Special Hobby | SH32002: 1/32 Bell P-39D Airacobra

Reviewed by Randy Bumgardner

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Well, well, well...it's finally here. A large scale Airacobra for all of us to enjoy. How about a show of hands, how many out there were waiting for this? The number must be pretty big because I saw a fair amount walking out the doors of the Nationals last week. As of late, Special Hobby's kits are really coming along. The detail is getting better, and the fit is really quite good. They are shaking off that limited run stereotype and really approaching the mainstream market.

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The kit in composed of 145 injection molded pieces in gray styrene, 12 clear injection molded parts, 3 resin parts, and a fret of photoetch. Decals by Aviprint, and a very nice painting and stencilling guide round out the contents of the kit. The injection molded parts are finely detailed with no flash or sink marks. They also include locator pins to help with the alignment of the major parts. That almost knocked me over with a feather... I'd almost grown used to building all of my kits without any locator pins at all. And the pins are petite little things - not like the big ones that could poke someone's eye out on some of those old Revell/Monogram kits. The only flaw, and I'm not totally sure it's a flaw at all (a little Dr. Seuss...), are the three panels that stand proud of the fuselage skin. I have one photo that shows the cannon access panel similar to the way it's molded in the kit. I don't have conclusive proof either way for the rest of the panels...

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As you can see above the wings are a standard affair: two upper wing halves and a single peice lower wing with center section. The detail is first rate and Special Hobby thoughfully included inserts for the radiator and oil cooler intakes at the wing roots. They don't lead anywhere, but you won't have a pair of big gaping holes in your wing roots either. Addtionally, ducting is provided for the underside of the rear section where the oil coolers and radiator exhaust.

The wing tips of the Airacobra are a distinctive feature on the aircraft. There is a pronounced increase in the dihedral of the underside of the wing as the wing tapers towards the tip. This increase in the taper of the wing occurs about 75% of the span toward the tip. The taper of the upper wing remains constant as you progress down the span of the wing. Confusing? It's easier to feel than to explain...

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The clear parts are very nicely molded. No horrible seams or flash on mine, and the doors are molded out the clear stuff as well - nice. They can be posed open or closed, although if you want to build them open you may want to detail them. Actually, even if you close them up you may want to detail them - there is a lot of glass that people can be looking through, especially in 1/32nd scale.

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The resin bits are very nicely done and are generally flash free. The pour stubs shouldn't prove too much to handle. The gunsight looks pretty good and will turn out nice once painted and drybrushed to bring out the details.

The exhaust stubs are the six stub version common to U.S. versions (read non-export) of the P-39D. They are nicely detailed and include a little weld seam on each.

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The photo-etch fret included in the kit contains pre-painted seat belts and buckles, hinges for the nose gear doors, and fins for the bomb. It's a nice fret and the pre-painted belts are a nice touch. However, I generally anneal my PE before I make lots of bends, such as for shoulder harnesses and lap belts. I've never tried to anneal painted PE...

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The decals are printed by Aviprint. They are very thin and the registration is great. The colors seem spot on with one exception. The letters spelling "U.S. ARMY" across the underside of the wings are colored black, not the proper insignia blue they should be colored. It's a minor point, but a point of technical accuracy. Markings for three P-39D's are provided in the kit. All of the camouflage is olive drab over neutral gray, and all of the planes hail from New Guinea in 1942. Where are those Air-A-Cutie markings...?

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All in all, it's a great kit that will build up into a great model. The world has been crying for a new tool, big scale, Airacobra... well, maybe not crying - but it's been on many peoples wish lists. Special Hobby has delivered one to us and it's a good solid kit. The details are excellent and the quality is very high. Recommended.

Additional Images

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© Randy Bumgardner 2007

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016