P-38L Lockheed Lightning
Cutting Edge conversion
Kit No. 0000. 1:32nd scale

Ted's Corner



          I have always had a soft spot for the Lockheed Lightning and have built a few in my time in 1/72nd and 1/32nd scales but always they have been brightly decorated bare metal schemes and this new kit follows the same pattern so when Cutting Edge conversion sets came in for review it gave me a chance to make something different and less colourful for a change.

 The standard kit comes in the usual grey plastic frames; the parts are cleanly moulded and well detailed with lots of recessed rivets and fasteners plus nicely defined panel lines. Along with these come two etched brass sheets mostly hinges and intake grilles but there is a full set of buckles etc. for a complete seat harness using the strap material of your own choice. The clear frame has an excellent canopy set which is crystal clear along with the instrument panel front surface and Nav lights etc.

<>We have three sets of rubber parts, the tyres of course and hinges for the doors of the gun bays plus the wiring harness’s for the engines. Breakdown of the parts seems to be well thought out giving a fairly easy strong build with little chance of miss alignment of the twin booms. There are two complete engines which are fairly well detailed with lots of pipe work including those leading up to the Turbo chargers, these are supported by engine bearers and a firewall and rest in a structure which houses the intakes for the oil cooler and intercooler for the turbos.

The main wheel bays have some moulded details and a number of added parts all making them look busy, one point I liked is the double locating pins on the legs to ensure that you get the forward rake of the legs correct, one point I was disappointed with is that the legs are moulded in  plastic and this plane is a tail sitter unless a fair amount of weight is added to the nose which puts an awful strain on plastic legs but to the rescue comes two sets of metal replacements one from “Scale Aircraft Conversions” in the USA and one from our very own “Aeroclub” in the UK.
Another bonus are the Edouard PE sets for cockpit and gunbays


           The nose wheel bay has a little moulded detail in it and the roof serves as the cockpit floor, quite a bit of detail is provided in the “tub” including etched levers for various controls but it can be further improved using the new Edouard etched set with lots of extra details for here and the gun bays as well as a prepainted set of seat straps. The Edouard instrument panel has to be seen to be believed, not only does it have individual switches, little boxes and plates but there are even separate bezels for some of the instruments, I needed my close up spectacles for this assembly

.inst pan2inst panseat

          As the gun bays can be shown open there is again some nice details in the area which can be improved with the Edouard set, metal barrels for the guns and cannon plus detailing for the ammunition boxes including the handles to pull them out with and the ammunition feeds up to the guns and cannon from some very delicate tiny parts, well worth doing if you want to display the bay open.


          Underwing stores consist of fuel tanks and bombs for the inner pylons and if you choose not to use those then fairings are provided for the ends of the pylons. For the outer wings there are pylons for multiple unguided rockets.<>Cutting Edge provide three sets for conversion addicts, one set CEC32156 converts the engine nacelles to the early Allison engined F,G, H with the sloped cooler intakes,


The second set CEC32157 is a super detailed cockpit with the correct instrument panel for the F,G,H version and has resin control levers more closely resembling the real levers as opposed to the flat brass versions plus you get a perfectly clear resin front wind shield of the earlier design.

nosesticksnose gun doors

The final set CEC32160  is the camera nose conversion for earlier types of P-38 and can be used with the kit engined planes as well as the early Allison engine type. 

Construction notes, 

Step 1…There is a need for Nose weights to be added and a good place for it is inside the engine halves in each boom I think you will need 100gms and so you will also need the Metal legs to support it.

I shortened the rear end of prop shaft part G11 by 1mm as it was a tight fit, Part J1 is made of rubber so the use of superglue is called for, attach the end to part H36 first then leave to harden before fixing each lead in position individually.

Step 2… the trough made up from parts H26/27/30/31, can set at the wrong angle so just insert the pipe, part H35, to keep the correct width until hardened. 

Step 4… I left the wheel off each leg until after painting the finished model to save masking it.
Step 5…Parts B2/9 need not be fitted at this stage as the tiny retraction arms can easily be broken, B3/8 in step7 are the same.
Step 9 and 10…locations for the engines and wheel bays are very positive but take care with the tiny pipes that are meant to protrude through the slots at the front of the nacelle. The clear parts K7/8 are not really windows to view the engines but on the real aircraft they are areas of highly polished metal so the pilot can see if the nose wheel is up or down. The air intakes parts G43/44 should be left off until the wings are attached as the joints may need a little cleaning up and intakes would interfere with this.
Step 26… when inserting the shafts in the elevators make sure you fix them in part D3 as the recess in D19 are too long and you could wind up with nothing to locate the elevator with.
Step 27/28…make sure you note the correct side for each propeller, remember the props turn outward on each side of the aircraft.
Step 29… the pylons for the rockets are shown the wrong way around, the rockets should be reversed and the pylons will have to be fitted on the opposite wing because of the angle on the mating surface. The holes to mount them will need some small alteration to allow this. There is a good reference photo in the P-38 in action book number 109

The remainder of the construction is straight forward but if you want to show the cockpit off then you can leave the canopy roof open and you can “wind down” the side windows as I have done, they are just like car windows and the winding handles are depicted on the cockpit side walls. All you need to do is cut the bottom edge off the windows to the height you require and cement the top part to the cills.
The Conversions

I started with the camera nose set, after cutting parts from the pour blocks the two halves were joined and all the parts were sprayed Matt black with the lenses painted silver, when dry the windows should be cemented in using tiny drops of Super glue then the cameras were placed inside and the unit left to one side till later.


inletsI wanted an early P-38 so I used the engine conversion nacelles for the booms, the first job here was to remove the base area on the mid boom oil coolers by scoring around the panel lines. The replacement part was then inserted and epoxy resin floated in from the inner surfaces which not only held it firmly but also filled most of the tiny gaps, later a small amount of filler was used to finish the joints. I did not remove the kit engine cowlings till after this was done as I wanted a strong structure to avoid any distortion. The new cowlings were assembled and cleaned up then as the kit engines can’t be fitted I cut a small disc from 40thou plasticard  to fill the hole where the propeller would fit, this gave me an enclosed space into which I poured 100gms of lead shot fixed with more epoxy resin.

After fitting the rudders and wheel bays the boom halves were cemented together and the new oil cooler scoops were added,  the joints needed a little filler so I used “Zap A Gap”  to get over this problem. The cowlings were now offered up but the small join lip needed thinning down so that the surfaces of both cowl and boom were level before cementing them together.

          The cockpit in the kit is fairly well detailed and there is the Edouard set to further improve it, the Cutting Edge set gives the correct instrument panel and older wheel control column for the F/G/H types plus all the radio equipment on the rear shelf and while Trumpeter give etched brass levers for throttles and flaps etc they are decidedly flat where as the resin replacements have shape and form for more realism. The seat is basic and the brass harness fittings supplied in the kit need straps cut from your favourite materiel so instead I used Edouard’s painted seat harness which looks authentic. I painted all the interior before assembly using interior green ANA611 with black instruments etc. etc.

<>          The nose wheel bay fits under the cockpit and the whole unit is sandwiched between upper and lower wing sections but don’t forget to fit the boarding ladder first, I fitted the lower outer wing panels but it appears that the dive recovery flaps (parts PE9) were not fitted to this early version so the retraction hole was filled with scrap plastic then sanded smooth along with the hinge moulding on the wing. The booms were added at this stage and a little filler was needed either side of each boom, the tailplanes were cemented on and the elevator was checked for movement.
parts onmasked
The camera bay was now superglued onto the cockpit section it was a pretty good fit but did need some filler to get the surfaces smooth, the Cutting Edge windshield could not be seated properly due to it’s thickness and even with a bit of thinning and filing I couldn’t get a result so I fitted the kit part,

 That is all that is required for the conversion the remainder is as per the kit instructions, the painting was an easy one, olive drab Humbrol 66 over neutral grey Hu 176 with the latter being sprayed on first and the Olive drab sprayed on freehand with a fine soft edge.  A couple of coats of Klear (Future) were applied ready for the decals, “ooops” there are no decal sheets out there at present so it was delve into the spares folder to find some basics and mine came from some old Hisairdec sheets, I just knew I would find a use for them one day. Another coat of Klear and  then I tried a little weathering here with some faded olive drab from the Xtracolor range #X113 just lightly dusted over the top surfaces, the two basic colours are also available from Xtracolor  X112 olive and X133 neutral grey.


       There is one small problem left, as there are no engines in the nacelles there obviously aren’t any prop shafts to hang the props on, a quick solution was a blob of “Blu Tack” behind each spinner and stuck onto the small plates I had cemented to the front of each nacelle. All the tiny details were attended to like Navigation lights and aerials etc. etc. and there I had a very different model from that in the box.





<>An excellent kit with plenty of detail but still room for the superdetailer to improve upon.


 Ted Taylor

  June 2007.

#Back to the Top

Last Page
What's New
Next Page