Tamiya 1/48 P-51D Mustang & U.S. Army Staff Car

KIT #: 89732
PRICE: $54.00 MSRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Andrew Abshier
NOTES: Includes staff car and new P-51D bits.


 The P-51D was introduced in 1944, and introduced a cut-down rear fuselage to enable fitment of a bubble canopy for greater visibility.  The new type also increased machine gun armament to six .50 caliber machine guns over the four in the P-51B/C.  In service the reviews from pilots were mixed.  Most appreciated the greater visibility and armament, but the bubble canopy's increased drag cut down on speed, and some said the aircraft handled relatively sluggishly as compared to the P-51B/C variants.  The cockpit heating was also less than it needed to be, given the high altitudes operated at for bomber escort.

Faults aside, the P-51D's virtues were many: heavy armament, good speed, high maneuverability, and long range.  By the end of World War II all but one of the 8th Air Force's fighter groups were equipped with the P-51D.  The type went on to serve in the Korean War, and survived in Army service in the United States until 1957. (The last users of armed military P-51Ds was the Dominican Republic which was still flying them in 1972. Ed)


Tamiya's P-51D has been out for over 10 years.  I did a build review here, and Scott previewed the F-51D boxing here.  As such, no Mustang sprues are shown, but here are the bits for the car. Briefly, the kit features excellent outline accuracy and external detail, an OK but not great cockpit, and flaps that can be displayed lowered, as seen on most parked P-51Ds.  The newer boxings (including the F-51D previewed by Scott) have revised clear parts; the original issues had sprue gates going directly into the clear areas, but these newer issues have the sprue gates going into joining surfaces.  This makes cleanup after removal from the sprues a lot easier.

New parts for this P-51D version are the 108-gallon "paper" drop tanks with separate release brackets and two new pilot figures: a seated pilot figure (much improved over the original) and a standing pilot figure wearing a leather jacket and peaked cap.  As usual with Tamiya, the pilot figures are well sculpted and have separate heads; the seated pilot figure has separate arms also.  You don't get the uncuffed propeller blades and HVARS in the F-51D issue, but neither of these items were commonly used by 8th Air Force Mustangs.

The car is a 1942 Ford Sedan.  The kit is a simple curbside replica with the passenger doors molded in the closed position.  As with most curbside car kits, there is minimal detail on the underside and no engine detail.  The parts that are provided are nicely detailed, and assembly looks very simple.

I've built two Tamiya P-51s and, in general, component fit is excellent.  The only trouble spot is the radiator inlet fit to the fuselage.  Otherwise building this model is very straightforward.

Markings for three late-war 8th Air Force Mustangs are included; all aircraft are in natural metal/silver lacquer factory finish:

1.  "The Millie P", 343rd FS/55th FG, flown by Maj. Edward B. Giller.

2.  "Blondie", 334thFS/4th FG, Lt. Marvin W. Arthur.

3.  "Milly/Margaret", 360thFS/356thFG, Lt. Donald F. Jones.

Tamiya provides masking templates to get the OD/natural metal transition right on "The Millie P" along with templates to mask the windshield.  Separate diamonds for "Milly/Margaret" that can be applied over paint are provided, which might be a good idea because matching paint to decals is tough to do at the best of times!

The overall olive drab staff car has a simple set of markings, comprising of four stars and two serial numbers.

Tamiya decals often get a bad rap, but I have used them on two projects successfully.  The key is to soak them in warm water, and use only Micro-set for setting--these decals WILL irretrievably wrinkle with heavy applications of Micro-sol!  That said, there's so much on the aftermarket for the P-51D, if you can't find a scheme to finish your Mustang in, it's your own fault!


This set has great diorama possibilities and can be combined with other available 1/48th scale ground vehicles to make an interesting diorama.  The new decals and figures are a nice addition also.  Highly recommended.

 Review sample courtesy of my wallet.

Andrew Abshier

December 2009

Thanks to If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page