From a P-38 J Lightning to a F-5B
by Pascal Huguet

Late 70's and early 80's have been the 1/32 kit's golden age. There were a lot of different models with movables parts which make them really attractive when I was a child. At this time, I was only able to buy 1/72 and dreamed of these big models. In Europe now, these models are now, pretty much reached (and some of are collectors), but needs a huge work to increase their accuracy. I will not make a review on the Revell's kit, Rogerio "Rato" Marczak, has made a good one, on LSP. However, as many past Revell's 1/32, if the general shape is rather good and need re-engraving, details are often poor. To me, the canopy is an essential part of a kit, its transparency and shape get noticed at the first look. That was the first part I decided to create, after checking some 1/32 drawings and details & Scale books. I made it a 5 parts canopy (like the real one), the cockpit is inaccurate and most of his equipment is false or not represented. The Details & Scales about P-38 has many interiors photos that will help for the detailing. The goal of this conversion is to keep the less parts from the model. The F5-B was a P-38J with a camera nose, so most of the parts I create for this conversion would be used for P-38. During this part's process, I make parts for the J model (which I planned to build one also), and adapt them for the F5-B.


I've started the building by the plane motors and booms intakes, which shape is rough and interior ducts are not represented. I use my favourite polyester putty, which I filled into behind the model's part when dry, I used a drill to carve intake's ducts. I glued some fine netting at the end of it, to represent the radiator. I also gave the side's bugle of the intake cowling, with a sanding of the part.

I cut the obtained part, which gave me the master to duplicate it. I used the same technique for the Boom's radiators and reshape the intake plastic parts.
I cut the vent door and make a new one and duplicate it. The panel's structures needs a re-engraving (as the whole model), and the radio hatches engraving is wrong, so I filled them and traced the joint with a needle. I decided to make two new rudders and two superchargers (the good point, is these two elements on the real plane, is that they have the same shape on the both sides, so it spares me redundancy).
I had to remove some plastic on the tail's interior, so I can make the new rudders fit in. I choose to represent the rudders a little turning to have a dynamic stand for the P-38. It is very important to refine the back of the controls surface's edge, so they look as slim as the real ones.

The wings get the same preparation and except the re-engraving work, this point of the model is trouble-free.

On the other hand, the fitting between upper fuselage and the wing is not good; I had to use polyester putty to fill those gaps.


After sanding the fuselage's surfaces, I engraved the panel's structure. The canopy, which height and shape is wrong, I scratchbuilt a new one with Polyester putty which I sculpted and frames in Evergreen plastic, so I can use this parts as master for thermoforming a clear canopy.

I also made a thin resin version, so I can glue the clear parts on the resin frames; I used this combination with the Me-109 K4. It's a little hard to take, but gives a interesting look to the model. Cockpit's sides, floor and rudder-bar are made with evergreen and sprue. The instruments panel is generic (so I can use it for J,L and recon versions, with optional switch boxes..). I've remove the instruments-panel's cover, some photos of operational Lightning showed this configuration and this gives to the cockpit a less "cluttered" look.
The dorsal armour-plate and the arch behind are made with sprue, I had to make navigation lights with clear plastic. I've planned to make boxes and radio equipment by the end of the model's detailing. I also started the "generic" forward bay and hatch's interior.
The recon-nose is ready (I have to make several attempts, for the engraving of camera's apertures.
To be continued…..
© Pascal Huguet

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