KIT: Beechnut 1/72 F-51H Mustang
KIT #: 1009
PRICE: $ 10.00 when new in the late 80s
DECALS: No options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: About as short run as you can get


It was obvious to the designers of the Mustang that the aircraft was starting to gain weight. Like older people, as an aircraft continues in production, more and more stuff is added to the airframe. Without an increase in power, performance deteriorates. This resulted in the construction and testing of special light-weight P-51s, the XP-51F and XP-51G. Hundreds f pounds were reduced through the use of smaller parts, elimination of some heavy equipment and the redesign of the airframe. Despite all this work, neither of these planes were put into production.

The weight-savings program which produced the XP-51F and XP-51G was put to good use in the design of the P-51H. The fin and rudder were significantly increased in height and the rear fuselage was lengthened to 33 feet 4 inches (nearly two feet longer than the P-51D). Other features were taken directly from the XP-51F project --- it had the same shallower carburetor air intake and modified cowling with integral engine mounting, the same simplified undercarriage with smaller wheels and disc brakes, and it had the same broad-chord wing (without the leading edge "kink"). However, the cockpit canopy was much smaller than that of the XP-51F, being more nearly equal in size to that of the P-51D. However, the profile of the canopy was quite different from that of the P-51D, with the top of the hump being much closer to the front just above the pilot's head. The fuselage was modified in order to raise the cockpit to give an 8-degree gun sight deflection angle looking down along the top line from gun sight to spinner. Armament returned to six machine guns with 1880 total rounds, although alternative installations of four guns with 1600 total rounds could be fitted. Provisions were made for normal loads of external stores. Access for gun servicing was improved by redesign of the wing doors and ammunition feed system, and by making the ammunition boxes removable. The fuselage fuel tank was restored, but its capacity was fixed at 50 US gallons, giving a total internal fuel capacity of 255 US gallons.

The first P-51H-1-NA was flown by Bob Chilton on February 3, 1945. There were 20 P-51H-1-NAs built, all with the XP-51F tail. The distinctive taller tail was installed on the P-51H-5-NA and later production block aircraft and was later retrofitted to earlier P-51H-1-NAs.

Along with the Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, the P-51H was intended to be the leading USAAF fighter used during the upcoming invasion of Japan. 2000 P-51Hs were ordered, made up of 555 NA-126s and 1445 NA-129s with minor differences. All of these planes were to be built at the Inglewood factory. 1629 more examples were ordered from NAAs Dallas plant, these being designated P-51M. The P-51M differed primarily in having the V-1650-9A engine, which had a lower war emergency rating by virtue of having the water injection deleted.

One P-51H was given to the RAF for evaluation at Boscombe Down. Its serial was KN987.

The P-51H was too late to see action in the war in Europe. By the late summer of 1945, some P-51Hs had been issued to a few operational units. These units were in the process of working up to operational status when the war in the Pacific ended with the Japanese surrender. None had the opportunity to see any combat. At the time of V-J Day, 555 P-51Hs had rolled off the Inglewood production lines. With the coming of peace, orders for 1445 more P-51Hs were cancelled, along with the entirety of the order for the Dallas-built P-51Ms after only one example had been completed.

Also cancelled was an order for 1700 P-51Ls. They were to have been similar to the P-51H but were to be equipped with the more powerful V-1650-11 engine with a Stromberg speed/density injection-type carburetor, rated at a peak power of 2270 hp with water injection. None were built.

The last P-51H rolled off the production line in 1946.


Beechnut models may be a name that is not well known to many of you. Not surprising as they didn't last more than about a dozen kits. They produced short run kits of some very interesting aircraft (such as this one), but were basically for those who wanted something just a step above a basic vacuform kit. This is it. Molded in a translucent white plastic, the parts are somewhat brittle as you can see from the rather large stress crack on one of the fuselage halves. The parts are flashy, somewhat crudely done and leave out a lot of detail stuff. In fact, you really only get a basic airframe and main gear. The gear doors, tail wheel, interior and any of the smaller bits need to be scratch built or gleaned from some other kit.

The instructions, such as they are, provide detailed drawings of all the bits that are missing and include a template for the main gear doors. You can see them in their entirety to the right. Frankly, I know of no one who has actually completed this particular kit. I have two of the 2,000 made and they have languished in the kit dungeon for over 15 years, still unbuilt.

No decals are provided, though the back of the header card does include profiles for five aircraft, including one used by the Communist Chinese and labeled as 'captured in North Korea - 1952'. Quite a statement as the F-51H was not used in Korea.

Late Note: According to readers, Model News and High Planes have also produced a 1/72 F-51H and those would be the ones to get.


As incredible as it may seem, this is the only injected F-51H that I know of in 1/72 scale. Many years back, there were two 1/48 kits produced by Classic Airframes and HiPM, both of which were done early in their 'careers'. The instructions do state that this is for 'the advanced modeler' and I'd have to agree with that. In fact, if you are not used to making a lot of your own bits, then stay away from this one!

March 2005


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