P-38F (Tamiya) After-action Report

P-38F-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 42-12652 Nose 33 (White 33) https://pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/p-38/42-12652.html

Total time building 117.25 hours (that’s about 4.89 24 hour days, 2.93 work weeks).

Begin date November 27, 2020, end date February 15, 2021.



P-38F/G Kit #61120 1/48 scale


P-38 Lightning Seats #48223

P-38 Lightning Wheels (Block Tread) #48219


P-38 Early Lightning Armament #48114

EZ Line

Fine black

My Opinion

This kit is so good that I can see at some point I’m going to end up hating it. It’s so well engineered that other kits are definitely going to suffer in comparison. I’m not talking about 20–50-year-old kits, I’m talking about other modern kits that also (at least theoretically) enjoy what’s possible with CAD/CAM. Tamiya’s engineers have raised the bar with fit and the speed and ease with which a nicely done model can go from box to cat-magnet.

It’s still a commercial kit, however. One place that needs fixing if you want a shot at winning your class at a contest is the propeller and engine controls. They’re inaccurate and out-of-scale. They’re also a bitch to fix. The pilot’s seat is merely adequate without a harness and all that Tamiya’s provided for the harness is a decal. Not acceptable, which is why I used Ultracast’s P-38 seat (harness is molded with it).

If you want to model an early P-38F, you might want to consider using Ultracast’s wheels/tires with the rectangular-block tread; diamond treads, as provided with the kit, were used later.

There are air intakes inside the main landing gear bays that I’ve not seen any references showing. I modified mine by removing what’s probably the air filter assembly. Speaking of air intakes, the intercooler vents near the upper wing tips are incorrectly molded rectangular. One side (towards the leading edge of the wing tip) should be rounded.

There is a prominent antenna mast under the nose where earlier variants of the Lightning had their pitot tubes mounted. The F/G models should have the mast there as the pitot tube is under the wing, so you’ll need to make one. This kit is so well engineered I don’t understand why the antenna mast under the nose was left out.

Due to the kit’s engineering, adding engines and/or the gun bay will NOT be easy.

And there it is. This kit only (all terms being relative…I’m not a fast builder) took 177.25 hours. Filler was needed in a couple of minuscule areas and that was it. It’s not that I skimped on detail this time, it’s that this is what can happen when the builder isn’t fighting fit problems. It was such a pleasure to build that I’m sorry it’s done. HEARTILY RECOMMENDED!

2 responses

  1. Ben once asked me about building a battle-damaged P-38 for you, based on that story you wrote. I said I didn’t know how to make polystyrene act enough like aluminum to look realistic. Maybe I shouldn’t have discouraged him.

    Anyway, are you still writing? If so, I’m still reading!


    1. The techniques for making plastic look like something it isn’t aren’t difficult, if you know them.

      I still write from time to time. I’ll drop you an email about that.


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