Trumpeter 1/32 P-38L Lightning, Converted to a P-38G

By Charles Norton

At long last!

Here is my rendition of P-38G s/n 43-2239 as it served in the 339th Fighter Squadron on Guadalcanal in early spring of 1943. According to Michael Claringbould in his book "Pacific Profiles, Volume 9," this aircraft was badly damaged after a forced landing following an attack against a floatplane base at Faisi. The 339th ground crews towed it to the scrapyard where engineers from the 44th Fighter Squadron snatched it, brought it back to airworthy condition, and christened it "Old Ironsides." Apparently, there was something of a kerfluffle between the two units as the 339th later tried to reclaim the aircraft - no word as to who came out on top, but the aircraft was used as a hack at least until mid-1944. From there, it fell off the radar and its final fate is ultimately unknown.

Claringbould's book features a picture of the aircraft after it was named by the 44th FS, but I don't want to post it as I don't want to run afoul of copyright issues. In all my searches, I never found the second picture online anywhere and I suspect the original is in his personal collection.

In any case, if you were following the build thread for this, you know what an adventure it has been. Most of that was due to my repeated, and uncharacteristic indecision.

This started life as the Trumpeter P-38L kit and it was my intent to build an ETO bird in natural finish. But I'd been sitting on the Grey Matter Figures backdate resin set forever and I knew if I didn't use it now, it'd go to waste. And I like the looks of the pre-J models better anyway. So, with a little encouragement from Big Tim, I decided to take the plunge and do the necessary surgery.

I've never attempted anything so dramatic before and it was one heck of a project that involved quite a bit of surgery.

You can check out my build thread in the Work in Progress forum for most of the details, but as you can see, this was no easy feat. While I'm very happy with the final results, I admit it is far from perfect. The kit itself just isn't well engineered and that reared its ugly head plenty of times throughout the build. My adventure made it exponentially worse, obviously, but even then, it's still not Trumpeter's best effort by any stretch.

Some components, particularly in the cockpit, I just couldn't backdate as I didn't have it in me to scratch build complex parts like instrument panels, gunsights, and other sundries. That said, I'm quite pleased as this is as close as anyone is going to get to a pre-J model P-38 in 1/32 scale until Tamiya gets off their collective butts and upscales their kits (Dear Tamiya, I would buy several. Just saying.)

Anyway, with this one done, I can now say I've done a heavy conversion (check that off the bucket list), and now I can focus on deep cleaning my model room to prepare for the arrival of the HKM A-20G!

Enjoy the photos!

© Charles Norton 2023

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This article was published on Friday, August 04 2023; Last modified on Sunday, August 06 2023