1/48 Academy & Monogram P-38

by Alan Williamson on Sept 16 2003




The Lockheed P-38E Lightning went into service in the late 1941 and with the tremendous firepower and speed, the P-38 represented a quantum leap in performance compared to that of the fighters of the 30’s. The P-38E was powered by two 1,150hp Allison V-1710 engines with a top speed of 390 miles per hour, and a service ceiling of 39,000 feet. Armed with a 20mm Hispano cannon and an additional four .50 caliber Browning machine guns. The P-38E was able to take out enemy aircraft with that of a short burst of its guns, normally loaded with 500 rounds of the .50 caliber of ammo per gun. Making the P-38 well suited for staffing missions, other roles that the P-38 played was the protection of Allied bombers.  Whilst on their missions, since the P-51 had not yet come about, the P-38 was the more likely aircraft at the time for flying the longest distance to provide cover for the bombers.  Also the P-38 was used as fighter/bomber, interception, long range photo reconnaissance and later when the P-38J was available...it was converted to the night-fighter role.  Whilst in service over Europe it earned the nickname “the fork-tailed devil” from the Germans. However the climate in Europe didn’t help the P-38 as it was not as well suited to the climate as it would like to have been, it wasn’t until it entered service in the Pacific that the P-38 really showed its true colors. In the south Pacific the P-38 is credited for with more Japanese aircraft destroyed than any other fighter. The P-38J was powered by two 1,425hp Allison V-12 turbo-supercharged, liquid-cooled engines, this gave the P-38J a top speed of 420 miles per hour at 26,000 feet with a range over 2,000 miles with drop tanks, and a service ceiling of 44,000 feet. Of the 9,923 P-38’s built the P-38J and the P-38L models were the most numerous.  

The Kit Academy 2144 

Academy has supplied a nice and well thought out kit; in comparison to Academy’s modern day fighter jet kits, the W.W.II kits that Academy have supplied are far better. Academy have supplied some extra parts to make either the first P-38E model or some of the updated parts which found their way into the P-38E before the P-38F came out. Also include in this kit are that of P.V.C tires The Academy P-38 is probably the second best kit out on the market, first is the Hasegawa kit and last the Monogram Kit.


This Kit is built OOB although the rockets are from the Monogram P-38 Kit. The kit goes together very well considering there was no putty involved, only because at the time I built this kit I knew nothing of putty. The cockpit is well detailed in comparison to that of Monograms kit with more parts. The wheel bays are quite detailed, but some extra work could go into them to make them a little better. Some sanding is involved to get rid of any unwanted seems and fit problems, but for the price the kit builds up quite nicely. This was the 5th kit that I had built when I got back into modeling in 1999 since being a kid.

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Painting and Finish 

As I said, I assembled this kit back in 1999, so at that time I brush painted my kits. This model was painted using Humbrol paints olive green and gray. Although now that I have written this article on this kit, I might get out the oven cleaner and strip the paint off and airbrush this kit, and have a look at some different decals for it as well.

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The Monogram Kit 5479   

Well its nowhere up to the Academy kit but its passable, Monogram have supplied a standard Monogram kit complete with raised panel lines. About the only good thing of the Monogram P-38 is that it can be displayed with the gun compartment opened and you also have the choice of making three different late model P-38s included the standard P-38J the P-38 Droop Snoot and the P-38 Night-Fighter. I guess the kit is a good kit for a beginner. At the time I brought this kit, the only P-38 kits I could get ahold off was the Academy range and this. 

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This Kit was built OOB except for the wheels, which were from True Detail. The kit is pretty straight forwarded to assemble, but with the raised panel lines it does make it hard to get rid of any unwanted seem. Since I still consider my self to be a novice builder, I wasn’t game enough to try and sand of the panel lines and then rescribe them. The cockpit is ok, but not as good as Academy’s P-38 kit and the wheel wells are shocking and need a lot of detail added to them. Even the figure of the pilot is badly molded. 

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Painting and finish 

I painted this model using the Humbrol range of paints and it was painted in metal cote with Red on wings and Olive green for the antiglare panels. The kit was finished up to represent the P-38J (named Marge after his wife) of The Top-Scoring American fighter Ace of W.W.II Major Richard Bong who scored 40 victories in his P-38 against the Japanese.

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Now that I have built both the Academy and Monogram P-38 kits, I have got a hold of the Hasegawa P-38J kit, which I hope to get a full resin detail, set for.  I have not yet started on it as I am trying to track down the Verlinden Resin kit, and when I do and have built it......I will put it up on ARC. 


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Photos and text © by Alan Williamson