''The object is to have this plane compete in scale competitions so I am going for as close to 100% scale as possible. ''
Before getting too carried away, I would do some research into what the judges want for scale competition. I have never seen any go beyond just looking; never into actual function of hardware.
You are right, the judges only look at what they can see.
The functionality is to provide the proper shock absorption for a 40+ pound plane, not to actually simulate the exact function of the P-38, but it will end up being a really good approximation. One item of interest I consistently seen overlooked are really small details like hinge types, wheel wells, etc.