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Bell P-400/Airacobra I

Scale: 1/72nd
Manufacturer: RS Models
Ref No: 92181
Material: IM, R
UK Distributor: Hannants
UK Price: £15.80

Bell P-400/Airacobra I
Bell P-400/Airacobra I Bell P-400/Airacobra I Bell P-400/Airacobra I Bell P-400/Airacobra I
See the in-box preview of this kit here.

Kit Review
In the box you get two plastic sprues containing 72 parts with a small amount of flash but the parts are well detailed with fine recessed panel lines. That said some of the smaller parts are not so well moulded. You also get one sprue of clear part and a resin arrestor hook and exhausts.  There are five decal options in the box as follows

• Airacobra Mk I AH601, flown by S/L E.J.Gracle, No.601 Squadron, RAF Duxford, August 1941
• P-400 Airacobra, '60', Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily (Soviet Air Force, January 1943
• P-400 Airacobra, OK+L, 331 of the Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force), June 1943
• P-39F Airacobra, A52-3, Royal Australian Air Force
• Airacobra Mk I, AH574 used for deck-landing trials by the Royal Navy at RAE

As usual we start with the cockpit which when built gives a reasonably well-detailed assembly. I used Vallejo Model Air Interior Green for all the internal areas with a dark oil wash to finish and just added some masking tape seat belts. At this point you will have to decide which version you are going to build as the instructions have you insert the resin exhausts from inside of the fuselage. To get the cockpit assembly to fit correctly I had to trim the top of the nose undercarriage bay.  Once that’s done and glued in place its time to add some weight.  I used as much lead shot as I could fit in the nose above the undercarriage bay held in place with PVA glue. With the fuselage glued together I opened up the rear air intake, as on my example only one side was properly moulded.  This done I added a thin strip of plasticard horizontally.
The wings are next and again slight trimming of the main undercarriage bays is required to allow the upper and lower wing halves to fit well. The fit of the wings to the fuselage is quite good with only a slight amount of sanding required to the centre section of the lower wing to fuselage joint.  
On to the canopy, which was masked and attached using Araldite Rapid, the doors were also masked inside first then painted with interior green. Once dry the detail was picked out then given the same wash as the rest of the interior and temporarily glued in place using a small amount of Humbrol Maskol.
Once the tailplanes were attached the model and all the smaller items such as undercarriage etc. were sprayed with a coat of Halfords plastic primer which showed up any imperfection or panel lines needing to be re scribed 

Colour & Markings
I chose to model the Portuguese aircraft so I started with the underside giving it a light coat of Tamiya XF-21 Sky.  I then lighted it and picked out some of the panels and control surfaces to give a little contrast.  Once dry the lower surfaces were masked ready for the upper camouflage. Gunze-Sangyo Mr Color 22 Dark Earth was sprayed all over the upper surfaces and as with the lower surface I slightly lighted the colour to add some contrast. When dry the camouflage pattern was masked using Tamiya 2mm flexi tape for the edge while the rest was filled in with 10mm Tamiya tape. The final colour, Tamiya XF-26, was applied using the same process as before. I chose not to follow the instructions and paint the propeller spinner Sky as I found some information online that suggest this squadron was painted either red or yellow. I chose the latter but you will need to check for yourselves. Having left the paint to dry for 24 hours all the masking was removed and the model and smaller items were given a coat of Johnsons Klear ready for the decals.
The decals were a bit of a mixed bag. They were nice and thin and conformed very well but I found them very delicate to work with and did not move very well once on the model. As you only get a small painting and decal guide on the rear of the box you will have to check as to the orientation of the starboard codes and serial numbers because this is not shown. You do however get a stencil guide on the main instruction sheet. The model was then given another coat of Johnsons Klear to seal the decals ready to apply an oil wash that was a mix of Lamp Black, Burnt Sienna (Daller Rowney) and Paynes Grey (Winsor & Newton) in about equal amounts. This was left to dry for a few hours then the excess was wiped off using paper towels and cotton buds moistened with white spirit as required in the direction of the air flow. Metal chipping was applied to various panels and the wing leading edge using a Pental metallic silver pen. The starboard cockpit entry received heavier wear, as this was the preferred side of entry for the pilots. A final coat of Johnsons Klear to seal in the wash and then to matt it all down I used Xtracolor matt varnish.
Final Details
All that was left to do was attach the undercarriage and all the smaller parts and the model is complete.​​​​​​

To sum this kit up it has some very nice detail and nice to see some of the more unusual colour schemes. As long as you test fit things before committing to glue you will be okay. On the down side some of the smaller parts lack detail and the plastic is softer than I like.  With care the decals will give a good finish but a more comprehensive marking guide would be nice. So if you have had some experience of this type of kit before you should not have too many problems.   

Our thanks to RS Models (www.rsmodels.cz) for the review sample.