|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
For most folks, the P-51D Mustang needs little introduction. It was the second most widely built US fighter of WWII bested only by the P-47. The Mustang continued to be used post war by the USAAF/USAF and was the most widely used fighter-bomber early in the Korean War. The type was also used by a fairly large number of other nation's air arms, mostly due to the wide availability of new or near new air frames and because they could be purchased at a very reasonable price. The Mustang was so popular that the last military Mustang was flying until 1984 and dozens of them are still extant as warbirds.
When Airfix released this kit in 2017, there were a lot of folks who wondered why we needed another P-51. Well, it isn't so much a question of what is needed, but of what will make Airfix money, and Mustangs make companies money.
Overall, the detailing is quite good. I did find a few issues including sink areas on the lower control column piece, outer main gear doors, and the rudder. I also found that the flaps and the ailerons were warped. A mounting lug on the seatback was broken away, something that happened before it was bagged as the piece was not in the sealed bag.
Typically, the kit begins construction with the cockpit and it is quite nicely detailed. A decal is provided to put over the raised instrument panel. Not surprising with Mustang kits is that the cockpit floor extends very far back to enable the radiator ducting to be added. It also has room for the tail gear well and unfortunately, is so engineered that you must install the tail gear before closing the fuselage halves. Be prepared to build some sort of protection around this or you'll inevitably break the gear off during construction.
There are two interior side panels to build up and install. As Airfix does a fillet-less tail kit, the fin is a separate item. In fact, there are two options in this regard with one having fewer panel lines than the other. Note also that there are separate oil breather vents in the lower nose. Some planes had this blocked off entirely while some others had louvers in place of the mass of holes in this piece.
Once all this is done, the fuselage halves can be joined and the upper cowling piece attached. Then the wings can be built up. One starts by building up the gear well piece. Then whatever holes you want open in the lower wing are done. The inner set are for drop tanks or bombs and the outer for the recoilless rifles. Then the gear well assembly is installed, the outer wing ID light piece installed and the upper wing sections attached. This kit has a separate piece for the guns so that is next.
Then come the flaps and ailerons. The flaps can be posed up or down. In my case, this is after they are un-warped. Wings are attached to the fuselage and the lower forward fuselage insert glued in place. You are provided two types of exhaust, one without the 'hood' and the prop axle assembly is installed. Both the radiator and oil cooler inlets are next along with the radiator outlet pieces. The kit has separate elevators and rudder so these along with the horizontal stabs are attached. Note that the kit comes with the fabric rudder.
The next several steps deal with the landing gear and gear doors. My outer gear doors had sink marks that will need filled. This is followed by the various things under wings including two sizes of drop tanks. The prop is built up along with the windscreen and canopy assemblies. A pilot figure is provided if you want one. Finally, the prop, windscreen, canopy and antennas are installed and that is it.
Instructions are nicely done with only Humbrol paint numbers provided. I wish Airfix would join the rest of the world and include a chart that provides names for these numbers so we wouldn't have to look them up to find out what color to use. Two markings options are provided. One is the box art plane from the 2ACG in India during 1945. The other is with the 361FS/356 FG based in England during 1945. This plane has a red nose/spinner/upper cowling with a black rudder and canopy surround that will have to be painted. Both options have unpainted metal fuselage and tail with aluminum lacquer wings. For accuracy, you'll want to fill in the panel lines on the wings for all but the gun access doors. This was done on all P-51Ds at the factory to enhance the laminar flow over the wings. The decals are nicely printed and offer a full stencil suite.
It looks like a fairly nice kit. I did not buy one five years ago when it came out as I have a fair number of Tamiya and Meng 1/48 P-51s, but I got a fairly good deal on this one so figured I'd see what it was about. Not jazzed by the less than sterling quality control (warped parts and sink holes), and it has a goodly number of inserts and small parts. Still, it seems pretty straightforward as these things go. Guess we'll have to wait and see how it turns out.
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