Kit: P-51B Mustang

Scale: 1/48

Kit Number: 5214 (Ghost Squadron issue)

Manufacturer: Monogram

Price: $7.50

Media: Injected Plastic

Decals: One version, USAAF in Europe

Reviewer:Scott Van Aken

Date of Review:27 August 1997

The Mustang is the most well-known and maybe the longest surviving of America's WWII fighters.  There have been more books, articles, and (probably) models of this fighter made than of any other Allied aircraft of WWII. The superlatives stretch on and on and you have undoubtedly read them all.

This kit is Monogram's relatively old version of the P-51B.  It is still a pretty good kit and Monogram recently redid the molds to add engraved panel lines and a few other things for its ProModeler line of kits.  This is not one of them.

Molded in olive drab with raised panel lines and very good detail, both interior and exterior, for a kit of that time. It may surprise many modelers, but Monogram at one time was THE premier kit maker.  Even today, Monogram ,(excuse me) Revell-Monogram, offer what is probably the best value for the money in the US today.  Anyway, since it was such a good starting place, I decided to try some aftermarket stuff to improve this kit.  Other than aftermarket decals, I bought a Squadron canopy and True Detail wheels to help spruce this kit up a bit.

The interior is relatively complete with instrument panel, seat (with engraved belts), control stick and radio compartment.  Only a bit of detail painting and dry-brushing really helps as there is good sidewall detail in this and other Monogram kits.  In fact, I have built a number of Monogram bombers and their attention to detail is superb in this area. Once the interior was done, the tail wheel was installed and the fuselage assembled. Then the exhaust was drilled out.  Next are the wings.  They have good wheel well detail, but have just holes for the wing guns.  This minor omission was handled by inserting gun barrels made of stainless steel tubing embedded in black plastic tubing.  This gives them an appearance of 'floating' in the holes, just like the real guns.

The wings were attached to the fuselage using a bit of filler at the front and a lot of filler at the top. The horizontal stabilizers were then glued to the tail.  The canopy on these kits has always been a problem for me.  No matter how I try, I always crack it and it just doesn't seem to fit well.  The Squadron replacement is a much better fit than the original and allows you to display the canopy in the open position if you so choose. Fitting the gear and other details was a snap.  I used the True Details wheels on this and other than drilling a hole for the axle, is a simple job. I think that they look better than the kit wheels as well.  The kit drop tanks were also used.

This aircraft was painted and decaled to represent one from the 23 Fighter Group in China during 1944/45.  I have always liked the shark mouth of this particular unit and have built a 1/72 P-51B using the exact same decals.  The Microscale decals fit superbly and snuggled right down using a dilute Solvaset.  Paint is the ever popular OD and Neutral Grey using Testor's Modelmaster paints, which have never given me any problems at all.

The final result is a nice Mustang for less than half the price of a Tamiya or Hasegawa kit.  Sure it is a bit more trouble to build, but modeling is more than just assembling pieces.  Modeling should let you use a few additional skills as well. An oldie but a goodie and still recommended.

BTW, when I actually built this plane in the mid 1980s, I was ignorant of the proper colors for P-51 wheel wells.

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