Tamiya 1/72 F-51D Mustang




900 yen in 2001


Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken


2000 tooling


Undoubtedly the WWII type that lasted in front-line military service the longest of all others was the P-51D Mustang. It wasn't until the early 1970's that it was finally retired from active duty with the Dominican Air Force.

When the P for pursuit prefix was dropped in favor of the F for fighter prefix, hundreds of Mustangs were so renamed. However, it was as a fighter-bomber that the F-51 was to make a name for itself. It wasn't the skies over Europe, but the ground of the Korean peninsula that saw the most activity for the F-51.

During the early days of the war, the UN forces were pushed into a small area. Too small to house the kind of air fields needed by jets. The Mustang was able to take off, drop its ordnance on an enemy only a few miles away and return for more. Often times Mustangs were flying four or five or more sorties a day. Thanks to the ever present air cover and some brilliant back field maneuvering by McArthur's troops, the communist forces of North Korea were pushed back.

However, the Mustang kept on fighting the ground-attack war even as jet powered aircraft were taking its place. It wasn't until late 1952 that the last Mustang squadron turned in its tired old horses for jet aircraft.


 Without wanting to sound trite, it is a Tamiya kit, and despite the fact that the kit is 20+ years old,  you know that it is a good one. Developed from Tamiya's 1/48 kit, it is well worth finding and can be found at very reasonable prices. There have been newer toolings of this aircraft, but many still gravitate towards this one due to its excellent engineering. If looking for a 1/72 Mustang and going to use aftermarket decals, I'd recommend this particular boxing. For starters, you get two  different exhaust, two different canopies, two different propellers, as well as drop tanks, bombs, and rockets.

 This choice of goodies and a suitable aftermarket decal sheet will allow you to build just about any variety of 'bubble top' Mustang that you can imagine.

The kit instructions are first rate as you would expect from Tamiya. There are color callouts for every step, but they are for Tamiya's own brand of paint and not keyed to any FS standard. One would hope that this would change, but I know it won't. You get markings for three very colorful Korean War era F-51Ds. First is a shark-mouthed plane from the 12th FBS/ 18th FBG. Next is the group commander's plane from the 18th FBG with the multicolored fuselage band so often carried. The final plane is  from the 36th FBS / 8th FBW with a very impressive mission tally. Each of these planes has colored wing and tail tips that need to be painted. I'm also suspicious about the font used for the buzz numbers on two of these planes and suggest digging into whatever reference materials you may have to verify them. The decals are nicely done and very crisply printed. Note that I've shown the 1/48 sheet, but the markings are identical. This sheet is done 'in house' so should not run afoul of the cracking that the 1/48th Scalemaster sheet was prone to. Note also that a decal seat harness is provided.


This is really a superb looking kit. It builds into a very nice model with minimal fuss.  have no doubt that it can easily be made into a fine replica with little effort. There are two things about the kit which I'm not fond of. One is that the canopy is separate from the frame, making the seam nearly impossible to eliminate. The other is that it does not have the option for lowered flaps, something you see on many parked Mustangs. Still, it is readily available for under $20 and it does give you Tamiya quality.

April 2022

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