Grey Matter Aviation GMAC3202 - 1/32 Curtiss P-40F/L Merlin Conversion

 

 

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Grey Matter Aviation

GMAC3202 -  1/32 Curtiss P-40F/L Merlin Conversion

 

Maker: Grey Matter Aviation

Kit Part: GMAC3202

Parts: 17 parts in grey resin

Recommended kit: Hasegawa P-40E / Kittyhawk Mk.I /Mk.III (HSG08204)

Product Link: Here

 

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This month at Telford I saw an excellent 1/32 conversion kit for the Hasegawa P-40E. To convert the Hasegawa  model into a Merlin – engined P-40F/L kit, it was from the guys (with the friendliest stand and the highest ratio of women to men there) Grey Matter Aviation. This conversion has been long in the making and there has already been an excellent decal set from Zotz and a extended tail to fit them.

Packard Merlin engined P-40's were made to try and better the performance offered by the Allison engined variants. You can tell the difference by the lack of air scoop on the top of the cowling for the carburettor. These new Merlin single two-speed supercharger variants – called the "Warhawk" by the US and the "Kittyhawk II" had a longer fuselage by 31 inches and were indistinguishable except for serial numbers from the P-40L model.

 

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I am not going into a deep history lesson about the P-40F/L models – but you can look it up in on "T'T'internet" all day if you like - (The best site for P-40's I found was here) – I am here to talk about this resin nose set, And what a little piece of work it is! The kit is made up of seventeen pieces of light grey resin mastered by the well respected and newly appointed head of Eclipse Models Derek Bradshaw. Derek has produced 17 parts here which match in perfectly with the texture of the Hasegawa base kit. The detail is fine (even on the hidden parts) and the moulds are bubble free. If this fits together anything like the seat Derek made for the Grey Matter Aviation P-51 cockpit I'll be happy. Indeed things are looking good so far!

I must mention as well the instruction sheet. Not everyone making this kit will be a seasoned expert or a veteran of using resin so the four double-sided colour instructions on offer here are informative and well provided for in the way of step by step clear large colour pictures. I like this – as its inexpensive and doesn’t hike the price up of the kit – but is easy to do so I am glad of the instructions provided. There are proper line drawings here to show where to cut and colour pictures at the end of the real 1/1 thing.

A Major part of any correction/conversion kit like this is the butting away of the old kit. In the way of measuring twice and cutting once,(then maybe sanding down a bit to make sure) the instructions show really clearly where to cut in a large blown up side schematic an a nice underside drawing as well.

 

The Major Parts - the little parts got put together inside before i could shoot 'em

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Unfortunately I don’t have the donor kit - but I will make this nose section up so you can see the fit and shape of it and see how it sits on itself at least. After washing the bits in warm soapy water and letting them dry I follow the instructions to the letter and start to make the lower cowl intake.

The cowl goes together rather sensibly and easily – the one thing I will say when cleaning up the parts before putting them together is to test it and not to cut off the notch on the lower front part of the radiator like I did – although you don’t need it it does help. While on the front radiator it did have a little bit of fouling on the front of it, which lead to an imperfect moulding. This is really hard to get 100% right and the one I have is 90% perfect, so I am happy enough with this one, it is the only real fault n the moulding I  can see though – the rest being crisp and flaw free. The Carburettor intake fits snugly on the front radiator plate which is just screaming out to be weathered, but for time constraints I will just assemble mine. Any light weather will dissuade any sight of the imperfection I mentioned earlier. These two pieces glue together to the intake which is a snug fit. (There really isn’t an opportunity to go wrong here, as it all just slips in) These pieces sit inside the lower cowl. Dry test fitting reveals it kind of just "clicks" in pretty easily, I held it in there for a few minutes while the Super glue dried.

 

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The lower fuselage fits together with four pieces, the four here are amongst the nicest in the kit. The curved lower fuselage part is very nicely moulded a-la as the fuselage of the donor kit. The rivets and texture match Hasegawa plastic very well and it is a shame that  it is covered up. The torque shaft sits snugly in the two holes provided in the lower fuselage – and if you dry fit them you will see that they only really go one way. This is good to do before you assemble the other parts together. This fuselage fits snugly into the  back of the radiator pretty easily and it can be manipulated enough while the super glue dries to make the carburettor duct match up correctly in the centre of the radiator back plate.

 

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The work continues now as the minor parts go in before the major assembly of the nose. Firstly the Radiator drain pipe (handily all of these parts are marked out on the first page of the instructions) goes into the fuselage just behind the  back radiator plate in the hole provided ready for the next step. The under cowling has a hole in which the other end meets up and drains out of the airframe in real life. This is handily marked out with some red circles on the instructions. To see that this happened (I was impatient) I glued the fuselage to the front lower cowling early to make it all happen. Then the upper and lower fuselage can be joined.

This is the major part of the construction completed and the end of my "squirrel gripping" on this kit. I say it worried me as you really only want to do this once – and to have it fitting all the way round first time with superglue and resin CAN be tricky. But test fit and be careful and if you have someone else (or three hands) get the accelerant for the glue out to secure it fast.

 

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The next and last steps involved are pretty tricky in that the cowl flap activators have to be glued in before the cowl flaps can be applied. These go inside the lower cowling and fuselage on to the torque shaft. Just pack some patience before you start and it will work out fine. The end result is worth it. Gluing on the torque shaft operating lever is as tricky but at least there is a receptacle for it on the lower fuselage. The last step is optional. The fillet is provided to fill up the place where the exhaust comes out of the front engine cowling. Depending on the aircraft you are modelling you can fill in this space and sand flush if your aircraft has this cowling.


Here are some completed pictures of the kit glued together for you to see it. It only took an afternoon to do in an unpainted state so it's not a chore and you will have a unique kit at the end of it – here are the pics….


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So what do we think?
This is an interesting conversion and long awaited in that this one model hasn’t been kitted yet – so Hasegawa missed the boat again! Easy to make – with clear instructions and very well detailed I would love to have the donor kit in my hands now to keep the build going! -off to the shops now I guess then!


Excellent conversion  - Congratulations to Derek and to Grey Matter Aviation!

Many thanks to for the review sample used here

You can get this from Grey Matter Aviation Here for £26.50

 

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