Tamiya 1/48 P-51D Mustang '8th AF'
|PRICE:||2400 yen SRP (can be found for as little as $22.00)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||First released in 1995|
Going into the history of the P-51D is like doing the same for the 109 and Spitfire. If you don't know anything about it, you just haven't been paying attention. Needless to say, the Mustang is one of those aircraft that was crucial to the ending of the war in that it was the first Allied fighter with the range and the speed to be able to escort bombers to all their targets and still be able to hold off attacking fighters.
It is also one of the few WW II fighters whose military service lasted well into the 1970s. Not bad for a plane designed to last 400 flight hours. It is now a staple of the warbird show circuit, and there are few who are even remotely interested in aircraft who have not had the opportunity to see one fly.
In the early 1990s, Tamiya embarked on a program of producing 1/48 aircraft after a long absence from the airplane market. Their previous kits had been to 1/50 scale and while they sold fairly well, were obviously not up to current standards. Their 1985 release of a Zero 52 showed that there was interest as that was considered 'kit of the year' by a number of publications.
One of the first several year's worth of releases included this P-51D. The detailing is really excellent though some will fuss about minor shape issues or the detailing on the inner upper wing, but overall, it is exactly what one wants from a Tamiya kit. The cockpit is super and includes good sidewall detailing. A pilot figure is provided for those who want one. Absent from this and other early products is a decal for the instrument panel and a seat harness.
The lower ducting for the radiator exhaust was a first for Mustangs as was the positionable exhaust outlet. The kit includes separate flaps that can be posed up or down. The prop is separate blades, though they are keyed. For things under wings, we have but a pair of pylons and the metal drop tanks. In my mind, the worst part of the kit is how the clear bits are treated.
The windscreen does not include the surrounding fuselage, making a clean attachment difficult. Same for the canopy with the separate frame. Most modelers prefer to have the windscreen and canopy sections molded with the surrounding framework or fuselage as it makes it much easier to deal with seams. Another area that Tamiya missed things is in the main wheel well. The back wall of this well is the wing spar and it should be straight. Tamiya and pretty much every one else simply had the back gear wall follow the external outline of the door opening, which is angled.
Instructions are excellent with nice detail images. Color info is with Tamiya paints. The four markings options are all pretty much 'done to death' ace's planes. Included are John Myer's "Petie 2nd", Urban Drew's plane with the upper surfaces in OD, 'Kit' Carson's "Nooky Booky IV" and Thomas Christian's "Lou IV". Two decal sheets are provided, one with invasion stripes. One would probably do better by painting these. There are also a myriad of aftermarket sheets for this.
Though this may have been superseded by the newer Meng kit, it is not only half the price of the Meng offering, but is one that thousands have built with great success and looks superb when done (aside from the canopy deal). I should mention that this boxing cannot be built as an F-51D as it lacks the later prop and the rocket stubs.
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