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1/48 Monogram P-61A Black Widow

by Bill Lachance

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Here are some photos of Monogram's classic Northrup P-61A Black Widow. I used both of Eduard's photoetched detail sets (interior and exterior) in the construction of this kit. I also used AeroMaster decals to depict "Moonhappy," the first P-61 credited with a victory.

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You get a plethora of photoetched parts with both of Eduard's sets. The cockpit detailing is extensive, and even includes a gooseneck lamp for the rear compartment ! The exterior details include wheel well and landing gear pieces, along with antennas and machine gun cooling jackets.

There are some modelers that consider this to be a difficult or tricky build. I found that the parts fit very well, with some minor adjustments. Dryfitting, trimming, filling, and sanding are necessary to build this kit. I had gaps where the booms met the trailing edge of the wings, and these were filled with styrene plugs. The canopies are perhaps the worst-fitting parts of the kit, as they seem a little undersized. I sanded the fuselage around the canopies, and filled gaps with Micro Scale Krystal Kleer.

I always use Scotch frosty tape to mask my canopies. In order to save a little money, I tried a generic frosty tape. Big mistake! Residue was left on every clear panel. I scrubbed each one with a Q-Tip soaked in isopropyl alcohol. When dry, I used tape to daub the gummy mess off the windows. Each pane was then brush coated with Future to bring back some of the shine and clarity. I will never use anything other than Scotch frosty tape to mask clear pieces. It has never left residue behind, even on a canopy that remained masked for over a year.

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I had originally planned to apply washes to the raised surface detail. I did this on the underside, and I'm not pleased with the results. It took about four hours to remove the excess wash on either side of all the raised lines, and it dried much darker than I wanted. I don't care for panel lines that jump out at the viewer, since they never look that way in photos of the real thing.

For the upper surfaces, I used a technical pencil. I don't care for the color (dark gray), so I may try Prismacolor pencils on my next kit with raised lines.

The AeroMaster decals behaved wonderfully. The wingwalk stripes were easier to apply than they look. They are printed in segments, yet join along the straight portions. The angle of the corners is done for you, assuring proper alignment.

If you like challenges, and can work with photoetched parts, this kit and the detail sets are a great combination.

Bill

Visit my website to see other models of mine, I also build models on commission.  http://www.pix.prettyneatinc.com/

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Photos and text by Bill Lachance

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