Great Wall Hobby

1/48 Northrop P-61A 'Black Widow' model kit

Product #L4802

Product Article by Steve Bamford on Aug 25 2011

 

Lion Roar is a Chinese company that produces a variety of high quality detail sets for plastic model kits including photo-etched frets, tools, cast metal, turned alloy and even resin figures.  All of these items are produced to a very high level of detail and accuracy.  Great Wall Hobby is a line of model kits produced by Lion Roar and they are well known among the armour modellers and I'm pleased to see them releasing aircraft kits.  

This latest release from Great Wall Hobby is a multi-media plastic model kit that includes photo etch brass detail items. 

History
The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was the first operational U.S. military aircraft designed specifically for night interception of aircraft, and was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. It was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design developed during World War II. The first test flight was made on 26 May 1942, with the first production aircraft rolling off the assembly line in October 1943. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954.

Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries, the Black Widow was effectively operated as a night-fighter by United States Army Air Forces squadrons in the European Theater, the Pacific Theater, the China Burma India Theater and the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been updated to incorporate radar when it became available. After the war, the F-61 served in the United States Air Force as a long-range, all weather, day/night interceptor for Air Defense Command until 1948, and Far East Air Force until 1950.

On the night of 14 August 1945, a P-61B of the 548th Night Fight Squadron named "Lady in the Dark" was unofficially credited with the last Allied air victory before VJ Day. The P-61 was also modified to create the
RF-61C Reporter photo-reconnaissance aircraft for the United States Air Force.


This kit includes;

  • 9 sprues of grey styrene

  • 4 smaller sprues of grey plastic each containing one part

  • 1 sprue of plastic styrene

  • 1 clear styrene nose cone part

  • 1 fret of photo etch brass

  • 12 page instruction booklet

  • 2 page large 4 view colour profiles

  • decal sheet with markings for 2 different aircraft

  • parts are all packed in plastic bags....including the clear styrene parts which are packed in bubble wrap

  • Separate poster of the box art is contained inside the box

  • sturdy box

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As soon as I opened the box I immediately noticed the effort by this manufacturer to careful pack all parts of this P-61A model kit.  Opening each of the many bags revealed beautifully detailed parts contained on sprue and sprue of plastic parts. All panel lines are recessed and very crisply done. Flying surfaces on the tail and wings are pose able, cockpit sidewalls includes ribbing, main wheels wells contained ribbing, engines are included, tires are weighted, clear styrene is very clear and includes actual raised frames just like the real aircraft. Some of the delicate window framework parts have rivets. 

The photo etch includes air brakes, engine wiring or fuel lines, seat belts and a few other tiny parts. In the instruction booklet, the photo etch parts are shown in gold making them very easy to find in the pages of instruction booklet. 

Engine cowls will hide the bulk of the engine detail and super detailer will be tempted to cut open the engine cowlings to show off the lovely engine detail. The cloth covered control surfaces appear overly ribbed. The propeller blades are nice and thin. 

Some canopy windows are separate from the main canopies permitting you to pose them in an open position to show off all that wonderful interior detail. 

Also of interest is the many individual decals for each instrument on the instrument panel in the cockpit.

Other extra features of this kit include cannons in the belly gun bay that you can pose with open gun bay doors.  Plus you get a radar in the clear nose cone as well as a boarding ladder on the underside of the aircraft directly behind the nosegear.


Markings 
I was unaware that the P-61 wore anything but black paint schemes, so it was a treat to see the usual black scheme as well as a faded Olive Drab scheme.  Both aircraft have some sort of noseart including one with a white goose in flight firing cannons.

  • P-61A "Sweatin' Wally", Myitkyina, Burma in 1944.  Overall black paint scheme.
  • P-61A "Lady Gen", Florennes, Belgium in Dec 1944.  Paint scheme is Olive Drab on top and grey on the undersides.  Aircraft has partial D-Day stripes on the underside of the tail booms. 

For paint, the instructions list the numbers for the new GSI Creos Corp. colours and Vallejo colours as well as the usual normal names for the colours (Neutral Gray etc). 

The 1/48 P-61 is an aircraft that badly needed a kit with modern tooling and I'm pleased to see  Great Wall Hobby has released this kit for all 1/48 WW2 modellers to enjoy.  This is a very involved kit and is head and shoulders above the old Monogram P-61 kit.

You can purchase this and other items directly from Great Wall Hobby or from the many retailers that carry their products.  

I would like to thank Great Wall Hobby for providing me with this review sample.

Steve Bamford

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Photos and text by Steve Bamford