The P-40 was a pre-war design based on the earlier P-36 that was adapted and improved to give a good turn of speed, a stable gun platform and the agility to allow it to enter into service with the US Army Air Force as it was known at the time. Improvements continued until the E-model entered service with a more powerful Allinson engine, extra guns and bomb shackles under the wings of some. It saw action mostly in the desert and Far East where the more delicate thoroughbreds at the leading edge of technology might have stumbled due to the conditions. The K was a similar aircraft with a more advanced Allinson engine and a curved fin fillet to stabilise the aircraft due to the additional torque of the engine. The E was known as the Kittyhawk Mk.IA, while the K was the Kittyhawk Mk.III in foreign service, with many Allied air forces, including Britain, the Soviet Union, Canada and China. Over 13,000 of all variants were built, and the aircraft served until the end of the war. It was a much-loved workhorse that flew well that could take a lot of punishment and still bring the pilot home to fight another day.
This is a reissue of the old AMT moulds that were later amended and issued by AMTech, and now by Italeri. The resin tail of the original AMTech release is gone, and supplanted by injection moulded parts, but the plastic is still basically the same. It arrives in a flat, top opening box with a dynamic painting of one of the decal subjects on the front, and inside are four sprues of a light grey styrene, plus one of clear parts. Decals and instruction booklet complete the fairly lightly packed box, with the painting and markings guide on the rear pages. There is a fair amount of flash evident on the sprues, but this hasn't crept onto the parts much with the exception of Sprue C. The originator's logo has been machined off the sprues, but having an AMTech kit in stock, a quick comparison showed the same odd lumps on the fuselage sides, and identical sprues and parts breakdown as the earlier kit. The main differences are in the provision of the injection tail, and pilot's armoured panel.
The kit is broken down to allow the construction of many different marks by the provision of additional parts that explains the odd shape of sprue M, with evidence of cut-off gates on the tooling to allow other variants to be "dialled in" during production. The fuselage has cut-marks to remove the tail, and the engine cowling has inserts for different panels and exhaust configurations. Two instrument panels are also included, and here the detail is rather nice given the age of the moulding. Overall, the fuselage is a little bumpy in places, and will need 5-10 minutes of tidy-up work before you take it any further, but it's nothing that should cause any gnashing of teeth to all but the laziest of modellers! Cut the tail carefully and marry up the parts flat on the desk to prevent any seam issues, and you should be good to go. The same goes for the exhaust panels - check them for fit and adjust thicknesses for the best fit to avoid any tricky sanding work later.
The build commences with the cockpit, and immediately you must choose the E or K1 instrument panel layout. There aren't any instrument panel decals, so you'll need to pick up some Airscale individual decals to truly do it justice, but your efforts will be rewarded due to the nice moulding. The rudder pedals are about the roughest part of the kit, but if it concerns you, you could either knock-up your own from strip, or indulge yourself with an aftermarket set such as those by Eduard, which are reviewed here. The single part seat attaches to the armour part, which has a set of belts moulded in, although there are decals included, so these will need removal if you plan to use them, as they differ in shape. The belt decals are among the nicest I've seen, but as usual, they lack the third dimension of aftermarket PE or fabric. Sidewall panels are pretty well done for the era, although one section has a sink mark evident on my sample. Careful painting or the ministrations of a PE set will result in a nicely decked out 'pit.
A small intake assembly with splitter and triple circular filters is built up and sandwiched between the fuselage halves along with an axle for the prop. You are incited to put the K's separate tail on after the fuselage is joined, but I've already expounded my take on the job, so I'll not drone on about it. Have I forgotten the cockpit? Nope - it can be installed from underneath before the wings are added. The cowling panels and their exhaust pipes are added next, and you can't leave off the outlets until later, as they're added from inside. Paint & mask the exhausts and you'll be ok though, and remember to test fit the panels before resorting to glue. Drop the cockpit in from the underside, and you're ready to install the wings.
The lower wing is full span, and you will need to open up some holes in the underside if you're planning on adding any ordnance. The upper wings are in halves, and include some rib detail where the gear bay apertures are. There's a little mould damage in the port upper wing that runs through the inner skin, but doesn't affect the rib detail (which is odd), so you'll need to get a narrow sanding stick, or scrape it away with a sharp blade to make good, unless of course you intend removing it and installing something more dainty. The wings mate with the fuselage and a single piece representing the four cowling flaps is added in the resulting gap behind the lower part of the engine cowling. These could be better, but they are typical of their day. The prominent "knee-caps" on the leading edge of the wings are moulded separately, and the small bay doors are added to the sides of the leg well, with two small doors on the retractable tail wheel, which sits in a shallow well that is inaccurate both in its depth and blankness. It's up to you what to do about that - I'm not going there!
You can add a pair of small bombs and their mounting crutches to the wing outboard of the landing gear, and/or a long-range fuel tank, which also has four mounting braces that fit into corresponding holes/depressions in the lower wing and top of the two-part tank. The landing gear is a simple strut with retraction jack moulded in, and the wheels are quite bland, apart from the block tread moulded into the tyre. The detail on the hubs is quite soft, and lacks any weighting on the tyre, but that's not hard to replicate with a coarse sanding stick. Glazing is added separately at the end of the build, which might not be such a good idea if you want a more realistic integrated look to the paint-job. The main glazing is pleasantly clear and thin, but the rear-view scalloped panels are a little pebbly and could do with improving. As to the colour of the scalloped panels behind them, that's a whole 'nother argument, and I'm not getting involved! The prop is a three bladed moulding with the spinner made from front and back plate. Maker's markings are supplied for each blade with always improves the look, and you'll need to mask off the yellow tips yourself.
There are six options on the large and attractive sheet, which is printed for Italeri by Cartograf, so quality is excellent. There are three options each for the E and K variants, so you will need to choose at least which mark you will portray at the very first step of the build. A separate half-page shows the common stencils, and each airframe has a half-page greyscale four-way drawing to show decal and painting options. From the box you can build one of the following:
- Kittyhawk Mk.I RCAF 111 Sq., Anchorage (Alaska) 1942 - Dark Green/Dark Earth over Sky
- Kittyhawk III RAF 112 Sq. Cutella, Italy 1944 - Dark Earth/Middle Stone over Azure Blue, shark mouth on lower engine cowling
- P-40E Colonel John "Jack" Chennault, USAAC 43rd FG, 1st FS, Kiska, Aleutian Islands, 1942 - Olive Drab over Neutral Grey, with white theatre stripes on the fuselage/tail and large stylised tiger head on the nose cowling
- P-40K Captain J Fink, USAAC 54th FG, 57th FS, Adak, Aleutian Islands, 1942 - Olive Drab over Neutral Grey, wolf-head motif on lower engine cowling and AMY on the starboard upper cowling
- P-40E Capt. Nelson D Flack Jr., USAAC, 49th FG, 8th FS, Debodura, New Guinea, 1943 - Dark Earth/Dark Green over Sky, Ana May with eagle on lower engine cowling
- P-40K USAAC, 57th FG, 64th FS, North Africa 1943 - Sand over Neutral Grey, Winged skull "death on wings" on port lower engine cowling, Scorpion motif on tail
Decals are crisp, with good registration, colour density and sharpness, even at magnification.
It's not the latest tooling, but it is a basically sound tooling that is worthy of a look by anyone looking for a later mark Kittyhawk with a good outline and plenty of scope for detail. The decal sheet is a tour de force, giving a wide range of marking options from Canadian, British an US operators, with six colourful choices. There is an antenna mast behind the cockpit, but the side-view drawings show the antenna strung from the tail to the outer wings, so you'll need to do a little digging to find which is correct for your option before you commit yourself.
Available from all good model shops.