The Airfix 1/48 P-40B: Scale Modeling’s Holy Grail?

I could write a lot of blah blah about the history of 1/48 scale P-40Bs, but if you care about the topic, you already know. So I’ll get right to the point.

This is the one.

I’ve read a lot of descriptions, all good, about this kit. When I opened the box and pulled the sprues out of the plastic bag, my first thought was “everyone undersold it.” It’s not good. It’s not quite good. It is fantastic.

When I felt the plastic, I knew Airfix had stepped their game up a lot. This is more of the quality plastic you expect from Hasegawa or Eduard or someone like that. Much harder, much smoother. The improved quality of plastic means much, much sharper detail.

The best way I can describe it to to compare it to the progression that has been made since Hornby took over Airfix. If you recall the first Spitfire Mk. I they released (a holdover from the “old” Airfix), it was very soft, thick, and a bit clunky. Then they came out with the Sptifre Mk. XII/Seafire XVII, and there was a marked improvement. Then along comes the Spitfire Mk. Vb, Hurricane Mk. I, and the Defiant. Another marked improvement.

I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say this improvement in plastic quality and casting is a bigger jump than any of those were. For all the folks who yearn for the Spitfire Mk. 22/24 type quality- it’s here in this P-40.

The only thing some folks may still have a few complaints about is the panel lines. These are the sharpest and finest on any new Airfix kit. It’s not quite as fine as Eduard, but quite honestly I believe the majority of modelers will be quite happy with these. If anyone calls them trenches- honestly, they’re probably the sort that won’t ever be pleased.

You can look at the photos and see some of the details, but here are some highlights I noticed:

  • Square backed and round seats are included, with the appropriate mounting frames for each
  • The instrument panel is very nice- it actually has raised detail in the instrument faces
  • The sidewall detail is superb
  • Many people have made a big to-do about the so called “nun’s hat” on the underside. I’ll not make a habit of doing that. It looks good.
  • The fuselage interior is full of ribs- expect some nice aftermarket folks to take advantage of that
  • The landing gear doors and struts look very good
  • The decal set includes placards for the cockpit
  • The wheel wells have the “canvas” liner molded in. (There is an ejector pin mark in the middle.)
  • The cockpit floor is gorgeous
  • Ailerons are cast into the lower wing part, so there will be some appearance of separation in the upper wing. I think this is a very nice way of doing it.
  • Rudder and elevator parts are separate
  • Parts for a wheels up option are included
  • Decals by Cartograph
  • The clear parts are very clear and reasonably thin
  • And there’s more….

This kit is excellent. If this is the bar Airfix has set for themselves, I will be ecstatic. This bodes well for future releases.

You can buy this kit with confidence. There is no other 1/48 scale P-40B that comes even close to this one. I’m glad I built and sold all my older kits of this aircraft.

Now it’s time to see how this baby goes together!


2 responses to “The Airfix 1/48 P-40B: Scale Modeling’s Holy Grail?”

  1. Sounds and looks like a winner, Jon! Thanks for the report.


  2. Well, looks like there’s another group of kits out the door. Maybe the “stash” will get smaller this way? Nahhh!!!


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