|KIT #:||5207 & 85-5241|
|PRICE:||$Not a lot|
One option (Monogram)
Two options (Revell)
|REVIEWER:||Stephen Young, MD|
|NOTES:||Superscale 48-19 decals.|
The history of the iconic North American P-51 Mustang fighter is well known and many model manufacturers have released kits in the full range of scales over the years. This article will focus on the very commonly encountered Monogram and Revell versions which are readily available at most common online and retail vendors as well as Ebay.com. The Monogram version has been available since 1977 and is still often listed on Ebay. The Revell version is the same molding obtained when Monogram was consolidated with Revell and is still being released by Revell in its current boxing since at least 2004. I built both kits concurrently with one using the Revell kit decals for famous ace Col. John D. Landers' Big Beautiful Doll and the other using the Super Scale decal sheet #48-19 for Lt. Col. John Meyers' Petie 2nd.
John D. Landers enlisted in the USAAF in April 1941 at the age of twenty. By January 1942 he was posted to the 49th Pursuit Group and thrust into air combat in 1942 after 10 flight hours flying the P-40E with the 9th Pursuit Squadron against the seemingly invincible Japanese after Pearl Harbor. He managed to become an ace and survived 10 days in the trackless jungles of Papua New Guinea after being shot down after achieving six victories. He later flew the P-38 Lightning when the 9th FS re-equipped. Returned to the United States in 1943 he was part of the experienced core of leadership in new fighter groups being formed and was sent to RAF Wormington, UK, with the 55th Fighter Group in April 1944. After a tour in P-38s during which he became a squadron commander he went to the 357th Fighter Group in October 1944 as Group Commander, where he first flew the P-51. He became the sixth and final wartime commander of the 78th Fighter Group at RAF Duxford, UK, in February 1945, leading the group until June, 1945. From July 1945 until the war ended he commanded the 361st Fighter Group and had accumulated many awards including three Silver Stars, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 21 Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and French Croix de Guerre. Leaving active duty in December, 1945 he worked in civilian construction management for many years. He is the only American ace to have scored in the P-40, P-38, and P-51. Big Beautiful Doll, P51D 44-72218, was his personal aircraft which he flew towards the end of the war.
John C. Meyer enlisted in the US Army Air Corp in 1939 at the age of twenty to become a pilot. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant he flew the P-40 with the 8th Pursuit Group and subsequently assumed command of the 34th Pursuit Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group. Transitioning to P-47s the squadron was redesignated the 487th Fighter Squadron and deployed to RAF Bodney in England in 1943. On November 26, 1943 achieved his first victory and would achieve three in the P-47. He became a leading ace after the 352nd transitioned to the P-51 In April, 1944,and adopted the famous “Blue Nose” color scheme. For a mission on May 8, 1944 he was awarded the first of his three Distinguished Service Crosses attacking 15 enemy fighters single handed in defence of Air Force bombers. On November 2, now a lieutenant colonel, he received his second DSC for leading eleven P-51s in an air battle east of Leipzig, Germany, against forty enemy fighters shooting down three FW-190s. For a mission on January 1, 1945 he was awarded his third DSC for action against the Luftwaffe in the German aerial assault known as Operation Bodenplatte. Acting on a hunch he suspected the German Luftwaffe would attack on New Year's Day so he postponed the 487th Squadrons party one day and requested a patrol mission early that morning. As he was about to lead the squadron into the air the German attack began. Meyer shot down one FW-190 just after rotation and a second later on. The actions of the 487th Squadron that day earned it a Distinguished Unit Citation. Petie 2nd , P-51D 44-14151 was his third P-51 and was his for two of his victories. A subsequent automobile accident on January 9, 1945 ended his WW II combat flying career after 24 aerial victories.
Postwar he commanded the 4th Fighter Wing and flew the F-86 in Korea destroying two Mig-15s. His illustrious career in the Air Force included a wide variety of operational assignments and he retired in July 1974 as commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command. His military decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and Croix de Guerre from both France and Belgium.
Monogram's venerable 1/48th scale P-51D remains widely available in different boxings on Ebay and commercially as the Revell boxing. I have accumulated a number of P-51 aftermarket decal sets so I wanted to do a relatively fast (for me) build using a couple of Monogram kits from my supply. The Monogram version was obtained by me on Ebay without the original kit decals. The original kit decals are for Lt. Urban Drew's Detroit Miss. The currently available Revell boxing which is the second model built includes decals for Big Beautiful Doll and Miss Marilyn II, flown by 1st Lieutenant E. Robert Welch. The attractive kit box art depicts BBD in flight. The kit includes 49 parts with two options for the exhaust ports. Examining the plastic parts reveals the age of the molds and molding is much cleaner with less flash in the Monogram boxing compared to the Revell. The Monogram boxing is molded in their usual silver styrene while the Revell is molded in gray. State of the art in the 1970s the kit displays raised panel lines, separate lower engine cover to cover the molded in engine relief, and the option of open ammunition access panels on the port wing with three .50 cal machine guns represented. Instructions in the Monogram boxing are a single sheet with universal picture instructions with a painting and decal diagram. The Revell instructions are a eight page letter size booklet with more detailed assembly instructions including notes and pictures from The P-51 Mustang in Detail and Scale, Part 2 for some parts of the aircraft such as landing gear, cockpit, etc. Finish and decal instructions are provided for BBD and Marilyn II.
I started construction by washing all part sprues in warm water with dish washing detergent. My intent was to build both models essentially out of the box so the cockpit areas of the fuselage were airbrushed with Testors Interior Green. The cockpit part was also sprayed Interior Green and the interior components painted by hand with Testors Acrylic Interior Black. Dials were dry brushed with white or the raised relief colored using a white Prisma Color white color pencil. For future projects I will use a different technique layering white followed by a coat of Future then black enamel with removal of the enamel from the raised areas with a nearly dry fine brush previously dipped in enamel thinner. The cockpit radio parts were painted black. Seat components were installed and painted. On the Revell mold there is a mold depression in the center of the head rest that needs to be filled.
The cockpit was glued into the right fuselage side with 5 minute epoxy. One needs to select either the shrouded or un-shrouded exhaust pipes and attach to the fuselage sides before the fuselage halves are joined. For these two specific planes the un-shrouded exhausts were used. The tail wheel also needs to be attached at the fuselage joining stage. The fuselage halves were joined using fast setting acrylic plastic cement. A significant fit problem exists with the radiator scoop which is a separate part; some Bondo auto body putty and CA contouring was needed to fix misalignment here. In addition, I wanted to attach the engine cowling and the fit is poor with this part to the fuselage and nose requiring putty and sanding for a reasonable appearance. Unfortunately some of the raised detail will be lost in this work. The wing components went together without problems but the fit to the fuselage under the nose again required putty filling and sanding. The horizontal stabilizers were then glued with 5 min epoxy; here the alignment needs to be maintained while the epoxy sets since the fit of the alignment tabs is loose. Light intermittent seam filling is needed in the fuselage joint and after all joints were addressed the model was masked in preparation for painting. The sight was modified by cutting away the plastic portion representing the reflector glass and replacing it with a small square piece of clear acetate attached with CA. The sight was then glued to the instrument panel with CA. The clear canopy and windshield were attached using a thin layer of Blue Tack and masked using Micro mask and it was off to the spray booth.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Both planes had a natural metal finish although P-51 laminar flow wings were painted silver on natural metal planes. I pre-shaded panel lines with Rustoleum gloss black decanted from hardware store bought spray cans. I decided to use a old supply of Testors Chrome silver which was airbrushed on in several thin coats. After drying the entire model was sprayed with Testors Glosscote lacquer to protect the metallic paint finish. BBD received additional masking for the olive drab anti-glare panel and the black rudder. Petie 2nd was masked for the blue nose which was airbrushed using Rustoleum Navy Blue. The landing gear struts were then attached using CA. For BBD the kit decals were used and although thicker than Microscale decals they went on well using Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol solution although I did experience some wrinkling around the tightest compound curves on the under side of the nose and the wing tips with the checkered decals despite additional applications of Solvaset in those areas. One problem is that the Big Beautiful Doll lettering is black on white on the decal but black on red on the kit art; I did not have any independent confirmation of the original colors although the Tamiya P-51 kit has black and red letters. A fair number of stencils are included on the decal sheet and add interest to the overall appearance of the model. For Petie 2nd the Microscale decals went on perfectly. After several days of drying for the decals the entire model was airbrushed with a coat of Glosscote followed by heavily thinned black for the exhaust staining. The small parts including the landing gear doors, canopy, wheels, radiator vent door, landing light, pitot tube and drop tanks were attached. I used Testors clear parts cement to attach the canopy. A #80 drill bit was used to drill a hole in the canopy to pass the antenna from the back of the attachment to the head armor to the tail fin. I used my daughters' straight hair colored black with a marker pen instead of sprue or monofilament thread with CA at the attachment points.
The old Monogram/Revell P-51D is widely available and usually much cheaper than the later kits. Being a model builder from my pre-teen years I still find it hard to pay the current prices for the newer wonder kits. However the kit shows its age in molding technology and especially in the currently available Revell boxing with flash being present. The parts count is low and it builds up into a attractive model but would require more skill than I could muster for a contest quality build. Even a out of the box build requires a fair amount of seam filling and sanding/contouring to make the model look good. However, I was pleased with the result and both look good in my display case as tributes to American heroes of World War II.
1. The P-51 Mustang in Detail and Scale, Part 2, Bert Kinzey, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1996
2. P-51 Mustang in Action, Larry Davis, Squadron/Signal Publications, No. 45
Wikipedia article on John C. Meyer
Stephen Young, MD
22 November 2016
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