Dragon 1/32 P-51D Mustang

KIT #: 3201
PRICE: $45.00 MSRP
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Len Roberto
NOTES: Superscale decals used


Like I said last time, there are thousands of places online and offline to learn about the development and use of the P-51…even on MM there are great articles to get started.


When news of this kit was released, I was very excited.  Having built scores of Tamiya 1/48 Mustangs for myself and on commissions- I was looking forward to a kit that would be modern and up-to-date - unlike the old Hasegawa 1/32 Mustang.  Without boring everybody again on what’s up with this kit- I wanted to see for myself how it BUILT up before passing judgment.

First- my observations of what’s in the box:

1.      Divots and panels- yes- they are overdone- I have seen lots of P-51’s in museums and at air shows- never seen wings like they did this one.

2.      Decals- printed well-- look nice.  Separate decals for each instrument are a nice touch.  3 aircraft provided:  the well known PETIE 2nd of blue nose 352nd FG fame, a yellow nose bird of the 361st FG, and a black and yellow check nose of the 353rd FG.  Looking at the 353rd aircraft DOUBLE TROUBLE TWO- I was a little surprised since I built this one for a client last year.  The decals for the name are only in solid black while pics I saw had the familiar yellow drop shadow as they are on the letter codes.  Also, the witch decals are both the same while pics I saw had the right hand side witch’s broom facing the nose….hmmm.  Then I looked at the stencil decals.  In 1/32 scale, I would like to see a full set of maintenance decals.  The kit has partial.  Looking deeper, the instructions for decal placement DO NOT show where they go!  For instance, there are about 10 small stencil decals on the sheet, with numbers, but they are nowhere to be found on the instructions.  Most of us can look at reference photos to see where they go but still this shows poor quality control- and proofreading!

      Photoetched brass- nice addition!  For the screen for the belly scoop and the radiator, the instrument panel and seatbelts.  Looking at the instructions again, it looks like they want you to CA glue the radiator screen pieces onto the thick plastic.  That makes no sense to me.

      Rubber tires- tread pattern looks a little too wide but another nice idea.  They have a subtle flat spot already there.  They were pretty thin however and looking at the wheels they would have to be fit over- I worried about stretching…and was right again.

5.      Clear nose- worthless to me since I never show aircraft stripped and open for maintenance.  I just hope they would fit OK.

6.      Exhausts- very nicely done with tips open- no drilling required.

7.      Landing gear- with springs.  Probably worthless.  Besides being a fiddly assembly, they will make the plane sit too high on its legs.  Inclusion of brake lines is a great addition.

Despite my initial disappointment over Tom Cleaver's observations, it was all confirmed by my own eyeballs. I still wanted to see what could be done; let’s just see how it BUILDS since that’s what we do right?


Starts with engine.  I already knew the nose would e buttoned up but I had to build the engine to provide housing for the prop and exhausts.  It builds just fine, seems a little soft on some details.  Also, one part - I think it was D21- is not shown on the instructions.  It goes on the back part of the engine- left side upper if looking from prop end back.  How can they miss a part on the instructions?  Either it was rushed or they have a very poor proofreader.  I put the engine in the cradle and frame and when I attached to right side fuselage- there is a big gap with firewall- it seems too small and is not back far enough.

Cockpit.  Unlike resin sets and other kits- all of the side consoles, etc are attached to the fuselage sides and not sidewall pieces.  Assembled fine but again, seems to be missing detail and crispness.  PE seatbelts were very nice and thin- they were CA glued easily onto the seat.  I tossed the PE instrument panel.  The plastic part with individual instrument decals looks better.  After painting, it was placed in right fuselage and test fit with the other half.  Next problem revealed itself- cockpit floor is too narrow- so much so that you either have to clamp the fuselage together to tightly, resulting in the nose warping outwards, or add a shim to each side to get the cockpit to sit properly on the locator tabs.

PE scoop screen- did not fit - needed to be trimmed to fit without getting it crushed when halves are joined.

By this point, I was not expecting fuselage join to be easy and it wasn’t.  Perhaps it was me but the join process was very tight from the cockpit back and not so good forward.  Regardless, clamps and elastics held it tight.  Putty was liberally used all around because I was planning an overall sanding and not worried about “losing” any surface detail.

Wings.  Why not flash over the rocket stub holes?  The 3 aircraft on the decal sheet provided did not have rocket rails.  So, as most will do, they were covered over with plastic and putty.  I skipped the machine guns and ammo-  they look good but you have to cut out the ammo doors if you want to display them open.  I cut the gun tips off and inserted them later.

Wheel well- yes they are incorrect but I have no desire to correct something that is underneath my model.  As Tom says-  “I am not that modeler.”

Instructions I think want you to install lower wing to fuselage then attach upper wing halves as the Tamiya kits have you do.  Because I wanted to fill and sand the wing, I wanted it assembled and separate to work with it easier than if the fuselage was attached.  It took every clamp and clothespin I had to clamp the upper wings over the wheel well and get this assembly together to dry.  When it was, I slathered on Tamiya’s Putty and proceeded to sand the wing down.  I did not want to make it perfectly smooth just tone it down.

Wing to fuselage join.  Of course, large gaps all around.  Dihedral was close enough.  Another putty and sanding funfest fixed the joints.

Posable ailerons and trim tabs are a nice touch as are the flaps.  This corrects one of the major issues with the old Hasegawa kit.  Also, horizontal stabilizers and rudder offer the same feature.

Landing gear.  I could not figure out how to employ the spring and get the assembly to stay intact while it dried.  Also, it was too strong and would make the gear extend as if the plane was weightless.  In the garbage they went and I assembled the gear without fuss even though it was a good number of parts for each.  Brake lines are a very nice touch.

Gear doors.  No actuator rods.  Since these doors droop at dissimilar angles, I glued them in 2 different angles of droop eliminating the need for actuator rods.


I decided to use Superscale decals for the famous mount of William Whisner of the 352nd FG “Moonbeam Mcswine.”  Many reasons for this- first, by this point I was burned out on this and a bit unhappy so I did not want to put forth too much effort on painting.  Moonbeam had no invasion stripes and a simple scheme and I just love the 352nd group schemes anyway.

The Blue:  Sam Sox, 352nd Group historian provided me years ago with the lowdown on the blue nose color.   I also have acquired some actual chips with the 2 different colors.  Basically, the blue used up to around September 1944 faded quickly and was a paler blue that they called “Medium Blue.”  After the change, it was a darker shade of blue that held up better over time that they called “Deep Sky Blue.”  Moonbeam survived the change but because of the nose art, the Medium Blue was kept under the “Moonbeam.”  I decided to use the earlier shade overall and did not use all of the kill markings to make it hopefully a little closer to reality.  The Medium Blue is a mix of mostly Testors Chrysler Engine Blue and a little bit of Blue Angel Blue.


Deep Sky Blue - 16parts of #2730 Chrysler engine blue, 3 pts 2718 Guards Red, 2 parts 2720 Classic White

Medium Blue - 4 parts 2730 Chrysler Engine Blue, 1 pt 1772 Blue Angles Blue

The NMF was applied with Tamiya AS-12 Bare Metal Silver spray.


Gear was attached.  They use a large hole and pin to secure the gear.  It is very sturdy, unfortunately it is too long and the notch needs to be cut down a bit for it to have any chance of fitting into its slot.  As I feared, in order to stretch the rubber tires over the wheels, as carefully as I could- it still resulted in a “stretched” tire.  I ran a bead of CA glue around the rim to keep it in place.  Over the next few days, the tire shrunk back a little but still is a little too big for the rim.

Gun tips installed at proper extension and antenna. 

Windscreen.  Did not fit very well.  Easy fix- the curved part at the foot of the screen- all you have to do is shave it down a little to remove the hard square edge and it will sit down nicely in the curve.  This will in effect lower the back edges too.  Canopy brace and inside of canopy frame painted.  The canopy has two notches at the ends I guess allowing the canopy to “snap” in no matter where you want to place it.  I cut them off and posed it open- glued in place.

Prop- blades fit in notches and ARE NOT posable in axis.  I still can’t tell whether they are backwards or “wrong” but by now- I am past caring.

Wait-  where is the pitot tube?  Nowhere to be found.  I have yet to craft one from spare plastic- someday….


Well- overall- I’d have to say disappointed.


1.      price- about the same as the 30-year old Hasegawa kit- a lot to be said for this point.

2.      flaps, ailerons and rudder- posable is a very nice touch

3.      brake lines and detail of gear is much better than Has kit.


1.      decals-  not correct for 353rd FG and missing placement of stencils

2.      cockpit floor is not wide enough for proper assembly

3.      no pitot tube included

4.      no actuator rods for gear doors

5.      windscreen needs a little surgery

6.      open rocket stub holes

7.      ammo doors molded shut

8.      missing parts on instructions

9.      oh yeah, the holes and trenches are comical….

 OK I’m done with this experiment!

Len Roberto

January 2007

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