Revell(Monogram) 1/48 P-51B Mustang
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Probably the most recognizable WWII American aircraft is the P-51 Mustang. Much of this recognition is due to the considerable number of aircraft that are still flying as war birds. It would probably not be much of a stretch to say there are a hundred airworthy examples in the US alone.
This is a plane that almost didn't happen. When WWII started, the British wanted North American Aviation to build P-40s for them. NAA said they would build a new plane for them and have it ready for first flight in record time. This was the first Mustang. It was powered by an Allison engine, which meant it had poor performance above 15,000 feet. However, it proved to be an exceptional tactical reconnaissance aircraft and those developed into the A-36 worked wonders as ground attack planes in the Mediterranean.
Backing up a bit, what was needed was high altitude performance. The British Spitfire was able to operate successfully at higher altitudes due to its Rolls Royce Merlin engine. So they fitted one to one of their Mustange. This completely changed the aircraft and it was shown to be highly capable at high altitude, making it an excellent bomber escort thanks to its already exceptional range.
However, the Brass Hats did not want it. It wasn't built for the USAAF so was considered a 'foreign' design. It took the near mutiny of USAAF pilots who had flown the British prototypes to change their mind and the Merlin Mustang was born.
This is one of Monogram's older kits from 1967. Back then, operating features were a big deal with model kits, but the P-51B was one of Monogram's earliest shots at building a kit more for the enthusiast than as a surrogate toy. Apparently it was a success as moving control surfaces, retractable landing gear and so on are no longer a staple. This is the most recent boxing from 2011. It is now under the Revell nameplate. When Revell and Monogram merged, it was felt that Revell was a more known brand name, at least outside the US, so slowly the word 'Monogram' disappeared from boxes.
Unlike the earlier Mustang kits, this one is not molded in olive brown, but in a standard grey plastic. The condition of the sprues is really very good with pretty much no flash. One thing that has changed is that 'Monogram' is no longer embossed under the stabilizer. That has been replaced by 'Revell, made in China'.
The kit comes with a three piece pilot figure. There is a well appointed cockpit that includes separate sidewalls with detail items. For this one, you have to install the tail gear prior to assembling the fuselage halves. Tail wheel gear doors are molded into the fuselage halves. The exhaust can be left off until after painting and have no heat shrouds. . There is a separate nose piece which Revell wants you to put on last after attaching the prop. For no other reason than to be able to get to the seam, this would be why leaving off the exhaust until last is a good idea.
Wings are a single lower section with two upper halves. Landing gear is nicely done and again, may be something you want to leave off until after painting. Like most Mustangs, the lip to the radiator duct is separate. Inner gear doors include retraction struts which is nice. Tail planes are separate moldings.
Though the kit comes with a separate windscreen, the canopy and rear quarter windows are cast as a single piece. There are vac canopies out there for those who wish to add more detail to the cockpit. Like the 1/72 kit, there is a Malcolm hood which will require come cutting of the standard canopy. The only option for the molded on lower wing racks are fuel tanks.
Instructions are the standard for modern Revell kits with generic color information and clearly drawn construction sequences. Markings are for two planes. One is the box art plane from the 26 FS/51 FG in China during 1945. Your editor did his P-51B in these markings using an older boxing about 25 years back and it is a nice option. The other is an unpainted metal P-51C called Lucky Leaky II with the 352nd FG/353 FG sporting a nice checker nose. This is also a 1945 scheme and uses the Malcolm hood. The decals are superbly printed and should work well with standard setting solutions.
Though this kit was originally molded before many of you were born, Revell seems to have felt it worth re-doing in engraved panel lines. Yep, engraved, so that probably is the reason the molds are so clean. It is a pretty basic kit without a lot of bells and whistles. However, it should be a relatively easy build for most and the end result will make for a great addition to your display shelf.
Late note: It was pointed out to me that the second marking option (Lucky Leaky II) had a dorsal spine (not included in the kit) and I noticed it also did not have an antenna mast but used a whip antenna. The box art plane also needs a DF loop antenna on the spine (not included).
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