ChristopherLeeMiller

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Lockheed P-38 F/G Lightning

Started: 12/15/2021Updated: 12/25/2021
BrandTamiya
Scale1/48
Kit Number61120
Year Released2019
ScalematesLink
CompletedSep 1, 2020
Build Time

Cockpit

As usual with airplane models, this one starts out in the cockpit, with a twist. Things are left out in the instructions till the very end, like the seat, and some radio gear. I assume for ease of construction of course. But nevertheless, this one starts out building up the tub of the cockpit by adding some control sticks and columns, as well as some detail painting of those pieces. The sidewalls are then assembled and painted as well, with a few details added to them as appropriate to avoid total flatness or molded in detail. A few decals also get added.

Once the sidewalls were added it was time to turn to the instrument panel, of which there are two variants so make sure you know by this point already if you want to build the 'A' or 'B' color scheme. I'm going the 'B' route as I love those blue prop spinners giving some contrast. Once the panel was built and the decal added for the gauges it was added to the rest of the cockpit tub more or less rounding out this part of the build.

I, of course, opted to do a bit of weathering here. Some black enamel panel liner to make the smaller details pop and give shadow and a generous helping dry brushing to chip things it was time to call this done.

After other parts of the model were built I turned attention back to the cockpit, this time painting and installing the radio gear behind the pilot, map case, as well as the seat and HUD. The radios sat on a base plate that attached to the seat back and a bulkhead at the rear of the cockpit. Painting all of the radio equipment was easy, black or aluminum was all there was. A couple of decals were also fitted to the radio tops.

The seat was a very easy affair to build, with the seat itself being a single piece and the bracket that it mounts to. Once they were glued together I was able to paint them chromate green before adding seatbelt decals. The decals are a lot to be desired, I'd rather have seen Tamiya include PE for them but they work, and once the cockpit is done it'll be hard to see them anyways. Once the seat was put into place it was time to build the HUD, another two-piece affair and with some patience and a steady hand, those were painted up before fitting to the anti-glare panel over the instruments. little detail paints and decals and this was ready to fit into the cockpit as well, more or less finishing it off.

Cockpit From BehindCockpit From AboveCockpit DetailRadio GearRadio Gear Alt View

Fuselage And Wing

With the cockpit finished up it was fitted to the upper surface of the wing, one monolithic piece which will aid greatly in the strength of the overall model. The builder also has the option of adding the ladder at this point in its stored position, Me going for open waited till later for this detail. Adding some paint around the upper surface where the cockpit sits for the interior color is next before we dive down underneath.

To also aid in the strength of the model there is a spar that gets hidden inside the wing where the nose gear is attached and we start building that up. adding side walls but only after painting the surfaces in a bare-metal silver color. We then fit on the front and rear portions of the gear bay to seal that off. Once the spar is finished it gets dropped into the lower surface of the fuselage, but only after adding the silver around the gear opening as well, and then dropping the upper surface of the wings onto this. Oh did I mention a lead ball gets added to help keep it sitting on its gear?

Mating of the upper and lower surfaces was a phenomenal fit and one reason Tamiya is applauded for their engineering all the time. The gaps were next to invisible and with just a bit of touch up on the wings leading edge this one will be impossible to see at all. The instructions next call for building up the nose with the guns and I skipped this part as you have to paint and decal the guns, something I don't wanna mess up this early on with painting later.

We then move onto closing up the forward part of the fuselage and adding leading-edge flaps onto the wings along with the lower outer portions of the wings. Careful attention is needed here as there are a couple of variants of lights that need adding depending on the variant built, I was able to skip most of them. Next up the control surfaces and outer wingtips, a very easy bit to build up and unfortunately no provisions to build the ailerons in a dropped position.

Did anybody mention turbochargers? No? ok well, there are turbochargers! Tamiya has you build and fit them both into their final spots now but I opted to build up the assemblies and leave the turbochargers out till the end of the build, they slip in and out of their spots easy enough that I figured it'd be worthwhile for the painting stage later to leave them off. But with the part that holds them done, I was able to fit these to the upper wing surface, thus finishing that as well.

Nose Gear BayMissing NoseWing Lower SurfacesTubocharger LocationsWing & Fuselage Finished

Booms

Following the natural progression of the model the next step is the booms, and to start those we start inside the wheel wells by building up some details onto the sidewalls and the floor, both with some additional parts alike bracing and piping as well as just adding some paint. Once sides are added, and ends fitted, bracing for the gear doors is added, making these a bit fragile to handle. Once each gear bay is finished those they get sandwiched into the sides of the boom body itself along with a pair of weights on each side as well to ensure it sits great. The instructions make sure they point out that the upper and lower seam lines ARE supposed to be there on the model as is the real aircraft and not to fill them, fine by me!

Next up for each boom are the oil coolers, with an upper and lower shell piece as well as the radiator fines themselves painted in gold and metallic finish. They look great but once built up and added one can barely see the finish at all. These then get added to the underside of each boom.

The final step for each boom is adding decals for the radiators and adding their covers, that aren't depicted in the pictures below but it is done. Before adding the decal through the insides were painted olive drab, both on the covers and inside the radiators themselves.

Gear Bay DetailOil CoolerCooling RadiatorsRadiator Covers Installed

Fuselage Pt. 2

With the booms constructed they mated up to the fuselage/wing of the model and were a very tight fit with a very minimal gap to be seen. A few bits like exhaust pipes and elevator, as well as the rudders, were then added to make this one solid construction. Next, I built up the two pylons and fitted them under the inner part of each wing before constructing the external fuel tanks. I didn't fit them permanently to aid in painting later but used blue tac to hold them in place so as to help avoid crushing the landing gear supports before the gear was built and attached. Speaking of…

Landing Gear & Doors

Even though I don't like adding landing gear or their doors till the very end of a build I went ahead and spent the bit of time needed to build them up and get the interiors of the painted to save me a step later on. Each landing gear leg was one solid piece, with the oleo being added separately. The nose gear received an additional brace that the rear ones didn't get, the retract for it. The main gear legs though received radiators of some sort that attaches between the leg and mates to a surface added way back in the boom construction, the fit to that was spot on and very impressive on a dry-fit.

The landing gear doors were next up, Tamiya engineered these very smartly and I wish others would take note of how they did it. Each of the four main gear doors has the internal panel and an outer panel that fit together really well, with the retract cylinder added to the end, what sets these apart though is the huge nub that almost looks like the lettering for a sprue that slots into the gear bay and has a very solid fit that doesn't look odd at all. I will not have to fear these breaking off down the road.

Once the gear and doors were assembled they all received a coat of silver paint courtesy of Vallejo metal colors before painting a few details called out in the instructions. Everything got set aside for later then.

Paint

To start off painting the model I applied a coat of Mr. Color C73 Aircraft grey to the lower and side surfaces of the model. I sprayed it higher up the sides than would actually be needed to ensure I didn't have any funny lines later once masked off for the Olive Drab. Once the grey was dried for a day or two I came back with silly putty to create the demarcation lines between the two colors around the booms, and center section of the plane. I then applied Tamiya Olive Drab to the upper surfaces of the model and let this dry a few more days before continuing on.

Final Assembly

Ok, so you might be asking what happened to the decals? Well, I skipped them till after this part. With the painting out of the way, I decided to go ahead and work towards the final assembly so that the landing gear area was stiffer for one thing, and to avoid breaking things on the cockpit bubble. I put the decals on the guns and inserted them int the nose before attaching to the rest of the model, added the ladder in the lowered position at the rear of the fuselage as well.

I then turned to the gear bays, first fitting in the landing gear, along with the one piece of piping that crosses over the gear before fitting all the gear doors. One of the things that Tamiya did very well with this kit is the slotting of the gear doors into the boom sections, giving a very clean result that's very stable as well. Tolerances were very tight but everything fit like a glove.

I was then able to attach the canopy glass, decal where appropriate on it, and add a few more drops of paint where needed. Once that was done I gave the entire model a gloss clear coat so that I could remove the masking around the canopy to put a few final decals on. A final gloss will still be needed but I'll avoid that area with it.

Decals

So where to begin on the decals on this beautiful model? Looking at the color callouts there are simply tons of them, and because of that reason, I broke this process up into 4 sessions. In the first session, I focused on the bottom side decals and those that went onto the fuselage sides. Thankfully while there were a ton of decals many were repeated on both sides so I was able to dip the pair into the water and do both at once. Everything sat down as well, as I'd have expected but a few cases of silvering still came up which surprised me considering I did a gloss coat beforehand.

The second session of dealing with decals involved the upper surfaces of the model. this time most unable to really be seen as it was black text on olive drab, in fairness though I think my OD is a bit darker than it would have been so that could have something to do with it. Session 3 and 4 dealt with the booms, one each session so that they had plenty of time to set and form hard without accidentally pulling any up.

One thing that I really like that Tamiya did is to include the «old» numbering as a separate decal for the nose to be able to put down before the new number, so you can layer them versus just forgetting about the old or putting them on one, sure they could have done both on one but I'm sure someone out there wouldn't want that.

[Decal Pics]

Final Assembly Pt. 2

With the decals out of the way, I was finally able to paint and attach the wheels to the model, along with the external fuel tanks. The wheels were a pretty simple affair, two halves, and hardly visible seam after glued together. They got painted rubber black first, before going back with Vallejo silver for the hubs. The front wheel in addition to the backside gets a shot of grey, presumably a fixed plate.

The fuel tanks were a similar easy affair to build, two halves and then the upper surface was painted olive drab while the lower in the same grey used elsewhere. A few decals were then added before sealing them in and attaching them under the wing roots. As a last final step, everything received one final matte finish clear coat to bring it all together.

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