P-43 Lancer

The P-43 was first delivered to the United States Army Air Corps in 1940.  While not a particularly outstanding fighter, the P-43A had a very good high-altitude performance coupled with an effective oxygen system. Fast and well-armed with excellent long-range capabilities, until the arrival of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the Lancer was the only American fighter capable of catching a Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" reconnaissance plane at the speeds and heights at which they flew. In addition, the P-43 flew many long-range, high-altitude photo recon missions until replaced by F-4/F-5 Lightnings (P-38 variants) in both the USAAF and RAAF.

The Seversky Aircraft Company, which in 1939 changed its name to Republic, constructed a range of private venture, one-off variants of its P-35 design, featuring different power plants and enhancements, designated AP-2, AP-7, AP-4 (which flew after the AP-7), AP-9, and XP-41. The series included a carrier-based version designated the NF-1 (Naval Fighter 1) that was also built. The most significant of these was the AP-4, which served as the basis for future Seversky/Republic aircraft. It featured fully retractable landing gear, flush riveting, and most significantly a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC2G engine with a belly-mounted turbo-supercharger, producing 1,200 hp and good high-altitude performance. The turbo-supercharger had been refined by Boeing as part of the development program for the B-17 Flying Fortress, and the improved performance it offered was of great interest to other aircraft manufacturers.

The XP-41 and sole AP-4 were nearly identical, although the AP-4 was initially fitted with a large prop spinner and a tight-fitting engine cowling, as a testbed to evaluate means of improving the aerodynamics of radial engined fighters, following similar experiments with the first production P-35. The AP-4's big spinner was later removed and a new tight cowling fitted. Unsurprisingly, these measures led to overheating problems. On 22 March 1939, the engine caught fire in flight, the pilot had to bail out, and the AP-4 was lost. Despite the loss of the prototype, the USAAC liked the turbo-supercharged AP-4 demonstrator enough to order 13 more in May 1939, designating them YP-43.

The first of 13 YP-43s was delivered in September 1940, the last in April 1941. Early testing revealed a strong tendency to yaw during takeoff and landing rolls, fixed by redesigning the tailwheel. Although the aircraft exceeded the initial USAAC performance requirements, by 1941 it was clearly obsolete, lacking maneuverability, armor, or self-sealing fuel tanks. The USAAC felt the basic P-35/P-43 design had exhausted its reserves for further improvement in performance and shifted its interest to the promising P-47.

Production aircraft, identical to the YP-43 prototypes, were designated "Lancer" and were delivered between 16 May and 28 August 1941. Ongoing delays in the P-47 program resulted in USAAC ordering an additional 80 P-43J, with Pratt & Whitney R-2180-1 Twin Hornet engine rated at 1,400 hp (1,000 kW). The engine promised better high-altitude performance, and armament was upgraded with 0.50 in machine guns replacing the 0.30 in in the wings. The USAAC was sufficiently interested to assign the AP-4J variant an official designation P-44 Rocket. Combat reports from Europe indicated that the new type was already obsolete, consequently, the entire order was canceled on 13 September 1940, with no prototypes built.

Alexander Kartveli and his team focused their efforts on the advanced AP-10/XP-47 which eventually became the fabled P-47 Thunderbolt. When the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine intended for the new P-47 was not yet available, it was decided to order 54 P-43s to keep the Republic production lines operating. An additional 125 P-43A-1s were ordered for China through the Lend-Lease program, originally intended to equip the Third American Volunteer Group (AVG). These initially differed in the Air Materiel Command specification from earlier P-43s in being armed with two 0.50 in machine guns in each wing and no fuselage guns, and having rudimentary armor and fuel tank protection. This would have required a series of serious engineering changes. Reality intervened: actually, as delivered, the P-43A-1 had the same armament layout as the P-43As: four .50 in machine guns, two in the cowl and two in the wings. Externally, they were identical, and only the serial numbers distinguishes a P-43A from a P-43A-1. Many of these aircraft were fitted with cockpit armor before shipment westward from California in crates; evidence is murky whether this additional armor came from Republic or was cobbled together after delivery.

By 1942, a total of 272 P-43s were built, including all its variants, a remarkable number considering the original intention was to not build any.

The Lend-Lease aircraft were delivered to China through Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers. Pilots involved in the ferrying flights commended the P-43 for its good high-altitude performance compared to the Curtiss P-40, good roll rate, and a radial engine without a vulnerable liquid cooling system. Apparently, several AVG pilots asked Chennault to keep some P-43s, but the request was denied due to the aircraft's lack of armor or self-sealing fuel tanks. In addition, the turbo-supercharger proved unreliable and the "wet wing" fuel tanks leaked constantly. In April 1942, Robert Lee Scott Jr. — a USAAF pilot with the AVG —photographed the peaks of Mt. Everest from 44,000 ft (13,000 m), attesting to the strengths of this aircraft.

The type was replaced by other aircraft in early 1944. Rudimentary protection added on the P-43A-1 was insufficient. In addition, the R-1830 engines were in high demand for the Douglas C-47 transport, effectively grounding the surviving aircraft.

The USAAC considered the P-43 and its variants obsolete from the start and used them only for training purposes. In fall 1942, all surviving USAAF (transitioned from USAAC in June 1941) P-43s were redesignated RP-43, indicating they were unfit for combat. Most of the aircraft that were not sent to China were modified for photo-reconnaissance duties and used for training. Eight P-43s (four P-43A-1s and four P-43Ds) were loaned to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942 and served with No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit. The RAAF flew many long range, high-altitude photo reconnaissance missions before the six survivors were returned to the USAAF in 1943. A more complete and well researched article of the P-43's use in China by Richard Dunn can be found here.

The Kit

Dora Wings is a fairly recent new comer to the modeling world from the Ukraine. Even though they only have a short history they have been very prolific and seem to be concentrating mainly of types that the main stream manufactures have ignored and are making kits in 1/144, 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32. If interested check out their website here.

The kit comes in a medium sized top open type box with a thin top and thin corrugated bottom. The box is less than full allowing for some parts shifting. That said I found no damaged parts in my kit. All of the sprues were contained in one cellophane bag with a separate zip lock bag for the clear parts and another for the decals, PE fret and canopy masks. The parts are molded in a light grey plastic in spite of what they look like in some of my sprue photos. There are six altogether, all rather small. The surface detail consists of fine engraved panel lines with some raised detail and some restrained rivet or fastener detail. The surface is smooth and almost glossy. Flash was minimal for the most part but a few pieces had a bit that should be easy to remove. On the wings and fuselage all of the sprue attachment points, and there seem to be an abundance of them, are located on the mating surfaces. Some like this some don't I mixed on it at this time, they still require care in removal if you don't want to do filling later on. Mold alignment is good with only light parting lines on round parts. I did not find any surface defects on any of the airframe parts or any short shots on the other parts.

The cockpit is very well detailed for the scale and considering how much will be visible through the rather small cockpit opening. It consist of a  floor, rear bulkhead, seat, two side panels to which no fewer than ten separate parts are added. The forward bulkhead has the gun breeches which you add to the cockpit side and a rather complicated looking motor mount which you assemble on the other side. Rudder pedals and a control stick round out the plastic parts. The instrument panel has options. A plastic panel has the instruments dials molded in for those who wish to just paint them. A separate part is supplied that is smooth and you can apply a decal to this then place the supplied PE instrument panel over it.

The landing gear are also very detailed. The torque scissors are separate and there are tow separate struts plus an actuation cylinder for each gear. The wheels and tires are in halves and not weighted. The tail wheel strut is a two piece affair and the wheel is a single piece.

The engine is also well detailed with both banks of cylinders separate push rod spiders, a separate ignition harness and crankcase with a separate magneto. A bunch of what look like oil connector tubes for between the cylinders are included but look to be quite fiddly to install and I'm not sure how visible they will be once inside the cowling. The cowling is a four piece affair with two sides a top and front piece. These may be fiddly as well. PE cowl flaps are suppled as separate items. The propeller is one piece molding with a separate spinner.

OK, lets look at the sprues. The first one, sprue B contains the fuselage halves, two rear cowling halves, the top cowl part, the forward bulkhead and two instrument panel parts. The holes in the bulkhead are for the motor mounts.  One note, there is a parts map for the sprues and the instructions call out parts using the sprue letter and a number but there are no numbers for the parts on the sprues so you are on your own there.

Next up is sprue D, only the bottom sprue had a letter on it, the upper one did not but the parts map calls it sprue C. Sprue C has only the lower wing. Sprue D has the separate upper wings plus the ailerons.

Sprue F is very busy with the Prop, landing gear struts and wheels, motor mounts, cockpit side walls and many of the cockpit detail items.

Sprue E contains the gear bays with nice surface detail, cockpit floor, seat and rear bulkhead, inner landing gear doors, exhaust pipe to the turbo charger, turbo charger, more cockpit detail parts and some not used on this variant.

And lastly sprue  A which contains the tail planes, elevators and rudder and the engine parts.


The clear parts are a little thicker than I like but clear and relatively distortion free.

The decals are printed by Decograph in the Ukraine, new to me so time will tell how well the go down. The printing is in register and all appear
to be quite opaque, except for the the numbers and lettering there is minimal excess film. Markings are supplied for four aircraft. The first one is identified only as YP-43, USAAC, 1941, the second as s/n 40-2920 of the 55th pursuit group, Portland AB, January 1942, the third s/n 41-6721, 1942 and the last as s/n 41-31496, August 1943.

Also included in the kit was a small PE fret with the instrument panel, seat belts and harness, cowl flaps, a couple vent screens and several small parts tha I couldn't find on the instruction sheet. Also included but not photographed was a mask set for the clear parts.
The instructions are printed on three A4 sheets folded in half to create a small booklet 12 pages long. The cover has a color print of the box art, page two is the parts map, pages 3 through 7 are the assembly instructions. The diagrams are a little small but easy enough to follow. Part numbers are called out but aren't helpful and the parts are not numbered on the sprues. Pages 8 through 11 are the painting and lettering profiles which are printed in color and the last page is color chart with references to Mr. Hobby, Tamiya, Ammo by Mig, Hataka, and Life Color.

After Market Goodies

None that I have found at the time of this review

This is a limited run kit and as such uses no alignment pins. That said its far above what one would expect from a limited run kit from a few years ago. The kit is nicely detailed and with the provided PE and mask kit should not need any after market. Treat it as a limited run kit with lots of test fitting and it should go together with minimal fuss. Dora Wings should be praised for tacking some less well known subjects that the main stream makers wouldn't even consider. This is my first kit from them but I suspect it won't be the last.

Links to kit build or reviews



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Updated 3-31-21