Yet another rebox of a familiar kit from Hasegawa. This time we're treated to two P-38s with limited edition "European Theater” decals representing the early H model "Texas Ranger" flown by Lt. Col Jack Jenkins and a J model "Jenne" flown by Capt. Roy Scrutchfield. The later regalia is very familiar to those of us who built the Monogram kit from years ago.
The kits are old Hasegawa molds with raised panel lines and basic cockpits but they still look good. To maximize the molds, Hasegawa lets the builder do the surgery to convert the as molded J variant into an H. That is facilitated by an indented section on the backside of the nacelles guiding where the cut should be. Once I cut those away I found the new nacelle parts didn't quite line up and I had to resort to some plastic card and putty to blend it all in. I've built several P-38s and always approach blending seams and gaps on the subassemblies before bringing it all together. These kits were no different, I cleaned up the booms and center section before completing the airframe. The one-piece horizontal stabilizer was the best fitting part of the kits. The main gear legs get trapped in the booms so you should be very cautious not to break them while assembling everything, like I did several times!
Basic is the best way to describe the cockpit. You get a seat and control wheel. Decals are provided for the instrument panels. I used the pilot figures in the kits so no seatbelts were needed. The instructions also call out some panel line mods to remove the dive flap from the early versions underwing. This flap on the J version was installed to solve a compressibility issue that could prevent the pilot from pulling out of a dive at high speed. Another nice part of having two kits is the additional canopies. Because the H and J models had different canopy shapes the extras are perfect for covering the cockpit during the painting process.
Once everything was primed and I was satisfied with the joints, it was time to hit the paint booth. The H model gets an olive drab over grey and the J is natural metal with yellow spinners and OD antiglare panels. Starting with the H, I used Model Master 2050 Olive Drab and FS36270 Neutral Grey. For the J model I airbrushed Alclad Polished Aluminum over a Tamiya spray lacquer semi-gloss black that I decanted and also airbrushed. The yellow bands and spinners on the J are Tamiya yellow decanted and airbrushed as well.
The decal sheet is beautifully printed and provides anti-glare panels and a white band for "Jenne". Also provided are a full array of stencils and even the formation lights and polished areas on the inside of the nacelles to see gear position. I found the decals went down easy and conformed to the surface with a little Solvaset. The only problems I had were the antiglare panel decals are multi-piece and they align in a way that gaps remain between them requiring the modeler to match the color to cover the gaps. I ended up over-painting them with the olive drab color I used on the H model.
Perhaps the biggest gripe of these builds were the canopies. The pour gates join the clear parts on the side windows making it very difficult to fix (I didn't), especially considering the fine framing detail on those panels. They also require some file work to make them sit right over the cockpit openings.
For the finishing touches I decided to portray the early model clean with no underwing stores and fully load the J model with drop tanks and rockets. Be careful with the prop installation. The P-38 props turned in opposite directions to counteract torque and building two kits at the same time makes it more likely to be a problem. Some stretched sprue antennas finished my "Fork Tailed Devil" duo.
In conclusion, Hasagawa has put a nice combo together here. Although these are not state of the art compared to what's out there now, you can make a couple nice Lightings right out of the box. I found it interesting to build the models side by side comparing the modifications that operational experience required. I think the early Lightings were much more attractive with their smoothly contoured nacelles and rounded windscreens. Engine overheating and pilot protection required changes to the design reflected in the later J model. As good as they are, I wouldn’t recommend these kits for beginners. If you have experience with filling gaps these kits will not give you much trouble. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, I would rate this boxing an 8. The mark down for a work intensive modification to build the early version and casting gate on the canopy parts.
As always, thank you to Hobbico for providing the sample and to the IPMS Review Corps.