Accurate Miniatures 1/48 A-36 "Apache"
KIT #: 3401
PRICE: $22.50
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Fernando Rolandelli


Conceived as a means of keeping the USAAC involved in the Mustang program, the A-36 was really an attack fighter-bomber used with some success by three Groups, one in the CBI theater (together with P-51As) and two in the Mediterranean. About 500 were produced, of which 177 were lost in combat, while reportedly performing over 23.000 combat missions.

Two myths immediately come to mind when referring to the A-36: the question of the name and that of the air brakes. Fear not: the name of this machine was not Invader nor Apache, but Mustang, according to the latest doctrine, Apache appearing in a company’s private brochure and Invader proposed and rejected on the basis the plane already had a name. Regarding the airbrakes, early theories about its ineffectiveness are now reported to be untrue, the devices being wired shut only when used in mixed formations with P-51s. Sadly –should I add amusingly?-, Accurate Miniatures has fallen into both traps. It is true that molding the airbrakes opened, involving the bays for them, would have been expensive. Reportedly, the company argued that they didn’t dare put “Mustang” in the box lid because the misconception about the name was too widespread.


 These early efforts of AM –the “olive drabs”: P-51s and A-36s- have brought the unconditional applause and support of the modeler community. They were a bold choice of subject, they were pretty spot on accuracy-wise, and seemed very professionally made. However, close inspection reveals an alarming scarcity and inaccuracy in the details –it should be said that the fears were not met and subsequent releases by AM improved exponentially and some are among the best kits ever-. We’ll go over those points as they appear during the construction.



Though at first sight the interior may appear good and complete, being of the “hollow sidewall” variety (preventing both the appearance of sink marks in the surface as well as the cramped “tub-like” interior), it does not bear much resemblance to the real thing. Both the sidewalls and the floor were extensively modified, partly with scratchbuilt items, partly with some pieces from the Eduard PE set (itself not very accurate either! I would strongly recommend the Part one); the pictures show the additions made to both (the light grey parts come from the Mustang Ia kit, identical to those in the A-36). The kit’s seat is rather hopeless, but the Eduard one is very good. Harness was sourced from the Eduard Pre-painted P-40E set. The instrument panel is the first of the “clear” variety; some people do not like it; while I do, the presence of one in the Eduard set made the choice easy (neither is completely accurate, be warned! I did not correct anything on it, but added the handles for charging the .50s). It is however very, very flimsy. The kit lacks completely the head and back armor, which I made of sheet styrene. The gunsight is not correct; making a better one is easy, using styrene rod. The rear shelf electrical and radio boxes were detailed and painted following the excellent P-51 in the Osprey’s book… to a certain extent.

The interior was painted in US Interior Green FS 34151. I was in doubt about this shade, for it came to use at the same time the A-36 were being built, but some emails to Colin Ford (who’s field of expertise is RAF Mustangs) I opted for it, brushing aside Bronze Green and Dark Dull Green.

Constructing the fuselage is not so simple. Everything fits well, if you take your time. I assembled the sidewalls to the fuselage halves, then the instrument panel, the floor and the rear shelves to the right one (you cannot glue them from below).  Next I glued the barrels of the chin .50s (I did not want to risk them falling inside the completed fuselage, and it would be easier to cope with alignment problems this way). They have a strange conical muzzle, which I cut and replaced with proper ones made of Contrail rod. I also made a bulkhead for the carburetor intake.

AM has made no attempt of detailing the radiator exit ramp, and neither did I; this is very prominent part of the airframe, and there is no easy way of doing anything about it. With some boldness that I lacked at the moment, it could be opened and detailed, possibly using the circular radiator provided in the PE set and the excellent Tamiya example as a model.

The fuselages were assembled as per de instructions, the rear halves and then the front ones. I resorted to some wideners to achieve a smooth surface.


Well, they are very good, but not without their problems. The wheel wells are well detailed, and, anyway, the main doors should be closed; even so, I added a few things, including twin pipes which are really prominent (though actually hardly visible). They were painted Aluminium lacquer (adding a bit of Light Grey to Aluminium paint)

The pylons are too long, they should not cover the ejection ports, but, not being able of finding a way around them, I let them alone. I blanked off the backs of the airbrakes (painting the plates in camouflage color), but I shunned from depicting them deployed (the Eduard PE set brings the complete set for doing so, but they look very flimsy) Then, I decided to cope with the landing lights. AM correctly depicts the paired lights on the left wing, but they provide only the opening and the clear cover; I “boxed” the opening and made two circular lights from rod. It is not 100% accurate, but better than nothing. The opening was painted Zinc Chromate.

I also feared the .50s muzzles would fall inside the wings, but gluing them before closing the wings would leave them exposed when puttying and sanding the leading edge. I cut the muzzles themselves from their backs, which I glued as stops. It worked.

The instructions made you attach the L-shaped pitot tube. This is incorrect; A-36s used a spear-type pitot tube in the right wing leading edge. No problem, it is provided, just search for it and attach it in its socket. It goes in remarkably well.

Mating wings to fuselage was troublesome, in part due to the wideners, but once everything “clicked” together, the seam is not a problem. Just filling and sanding a bit. After that, I added the radiator intake part. Inside, I added the small intake that can be seen in pictures, made from a square chunk of plastic.


Well, the provided parts are crystal clear but somewhat thick. Wanting to depict it open, I bought a Squadron replacement, which is intended to have you cut the entire spine around the canopy. I did not, but cut the canopy itself in a more traditional manner. The kit’s quarterdeck windows were used. The vac canopy fits admirably; I did not cut the fixed birdcage part from the windscreen and they fit great. In hindsight, you could even leave the roof attached; if just marking it with a few knife passes; you could easily flex it to pose it open. A little drop of cyano on some strategic points, some white glue and putty bed and it blended in reasonably well. I added some gimmickry of the opening mechanisms to the inner frames. Masking the frames is a pain; I used the quarterdeck windows as a template for their tape masks. I painted many of the frames also from the inside, something unusual but forced by the peculiar nature of this canopy.

Once the airframe was glued, puttied and sanded and polished, it went to the paint shop for a Light Grey primer and some radical preshading (a technique not cherished by everyone).


Another “well…” The instructions have you paint the model in “Olive Drab FS 34087” (nowadays 34088) and “Neutral Grey FS 36270”… ending up in a very, very light thing (however, many experienced modelers do finish their OD/NG models in such a way) Instead, I used my favourite color for OD nº 41, Humbrol 108 “RFC Green” (Robert Archer’s choice) and a newbie for the NG nº 43, the White Ensign one (VERY good… pity their OD is not!) My second choices would have been MM 34086 Green Drab (it is very different from 34088…) and Xtracrylixs OD nº 41 (which was used for the bombs). Consider that the demarcation line is different than in P-51s, having a “ramp” feature leading to the tailplane (I have seen some P-51 models painted like that…). The painting was done very irregularly, to show the preshading; then some panels stressed by a lighter wash, with and without masks. The fabric covered flying surfaces (the tail ones) received a solid lighter coat (later the recesses were accentuated with oils). The Yellow ID bands were painted after the main colours, providing instant fading. Spinner was painted in Xtracrylix “Red Arrows Red” mixed with some Earth.

Weathering was achieved by oils, airbrushed washes and some pastels, all applied after the decals. I use to protect my enamel painted models with a acrylic clear gloss varnish coat; it makes them impervious to white spirit thinned oils and washes. The same dark wash used for the exhausts was liberally sprayed over some panel lines, recesses, flying surfaces and following the air stream over most of the airframe. Some chipping was made via a silver pencil. Pastels were used to dust the well trodden areas. All this treatment went a long way in giving the model that battered –but not dilapidated- look seen in period pictures (in my experience, weathering does not photograph well, which show it very subdued, so, when I see pictures showing dramatically weathered models, I invariably think “I’d like to see that model in person”).

As usual, there is only one decal choice in the kit, “B”, from the 522nd FBS/27th FG, Italy, with an impressive mission tally. If you look for something else, you won’t probably find it: A-36 decals are very few. There is an Aeromaster sheet, 48-106, with one example, “Robbie”, from 86th FBG, Italy; another one from MSAP, with another, “A”, from 522nd FBS/27th FG (showed in a picture in the D&S book); and a Three Guys sheet, with two examples. All three are currently unavailable. There is a brand new Superscale sheet, 48-1090m with three excellent options (all MTO machines) and which I managed to grab after finishing the model. AM decals are not my favourites, so I chose “Robbie” (which is also the name of a very agreeable character in a fashionable fiction novel set in the Middle Ages); however, it would have to make do with the AM insignias (the bars are slightly longer than they should be), the data plate and the propeller data. They behave entirely correctly. The bomb decals were taken from a Superscale P-40E sheet; they are wonderful, but you won’t find many for 500lb bombs.


 The propeller did not offer any resistance. I left the blades (they are too wide for most early Mustangs) as they are, for most A-36s had the wide ones depicted in the kit.

The undercarriage is notably flimsy… pay a lot of attention to it. The Eduard parts really add detail to it. Remember to glue the main doors closed.

The bombs looked wrong at first sight, far too big; the reason is that the restored example shown in the D&S book carries two 250lbs! However, some photos do show the big bombs carried, and the ones provided are entirely correct for 500 pounders.

The movable parts of the canopy did not give any trouble either; I attached the roof with white glue and the folding side with super glue.

The antennae and wire pretty much ended the kit.


 This is another kit which can be fairly good “OOB”, but very difficult to enhance. The kit certainly deserves some extra work. In the “intentions” pile I left the radiator ramp, but for sure I shall do something about it in my next AM P-51 (“you liar...” I am already hearing...)


 - “P-51 Mustang”, Bert Kinzey, Detail and Scale Publishing

- “US Army Air Corps Color Guide”, Don Archer, Monogram Publishing

- “Straight down – The A-36 Dive Bomber in combat”, Peter C. Smith, Crecy Publications

- Squadron Walkaround “Allison Mustangs”, Squadron Signal

Fernando Rolandelli


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