The Curtiss P-40 was one of the unsung fighters of the Second World War, being overshadowed by the P-51, P-47 and P-38, but it was a very important aircraft and was one of the first fighters to take Americans into combat during the Second World War. Developed from the Curtiss Hawk family, the P-40's biggest change was switching from a radial engine to an inline engine. This streamlined the nose considerably, while the differences in cooling requirements resulted in the trademark chin scoop. The P-40 saw extensive use with the British and the Soviets as well as the US.
While kits of later marks of the P-40 are in fair abundance, there has been few kits of the early P-40B/C & Tomahawk. For the longest time the only plastic kit of this famous type was the old Frog kit, which suffered in the accuracy department. The Academy kit wasn't much better, and so 1/72 modelers had to either consider converting the old Monogram P-36 or just not have an accurate early P-40. AML has come to the rescue with this latest release. Molded in an olive green plastic, with this kit we finally have a decent early P-40 in 1/72 scale.
In addition to the plastic parts this kit comes with a good selection of resin details as well as a fret of brass photoetch. This combination will result in a nicely detailed kit, but it also means that the assembly won't be simple. The cockpit is pretty much entirely brass and resin, which will result in a stunning cockpit when it's painted and weathered. The clear vacuformed canopy will show it all off quite well. Other bits that will fit to the fuselage halves include separate exhaust stacks, a tailwheel well insert, and a resin chin scoop piece that is very well done.
Once you've got the fuselage buttoned up the rest of the construction is straightforward. The wings are split into a one-piece lower wing and two upper halves. Wheelwell detail is provided by a resin piece that fits on top of the wheel opening. There are different styles of pitot tubes and gun arrangements depending on which decal option you choose, so you'll want to pick your choice early. The tailplanes are molded solid in right and left pieces, with a flat joint to the fuselage. On the underside there are separate cowl flaps and fuselage pieces to make up the belly of the fuselage. Finally, the propeller is made up from separate blades and a two-piece hub.
The decals in this kit are impressive, mainly because they come with a full color instruction set. There's a total of three aircraft included, two US and one British. The British example is a Tomahawk Mk. I of 26 Squadron in England, 1941. It's finished in dark green and dark earth over medium sea gray, with the underside of one wing painted black. Both of the US examples are olive drab over neutral gray, with one being a sharkmouthed example from the 54th Pursuit Group in 1942 and the other one having a red/white striped rudder dating from 1940, being from the 55th Pursuit Squadron out of Hamilton Field, California. The decals are very well printed with excellent color and a good set of stencilling.
For those who were wondering if the AML P-40 was going to be based off of their earlier Hawk 75 rest assured that this is a completely different kit, and is an excellent companion piece to these earlier releases. You can now retire those Frog and Academy kits and finally build the complete Hawk 75/P-40 family.