Meng 1/48 P-51D Mustang
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
All new kits seem to arrive on scene with a lot of hoopla and it is no different with this one. It is already being touted as 'the best Mustang ever done in this scale'. It is also 'the most expensive Mustang ever done in this scale'. What makes the kit even more intriguing is that it is a snap kit. Yes, no glue is required. I saw a sped up video of this being built and that is what drove me to order one. There were many being offered on-line but it seemed that despite the initial asking price, they all ended up being in the $41.00 range.
On to the kit. Because it is a snap kit, the way the parts are designed and go together are different from a standard glue kit. A glaring error is that the wings have lots of engraved rivets and panel lines when they should be smooth. Apparently the Chinese did not pick up on this, which means they did not do full research into WWII Mustangs. Filling all that will be tedious to the max and most of us won't do it. The cockpit is pretty normal with large attachment areas, pins and sockets. There are also large pins and sockets to affix the sidewall detail. Actually ALL the attachment points are large.
The fuselage is rather oddly shaped to handle the numerous inserts that are used. For instance, the tail gear well and lower rear fuselage are separate. So is the upper rear fuselage. Lower and upper cowling are inserts as is the piece onto which the windscreen fits. The prop blades are two pieces that fit atop each other. The kit has two props; one an uncuffed Hamilton Standard and the other an Aeroproducts prop, though it doesn't seem to me to be quite the right shape compared to the drawing. Image to the right. You make up your mind on this. This will allow you to do a P-51K with what comes in the box. You also get a short and longer spinner tips. Apparently this boxing uses the long spinner and cuffed props. As a note, there are no rockets or rocket mounts with this kit nor is there any indication of putting holes in the lower wing for these mounts so any thought of doing a Korean War plane with this will have to wait until Meng decides to kit a dedicated F-51D.
When it comes to the wings, you are supposed to install the landing gear with wheels into the wheel well piece, then attach this to the lower wing. Before attaching the upper wing halves, you trap the ailerons and flaps between them. Only lowered flaps are provided. The guns are a long insert that fits into the front of the wings. One then builds up the lower scoop and attaches it along with the lower cowling (which also incorporates the first inch or so of the lower wing leading edge. The kit provides options for the inner gear doors to be open or closed and includes inner gear door retraction arms.
Wing pylons have separate bomb anti-sway braces. You have the option for bombs, small fuel tanks or the larger paper ones. The canopy is molded onto the frame and while you have two canopy choices, only one is listed for this kit. Rudder and tail planes simply press into place.
The instructions are nicely done and use Meng paint references. A color chart offers generic names in several languages. Both options are unpainted metal. One is the cover plane 'American Beauty. The OD panel, spinner and forward cowling as well as wing tip, wing and tail bands need to be painted. The other is 'Short Fuze Sal' with a white spinner black tail bands and D-Day stripes on the underside. These will all need to be painted. I find it kind of ironic that you have a no-glue kit that requires advanced painting skills.
Despite the commentary of the experts who will tell you how much nicer this is than the Tamiya or even Hasegawa Mustangs, I wouldn't dump those others just yet as they still make very nice models. I dare say that if the fit is as great as it is let on to be, then pre-painting sections prior to putting them all together may well be the way to go with the Meng kit. Those who MUST HAVE the latest and greatest will want to pick this one up. I am actually looking forward to breaking out of my current funk and building it.
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