- Published on Saturday, 14 April 2012 00:02 Robin Jenkins
1/48 Bell P-39N Airacobra Weekend Edition
Catalogue # 84163
Available direct from Eduard for 14.95 Єuros
Of the USAF fighters of WW2, I've always thought that the Bell P-39 Airacobra has received too much bad press over the years. A failure in British hands, an aircraft that just about held its own against the Japanese in American hands in difficult conditions and a huge success for the Russians, I think that a profile like that deserves more respect than it actually receives from aviation historians.
The use of the Airacobra by the Russian air force has not been well documented, partly because of the lack of physical records. Over the last 15 years, more information has slowly emerged and the facts are becoming more widespread. In Russian hands, it outperformed other lend-lease fighters such as the Warhawk and Spitfire and had better kill-ratios than any of the indigenous Mig fighters, the Yak-1 or La-5. It was modified admittedly for the Soviet use and aerial battles on that front tended to be of a different nature to those on other fronts but the P-39 is still held in good respect by that nation despite it being a "foreign" fighter (below).
Credit and copyright: Wikimedia
Thankfully, the modelling community have always been keen on the P-39, with its tricycle undercarriage and full cockpit "car" doors and they have been reasonably well supplied over the years with models in 1/72 and 1/48 scale (and, more latterly, 1/32 scale). For many years, the standard 1/48 model was that from Monogram, until a much better offering was released from Eduard around 10 years or so ago. Only with the release some 4 or 5 years later by the Hasegawa P-39 kits were they bettered, with the better, more accurate surface detail, more complete cockpit and much better wings. However, these are expensive kits and the less expensive but older Eduard P-39s are still liked by a lot of modellers.
In line with other recent releases of older kits from their range, Eduard has now released a simplified "Weekend Edition" of their 1/48th scale P-39N variant in a Russian scheme. There are 3 olive sprues, a transparency set and a single decal option in the box, now standard practice for the Weekend Editions. The box carries the now common QR Code, meaning that if you scan this with a smart phone, equipped with the QR 'app', you will be directed to the product page immediately.
The first sprue (below) is largely taken up with the wing section, but also contains an average pilot figure, propeller spinner, drop tank, nose wheel bay and some of the cockpit parts. There are also some parts not required for this version. There are 2 quick points to make about this sprue: firstly, the Russians usually did not use external fuel tanks and, if they did, they were usually a different style to the U.S. tank supplied. Secondly, when the kit was first released, it was realised that there were faults with the kit wings, particularly with regard to the overall dimensions, wing roots and the leading edge cross-sections. All of these faults are noticeable when placed next to a Hasegawa kit (which has these elements correctly portrayed) but most modellers will be happy to live with these faults uncorrected.
The second sprue (above) gives the modeller the main fuselage halves, which even today are excellent mouldings and dimensionally very accurate. The tailplanes, more cockpit parts, exhausts and a bomb take up most of the rest of the sprue, along with more unrequired parts. My comment on the US-style drop tank also applies to the US-style bomb load, which is not really correct for a Russian aircraft. A close-up of part of the fuselage and tailplane (below) shows the surface detail achieved throughout the kit, of good quality without quite reaching the standards achieved in recent Eduard new releases.
The final sprue (above) contains all of the smaller detail parts, including the wheels, undercarriage legs and doors, propeller blades, gun barrels and sways for the bomb and drop tank. This sprue is of fine quality, with a lot of nicely presented detailing for the modeller. There is a question about the thickness of some of the guns, but these are easily replaced with fine tube or sprue. The transparencies (below) are clear and well moulded. I know from speaking to a friend who has made nearly a dozen P-39s from all of the kits available previously from the 3 manufacturers that care needs to be taken in getting a good fit on these cockpit doors if they are posed closed. A mistake that modellers of the P-39 often make is to have both doors open; this was never common practice, but the usually opened single door varied from nation to nation and even unit to unit – check your references!
The decal sheet (above) is of the usual high standard and gives a single option of a P-39N flown by Grigorii Dolnikov, an ace of the 100th GIAP, 9th GIAD, based somewhere in Germany in 1945. Although not mentioned, the aircraft was flown by another Russian ace, Ivan Babak, as well. The inscription honours a third pilot, Pyotr Guchyok, who had previously been killed whilst fighting with the unit. Finally, a colour profile of the aircraft is present on the rear of the box (below).
So What Do We Think?
Though now superseded by the better Hasegawa kit and with a couple of faults that are difficult to correct, it is still not a bad 1/48 Airacobra and is priced very attractively. I can see this kit proving to be a good seller.
Our thanks to Eduard for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.