W.I.P.: P40B - TOMAHAWK - FLYING TIGER (Airfix 1/72)

Hello everyone!
I'll show you through the whole building process of the excellent Airfix kit of a Curtiss 81A-2 or best known as the famous P40B. This aircraft became a legend after being used by the American Volunteers Group (AVG) in China circa 1941-42, in combat against the Japanese forces. This group was later known as the Flying Tiger.
Flying Tigers emblem was designed by Disney Studios

During this period, the China government gave a scarf for every pilot fighting in China called "Blood Chit" and was written in Chinese characters the following: "This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him".
Blood Chit issued to AVG members (R. E. Baldwin Collection, via Wikipedia)

I'll try to represent the aircraft flown by Flight Leader Charles "Chuck" Older, squadron leader of the 3rd Squadron called "Hell Angels", his plane was the "white 68".

3rd Squadron Hells Angels Squadron Leader, Flight Leader Charles H. Older.

R. T. Smith posing in front of Charles Older's aircraft.
2nd aircraft in the row is #68 being refueled.
In this photo taken by R.T.Smith on the 28th May 1942 near Salween River Gorge, we can see: #68 flown by Arvid Olson, #46 flown by Bob Prescot, #49 flown by Tom Hayward, #24 flown by Ken Jernstedt, and #74 flown by Link Laughlin (B. Smith).
This photograph was taken by Robert T. Smith in #77, on 28th May 1942. The shot includes: #68 flown by Arvid Olson, #46 flown by Bob Prescot and #24 flown by Ken Jernstedt (B. Smith).
#68 showing the starboard side.
Flight leader Robert "Duke" Hedman in Tomahawk #68 in 25th December 1941. He was accredited with destroying 4 x Ki-21 "Sallys" and 1x Ki-43 "Oscar" on this date, thus becoming America's first "Ace in a day".

Cockpit detail of #68.

Flight Leader Bill Reed from the 3rdSq. Hells Angels, posing in front of #68 starboard (note tiger emblem green background).

For this project I'll use the excellent Airfix A01003 Curtis Hawk 81A-2 in 1/72nd scale.

Box front.
Box back and painting scheme.
Decal sheet for one version only but lots os stencils provided.

Clear parts for closed canopy only

Instruction sheet #1/4

Instruction sheet #2/4

Instruction sheet #3/4

Instruction sheet #4/4

Sprue A

Sprue B

Detail under wings

Nicely done engraved panel lines.

The overall fit seems to be very good.

Beginning with the cockpit interior. I've painted all interior parts (cockpit, wheel's bays, etc) in Interior Green, since I use acrylics Tamiya Paints, I've mixed 1 part XF3 (Yellow) + 1 part XF5 (Green) for my interior green. I airbrushed all the parts and after dry, I brush painted details with XF1 (Flat Black) and let it completely dry before giving it a coat of Tamiya Panel Accent Wash (brown). Removed the excess after dried using Tamiya thinner X20 and a brush.

Cockpit walls painted interior green (XF3:1+XF5:1) and details picked with XF1.

Details of the decal for the instruments panel. I did change the manual hydraulic pump lever to suit the scale.

This is the kit original seat, after reviewing my references I've noticed that the seat wasn't round but flat on top (see the photography showing the #68 cockpit detail above).

Here is the seat corrected. The instruction calls for interior green for the seat, but all my references shows an aluminium colour instead. I've painted using XF16 (Flat Aluminium).

I've done some weathering by dry brushing with aluminium. I've also picked the 2 front .50 machine guns stocks over the panel sides.

I've added an Eduard PE seat belts.

USAF WWII Eduard PE seat belts in place.

Joined the fuselage halves and little was to put putty on. The exception is the gap just behind the seat and I still need to remove putty to place the head rest.

Another view showing how good the joints are. Almost no putty was used.
I've glued the wings in place. Very nice fit with not much filling needed.

Next I moved to the spinner. It is missing the panel lines since this piece is made of three parts, the bottom and middle section connects to sandwich the propellers, and then the top.

I've used a very simple technique, just place a micro saw between a book to the desired height and than move the part against the blade.

Move the blade to another height and repeat the process. Simple like that!

Here is the final part.

I've added the cooling slats, the kit has the option for open (that I've chosen) or closed.

I also installed the radiator cover. It required a little bit of putty, but nothing to scare!

Here is the motor cover in place, a little bit of sanding to match the parts.

I've also decided to open the exhausts. It is a very simple thing to do with micro drills and it really enhances the model appearance.

On the left side is the part with the holes opened and on the right is the original part.

I've worked on painting (Tamiya Matt Brown) some parts here the exhausts and the tires hub, I've just used the colour that was in the airbrush here since there is a decal covering everything.

Painted the tires using Tamiya Rubber Tires.

The propeller received a first cover of Tamiya Matt Yellow (XF3), then it will be masked off to paint with Matt Black.

Corrected the rudder horn

Another view of the horn

Inserted the needles "machine guns" in the nose...

... and the wings

Just a "mug" photo :)

Pre-shade done, model is read for painting, underside .....

.... and upper side 

Landing gear painted, using Tamyia XF19 Sky Grey

Painted the disc breaker in XF19 Sky Grey

Propeller painted in XF1 matt Black

Wheels centre come in a separated piece which helps to paint and detail, in this case the decals is in place
Now I'll weather the sub-assemblies and start thinking about the painting.

The exhausts were painted and treated with several layers of MIG pigments (rust, yellow ochre, etc) until I was happy with the results
The wheel's centre washed with Tamiya Panel Accent

The propeller received a drybrush with aluminium and then I put the decal on. Still need to give it a matt coat. After matt coating the propeller I've noticed that the Curtis logo is upside down, so I recommend you to cut it off the decal and place it correctly (Triangle point facing upwards the propeller).
Main landing gear had a wash and the hydraulic line for the brakes added from stretched sprue
The main wheels and the tail wheel received a heavily weathering with MIG pigments to represent mud and earth (as can be observed in the various photos above)

Now I'm starting to think about the painting.

I read the excellent article made by my friend Rogério "Rato" Marczak on his building of an AVG P40 (PS: You can read the full article on the Fine Scale Modeler Magazine issue September 2014), but he also did a study on the AVG colours in his website (check the full article here: http://ratomodeling.com/articles/AVG_cammo/ ) and I saw that Airfix did a good job and the colour references which are pretty correct, at least for a factory fresh plane. But I want to represent mine worn and weathered.

So I started to mix some paint (all Tamiya acrylics).

In my first attempt the colours were not so great, see the photo below.

Talking with "Rato" he suggested me to start with the recommended colours from Airfix colour chart, in this case Humbrol indications. I used a colours chart that I've downloaded from the internet many moons ago (I don't know the author, sorry!).

Airfix indicates Humbrol 119 for the Brown (71009) the Tamiya equivalent is XF52, but when I sprayed it was too dark (see the second row brown from the bottom), so I added a few drops of X6 orange and I was happy with the result (see the last brown row on the photo below).

Airfix indicates Humbrol 116 for the Green (71013) the Tamiya equivalent would be XF65, but when I sprayed it was again too dark (see the second row green from the bottom), so I added a few drops of XF5 green and I was happy with the result (see the last green row on the photo below).

Airfix indicates Humbrol 28 for the Grey (71021) but there is no Tamiya equivalent , I started with XF19 sky grey that seemed to be a good me to me, but it was also too dark when sprayed (see the second row grey from the bottom), so I added a few (lots) drops of XF2 white and I was happy with the result (see the last grey row on the photo below).

My painting experiments: Top my first attempt trying to mix it, too dark and off. The bottom rows shows my attempts using the equivalent Tamiya colours for the recommended Humbrol colours, the second row from the bottom is the Tamiya equivalent, the last row are my mixes.
As a result of my experiments, here is what I going to use:

Green (DuPont 71013) = 5:XF65+2:XF5

DuPont 71013 using Tamiya mix
Brown (DuPont 71009) = 6:X6+5:XF52+3:XF3+1:XF57

DuPont 71009 using Tamiya mix
Grey (DuPont 71021) = 8:XF2+5:XF19

DuPont 71021 using Tamiya mix

The following photo is to show how my mix compared with the suggested Airfix colour chart. I was please with the result!

Here how the mix of colours stands against the Airfix instructions

I came downwards with colours choices. After posting this building in the Britmodeller forum I got a feedback from a user telling me that the colours were wrong, and he even pointed me out to a website with all the research he did about the correct colours for AVG first P40's. In a nutshell that is what it is:
His research found a original Du Pont 71 Line Colours to match catalog

Here a photo of the paint chips

Here is how the 71-0121 compares against Sky Grey and Sky, pretty different!

Here is my representation of the 71-021 mixed using Tamiya Acrylics (it looks lighter on the real thing)

He also points the existence of two shades of brown but he also proves why the 71-009 is likely to be the one. Another interesting note is in regards how chalky these colours faded

My representation of 71-009 mixed using Tamiya acrylics, besides looking better in the real thing, I'll also give it a weathering using Buff XF-57 to achieve the chalky aspect of the planes

Here is my representation of the 71-013 using Tamiya acrylics

Here is how my new colours stand against the intruction sheet

Time to put some paint on the model, the coats of 71-021

Another view of the underside painted with my mix of 71-021

Keep it safe! Underside masked and ready to paint. The blue tape is just to allow me to hold the model for painting

Base coat of my representation of 71-009 following my mix of Tamiya acrylics: 4*XF49+4*XF2+1*XF65+1*XF9

It looks good and it looks weary

I'm waiting to paint really dries before deciding whether I'll apply another coat with a lighter shade or not.

I did prepare the glazier to be painted, now they are ready to get a coat of interior green first and than the camouflage colour.
Starboard side glazier panel

Port side glazier panel

Canopy masked and ready to receive paint

I've decided to give it another thin coat of paint a little lighter in colour than the previous. I sprayed randomly across the model. I also painted the spinner with this mix.

Port side showing the overall colour and also a patch of fresh colour applied just behind the side glazier panel (as can be seen in one of the #68 photo above)

Starboard side showing the painted surface

Going green!
I was able to work on the model and to do the difficult task to mask it off, done the pre-shading with XF1 Black and painted with my green mixture for the 71-013 using Tamiya acrylics (9*XF65+3*XF61+3*XF2). After painting the base colour I added five parts of XF2 White and sprayed it all over the model in a random way.

It was painful to do the masking using Tamiya tape but I did survive :)

Starboard side with the intricate camo design

Finally displaying her full colour

I liked the weathered look I achieved

I'll need to do some retouches to both the brown and the green painting, but this will only add more character to the model I reckon!

The Future is bright!
I did apply several thin coats of Future=Pledge thinned 1:1 with Tamiya thinner X20A to prepare the model for washes and decals.

Underside with Future applied

Top side with Future applied

Underside decals in place. There is some nice small stencil decals in place if you look closely!

Upper side decals in place (or almost)!

When I started on the decals for the upper surface, I decided to check my references and see if the positioning was correct and I was surprised to notice that the "Angel" emblem on the starboard side of the fuselage was wrong, see the photo below.

Difference between the Angel emblem in both sides of the fuselage

So, before moving ahead I need to find an alternative to fix it. Meanwhile I've decided to mask the canopy again since I've made a mistake with the front screen masking.

First I removed all the paint and re-coated with Future

Masked off with Tamiya tape

Now it is ready to be painted again!
 I decided to acquire a new P40 Airfix kit to use the decal (then I'll need to search for an aftermarket decal to make an American P40B, maybe from Pearl Harbour era :)
Next photos shows all the decal in place except for the Angel on the starboard side (still need to buy the kit).
Decals in place, they worked really good with Micro SET/SOL solution

I've used the red band decal instead of painting, worked brilliant!

Detail of the shark mouth, looks really angry!

Another detail that caught my attention was the inside of the shark mouth, checking my references again (the excellent: American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers" Aces, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces - 41) I found the following:
Here is a picture of the #68 starboard side (the number is partially visible, but the distinctive "Angel" girl is clear) showing the shark mouth. Note how the shark mouth in the photography doesn't follow the camouflaged area differentiation. The insight is from a profile showing this characteristic of the #68

I've decided to use Tamiya XF-23+XF2 to paint it. The reason I've chosen this colour is because this is close to the blue painted in the wheels cap. For me it makes sense for them to use the same colour inside the shark mouth and in the wheel cap instead sourcing for another paint colour.

Starboard side
I also re-touched the black, white and red to match the edges of the intake
The area in front of the air intake was also painted

Finally I got the decal for the starboard side. Since I'm using the Airfix decal #24 (just inverting it to face the correct direction), I tried to spread the figure's front leg a little bit to match the original painting. In the original the positioning of the thigh is up a little, but I just cut the decal about the knee level and repositioned the leg. It'll do the work.

Another coat of Future=Pledge was applied to the whole model in preparation for the wash and weathering.

After waiting for the Future to completely dry (overnight), I started with the washes and filters.
The underside is complete:

Let's finish it!
The upper surfaces weathering was made using pigments/pastel chalks besides washes and filters.
I also used a aluminium pencil to simulate chipping and scratches all over the plane.
After finished I did apply a coat of Matt Varnish from Vallejo diluted with water (1 paint : 8 water).
After the matt coat has dried completely I did more pastel chalks to simulate dust and also engine grime since the matt coat kill most of the effect.

weathering on the wing root, mostly aluminium chips and pigments mud

Another view of the weathering

 This version of the P40 have a very particular radio aerial arrangement with two cables connecting the rudder to the wing tips and one cable connecting the rudder to the middle of the fuselage fin, so I check my references to the correct location.
My reference is a book from MBI - P40. I don't read Czech so I just look the pictures :)

Here is the aerial in place. Also note the RAF style pitot tube on the port wing, Airfix indicates the wrong part (they have both RAF and US styles in the kit)

That's it for now!
To see better photos of the finished model click here:


Johenry said...

Olá Paulo,
Parabéns pelo belo artigo sobre o P-40 AVG! Gostaria de entrar em contato para divulgar a linha de produtos que estou lançando da marca Parabellum. Gostaria de enviar amostras para sua avaliaçào e um cheiro de Brasil ai pelo Outback.
Abraço e parabéns novamente pelo Blog!


Paulo R. Castro said...

Olá João
Já havia ouvido falar dos seus produtos. Será um prazer poder experimentá-los. Por favor entre em contato via email: castro.paulor"ARROBA"gmail.com



Pierre Baudru said...

Parabéns muito bom !

Paulo R. Castro said...

Muito obrigado Pierre!

Turibino Sanches said...

Excelente, parabéns..