It is surprising at how poorly kitted the P-40 in 1/72 has been over the years. There have been gaps in the line for a long time and we're still waiting for a decent P-40B/C. The P-40 family underwent quite a few changes throughout its life, resulting in some subtly different looks between the versions. The P-40K was the first P-40 variant to have an engine rated at over 1,300hp, receiving the Allison V-1710-73 engine. This was mated to a straight P-40E airframe with the short fuselage. Longitudinal stability was a problem, though, so in the initial batch of P-40Ks a fillet was added to the leading edge of the vertical tail. Later this was abandoned in favor of lengthening the rear fuselage, a feature found on many P-40Fs, about half of the P-40Ks, nearly all of the P-40Ls, and on all the P-40Ms and P-40Ns. Interestingly, one of the designers thought that the stability problem was actually being caused by hot air spilling out of the chin scoop and causing turbulence over the wing, but this idea was never tested.
The P-40K served in both the US and British service, with the British examples being labeled the Kittyhawk III (along with the P-40M). Around 1,300 were built in four batches, with the first two batches having the short fuselage & fillet.
While there's a fairly good variety of P-40 kits out there in 1/72, surprisingly this is the only P-40K kit available. This was originally released under the Vista name, but Smer has purchased the molds and is now producing the kit. It has also been seen under the Revell-Germany label (I think). This release is molded in a light gray plastic and the parts are surprisingly flash-free. Panel lines are recessed, although they are a bit soft. The canopy is injection-molded and is molded in the shut position. This is probably a good thing, as the interior is pretty basic.
So what do you get for the insides? A floor, stick, rudder pedals, seat and instrument panel. These all give an interpretation of the cockpit rather than what it actually looks like, and if you're a detail freak you'll want to get an aftermarket set. Since the P-40K is built off of the P-40E you could probably use a resin set for the P-40E without much hassle. This would add a lot to the finished model, although with some work with plastic card and sandpaper you could do a decent job with the kit pieces.
The fuselage is molded in right and left halves and does a decent job of capturing the look of the short-fuselage P-40K with fin fillet. Comparing it to drawings in the Detail & Scale the fuselage is pretty much spot on, although the rudder is a bit broad. A couple swipes with some sandpaper should take care of that. The exhaust stacks are separate and will need to be cleaned up some and for those more skilled, hollowed out.
Once the fuselage is finished up, it's time to turn to the wings. These match up to the drawings in Detail & Scale pretty closely, so you don't have to worry about changing shape with these parts. The lower wing is molded as one piece, and incorporates the cowl flaps. These are somewhat soft in molding, though, and it might be better to shave those off and replace them with plastic card. The instructions also point out that you have to remove a bump from the lower left wing. The fit to the fuselage looks good, although there may be a bit of work needed on the trailing edge of the wing where it meets the fuselage centerline. Speaking of trailing edges, the wings could probably use a bit of thinning. The stabilizers are one piece and could use a bit of sanding on the trailing edge to round them off, but for the most part they're spot on.
The landing gear is decently done and really only needs a couple bits of plumbing to round them out. One nice feature about these is the wheels are molded separately from the tires, making painting much easier. The shape of the strut bump around the leading edge of the wing is a bit suspect and will probably need some work to look right, and the tailwheel doors are a bit thick. A piece of plastic card will take care of the latter and a bit of putty will cure the former, though.
The decals are a nice point in this kit, printed by Propagteam and up to their usual standards. You get three choices in the kit, one British, one US and one Soviet. The British one is the boxtop example, finished in dark earth and middlestone over azure blue and sporting a sharkmouth. The US example also harkens from the desert, being finished in desert pink over azure blue. This one features artwork on the chin of a scorpion on a cloud. The Soviet example has an interesting camouflage of dark green and dark earth over sky, with 17 kill markings on the left side. The registration is spot on and the colors are excellent.
While this isn't the best P-40 kit, it is the only P-40K kit out there and with a bit of work it can turn into a very nice looking model. The choice of markings in the kit offer some interesting options and the leftovers can be used on a suitably modified Academy P-40E. If you're itching to build a P-40K grab this kit and a couple references and enjoy the voyage.