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  1. P-400 Air A Cutie 1:48 Eduard Weekend Edition The P-39 was developed to meet a proposal in 1937 for a single engine high altitude interceptor having the tactical mission of interception and attack of hostile aircraft at high altitude. Specifications called for a level airspeed of 360mph at altitude, and a climb to 20,000 feet in under 6 minutes. Armament was to be heavy including a cannon, the engine was to be liquid cooled, and the aircraft was to feature a tricycle undercarriage. Bell had previously designed the YFM-1 Aracuda featuring a mid-fuselage mounted engine to free up space for a large calibre 37mm cannon which would fire through the propeller hub. This was unusual as fighters were normally designed around an engine, not a weapons system. The Bell XP-39 would make its maiden flight in April of 1938 reaching 20000 feet in 5 minutes and maintain 390 mph. However it was found that top speed at 20000 feet was lower than the original proposed 400 mph. Bell would change the aircraft configuration for production to remove the turbo charger so production aircraft were only fitted with a single-stage, single-speed supercharger. Its been argued that Bell did this to save money, though its been said that testing showed aerodynamic issues with it. As a result production aircraft performance declined above 12000 feet and it was never able to serve as a medium level let alone high level aircraft. The RAF ordered the aircraft based on the XP-39 specifications however limitations of the "new" aircraft became apparent, and despite modifications it never was deemed acceptable. Only one Squadron No. 601 would use the aircraft operationally. All UK based aircraft would be sent to Russia, along with aircraft being built under contract in the US. In contrast to the UK, the USSR appreciated the P-39, although they would use it primarily in the ground attack role. The tactical environment of the Eastern front suited a low speed, low altitude aircraft much better. As well as in ground attack the USSR developed successful group aerial fighting tactics for the aircraft. 5 out of the 10 high scoring Soviet aces scored a majority of kills flying P-39's. Contrary to popular myth the Soviets did not use the aircraft for Tank Busting as the US did not supply any armour piercing rounds for the aircraft. The US requisitioned 200 aircraft from an order based for the UK, they called these aircraft the P-400 as they were advertised with a top speed to 400mph. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour these aircraft were deployed to the South West Pacific. Despite being out classed by Japanese aircraft the aircraft excelled in the ground attack. Pilots would fight Zeros and the aircraft were fairly even in the low level environment. By the end of 1942 over 80 Japanese aircraft were credited. These aircraft would go onto fly from Aleutian Islands, and serve in the Panama Canal Zone. The 81st & 350th Fighter Groups would fly in the Mediterranean TO but mainly on maritime patrol missions. Later the 81st would transfer to the Burma TO. The Kit The Eduard Cobra kit has been with us for a while now but it is still up to their excellent standards. It is being re-issued here in a dual combo boxing with added photo etch and resin parts. The kit comes on 3 sprues each of olive drab plastic, and a clear sprue. Construction starts shockingly enough with the cockpit area. The prominent radio area behind the cockpit is the first area to be built up, and the radios installed. The bulkhead behind the pilots seat is then installed. The seat is then installed along with the instrument panel. The front gear well is attached to the front of the cockpit along with the propeller shaft. Weight is indicated to be needed in this area due to the tricycle undercarriage, however there is no indication of exactly how much is recommended! Once the cockpit/wheel well assembly is completed it can added to the fuselage, and the two parts closed up around it. Construction then moves onto the main wing. This is of a conventional single part lower with to which top left & right wings are added. The insides of the main wheel wells are added along with the oil coolers which are in the wing leading edge. The right inserts will need to be added depending on the armament of your chosen option. If the modeller is going to add underwing tanks or bombs, then the holes will need to be opened up at this point. Once the wings are completed they can be added to the main fuselage along with the tail planes. The last job on the wings is to complete the underside cooling vents. Construction then moves to the main landing gear. As mentioned at the start of the review two sets of brassin wheels are included in the kit. Once the wheels have been added to the model along with the multipart main gear doors and their actuators. Once the main wheels are completed the nose gear can also be constructed. The nose wheel and its gear doors are also added. If bombs or fuel tanks are to be fitted (and the modeller remembered to open up the locating holes before!) then these can be added at this point. The main canopy is then added (full canopy masks being provided) along with the engine exhausts and cockpit side doors. The final touches are to add the pitot probe, wing guns, and lastly to assemble the propeller. Different bosses are provided for the different armament options. Decals As seems to be the norm with their weekend kits these days two decal options are provided. P-400 AP287 "AIR A CUTIE" 36th FS, 8 FG, New Guinea, Nov 1943. P-400 91st FS / 81st FG, Tunisia, Feb 1942. Conclusion The Eduard Cobra has been a round for a while now and its good to see it has been released in a Weekend boxing. It is also good to see that the slightly forgotten use of these aircraft in the New Guimea and Mediterranean TO's are getting some attention. Some people might be offended by the nose art, but its what the aircraft flew with. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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