Airfix 1/48 P-51D Mustang
KIT #: A05131
PRICE: £20.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: 2017 tooling


Fun fact about the “Mustang legend”: according to North American, the Mustang prototype was designed and built in 120 days. However, according to Edgar Schmued in 1981: “I had begun working on the design five years earlier when I was hired at Messerschmitt, as an exercise in fixing all the things wrong with the 109.”

Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson is also a well-known topic. 


When Airfix announced in 2015 that they would produce a new 1/48 P-51D Mustang, the event was met with yawns. “Another P-51?” It’s true, there are a lot of them out there. As Airfix released the CAD mockups, people began to take note, since the designers were catching things about the airplane other kits had ignored.

The end result in the box is a kit with early and late “bubble” canopies, and an accurately-shaped “Dallas” canopy; a choice of ventilation holes or louvres for the forward cowling; flaps that have no “ledge” when deployed (and the design is such one cannot get the wrong angle); landing gear designed to self-position at the correct angle (no more dangling main gear); a front windscreen that is a one-piece design with the fuselage, so there are no more gaps; correct main gear well with the main spar backing the whole thing; correct “early” and “late” dorsal fin options; all control surfaces are posable.

Cartograf decals for Donald Strait’s 351st FG ‘Jersey Jerk” and a 1st Air Commando Mustang are included.

So, is it indeed “a better mousetrap”? Read on.


Taking my time, and fitting parts carefully (not to mention following the instructions) I had the kit assembled in five hours, with no filler anywhere. Parts fit is precise. Be sure you trim off all little “sprue nubs.” The instructions are clear and easy to follow.

I prepainted the cockpit parts Dull Dark Green, with flat black for the fuel tank and the non-skid on the cockpit floor. Once assembled, the cockpit provides sufficient detail that when installed, I don’t think you’re really going to want to invest in a resin cockpit. I elected to do the model OOB (other than markings and decals), and painted the molded-on seat belts.

The wing is easily constructed, and it is nice to see that the main gear well - for the first time in any 1/48 Mustang kit - uses the main spar as the rear wall of the well throughout. By providing two sets of flaps - one for “up, one for “down,” Airfix is able to offer flaps that in the “down” position do not have the “ledge” so familiar with the Tamiya kit. They have tabs that insure they’re in the full-down position when installed.

Everyone normally has fits over getting the main gear legs positioned at the proper angle; failure to get it right is the major “fail” in Mustang models, even those built by “experts.” Airfix has designed this gear so that one sticks it in the hole and it is positioned at the right angle. No more hemming and hawing.

As with most injection-molded canopies, getting the canopy on this kit to sit properly in the open position is difficult due to the thickness of the part. The solution is easy: I scraped down the interior of the lower canopy frame from a point about 1/8-inch from the front, so that it was “knife-edge” thin. I then clipped the bottoms off either end of the canopy brace and attached it. With this, the canopy will easily “sit right” (i.e., on top of the fuselage not above it), and the flattened tips of the brace make a good attachment point.

Since I was doing a P-51D-10, I used the “early” dorsal fin. If you cannot distinguish the two, the early fin has a constantly-curved upper line in profile. You can also distinguish these parts by the fact the instructions call for you to use the other parts for the “late” dorsal fin.

I decided to have the pilot “kick” the controls as he climbed out, with the rudder pedals slightly offset, and the stick knocked forward to the left, which allowed me to pose all the separate control surfaces slightly offset.

The wing and fuselage assemblies came together with a satisfying “click” and there was no need for filler anywhere.


I had determined to use decals designed to fit the Tamiya Mustang, to see if they fit this kit. I elected to do “Bud” Anderson’s well-known “Old Crow,” using the decals from the Tamiya “8th AF Aces” limited release.

Other than painting the upper surfaces with RAF Dark Green (they were not olive drab, because there was no US olive drab available, so they used RAF colors; RAF Dark Green and US “green” Olive Drab are nearly identical, since they are both based on the official color formula for British World War I “PC.10"). The lower surfaces were painted RAF Sea Grey Medium. I went over the upper surfaces a second time after putting two brushfuls of Tamiya “purple” in the paint, so get a shade that would have been “faded” by ultraviolet light at altitude (the only place in the ETO airplanes were exposed to “sun fading”).

The Tamiya decals were used for the ID stripes, D-Day stripes, and individual aircraft markings. I realized Tamiya made a mistake providing only the one “Old Crow” so used the two available in an old Super-Scale sheet in the decal dungeon. I used the kit decals for the national insignia. Everything fit like a glove. There will be no problem using that mountain of decals all Mustang-loving modelers have in their stash.

I gave the model a “Satin” finish clear coat, and left the airplane clean as if it had just been waxed the night before that day’s mission. Photos of the original show it was kept as close to “spotless” as possible. I carefully painted the white sidewalls on the outer side of the main wheels and both sides of the tail wheel.

I unmasked the canopy and glued it in position, then assembled the main gear and attached each in position. The attachment is positive and there is no problem getting the correct angle for the gear legs. I then attached the exhaust stacks and prop and called it done. 


The. Best. 1/48. P-51D. Available. This kit represents excellent value for money (In the US, it will be cheaper than the Tamiya kit by a good $4-$5). In terms of what you get for the price you pay, this kit will be hard to beat by anyone. Yes, Eduard’s doing one next year they claim will be “definitive”, but for the price they’ll charge, you’ll be able to get three of these.

The kit is designed for easy construction. Any modeler from a beginner with a couple kits completed to someone like me who’s been doing P-51s for mumblemumble years can follow the instructions in assembling this kit, secure in the knowledge they will have an excellent result.

This Mustang is Airfix’s best kit to date. It could be the “license to print money” they hoped the early P-40 would be.

Buy In Confidence.

Tom Cleaver

16 November 2017


Review kit purchased at Hannant’s.

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