Completed : Italeri 1/48 North American A-36 Apache


Kit Info
Brand: Italeri No. 2729
Scale: 1/48
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Kit

The Subject
The North American A-36 Apache (also listed as ‘Invader’ or ‘Mustang’) was the ground attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang. A total of 500 A-36s served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the Chine-Burma-India theater during World War II before being withdrawn from service in 1944. The A-36 was a modified P-51 fitted with bomb racks, dive brakes and completely redesigned heavier-duty wings.

The A-36 proved to be a potent weapon as it could be consistently put into a vertical dive at 12,000 ft with the deployed dive brakes which limited the dive speed to 390 mph. Bomb release took place between 2,000 ft and 4,000 ft followed by an immediate sharp ‘pull up’. Besides dive bombing, the A-36 would also rack up 84 aerial victories and creating 1 ‘ace’, Lt. Michael T. Russo.

As fighting and hazardous missions intensified, the A-36 suffered a high loss rate of 177 falling to enemy action in all theaters. By June 1944, the A-36 in Europe were replaced by the P-40 Warhawk and P-47 Thunderbolt. Only the USAAF operated the A-36 with 1 lone aircraft supplied to the RAF for experimental purposes.

Info adapted from Wikipedia

The Kit
This is a rebox of the Accurate Miniatures kit from 1994. The Italeri boxing was first released in 2013. Inside the box are 3 gray and 1 clear sprues of plastic parts that barely take up 2/3 of the space. The kit is made up of 81 parts with only 2 clear parts that are not used. I’m assuming these are for the P-51 variant.

Details of the parts are nice with fine and consistent panel lines although they are not as sharp as modern kits. No flash is in sight but there are a few sink marks on the fuselage parts. Parts breakdown is straightforward with my following observations:

  • the fuselage halves are molded as 2 separate parts: nose and main body
  • the unique dive brakes on the wings are unfortunately, molded in place
  • the canopy can only be installed closed
  • 2x 500kg bombs are included and are made up of 6 parts each
  • each tire is made up of 4 parts: 2 hubs and 2 wheel halves
  • the instrument panel is a clear part
  • both round and flattened tires are provided
  • the clear parts are decent and a bit on the thick side but the frames are nicely molded
  • the seat harness is a decal
  • no options for lowered flaps

Italeri provides for 3 USAAF and 1 RAF marking options that cover A-36s from the European, African and Chine-Burma-India theaters. The one on the box cover with the shark mouth is the most interesting to me. They are nicely printed with sharp details and good register.

I did a quick dryfit of the major parts and they fit quite well. All in all, it should be a straightforward build.

The Build
As with all the prop kits I’ve built so far, progress was fast. The cockpit was quickly painted and weathered and installed before both halves of the fuselage came together. The cockpit interior looks nicely busy with quite a bit of details in the sidewalls. Alas, these weren’t visible once the fuselage was put together. I scratchbuilt the seat harness since it’s good for practice and looks better than the decal.

I built each half first then joined them together instead of the called for assembly of the front and back separately. This way I avoided the chance of a step at the joint between the nose and the main body.

I decided to go with the flattened wheels and hope I can get the orientation correct when I install them. For the wings, I attached the 1 piece bottom wing to the fuselage first before attaching the top sides. This makes it easier to minimize any gaps in the wingroots.

The landing gear, propeller and bombs were all prepped separately. The tail gear had to be installed when the 2 fuselage halves were joined. Luckily I managed to not break this part throughout the build.

The kit includes 4 barrels for the wing guns but a check online of A-36 photos show that they don’t protrude so I left them off.

The only real issue I had was a seamline on an indented area on the nose. I tried to fill it some liquid putty without much luck. In the end, I decided to live with the seamline. I also managed to break off one of the nose gun barrels which I had to carefully re-attach at the end of the build.

/waves Jedi hand: ‘You did not see the gap on the nose. Move along…’

Colors & Markings
All the options are in the same color scheme: Olive Drab over Medium Gray. I did my usual combination of black base, white marble coat then main color. This time, I used Tamiya acrylic paint thinned with lacquer thinner for the marble coat which took less time and was much easier to control and execute. The main colors were thinned quite a bit with drops of flow improver and glaze medium added to reduce the opacity so the marble coat shows up more. I think they worked quite well and had an atypical satin smooth finish and I’ll be doing the same going forward. The demarcations were done with blutack so they are a bit soft.

Markings-wise I was going to model the A-36 piloted by Lt. Bert Benear of the 526th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter Group flying over Italy in 1944. The badass shark mouth sold it for me. The decals for the wing bands don’t account for the grills on the dive brakes so I decided to make my life easier by masking and painting them instead. These were a custom mix of yellow and a bit of orange. I think I might overdone the color, but they matched well with the yellow in the other decals. The decals were robust, went on easily and reacted well with Mark Softer.

Finishing
I began with chipping using silver acrylic paint. I also used the main colors on the silver chips to knock the contrast down slightly. Once cured I did the usual panel wash with Mig AMMO Deep Brown panel line wash. Once the panel washes have been cleaned up I installed the landing gear.

I then used white, dark gray and dark brown oil paint as filters for the kit. These knock down the contrast even more so once dried, I went back in and added more chipping which gives the look of both ‘old’ and ‘new’ paint chips. The gun port residue was done with Tamiya Weathering Master. The exhaust stains were done in the same way but I also carefully sprayed some black gray acrylic paint to deepen the colors.

The whole kit was then given a flat coat and last on were the bombs, antenna and painting the wing lights. I decided not to add aerials this time.

So… not a bad result though I think I could improve on areas like the randomness of the chips and being more careful with masking of the canopy. The kit itself though, fits well and is recommended.

Build Log
> Part 1 : Construction
> Part 2 : Cockpit
> Part 3 : Painting
> Part 4 : Finishing

Number 02 of 2019

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