Tamiya 1/32 P-51D Mustang

KIT #: 60322
PRICE: $183.00 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Dan Lee
NOTES:

Kit comes with PE, used EagleCals 32101 Yoxford Boys Part 1 Decal Sheet and Barracuda Studio Resin Wheels.

HISTORY

The P-51D Mustang was one of the most influential aircraft of WW2 as the premier escort fighter of the USAAF.  It enabled the USAAF to gain air superiority over the skies of Europe.  The D model incorporated the Merlin engine and a bubble top canopy to improve overall pilot visibility as well as 50% more firepower than B/C models (six .50 caliber machine guns vs four.)  The Mustang fought in the Korean War as a fighter bomber, but ended its service with the USAF soon after, but it flew on with smaller air forces till the 1970s.

 

The Unit

The 357th FG (aka The Yoxford Boys) is one of the most famous fighter groups of WW2 as it produced the most aces (42) of any unit in 8th/9th AF with the exception of the 354th FG (42 aces.)  Itís distinct red and yellow checkerboard noses make it a favorite of many a modeler.

 

The 357th was formed at Hamilton Field in California on Dec 1, 1942 as part of the 4th AF but most of the training took place in Tonopah Nevada with weary P-39s.  In late 1943, the 357th was sent to England and assigned to the 9th AF as a Mustang Fighter Group.  However, the dire need for Mustang fighter groups to escort bombers found the 357th traded to the 8th AF Fighter Command for a P-47 Fighter Group.  Itís first escort mission was the mission where James Howard won the CMH for protecting several damaged bombers against many Luftwaffe fighters.  Soon after, the 357th participated in the Big Week which broke the Luftwaffe fighter command.

 

It ended the war as one of the top scoring fighter groups in Europe and was deactivated in 1946 with its history and lineage assigned to the 121st Fighter Group of the Ohio National Guard.  The 121st FG eventually became the 121st Air Refueling Wing.

 

The Pilot

John England enlisted in the US Army as a private in April of 1942 and soon became an aviation cadet.  He graduated as a pilot and commissioned as a lieutenant in March of 1943 and assigned to the 357th FG.  John would shoot down his first plane on March 8, 1944.  In Aug of 1944, he became the CO of the 362FS till relieved in April of 1945.  By the end of the war, John England was the 2nd highest ranking Ace of the 357th with 17.5 kills.

 

John would remain in the USAF and served in Korea shooting down one Mig.  He became commander of the 389th FBS after Korea.  He died in a Sabre crash in France in 1954 while trying to avoid crashing into a building during a deadstick landing.  Alexandria AFB in Louisiana was renamed to England AFB in his honor.

 

THE KIT

See Tom Cleaverís review of the kit to see whatís in the box.

CONSTRUCTION

 It is a complex kit, but easy to assemble.  I spent most of the afternoon cutting pieces and cleaning them off and test fitting them to ensure I wouldnít have any issues.  The interior cockpit pieces were painted with Xtracrylix Interior Green while the wheel wells and any exposed interior pieces painted a 50/50 mix of XF-3 and XF-4 which is close to the yellow chromate primer.  Tamiya calls for a green chromate, but from the production photos Iíve seen, the interior with the exception of the cockpit is yellow chromate.

 

Various parts were painted on the sprues including the exhausts.

 

I pretty much followed the build order with one exception and paint suggestions for the cockpit.  I selected version A which is close to the plane I wanted to model.  I added the engine parts that were required to provide interior strength for the panels, but I omitted pretty much everything else.  I also didnít add most of the PE plates and magnets because I wasnít going to open up the interior.  However, I did add the various metal rods and PE actuators for the flaps, ailerons and rudder.

 

The model sat in the box for a couple of weeks to allow the glue to cure and remove the chance of phantom seams although I didnít deal with the intake seams. Tamiya did a very good job of limiting the seams needed to be sanded and filled.  The one seam they couldnít avoid was where the wing met the fuselage.  I had to remove some of the surface rivet detail there, but replaced it later.

 

Once the seams were done to my satisfaction, the thin engine compartment panels were glued on.  It wasnít a perfect fit as a I had a rather large seam on the port side, but I used Vallejo plastic putty to fill it in.

 

One mistake I did was not adding the part of the canopy that slides in the fuselage after I glued on the top of the fuselage section between the tail and the cockpit.  I added this after thinking it wouldnít be a problem.  I ended up cutting part of the piece so it could fit in.

 

There are three different canopies supplied with the kit.  I selected the one that went with the Missouri Armada and then sanded/polished the seam line.  I took my time and gently polished the canopy to avoid breaking the delicate pieces as forewarned by Len Robertoís review.  I added the armored plate glass and windscreen to the fuselage at the time then I cut out the masks and added them (as well as masked of the sliding portion of the canopy.)

 

The landing gear was assembled and sat in the box for three weeks before being sanded/filled to hopefully eliminate phantom seams because they were to be sprayed TS-30 Old Leaf Silver.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I picked John Englandís P-51D ďMissouri ArmadaĒ from EagleCal Decal Sheet 101 because I was lazy and didnít want to build a NMF P-51D in the winter time.  The wheel wells of the Mustang were masked off using the wheels up landing doors.  First the Mustang was preshaded using German Grey and flat black.  Next, the underside color of Medium Sea Grey was sprayed on.  When it was dry, I masked off the demarcation lines and sprayed on RAF Dark Green for the top.  I cleaned out my airbrush and then sprayed on a coat of Tamiya gloss for the decals.

 

The prop blades tips were painted flat white then RLM04.  When the paint was dry they were then masked off and the rest of the prop was painted flat black.  I had some leak through and had to do some touch up.  Next was the prop hub which was a pain.  Each of the bands (red and RLM04) needed some touch up as I had some bleed through (I think it was because the paint was too thin.)  I eventually got it to look okay (not perfect though.)

 

Next I painted the Barracuda Resin wheels RLM66 while the hubs were sprayed TS-30 Old Silver Leaf.  Later the landing gear bits and fuel tanks were sprayed Old Leaf Silver too.

 

Once everything was dry, I masked off the rear underside of the fuselage for the invasion stripes and sprayed it flat white.  Next, the flat white sections were masked off and the remaining area was sprayed flat black.  It wasnít perfect from an aesthetic view, but my understanding was that the invasion stripes were hastily done so it was ďperfectĒ from a historical accuracy view.

 

Decals

I used EagleCals Yoxford Boys decal sheet number 32101.  Most of the stencils were left off with the exception of the fuel caps.  The red and yellow checkerboards around the nose were a little easier than I expected.  I only used a little bit of Microsol for the decals.

 

Weathering and Final Coat

No weathering was done aside from some preshading of the underside.  The model was sprayed with two thin coats of Vallejo Flat Varnish for the final coat.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

 

The landing gear, landing gear details, wheels and wing edges were screwed and glued in place. Next, the tail wheel assembly was added.

 

I drilled out where the fuel lines in the fuel tanks went and then used CA glue to attach 30 gauge wire that was painted black for the fuel lines.  I drilled out the hole in the wing where the fuel line is supposed to go.  It took a bit of concentration to get the fuel tank holes and fuel lines lined up. The K-14 gunsight was assembled and glued in place. Wire was attached to the batteries and radio for extra detail (using CA glue.)

 

I added the canopy, but I had some issues (mentioned earlier in the review) as I should have added the canopy sliding piece before adding the top portion of the rear fuselage.  I ended up trimming part of the sliding piece so that I could sneak it in without tearing the model apart.  I then drilled out a hole in the rear canopy and slid through some clear repair thread for the radio aerial.  I drilled a hole in the tail using a number 72 drill bit, inserted one end of the thread with CA glue at the tip into the tail hole and the other end attached to the headrest of the seat.  I then tightened the thread using the heat from an extinguished match.

 

The stand was assembled according to the instructions and the Mustang was screwed to it. Lastly, I added the prop hub and that was it.  The Tamiya P-51D was completed.

CONCLUSIONS

 

This kit deserves all the accolades it has received.  Worth its MRSP although you can get it for cheaper.  My only wish is that Tamiya would make a version that didnít have all the engine parts as most of us wonít open it up.  Otherwise it is the best Mustang that Iíve built.  I wouldnít recommend this for a beginner due to the PE and number of parts (and the NMF paint schemes) but anyone with some modeling experience can build this  model without too many issues.

Dan Lee

April 2013

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