Accurate Miniatures 1/48 A-36 Apache
KIT #: 3401
PRICE: €25 in 2007
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas
NOTES: Reboxed by Italeri in 2013 with nice decal options


The North American A-36 "Apache" (often incorrectly referred to as "Invader" as the aircraft was always just called the Mustang) was the ground-attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang, from which it could be distinguished by the presence of rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wings. The type was actually a stopgap measure, intended to keep North American assembly lines running during the first half of 1942, despite the US having exhausted its funds earmarked for fighter aircraft. This proved to be a successful approach, since, upon the order coming for more P-51s in June 1942, the NAA workforce was thoroughly experienced. A total of 500 Apaches served in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia theaters during World War II, making a significant contribution to the Allied war effort, before being withdrawn from operational use in 1944.


Accurate Miniatures came with their Allison P-51/A-36/Mustang I series in 1994, only making the modeling world too happy, as, at last, they were offered a (for the times) state of the art tolling of the Allison powered variants. The specific kit is the original A-36 version, found still wrapped in 2007 at an Athens hobby shop, carrying the “normal” price of €25. It was bought immediately, fearing that AM’s demise would quickly deem it obsolete.

The kit comes in the usual medium sized but relatively tall, good quality AM top opening box, carrying a beautiful box art by the much missed aviation artist Terrance J. Ryan, depicting the kit subject on a bombing/strafing mission.

Upon opening the box, I was greeted with 68 dark green styrene halves, arranged in three sprues. Molding, which is made in Korea, is first class, nice and crisp, with neither flash evident on any of the parts nor ejector pin marks noted on visible areas. Well done AM! The plastic itself looks reminiscent of Hasegawa offerings, tad on the hard side. Panel lines are finely recessed and the riveting found on wing undersides is very realistically represented.

Fabric representation on rudder and elevators is tad pronounced but looks nice. The ailerons are provided as aluminum, with riveted detail. Yours truly being not a Mustang aficionado, I have read that at those early variants the ailerons were fabric covered.

Cockpit is very well appointed and all parts realistically represented, with the floor having the characteristic curved shape. The sidewall details are all molded together in one piece for each side and look sufficient, as do the “boxes” located aft of the seat. The instrument panel comes as a transparent part, with molded on instruments,  where an “instrument faces” decal is to be affixed at its back and then painted black. No seat belts are provided.

The engine nose is provided separately, in order to cater for the Merlin variants and, in order to avoid a possible step where the nose meets the fuselage, I would take other builders words and attach each nose half to each fuselage half first, ensuring a step-free joint, then mate the assembled fuselage halves.

The otherwise precisely molded distinctive dive brakes are provided as one piece with the upper wing halves in “closed” position, when the vast number of modelers would prefer them to be provided separately. Taking into account the high level of the rest of the kit detailing, this “unexpected” omission might be partly explained from the fact that it was generally regarded that A-36 pilots were not that fond of those dive brakes, not operating correctly, having them often wired-shut.

However, it is lately exceedingly regarded that the “A-36 often wired-shut dive brakes” story was more myth than reality, as war reports and interviews  stated that they gave the A-36A greater stability in a dive. Capt. Charles E. Dills, 522d Fighter Squadron, 27th FBG, XIIth Air Force, in a post-war interview, stated that he flew the A-36 for 39 of his 94 missions, from 11/43 to 3/44, with the dive brakes “never wired-shut in Italy in combat”.

Landing gear is finely represented with the bays and door innards looking well detailed. The wheels are provided as “weighted” or “unweighted” with separate rims and feature nicely molded diamond thread pattern. The inner "clam shell" landing gear doors are said not to droop down upon engine shut down on those early Allison Mustangs, so you may consider attaching them “up”.

Finally, the radiator intake, the exhausts, the one piece prop with separate spinner, the bombs, guns and all other tiny bits provided look very well done.

Transparencies are well molded, crystal clear and not too thick. Instructions come in the form of two double sided leaves, containing an introduction to the kit, with the construction spread in six steps, some of them being dense. As our Editor has pointed out in his similar Mustang IA kit 
preview, the drawings are done by hand, which, in general, cannot be regarded as “bad”, however they are at areas vague (for example, in positioning the radiator duct and landing gear parts). The accompanying supportive text, on the other hand, is very comprehensive. Color callouts are given where needed.

Only one scheme is provided, of 27FG’s s/n 284071 bird, as it stood in Italy in Spring 1944, having performed 190 bomb runs. This bird was OD over neutral gray with red spinner and carried a distinctive tally of the 190 bomb missions lavishly painted all over the port fuselage. Decals look well printed and usable.  Regarding the yellow bands, you can take Tom Cleaver’s word and paint them. Colors are provided in the form of a handy cross reference chart, featuring generic names, FS numbers and recommended brands.

Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit and sidewalls, then, together with the rear wheel, trap them between the fuselage halves. The nose is then to be assembled and attached (but, as mentioned above, better attach the nose halves to each fuselage half and then close the fuselage). The prop is next assembled, followed by the wings, tail planes, landing gear, exhausts, guns, ordnance and transparencies, ending a simple and seemingly uncomplex build.


Though getting elderly, this looks to be a very good representation of the early A-36 variant. General shapes of parts look correct, molding is nice and crisp, panel lines are finely recessed, details at all key areas are sufficient and, apart from the separate nose that might need its extra attention, the build is uncomplicated.

Decals look well printed and usable (apart, possibly, from the yellow ID wing bands). It would be desirable to have at least another decal option offered, these birds carried quite a few interesting schemes! Instructions, while featuring a comprehensive text, lack in drawings, but we live in the net days, so you can relatively effortlessly download the vastly superior Italeri ones from this kit’s 2013 rebox.

If you own or come across one of these original AM A-36s, they are kits worth tackling.

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

January 2023

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