1/144 P-38L/J Lightning
Kit Number: 14617
Reviewed by  John King, IPMS# 46812

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MSRP: $8.99

Modelers who enjoy building 1/144th aircraft have been treated quite well in the past few years. There has been a myriad of new 1/144th models in the past few years. Recently, Minicraft has jumped on the 1/144th bandwagon and released a few "new" 1/144th kits. One of those "new" Minicraft kits is the 1/144th P-38J Lightning.

Upon opening the box, the modeler is greeted with three gray sprues, one clear canopy, decal sheet and instructions. The canopy and decals were not packaged separately. The parts have a lot of flash on them and the canopy is not very convincing. However, the decal sheet is awesome! More on the decals later.

[review image] This boxing of the P-38J appears to be the old Crown kit, and the kit shows its age. There is no cockpit and the landing gear is simplified, but remember that this is 1/144th scale. Looking over the parts, I decided from the beginning that this would be an in-flight model. The kit includes four spinners, two with props and two without props (for the in-flight display), but I chose to use the spinners with the props. Building the kit with the gear up not only saves on time cleaning up the landing gear, but you also do not have to find a place for nose weight.

Building went smooth, even though all the parts required filler. In fact, the area that requires the most filler is the canopy to fuselage area. Taking this into account and the fact that there is no cockpit, I chose to paint the canopy. After filling and sanding, I noticed that the nose looked odd. Either one side of the fuselage does not have the correct curve, or I sanded too much material. The modeler will also note that there are no guns in this kit.

The decals are a real gem in this kit. They include markings for three P-38s: a natural metal P-38L-1 of the 49FG, PTO (Philippines 1944); an OD over gray P-38J-15 of the 20FG, ETO (England 1944); and another natural metal P-38L-20 of the 24FS, CTO (Panama 1944). I chose to build the P-38J in OD over gray with the yellow spinners. I painted my model with Model Master acrylics and brushed Future on the model before applying decals. The decals seemed a little thick, but after some setting solution, they settled down nicely. One note about the decals for the P-38J "Gentle Annie" is that they have one too many Swastikas, but that is a simple fix. The decal sheet also contains two sets of additional serial numbers.

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[review image] Since this model is built in-flight, I took some brass rod and made a simple stand for the model. The end result is a nice depiction of the P-38 in flight. I spent about four hours building and painting this kit. This kit does have a lot of flash, some fit issues, and is soft on the detail. However, if you want a 1/144th P-38 with some nice decal options, this is the kit for you!

A huge thank you goes out to Minicraft Models and IPMS for allowing me the opportunity to add a 1/144th P-38 to my display case.

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