it is at odds with the
instructions, the box art depicts
a Thunderbolt finished in RAF
Dark Green and RAF Sky with a
Neutral Gray fuel tank. The box
art served as the inspiration
for the paint job. Xtracolour
enamels were used for the RAF
colors. Weathering comprised
Tamiya Smoke being sprayed
along the panel lines for subtle
highlighting. Kit decals were used
for the most part. The exception
was the impressively checkered
nose.This was masked with
individual squares ofTamiya
masking tape and sprayed!
RIGHT Republic P-47N
Thunderbolt, model by Mick
Evans.Academy's 1/48-scale
P-47N Thunderbolt represents
the final production version of
this bulky USAAF fighter aircraft.
Academy's kit was released
around the same time ;as the
ProModeler kit. The Academy kit
f e a w ~ superior surface detail
and less troublesome fit than its
ProModeler counterpart.
RIGHT Academy's 1/48-scale
P-47N supplies a generous
allowance of stores including
bombs, rockets and drop tanks.
Much of this ordnance can be
seen fitted to the model.
RIGHT The model was built
straight from the box. The
natural metal finish was achieved
using Testor's Metalizer But'fable
A1uminum.Alternate shades
were also obtained on randomly
selected panels by mixing
different MetaJizer shades,
Decals were sourced from
LEFT North American P-S IA
Mustang. model by Darren
Mottram. The mid-1990s saw a
flood of 1/48-scale P-S I
Mustangs hit the market.
ProModeler, Tamiya and Accurate
Miniatures all released P·S IBlC
kin within 12 monms of each
other. However,Accurate
Miniatures maintained an
exclusive hold on the 1/48-sale
Allison-powered Mustang
variants. Accurate Miniatures
released a P-SI,P-SIA,A-36
and an RAF Mustang Mk. I in
1/48 scale.
LEFT This is Accurate
Miniatures' I{48-scale P-SIA kit,
built straight from the box
except for me canopy. which was
sliced apart to fix in the OJ>en
position. This extraordinary
camouflage was referred to as
the "dallie scheme," and also
sometimes as "confusion
camouflage." It was painted as an
experimental measure in the
United States during 1943.The
Olive Drab paint was from the
Xtracolour range. Black and
white paints were Humbrol
LEFT To obtain this striking
finish, the model was first
sprayed white all over. The
fuselage and lower wings were
then completely c o v e r l ~ < l with
Tamiya masking tape. The daule
pattern was drawn OntO the
masking tape using a wartime
photograph as reference. A sharp
knife was then employed to
trace over the pencil lines and
cut out the black sections of the
camouflage. Humbrol Flat Black
was then sPr.l}'ed, followed by
more ma5king and painting of
the Olive Drab upper surfaces.
Markings were minimal - one
upper wing roundel and a few

TOP LEFT North American
P-51 B Mustang, by Chris
Wauchop. Tamiya's 1/4a-scale
P-51 B Mustang was released in
1995,and was an immediate hit
with modelers. The kit includes
drop tanks, bombs, and
altemative exhausts.
painted with Gunze acrylic
paints in a Testor AnekA"70
airbrush. Weathering comprised
the shading of pmellines, stains
on panels and chipping of wing
leading edges and fasteners.
"Chipping" the paint was
achieved using a sharp silver
pendl.AeroHuter deals ~ r e
used on this model.
BOTIOM LEFT This Mustang
was built straight from the box
except for the drop tanks. The
open Glnopy is supplied as an
optional assembly, with the open
top molded to the starboard
side of the canopy_ The fit of the
flaps was so good that glue was
not reqUired.
addition to the kit cockpit was
the pilot's harness, scratchbuilt
from lead foil for the straps and
fine wire for the buddes.This
photo offers a fine view of
Chris's wondertul weathering on
the wing walk and fasteners .
BELOW North American P-51 D
Mustang, model by Mick Evans.
Hasegawa's Jl48-scale P-51 D
W,iS first released in 1991, hot
on the heels of their
groundbreaking series of
Messerschmitt Bf I09s.At the
time of its relene. Hasegawa's
Mustang W,iS the best-detailed
and most iiuthentic P-51
available in iiny scale. Indeed, it
was probably the best World
'Niir 2 Allied fighter model of its
day. The kit fits together
beautifully. with only a litde work
reqUired under the nose.
Markings for the 487th Fighter
Squadron, 3S2d Fighter Group,
were supplied as one of
the three attractive marking
options in the kit.
Amerie:ll1 Air Museum
clo Imperial War i'v[useum
CAM 115 em -l-QR
The Amcritlln Air i\luseum in Britain acts as a
memorial to the 30,IXlOAmericans who died
£lying from the UK in World War 2, :lnd houses
a collection of historic American eomoot aircraft.
American Aviation Historical Society
2333 Otis Street
Santa Ana
CA 9210+-3846
Excellent quarterly journal demte<! to all
aspects of t..5 a,·iation history.
The Aviation Bookshop
656 Holloway Road
London NI9 JPD
Long-established book supplier carrying a fuJI
range of literature including books, mudeling
pcriodic;\ls, plans and photographs.
A"iation Usk
602 Pmnt St
Box 97
Usk \VA 99180
.Model mail-onler house and publisher
specializing in rare kits and publications
Harbour I.{oad
Ouhon Broad
Suffolk i'\R32 3LZ
Internationally renowned mail-()rder suppliers
specializing in kits and accessories from
around the world.
Imperial War Museum
Department of Photographs
All Saint's Annexc
Austral SI
London SEI16SJ
With a collection of seyeral million pnnts and
negatives, the l\Vj\'l can supply numerous
good quality aircraft images.

International Plastic :'Hodclers Society-
!vlembcrship Seerelary
PO Box H75
North Canton
Annw.1 membership includes:J quarterly maga-
zine arrying articles, news, re\'iews :Jnd web sites.
Just Bases
Mr P Thompson
21 Graham Road
Devon TQ,1 Inn
As the name implies, this firm makes and
supplies finished bases and covered display
e:Jscs including the glass-dome type for
protection from dust.
Koster Aero Enterprises
2S Glcnridge Drive
l\'lA 01730
Suppliers of high qualilY vacuform and
multi-media kiLS
I)aragon Designs
39 Cantley Lane
Norfolk NR-I 6'1'1\
Extensive range of resin "extras" for numerous
kits in various scales.
US Air Foree Museum
1100 Spa:Jlz S1.
\Vrighl-Pancrson Apn
OIl -15-133
The USAF Museum is locatoo near Dayton,
Ohio., and is the oldest and largesl mililar)'
a\'iation ffilLscum in the world, Its exhibits
include over 300 aircrafl and missiles.
Verlinden Productions
811 Lone Star Drive (UK DmrihuJors:
O'Fallon lIiSfore,r Agents
i\'lO 63366 IVellingJo" HouS(
USA 157 SlIarp,nJe Street
D/Jver. Kmt, UKj
Verlindcn's \\'ell established r:mgc of kit
conversion sets and accessories includes many
CSAAF suhjects: it also publishes a
complementary series of modeling books.
10ny .VI:t.t1cliano's Scale :Vlodelling Indc...
International Plastic Modelers' Society (USA)
Internalional Plastic Modelers' Society (UK)
Osprey I)ublishing
Archer, RD and Archer, ve; USAA F
Aircraft Camo/lflage ant! Marhllgs 19-11-
19-17: The /-1is/or)1 of UWllIf Alnmft
Markillgs. Insignia, CIl1/WIIj!ilgt (50J!rm,
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Altglen, 1997
nell, D Air Force Colors 1926-4i (3 \'ols),
Squadron/Signal Publications, CarolllOn,
1979, 1980 and 1997
Cross, R:and Scarborough, G
tHIISlallK - Their history and how f/J model
lhe"" Classic Aircraft :'\0.3, PSI.,
London, 1973
Ethell, J and Bodie, W lI},r Eagles in Of/gil/aI
Color, Wide\\ing, Georgia, 1995
Pacific lVar liaglts ill Or(l{inal Color,
Widewing, Virgima, 1997
Ethen, J and Simonsen, C The Hislory or
Aircraft NO$/! Art, Motorbooks, Osceola,
Freeman, RA Might)! Eigll/h, .'vlcDonald,
London 1970
Tlte MIghty Dighth H'tlr Dial:J', Jane's,
London 1981
Tlte Mighty Eighth lJ'iJr Mafllwl, Jane's,
London 1984-
The MIghty Eighth in Colour, Arms &
Armour, London 1991
The Nimh Air Force III Color, Arms &
Armour, l.omlon 1995
ClaSSIC USAAF Colors 2,
P-I7 Classic USrL-IF Colors J,
Crm\ borough, 2002
I-less, WN and I"ie, TG Fighters oftht
Eighth 19-12-15, i....lotorbooks, Osceola,
Holmes, T Amen'call Engles Classic USAAF
Colors I Classic, Crowborough, 2001
McDowell, E P-I7 Thunderbolt, European
Theater, Squadron/Signal Publicatiom,
Camillon, 1998
P--17 Tlumderb/Jlt. Pacific Theatcr,
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carol1ton,
Rust, Kenn CAir Forte Story - 51h, 7th, 81h,
91h, JOlh, J2th. 131h, Hlh and J5th Air
Forus, Aviation Historialll Album,
California, 1975-82
The 9/1, A" Foru;n World Hitr lI, Aero
Publishers, California, 1967
Scutts, JC P-5J Mustang Aces oflhe Eighth Air
Force (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series
No.1) Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 1994
P-51 MlISlallg Aces oflhe 91h alld 15th
AAFs f5 the RAE (Osprey Aircraft of the
Aces series ::-Jo. 7) Osprey Publishing,
Oxford, 1995
P-4i Thunderboll Aces oflhe £i!hlh Air
Forer (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series
:'\0.24) Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 1998
Stafford, GAm ofthe Eighlh,
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carol1l'On,
Stanaway, J P-38 Lightning Aces ofthe Pacific
and Clll (Osprey Aircraf[ of the Aces series
No. 14) Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford
Wea[herill, DAircraft and Aces ofIhe 9th, 12th
and 15th Air Forces, Koobbura,
"'le1bourne, 1978
The following: 8th Air Force fighter units haye
had new histories or reprints of earlier ones
published in the last three decades or so.
\Vartime or immediate postwar histories arc
not included.
4th Fightel' Group
Fry, G The Debt/ell Eagles, Walker Smith Inc,
Ethell,] and Fry, G Escort 10 Berlin, Arco
Publishing, New York, 1980
Hall, GrO'ier CJr 1,000 Deslroyed, Ace
Printing, Texas, 1962
20th Fighter Group
Machy, R The 20th Fighur Group,
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carol lIOn,
IIfrer, J flappy Jack's Co Bu,r:gy, Schiffer
Publishing Ltd., Altglell, 1998
55th Fighter Group
Gray, John M The 55th Fighter Group 7;erSUS
Ihe Lufirvaffi, Specialty, Minnesota, 1998
Littlefield, Robert M Double Nickel, Douhle
Trouble, RM Littlefield, California, 1993
56th Fighter Group
McOaren, D Beware the Thunderbolt, Schiffer
Publishing Ltd., Altglen, 1994
Freeman, R 5611, Fighter Group (Osprey
Aviation Elite series No.2) Osprey
Publishing, Oxford, 2000
Hess, WN Wolfpack, .\1otorbooks,
Osceola, 1992
78th Fighter Group
Fry, G Etl!:'es ofDu:tfrml, Phalanx,
Minnesota, 1991
339th Fighter Group
Harry, GP 33911, Fighier Group, Turner
Publishing, Kentucky, 1991
352d Fighter Group
Powell, Robert H, Jr The 8111ellOS( Bastards
of Bodney, Taylor, Texas, 1990
Ivie, Thomas G 352d Fighter Group (Osprey
Aviation Elite series No.8) Osprey
Publishing, Oxford, 2002
353d Fighter Group
Rust, K The Slyblrd GrQup, Aero Publishers,
California, 1968
Cross, GEJonah's Fret Dry, Thunderbolt
Publishing, Suffolk, 2001
Price, Bill Close Calls, Aviation Usk,
Washington, 1992
35Sth Fighter Group
Marshall Be Angels, Bulldogs (S Dragons,
Champlin Fighter Museum, Arizona, 1984
Wells, K Sleeple Morden Straftrs J943-15,
Egon, Herts, 1994
Wells, K Will/peys to Muslfwgs, East Anglia
Books, Herts, 1999
356th Fighter Group
J\1.illcr, Kent 0 Eswrt, Acadl,.'ffiY, Indiana, 1985
357th Fighter Group
Olmsted, M The 357th Over Phalanx,
Minnesota, 199'!-
Rust, K The YoxfOrd Boys, Aero Publishers,
California, 1971
Roeder,] The 3571h Fig/atr Group,
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carollton,
359th Fighter Group
Smith, Jack H 359,h Fighur Croup (Osprey
A'iiation Elite series No. 10) Osprey
Publishing, Oxford, 2002
Muslangs f5 U"icorns: A His/ory ofthe
J59/h Fighler Group, Pictorial Histories
Publishing Co., Mont.lIu, 199i
Miller, Kent D Jigger, Tinplalr a"d Retkross,
Academy, Indiana, 198i
361st Fighter Group
Gons, S LillIe Friends, Taylor, Texas, 1993
Con, Paul B Yellowjacke/s.', Schiffer
Publishing Lid., Altglen, 2002
364th Fighter Group
Joiner, 0 W (Ed) The flis/ory ofl/'( 1641/'
F((hur Croup, Walswonh, Missouri, 1991
479th Fighter Group
No n.:·ccntly published histOry.
1st Fighter Group
MullIins, John D An Esa/fl of P-38s, Phalam,
Minnesota, 1995
31st Fighter Group
Kucctna, DC In a Now Forgo/un Sky, Flying
Machines Press, Connecticut, 1997
79th Fighter Group
Wocrpcl, D In a floslile Sky, Schiffcr
Publishing Lid., Alrglen, 2001
52d Fighter Group
Burke, LG and Cunis, RC American Beagle
Squadron (2nd PS), Amcrican Beagle
Squadron Association, Maryland, 1987
82d Fighter Group
Blake, S Ad(Jnmini (Up and AI 'Em.'), 82nd
Fighter Group HislOry Lnc., Idaho, 1992
325th Fighter Group
.\kDoweJl, E Chukmnils, Squadron/Signal
Publications., CarolllOn, 199-1
.\oJcdowell with Hess, H The eftuJurlail Clan,
Acro Publishing, California, 1969
353d Fighter Group
.\'liller, Kent D Sroen MomhJ Europt,
Miller, Ohio, 1989
354th Fighter Group
(Anon) HiSlory in the Sky, 1aylor, Texas, 1992
:'\css., WH 15.j//' Fighter Croup (Osprey
Aviation Elire series 7) Osprcy
Publishing, Oxford, 2002

Many lhanks 10 lhe following indi"iduals and
organizalions that helped this project reach
fruition: GaslOn BemaJ, Jr of Aero!\"lasrcr;
Accurate Miniatures; Qaudinc OJ.andy of
Account:ability; Tom Frisquc of Aviation Us!.:;
Humbrol LId; K(,."Im Nunn of Brigade .Models;
Brian Marsh; Binney & Smith (Rcn:ll-Mono-
gram); Lynn Sangster of Hisloro: Agents (UK
represenrarins for Verlindcn J)roductions);
Thierry Decker for his P-40L profile; Alan
Griffith from [h"id Klaus and Soon
Battisroni from Meteor Productions; Lewis Naa:
from Tesoor; Dana Bell; and all the modelers
whose kits appear in The Galk'ry chapter - Ouis
Wauchop, Darren MOllram, and .Mid. E,=
Finally, a s:pecial thank you to Brett Green..
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