P-39 Airacobra Variants
I just received the new Eduard 1/48 scale P-400 kit and looked it over. First off I want to assure everyone that this is a tremendous kit! Really one of the best I've seen from anyone, Tamigawa included. Very nice detail, fine scribing, the works. I can't comment on the fit, as I'm committed to other projects right now, but preliminary reviews are very favorable.
But I want to do several P-39s and I know that Eduard will release several versions of the kit. In looking it over, I dug out my 'Cobra references to see what could be done with what I assume is the basic release. I was very pleased with the results of my study and thought I would present them to you here. So here is a table of P-39 variants and their main distinguishing features against what is included in the Eduard P-400 kit and including Eduard parts references where possible.
Some of the problems are parts C-5 and 6. Both appear to be 37mm nose guns, but one (C-5) is very short. Some 37mm guns towards the end of production had sort of blast tubes. That may be this one.
Also, the props are a bit confusing. It looks like the Curtiss Electric and Aeroproducts 10' 4" props are similar enough to use the same parts (parts B-6) but I'm not real clear on the two four bladed offerings (C-23 and 36). Also parts A-7 & 8 are nose gun parts. Some airplanes seemed to have fairings and some didn't. It seemed to be rather random. I offer my best guess on all the above based on photos. Perhaps later releases will clear some of this up. As always (sorry about this) check your references. Your best bet is photos of the aircraft you're building.
The above table is certainly not exhaustive but I hope is shows the main differences and is not more confusing than otherwise. I'm limited by my sources, which are secondary but I believe fairly reliable. Any additions or corrections will be accepted in the spirit they are offered. I hope this helps anyone wanting to build this excellent kit, GO GET IT!
My references were; Wings of Fame, vol. 10, "Bell P-39/63 Variant Briefing", Robert F. Dorr; P-39 Airacobra in Detail, Vol. 63, Bert Kinzey; and P-39 Airacobra in Action, In Action no. 43, Ernie McDowell. As might be expected, there were some discrepancies between sources. I tried to take what 2 out of 3 said where possible, and tended to go more with WoF and Kinzey as they're newer. I strongly recommend the Kinzey book as he illustrates the differences more clearly where possible.
Text and Table Copyright ©
2000 by Michael Satin