In-Box Review
P-61A/B Cowls & Props - Take 2
Northrop P-61A/B Black Widow Replacement Cowls and Propellers
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

When Great Wall Hobby released their quarterscale Northrop P-61A Black Widow late last year, a number of shortcomings soon came to light. One area that had a few problems was the engines, cowls and propellers, and True Details have released a resin upgrade set to address these concerns.

The set arrives in a clear blister pack on a card backing, which looks attractive and, more importantly offers adequate protection for the parts in transit. I was initially concerned that the style of packaging would be problematic in that you can't reseal it once opened, but the parts are kept in place with a tightly fitting piece of plastic sponge which can double perfectly well as a "lid".

Set #48548 comprises 22 x grey resin parts, which are very crisply cast in the review sample. The upgrade breaks down into 3 main sections:

A pair of new cowls
New propellers, with separate blades and fully formed hubs
Reduction gear units with magneto covers.

One definite problem with the GWH kit was that the cowling openings are too small. Jean-Luc Formery demonstrated in his fine build article that it's quite straightforward to open them up a bit. Another doubt which I expressed in my review of the model was over the contours of the cowls.

The openings in True Details' new resin cowls are approximately 2.5mm wider than in the kit parts, so should look a lot better. Of course, the downside is that they are necessarily cast with a large block that must be removed, and that may actually be slower to do than to modify the kit cowls.

However, that's not quite the end of the story; putting the resin and styrene cowls side by side, it does look as though True Details have also altered the profile slightly and they've included an extra panel line around the front of the cowl which would be quite tricky to scribe neatly.

True Details' new propellors and spinners are a significant improvement over the kit items. The resin parts feature separate blades which are slightly reshaped (being more pointed) compared with GWH's version, while the spinners include some detail for the base of each blade and overcome the unsightly gaps behind the kit blades. One final improvement is that the resin blades don't suffer the small sink marks that afflicted the kit propellers.

The only point I'd warn to watch out for is that the locating tabs at the base of each blade are very short, and even removing them from the casting block with a fine razor saw risks taking away too much material for them to fit positively in the spinners.

Engine fronts
Something which GWH missed entirely in their original release was the distinctive cylindrical reduction gear units at the front of each engine and the prominent magneto covers (although locations for the latter were ironically included on the kit's crankcase parts). True Details' resin components are beautifully cast and detailed, and offer an easy solution for anyone seeking to improve the look of the kit's engines.

Events have somewhat caught up with True Details' P-61A resin upgrade set for the Great Wall Hobby kit, with GWH's announcement of reworked parts in their next release - but for anyone with the original boxing (and, apparently, it still hasn't sold out, so it will be available for sometime to come), the set is a very worthwhile improvement to the model.
Highs: Excellent detail and casting.
Lows: Large casting blocks to remove on the cowls, and short locators on the propeller blades.
Verdict: True Details' resin upgrade offers an easy solution for anyone looking to improve the look of a first-release GWH Black Widow.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48548
  Suggested Retail: $13.49
  PUBLISHED: Mar 20, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Squadron Products!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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