Tamiya 1/48 P-51B/C Mustang
KIT #: 61042
PRICE: $30.00
DECALS: Three options
NOTES: Ultracast P-51B Exhausts, Verlinden gunsight and seat and Warbird Decal Sheet 48001


Both the P-51 Mustang and Tuskegee Airmen aka the 332nd Fighter Group stories are well known so I won’t do a rehash of them.


I do recommend for anyone who wants to know more about the life of the Tuskegee Airmen to read the Opsrey Elite Unit Book 24:  The 332nd Fighter Group.  It provides an excellent reference on the history of the unit.  I recommend less the Tuskegee Airmen movie from HBO who despite an excellent cast may cause consternation among the more history astute thanks to fictional license and the fact that only P-51Ds are used in the movie.


The Pilot

Captain Andrew “Jug” Turner was the commanding officer of the 100th Fighter Squadron from June 1944 to the end of the war in Europe.  He was noted to be a careful and deliberate pilot and an excellent combat leader.  He was promoted to Major and remained in the Air Force after the war.  He would die in a P-47N crash on Sept 14, 1947 less than a year before Harry S. Truman would end the segregation of the US military thanks in part to the sacrifices of the 332nd Fighter Group.


The Tamiya Mustangs are the best examples of the Merlin engined B/C and D models in 1/48 scale.  Aside some minor issues with the prop, wheels, wheel well detail and fuel tanks plus some sink marks (probably due to age of the molds), these kits come well recommended and a favorite among modelers.


It comes on two sprues of gray plastic and one sprue of clear parts.  The parts are very crisp, but there are sink marks on some of the parts (the various landing gear doors) that show the age of the molds.  The cockpit detail is decent, but could be better plus the seat is missing the seatbelts.  The decals aren’t bad, but one can get better from a whole slew of aftermarket decal publishers.


I bought Warbird Decals sheet 48001, the Tuskegee Airmen to use with this model.  It contains some of the more well known markings from that famous unit including the oft done (with good reason) Creamer’s Dream, a P-51D Mustang flown by 1st Lt Charles White.  The reasons why I wanted to build this kit were:

1)   Replace the P-51B that I had donated to the 357th FG Museum last year (it had the markings for the original Glamours Glen flown by Chuck Yeager.)

2)   Wanted a relatively easy build after building several really tough builds in a row.

3)   A test bed for using Hawkeye Metal Polish for another (more complex) NMF build


It all started with the cockpit.  In the past I used a Verlinden Resin Cockpit to replace the less detailed kit one, but I had issues fitting it in.  Some due to inexperience (I didn’t remove all the kit interior detail) and some parts not fitting the way they should I ended up with gaps in an otherwise well fitting kit.  As it happened I had another Verlinden Resin Cockpit that I was thinking about using.  As I was cleaning the parts, I suddenly had a flashback to the rough time I had on the previous P-51B.  In a fit of sanity (I think) I decided to just use the seat and the gunsight.  Shockingly, I had no issues with installing these parts.  The interior was painted interior green and flat black, dry brushed silver and some of the knobs and buttons painted yellow and red.


Once the components were dry, I glued the whole plane together minus the stabs, prop and intake piece.  It only took about four hours from opening the box to adding glue.  I then threw the plane in the box for a couple of weeks to allow the glue to cure and prevent those much hated phantom seams which show up quite well on a NMF.


Two weeks later I began the tedious task of filling/sanding/polishing for a NMF.  The seams were filled with CA glue and once dry I began to sand and sand and sand.  It took several times to sand and polish away any scratches or things I missed.  I redid whatever minor details were sanded away.  One area that has haunted me on every Tamiya Mustang I’ve built is the underside oil cooler inlet which has a gap which is a PITA to deal with.  I solved what usually takes me an hour of hard work and cursing with five minutes of measuring and cutting a piece of 10 thou plasticard sheet to cover up the gap.  I’m rather embarrassed as to why I didn’t think of that any sooner.


It took a couple of hours long sessions with 400, 1800, 3200, 3600 and 6000 grit sandpaper/sanding cloths before I was finally happy with the surface being smooth enough for a NMF.



I sprayed on Tamiya TS-30 Old Silver straight out of the can for the base coat.  To my non surprise (and slight dismay) I did spot a couple of flaws that needed to be reworked.  Once they were fixed, I sprayed on a couple of thin coats of Old Leaf Silver and let it dry.


The cured silver coat on the plane and various exterior parts were gently wet polished with 1800, 3200, 3600, 6000, 8000 and finally 12000 grit polishing cloths. Again, it took several times to get it just right.  Afterwards, I broke out the Hawkeye Polishing Powder and a bunch of Q-tips and started rubbing down the Mustang.  It worked great.  One thing I noticed and this was purely by accident and not by design was that instead of a uniform coat of “silver” I got streaks and other variations in color like a real bare metal should.  It doesn’t show that well in the photos though.


I was ready to spray on the other colors after I wiped off as much of the polishing powder as I could with a wet towel.  Sections of the Mustang were masked off and painted various colors.  I first started with the chrome yellow Wing ID bands.  Next I painted the red tail and nose--the decal sheet comes with a noseband but I wanted all my colors to match and I dislike using decals for irregular shapes like the Mustang nose.  The Warbird Decal sheet calls for Guard Red on the tail, nose, stabs and prop spinner but I used regular Tamiya Red instead (after a basecoat of gloss white.) I used Model Master Acryl FS34092 (Euro Green 1) for the anti-glare panel.  Yes, it is unusual as olive drab and black are more commonly used, but this is what the sheet said so I went with it.  One word of warning is that the paint doesn’t stick as well on a polished surface so you may have paint lifting.  I certainly did as I had to redo several areas again.  Lastly in regards to the exterior colors, I masked off the area around the exhaust stacks, the gun bays, the engine and the cooling air exhaust vent and sprayed on a thin coat of Tamiya Metallic Grey to show  the variations in metal panels.  I decided to not go overboard with that unlike my past experiences with “coloring” NMF panels.


The various exterior color lights were hand painted with various clear colors as well as the tail wheel flat black, the fuel caps painted red and the rear of wheel wells were painted XF-4 Yellow Green.


The canopy and wheels were masked and painted their respective colors (as per the instructions.)

I used Warbird Sheet 48001’s markings for Skipper’s Darling III, the plane of Captain Andrew “Jug” Turner, the commander of the 100FS from June 1944 to the end of the war.  The decals are well done, in register and has very little clear film around the edges.  I had no problems with the decals (loved the fact that most of the stencils weren’t there) except for the wing mounted insignias.  They crinkled a bit when I put on some Micro Sol and ruined an otherwise near flawless decal job.


The plane was lightly weathered with a thin watercolor wash.  I did weather the tires with Vallejo Ochre Yellow but did not add any exhaust stains or gunfire residue as the maintenance crews of the 332FG did a amazing job of keeping the planes pristine.  I’ll probably add a satin final coat later.



I learned that Med Theater Mustangs did not carry the 108 US gallon paper tanks (whew because the way Tamiya engineered the paper tanks makes them very difficult to get right) so I stole the 75 US gallon metal tanks from a Tamiya P-51D kit.  These were assembled quickly and sprayed TS-30 Old Leaf Silver and the fuel caps were painted red.  I drilled two holes in the wing near the base of each pylon and in each tank based on period photos.  Next I inserted 30 gauge wire into the tank holes as fuel lines and glued with CA glue them in place.  The wires were trimmed to fit into the wing holes and then painted black while the tank was glued in place.   The tank decals were added last.


Next I glued the landing gear doors and wheels to the landing gear before gluing (with CA glue) the entire sub assembly into each hole.  I avoided use of CA glue accelerator so I could adjust the landing gear to lean slightly forward.  The inner doors were trimmed to fit and attached with CA glue.


I removed the Ultracast P-51B exhausts from the stubs, painted them metallic grey and flat black and then weathered with the Tamiya weathering kit.  The parts were added to the Mustang.


The canopy, radio antenna, clear navigation light and pitot tube were added last.  I finally completed a NMF P-51C in less than 3 weeks (most of which was spent waiting for the glue to cure) which is for me record time.  No radio aerial despite the decal instructions and color guide from the Osprey 332FG Book as the period photos show that Skipper’s Darling III did not have one.



I really do like Mustangs and especially enjoy building the various Tamiya Mustangs kits.  They are fun to build, simple to assemble, have a relatively low number of parts and reasonably accurate straight out of the box.  Not much more than one can really ask for in a model kit.  I’m very happy how this Mustang turned out and how well Hawkeye Metal Polishing Powder worked out (not a paid advertisement.)


I’m glad that I built a model of a 332FG Red Tailed Mustang.  I hope to do more in the future.



Osprey Elite Units 24:  The 332 Fighter Group -Tuskegee Airmen by Chris Bucholtz


Dan Lee

August 2011

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