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At the beginning of WWII, the P-39 was one of the principal fighter aircraft of the US Army Air Corps. It was unusual in the fact that the engine, an Allison 12 cylinder in line, water cooled engine, was installed behind the pilot and drove a propeller shaft that was located between the pilot's legs. This allowed a large of armament to be located in the nose, including a 37mm cannon. In addition, it was the first US fighter that had a tricycle landing gear arrangement rather than a tail wheel. The initial version was equipped with a 2 stage turbosupercharger, which gave it a very high top speed at the time. Britain made a large order, but stipulated the design without the turbosupercharger. This severely hampered its performance at high altitude. The British were disappointed at the high altitude performance and cancelled the order. The US kept a large percentage of the order, designating them as P-400's. The P-39 was outclassed by the P-38 and later fighters in the US inventory. The Soviets, on the other hand, loved the aircraft and used it as a ground attack aircraft.


The Kit

Kitty Hawk released this kit in 2015 and looking at the sprues, it is quite well done. Panel lines and rivets are much more subtle than the Trumpeter Wildcat I just finished. The level of detail is very high and it comes complete with a very detailed engine and cockpit as well as aft interior fuselage and nose armament bay. The kit has provisions to install either the 20mm or 37mm cannon. The instructions are a little unclear when it comes to wing armament. It looks like they are adding the .50 caliber gun pod as well as the two M1919 .30 cal machine guns. The two were never used together. It was either one or the other.

I won this kit in a model contest raffle and when I opened it (it was an open box), included was an extensive amount of Eduard Photoetch and some really excellent resin wheels and brass gun barrels. I have never been one to use PE or lots of resin, opting to scratch build instead,  but given that it is already included I will use some of it to save me some detailing time..........wait..........did I actually just say that?


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