Academy 1/72 P-51C Mustang 'Red Tails'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The P-51B/C Mustang was the result of the RAF working on ways to make the plane useful at high altitude, by sticking a Merlin engine in it. The initial P-51A was a great plane at low altitude but was hampered by its Allison engine, which was a real slug above 15,000 feet or so. Altitude was not an issue for the Merlin and the experiments showed that it would be a capable escort fighter for the bombers, something the Spitfire was not due to its short range. Some USAAF pilots got to fly this new combination and immediately started lobbying the brass in Washington to have this made. It worked and North American made a cleaner design of the front using the Packard built Merlins. The result was the P-51B/C, a plane able to escort US bombers to all but the most distant targets. The B was built in California and the C in Texas otherwise they are the same plane.
Academy initially released their P-51B kit in 1999 if Scalemates is correct. It is not the first B model Mustang in this scale with Monogram doing a very nice one in the sixties. Airfix also released one as did Hasegawa though Hasegawa used P-51D wings which is incorrect. There were probably others but those are the only ones that come immediately to mind.
It is a very nice kit, and not at all difficult to build. The interior floor includes the radio compartment/fuel tank as well as part of the exhaust ducting for the radiator. The tail section is separate so that the planes that had a fin fillet could be boxed. The rest of the interior is the seat, armor plating, control and instrument panel. There is also detail on the sidewalls.
After the fuselage sections are joined, you can install the exhaust and then build up the wings. Holes need to be opened if you are using the wing pylons. Wing is a single lower piece with two upper halves. This then slots in place in the bottom of the fuselage. With the tailplanes then installed, you have a fairly complete airframe. Note that the tail gear doors are already molded in place. Next the landing gear is built up and installed. This is followed by the tail gear, forward oil cooler and radiator itake and the inner main gear doors. The last pieces are the building of the prop and the canopy pieces. An optional open canopy section is included as well. For things under wings you have zero length rocket launchers, bombs and two types of drop tanks. One is the standard 75 gallon aluminum ones and the other is the 108 gallon 'paper' variant. A nice addition to this boxing is a Jeep which comes on its own sprue.
instructions use generic color references and provide two markings options for the 332 FG. One is the box art plane with the 302nd FS and the other is with the 99th FS. The latter plane has a black and white checked nose band and the yellow wing stripes are in a different location. All the red areas on the plane will need to be painted though the stripes for the wings and such are provided on the decal sheet.
As I mentioned, this is a very nice kit of this plane. Separate flaps would have been nice, but you can't have it all. Having the Jeep added in the mix is a real bonus.
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