Dragon 1/32 P-51K Mustang
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New prop and 4.5 inch rocket launcher.|
The Merilin Mustang was a plane that almost did not happen. Stifled by the 'it wasn't designed for us' crowd in the upper echelon of American brass, it took pilots in theater who had flown the British Merlin engine prototypes to eventually convince the 'powers to be' that this was the escort fighter the USAAF was looking for. Finally the P-51B started trickling into the UK and by very late 1943, it started escorting bombers. The improved 'bubble top P-51D started rolling off the assembly lines in mid 1944 and reached the UK in the late summer of that year. Such was the demand for this aircraft that a second production line was opened in Texas. These planes were virtually identical to the California built P-51D, but used an Aeroproducts propeller instead of the Hamilton Standard used by the P-51D. These Texas built planes were designated the P-51K and 1,500 were built. Due to the slightly lower performance caused by the different prop, many of these were issued to Commonwealth forces and to training commands, but a goodly number did reach combat units.
Interestingly, despite all the hype, the Mustang was not a great dog-fighter as it had a rather large turning radius. What it did have was a lot of range, and by the time it entered the war, the Luftwaffe was rather low on experienced pilots.
There was much hue and cry when Dragon released their 1/32 P-51D several years ago, and I won't go into that here. You either hated the panel line treatment or you didn't. Apparently it wasn't that much of a problem with most as the local hobby shop sold out of every one it got in and a second batch as well. However, it did have some faults and Dragon went as far as it could to fix some of the more egregious ones (like the prop). Those wishing for a total retool will be disappointed. If you think about it, few companies will listen to a vocal minority and go to the additional expense to retool a kit that sells well, and the Dragon 1/32 P-51D sold well.
As you would imagine, the majority of sprues in this kit are the same as in the other releases. That includes the clear upper cowling, the bombs and rockets, the interior and the wings. In this boxing, the tires are made of DS plastic. Yes, I wish the mounting holes for the rocket stubs were not already open and in fact, the instructions tell you to fill them as this boxing doesn't use them. The rockets as well as both paper and 'peanut' drop tanksel tanks are still included but this version concentrates on the 4.5 inch rocket launchers. To be honest, I have my doubts that either markings option actually used these as they were much more common in the Far East. This kit also includes the full engine and mount. The kit does have a new Aeroproducts prop and different spinner as was appropriate with this version. Same prop blades as well. The main canopy is new and does have a seam down the middle that you will have to sand out, but it was the only way to mold it. I would have thought that the K would have the slightly flattened 'Dallas' canopy, but this does not seem to have been included.
The kit also includes metal outer hinges for the separate ailerons and elevators. The rudder and flaps are also separate items. You can build the kit with the gear up, but that would require a heft stand and besides, Dragon went to a lot of work to add detail to the gear and gear wells. There are two photo etch frets. One from the F-6D kit that has radiator grilles, a seat harness and an etched instrument panel among several pieces. I noticed that if you wish, there is no need to use most of the etched bits as they are duplicated in plastic. I like that the instrument panel has separate instrument decals. The purpose done sprue for the K kit has straps for the rocket launchers and new forward lower cowling cooling vents. This piece is a different shape than the one on the kit so you'll need to fill in the kit panel prior to attaching this one. Other detail bits include full wing guns and ammo belts so you can display this area open on both wings.
Instructions are quite well done and provide well drawn construction sequences as well as Gunze and Model Master paint references. The decal sheet has markings for two aircraft. One is the box art plane of Jack Oberhansley's 'Iron Ass' plane of the 334 FS/4 FG. The red bits will need to be pained. The other is 'Kit' Carson's 'Nooky Booky IV' from the 362 FS/357 FG (instructions have this backwards). The red spinner on this one will need painted with a decal provided for the yellow. This option will require a lot of busy work putting together the swastikas on the kill markings. I checked the serials to be sure these were P-51Ks and they are so the proper research was done in this regard.
So there you have it. Another of Dragon's Mustang kits in 1/32 scale. Obviously these have not been the disaster that the 'experts' had predicted. I have seen several of these built and aside from the prop in the initial boxing, the completed models have looks very nice.
My thanks to
www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours at your local hobby
shop or ask them to order it for you.
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