Author Topic: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale  (Read 1613 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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While the Curtiss P-40 is one of the iconic aircraft of W.W. II,



utterly forgotten is its more streamlined cousin, the YP-40SW.



It all began in Germany in the 1930s. Alexander Lippisch is one of the giants of aeronautics, world-famous for his futuristic designs.



Completely lost to history is his precursor in swept-wing technology, one Professor Albert Lipschitz.



Seeing all the upheaval going on, Prof. Lipschitz left Germany after his favorite Imbiss was taken over by the local Strength Through Joy committee and the cuisine suffered accordingly. He hoped his radical ideas might take off in the United States.



While the good Professor had some success with his swept-wing designs back home, going from garage-built proof-of-concept to a practical aircraft was daunting.





Finally, exigencies caused by the war in Europe provided Prof. Lipschitz with the funding and resources he needed.







He also found a partner in the National Advisory Council on Aeronautics who were keen on cutting-edge technology. A Curtiss P-40 was provided for modification after wind-tunnel tests showed this to be the best currently mass-produced airplane to serve as a test-bed.



By the summer of 1944, the P-40 (s/n 413762) had been modified with swept wings and horizontal tail surfaces. Even the original rudder was altered by slightly changing the curve to compliment the sweep of the other flying surfaces.



The new aircraft, officially designed the YP-40SW (Y for off-budget expenditure, SW for Swept Wing), certainly had a most striking appearance even if the original wing concept was marred somewhat by the classic Curtiss P-40 landing gear knuckle.



While Prof. Lipschitz approached flight testing in a detached, almost clinical manner, inside he was brimming with child-like excitement at finally seeing his swept-wing concept in the form of a modern aircraft, backed by the U.S. government no less!



Unfortunately, while the swept-wings were quite unique, the aircraft was still just a P-40. The modifications improved performance only marginally and other straight-wing fighters already in production such as the P-51, utterly outclassed it.



Still, Prof. Lipschitz's NACA YP-40SW would have a career as a chase plane on the Airacomet X program which was an ill-advised attempt at improving the P-59 that finally terminated in 1948. This made the YP-40SW the last P-40 in U.S. government service even though by then it was made obsolete by the dawning Jet Age.



Seeing things end like that was hard for the good Professor and he died of what some said was a broken heart right about the time the YP-40SW was broken up for scrap. Little remains of either Professor Lipschitz or his radical NACA test-bed and few know that he was one of the early pioneers of swept-wing technology.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 05:48:58 AM by Brian da Basher »

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What can I say Brian? You have once again swept me away with another great build and back story.  ;D
Work in progress ::

I am giving up listing them. They all end up on the shelf of procrastination anyways.

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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2017, 05:47:45 AM »
This all started with the 1/72 Sword Kittyhawk III short-tail 2-in1 kit. Isn't that box art great?



I can almost feel the desert heat! What's inside is none to shabby either.



Another great thing about this kit is that you get two, which is why it looks a little pricier than your typical 1/72 P-40. I got lucky and picked mine up for $25 a couple of years back. While the lack of locator pins make it seem short-run, it's so well engineered and crisply molded that I consider this one of the best later P-40s in this scale. Of course, mine would be a bit different.



You see, I had the wings & tail feathers left over from that awful PM F-86. Hmmm with a well-placed cut I might be able to make that work...



I cut off the wing fences and also reshaped the rudder from the bottom up about half-way so it had a bit of a sweep to go with the wings.



Here's the model's ugliest side. Tamiya putty to the rescue!



Need to spruce that up by adding those famous Curtiss knuckles. PE left over from that N1K1 worked for gear doors and the rest was kit parts and nibs of sprue chopped at an angle.



Of course, those doors that I bravely fought with pretty much disappeared under paint.



Speaking of paint, the old hairy stick full of Model Masters Primer Gray acrylic was used mostly. The canopy was tinted on the inside with Insignia Blue and Flat Black was used on the anti-glare panel. Jet Exhaust was used on those fishtail pipes.



Decals were mostly swiped from a Revell P-51D but the NACA letters were individually cut and applied. That was fun.





Here's the "money shot" with a U.S. penny for scale.



It took me four days to put this one together even though it felt like it took longer while I was nipping off the P-40 wings.



If you come across this kit, I can't recommend it enough. It builds up nice and you get two! The decals that come with it are a treat as well:



and there's a very helpful & colorful painting guide on the back of the box so you can't go wrong.



Unless you completely ignore it along with the instructions...



I hope you enjoyed the YP-40SW and a little more over-looked experimental aircraft history.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 05:56:36 AM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Tophe

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2017, 11:37:50 AM »
 :-* Good! As this happened in RW for the P-63/39, why not the P-40? ;)
https://www.warbirdsforum.com/topic/1335-swept-wing-p-63-king-cobra/

Offline Acree

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2017, 03:09:23 PM »
 :D. The P-40 looks better in this guise than I would have expected!  Nice job!

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2017, 04:31:26 PM »
Odd, in a way that messes with my aesthetic senses. :-\
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Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2017, 08:10:17 AM »
Once again Brian has reached into his bag of ideas and created another unique addition to his modeling portfolio.   Nice matching up with the wings and tail from that F-86 with the P-40 fuselage.  It looks sleek and fast just sitting still.  ;)
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Offline finsrin

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2017, 09:06:16 AM »
So thatz what they did.  Makes sense.  Always a shame when last or one & only plane is destroyed.
Wings combined with sweep of razorback fuselage is a speedy look. :)

Offline Madhatter

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2017, 03:58:29 PM »
that's one P-40 I actually like the look of
Very well done
Those wings make it look sooo much better
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Offline Weaver

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2017, 07:46:35 PM »
That's a splendid job Brian!

You could go one step further with this concept and make it an early jet, with the spinner replaced by a nose cone and the radiator housing serving as the intake. Add a big bulge underneath and split the exhausts Seahawk style at the wingroots.
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Offline pigflyer

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Re: The last P-40 in U.S. Service - an Experimental Tale in 1/72 Scale
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2017, 09:37:25 PM »
Wow, very nice indeed Sir Brian. As usual the back story is a revelation and most entertaining. I look forward to the "Book of hidden aviation according to BdB", what
a volume that will be.
Usual top class finish and looks (and sounds) perfectly real. Great stuff.

Ian
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