Tuesday, August 20

Review: Tamiya's 1/48th scale P-38 F/G Lightning "white box" version

Recently at the US 2019 IPMS Nationals John Bonanni was able to pick up one of the early release "white box" variants of the brand new Tamiya P-38 Lightning - three months before regular release! John knew there was a lot of anticipation and excitement around this kit, so really wanted to show you contents in his "In-boxed" examination in the news...


"White Box" Reveal: Tamiya's new 1/48 Lockheed P-38 F/G Lightning
From Tamiya
Kit No # 61120
1/48th scale
Nose weights, vinyl masks & decals for two aircraft are included.
Fuselage length: 240mm, wingspan: 330mm.
MSRP $80.00

When news first broke of a possible Tamiya P-38 there was endless excitement. Fast forward a few months and the first test shots began to hit the internet forums and social media, the excitement continued to build.

The culmination of everything came at the 2019 IPMS Nationals in Chattanooga, TN. For 300 lucky registrants, they would have the chance to buy Tamiya’s newest offering. In this case, the model has not considered a production version but Tamiya’s infamous ‘White Box’ offering.

Typically, White Box versions include only preproduction sprues and instructions printed on regular office paper. However, in the P-38’s case, it could be considered nearly a production model with exception to the box and sprue colour (light grey). Essentially, everything that will appear with the production model was in the White Box; full-colour profile guides, canopy masks, proper instructions, and decal sheet. I believe the White Box disclaimer covers Tamiya if they’d like to make any last-minute changes.

A test shot of the Lighting was on display at the IPMS Nationals


As mentioned the 2019 IPMS Nationals was the debut event for the P-38. In the back corner of the convention hall stood Tamiya’s trade stand, which proudly displayed a fully assembled model along with a data sheet. The built-up model grabbed the attention of every modeller who walked by. Now, you’re probably wondering where were they for sale. Well, they weren’t. Every one of the 936 convention registrants received a green ticket and 300 lucky individuals would be given the chance to buy a P-38 for $50 USD. I was one of the lucky ones.


1 in 300 - here is the box the model came in...
When you open the box you’re greeted by a pile of seven light grey sprues, I suspect the production version will be a darker grey plastic. Additionally, you are presented with one clear sprue that contains different canopy positioning options, three ball bearing counterweights, extensive decal sheet, premarked Kabuki mask sheet, and two colour profile guides. 

Sprue A
This sprue holds one large single pieces that comprise the top half of the wing and centre fuselage.
 A closer shot showing the panel line and rivet mouldings. Just enough in this scale,  however, we do know some will add more rivets...­čśĆ
Sprue B
Here you’ll find the propellers, horizontal stabilizer, bottom halves of the wing, and nose access panels.
 A nice curve on the props is shown from this picture, notice the finely moulded cockpit controls, not much if any aftermarket would be needed for the cockpit you would think.
Sprue C
The centrepiece of the sprue is the large main wing spare. The sprue also contains other internal components, interior gear door sections, and two nose wheel options. The large holes on the internal boom supports will hold the ball bearing counterweights.
The structure of the nose gear doors is plain to see here
 The nose wheel is offered in both spoked and disk rim versions like the rear landing gear. There is some very nice detail included inside the gear bays.
Sprue D/E "(x2)
Although technically one the sprue is shown below is actually both D and E sprues. The drop tanks will immediately grab your attention, but this sprue also holds components from all areas of the aircraft. Again, two-wheel options are provided and the rudders are moulded separately. You’ll also see radiator intakes, propeller spinner, external gear door panels, and smaller details.
The reverse side. You can see you are offered the choice of both 150 and 300-gallon drop tanks in this boxing.
Both covered and eight-spoked main landing gear wheels are included in the kit. The one, diamond patter is the only one available in this kit, and the tyres are not weighted.
Sprue F
A large section of this sprue contains the iconic twin booms. The sprue also contains the leading edge sections, wingtips, ailerons, nose, and landing gear.
The booms are supplied as two vertical separated halves which include the tails. Posable control surfaces on the tail are added of course before these twin-booms are sealed.
The tricycle landing gear is moulded with no real seam mark to remove. The oleos are not attached to anything so no nasty seam work - in fact, the sprue is connected at the top or the bottom, or the square parts of the process meaning removal scare are minimised or not seen after removed.
 The gun-nosed variant of the Lightning is iconic, and it is nicely moulded here
The turbochargers are replicated pretty well, and separately so they can be painted and weathered off the aircraft if you like.
Sprue G
Here you’ll find the cockpit, pilot, and bottom half of the fuselage. Two instrument panels are offered and the pilot figure is beautifully sculpted.
A choice of two instrument panels are included, with no photo-etch for the stirrups on the pilot's rudder pedals which could be a nice addition to the kit if they were included.
Panel lines and rivets are sutle on this kit. Some will opt for, even more to be added, but these should be enough for most modellers tastes.
(Clear) Sprue H
Crystal clear canopy sections await you on this sprue. Two options are provided and both can be modelled open or closed. Gunsights and wing light lens are found here as well.
You can see through these pretty easily. The canopy can be assembled open or closed. When closed, it is a 1-part slide-moulded piece with dedicated F and G variant parts. The hatch is shown open sideways on the P-38F, and vertically on the P-38G.
Ball Bearings
A small packet of ball bearings is included in the model. Their home is in each boom and nose to keep your model from being a tail-sitter.
Decal Sheet
Despite being only offered 2 marking options the enclosed decal sheet is extensive. Seat belts, instruments, stencils, and mirror stickers are some of the details that await the modeller.
Kabuki Sheet
Following their current trend, Tamiya provides a small sheet of premarked Kabuki sheet for the canopy mask. Simply follow the lines with a new Xacto blade. 
Photo 24
Profile Sheets
Colour guides and decal locations are shown on the two large double-sided profile sheets. Each aircraft option has its own sheet labelled A or B.

A: “White 147” 339th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force, Operation Vengeance (attack on Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s aircraft), Guadalcanal, April 1943 
A photo of the real "Miss Virginia" aircraft,

B:  “White 33” 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, Port Moresby, Late 1942
 A photo of the real aircraft in New Guinea in 1942. Note - this is NOT the aircraft (also numbered white 33" from the same squadron) with the nose writing "Japanese Sandman II". That is a different aircraft.

John Bonanni

For more information on this kit and distributors worldwide here is the product link on the Tamiya Website