Tamiya 1/48 P-38F/G Lightning Progressive Build: Part 1

I was fortunate to attend the IPMS National Meeting/Contest in Chattanooga Tennessee–The ‘Nooga Nat’s— last month where an awesome time was had by all. A sincere thanks is owed to the folks behind the scenes for putting on such a well organized and enjoyable show: Well Done!

While enjoying the vendors room, I received a text from a fellow attendee and member of my home IPMS chapter, Dan C., saying he’d won the new Tamiya P-38 through the convention raffle and didn’t want it; was anybody interested?

Interested? Oh yes, I’m Interested!!!!

Now, Dan C. is a jet guy so props, especially two, hold little interest for him; not so for me 🙂 Needless to say, through Dan’s good graces, I got the kit and what a kit it is! I’ve been building models for a long time and I’ve never seen a kit as well engineered as this new P-38 from Tamiya. Many thanks to Dan C. for his amazingly generous offer. I owe ya one, Dan.

Despite being crammed into my luggage for the flight home, the plain white box, adorned with a small picture of the box art intended for the production kits, arrived undamaged and was on my work bench toot sweet so let’s get to it 🙂

For the Hyperscale review of the kit go here

The Build: Part I

As I do with all my builds, the sprues were soaked for 2hrs in a 50:50 solution of Windex (original formula) and Denatured Alcohol (DA). The type of DA used is for cleaning glass; not the type used as as a fuel for camp stoves and is available at hardware and paint stores. After the soak, the sprues were allowed to dry and the build began.

All parts were removed from the sprues with Gods Hand cutters and cleaned up with 600 and 1,000 grit Alpha Abrasives and a fresh #11 blade.

As usual, assembly begins with the cockpit and here the details are beautifully rendered. The parts were affixed to a painting board with wads of putty and were primed and painted using an H-S Evolution fitted with a 0.20mm tip.

Scroll to the end of this article for suggestions on diluting and spraying Mission Primers, Paints, Metallics, and Clear Coats.


Parts such as the instrument panel and control yoke that are supposed to be black were left in Mission Black Primer.





Bondic is a liquid glue available at many hardware stores that hardens instantly when exposed to ultra-violet light. The Bondic applicator comes with an integral UV light source (Blue Arrow, below) and a needle-like applicator on the other end covered by a protective cap. As with the P-38 panel (above) I also used this little trick on the main panel of the AFV Club 1/48 U-2.

Harder-Steenbeck Infinity Solo:

-0.15mm Tip

Lever-Limiting Tail Piece w/ Memory

-Free Shipping

Free Mix Kit-101

0.5mm Wide Lines Right Out of the Box!

          $237.85 Delivered


The cockpit floor and side-panels were painted with a custom mix of Mission Chromate Green, Interior green, and White. Unfortunately, I got the color a bit light for my eye so I’ll have to darken that up a bit with a wash later in the build.





The left and right cockpit side panels literally clip onto the sides of the cockpit floor thereby completing the sub-assembly.








The completed cockpit tub:





The nose wheel well components were tackled next and here again the fit is excellent and the detail abundant. Since I opted to finish the wheel well in natural metal, the sequencing was pretty straight forward: Black Primer, Aluminum, and Tamiya Panel Liner cleaned up with cotton bulbs moist with Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner (available at most Hardware stores). All primer and paints were were applied with an H-S Evolution fitted with a 0.20mm tip.

Harder-Steenbeck Evolution Silverline Solo:

-0.20mm Tip

-Lever-Limiting Tail Piece

-Free Shipping

Free Mix Kit-101

           1.0 mm Wide Lines Right Out of the Box!

          $154.30 Delivered











The upper portion of the nose wheel well is an integral component of the full-span wing spar. Just like the cockpit components, the wheel well side panels simply clip onto the center section with no fuss.










The Completed Nose Wheel Well:







The completed nose well/spar assembly drops into the bottom section of the fuselage/cockpit pod. Note the heavy ball bearing (supplied with the kit) and the well-engineered receptacle that holds the bearing in place: awesome.


























The upper portion of the fuselage is integral with the full-span upper wing part. The cockpit tub fits into the upper section which is then mated with the lower section containing the nose wheel well. The fit of the upper and lower fuselage halves is perfect. 




















The ample cockpit detail will be easily seen through the large and crystal-clear canopy parts (scroll down for a pic).  To make things even easier on the builder, Tamiya provided both closed and open canopies, including the sliding, side panels, so if you’ve super-detailed the pilots office it’ll be easy to show off your work.









This kit is a dream to build. Time spent carefully cleaning and prepping the parts will be rewarded with a nearly flawless fit of practically every component. In Part II of this progressive build we’ll assemble the main wheel wells and booms. Stay tuned!

Now I gotta go paint some P-38 parts!


More Tamiya P-38 Pics Below:





























Suggestions for Diluting and Spraying Mission Primers and Paints

Mission Primers:

I dilute Mission Primers 1:1 or 50:50 with Mission Thinner. No Polymix should be added. If it’s a dry or hot day, I’ll add a few drops of Liquitex Flow Aid to lessen tip dry. I usually spray diluted primer at 12-15psi. The size of the model determines the airbrush tip size used but usually between 0.20 to 0.40mm for 1/72, 1/48, and 1/35. I apply the primer first as a dry or tacky coat followed by a wet fill coat.

Mission Paints:

To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Missions Polyurethane Mix Additive (Polymix: a flow and leveling agent) has been added to ~10%. I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying. Using a pre-mixed solution of Polymix and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner.

If counting drops is how you roll, no worries. Thinner-10 is roughly 1 drop of Polymix to ~10 drops of Thinner. If you prefer to work in ratios Thinner-10 equates to a ratio of Polymix to Thinner of 1:10. I prepare a large volume of Thinner-10 (40ml) and store this in an appropriate bottle for use when painting. Properly stored, Thinner-10 lasts for many months with no issues.

I then dilute Mission Paints with Thinner-10 using the following guidelines:

General Spraying

Dilute 60:40 with Thinner-10. That’s 6 parts Paint to 4 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi.

Fine-Line Spraying

Dilute 50:50 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10. Spray at ~10psi or less.

Modulation (spraying over pre-shading)

Dilute 50:50 to 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10 and 4 parts to 6 parts Thinner-10, respectively. Spray at ~10-12 psi.

Mission Metallics:

I dilute Mission metallics 70:30 with Thinner-10. That’s 7 parts metallic paint to 3 parts Thinner-10. I apply diluted metallics as light, over-lapping dry coats. I let the preceding coat coat dry (sometimes aided by a hair dryer) before spraying the next coat. The metallic sheen will develop with successive coats.

Mission Clear Coats:

Mission Gloss Coat:

Dilute 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 4 parts Gloss to 6 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi. I like to build Mission Gloss up slowly using light over-lapping dry coats. Avoid getting too much gloss on the model as puddling and runs can occur.

Mission Flat Coat:

Dilute 25:75 with Thinner. That’s 1 part Flat to 3 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi and apply as over-lapping, light, dry coats.