ICM 1/48 P-51K Mustang
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was a long-range single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. Designed and built in just 117 days, the Mustang first flew in Royal Air Force (RAF) service as a fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft before conversion to a bomber escort, employed in raids over Germany, helping ensure Allied air superiority from early 1944. The P-51 was in service with Allied air forces in Europe and also saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. The Mustang began the Korean War as the United Nations' main fighter, but was relegated to a ground attack role when superseded by jet fighters early in the conflict. Nevertheless, it remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s.
This is pretty well ICM's standard P-51D kit with a sprue added for the Aeroproducts propeller blades. This prop was pretty well the only difference between the P-51D and P-51K. Just FYI, 1,500 P-51Ks were built during the war along with a number of F-6K photo recon planes.
ICM's kit has often been considered a copy of the Tamiya Mustang kit and it certainly seems to be a plausible claim as there are many similarities in both kits. However, I'll leave it to those who know more about these things to decide if that is true or not. Molded on six grey and one clear sprue, the parts themselves are nicely done with crisp engraved detail. I found some major sink areas on the flaps and the outside of the gear doors so you'll need to break out the filler for these. There are some ejector pin marks on parts, but it seems they will be hidden once the kit is finished. I also found a bit of flash on a few pieces, most notably the backing plate of the spinner.
The fuselage halves have detail on the inside of the cockpit are, which is nice. There is a full cockpit with fuselage fuel tanks and radio molded on the cockpit floor. The kit comes with a clear instrument panel and I wish it didn't as I don't like these things. I end up painted them over so any benefit is lost to me. It might be different if there were instrument decals to go on the back, but there are not. A pilot figure is included for those who like them and it is a nice addition.
There are few option provided in the kit. The major one is a choice between drop tanks or bombs for the under wing racks. There are also different exhausts; with or without the shroud. However, only the shrouded exhausts are shown as being used. Several parts on the sprues are not used. For instance, you get a P-51B sprue but use only a few parts from it. Of course, there is no need for the Hamilton Standard props or the blunt spinner that is included for this version. I should mention that like the Tamiya kit, the clear part of the canopy is separate from the frame. Personally I don't like this arrangement as I can rarely get a smooth attachment. Generally, I end up filling the seam and raising the 'metal' part of the canopy assembly up a bit.
Instructions are well done with color information shown for all the parts. These are keyed to Model Master paints. Markings are provided for two planes. One is the box art aircraft of the 348 FG on Ie Shima in mid 1945. The multi colors on the prop spinner and all the black areas will need to be painted on. The color markings guide on the back of the box shows the gear door insides in green chromate. This is incorrect. Follow what is shown in the instructions. The other is for 'Kit' Carson's 362 FS/357 FG aircraft as flown in December 1944. Again, the prop spinner will have to be painted though the red and yellow nose checks are provided as a decal. I was rather surprised to see that ICM would have the squadron code G4C repeated on the underside of the left wing. First I've heard of this being done to wartime Mustangs. Though a section of the nose checks is smudged, the rest of the sheet is nicely printed. As to how well they will perform, my experience is that one should have a back-up markings plan in case they don't turn out well in application.
ICM kits have always been a good lower priced option to some other brands and those I've built have gone together fairly well. I'm sure that this one is no exception. I do see that the price is creeping up, perhaps cutting into the advantage these kit have held in the past.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours at your favorite retailer.
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