Mustang Jackie: 1/48th Tamiya P-51D Mustang
Here is another 1/48th scale "Gem" kit by Tamiya. Not without its faults, but typically a great build at a reasonable price. What you get is a great looking Mustang inside and out, with dropped flaps (if you choose) and fine surface detail.
Notable Kit Features:
Low parts count (without much sacrifice)
Nice raised details in the cockpit and instrument panel
Finely engraved surface detail
Positionable radiator vent
Both shrouded and unshrouded exhausts provided
Two styles of blown canopies provided
Wing tanks provided
I came across a set of decals at a model show that was a "Must" for my collection - Capt. John Crump's P-51D Mustang of the 360th Fighter Squadron / 356th Fighter Group based out of Martlesham Heath, England 1944. He had named his aircraft "Jackie" and since that was my wife's name as well as one of the very few aircraft she could readily identify (because we watched the movie "Empire of the Sun" together) - this combination became a "Must Build" for me.
Some minor points to cover here that are noteworthy whether you care to correct or not:
The two-piece bubbletop transparency and plastic frame presents a less than smooth transition for the canopy
Flap recessed area (inboard beside fuselage) should be filled if flaps are down
Hamilton Standard propeller blades have been critiqued for being wide in chord at the cuff and narrow toward the tips
Wheel wells aren't an accurate representation, especially of the main spar
Panel lines on the wing can mainly be filled if you are building a newly delivered type, as filler was used to refine the laminar flow aspect of the wing (the gun access panels, which would be accessed often, lost this panel fill)
The wings of Mustangs were mostly primed and painted silver, and not natural metal as was the case with the fuselage
For a clearer picture on some of the fixes to the issues listed above, you can reference Ian Robertson's build at the link below:
If you are interested in replicating the silver painted and natural metal finish (NMF) areas of the P-51D Mustang, the photo below sheds a lot of light on the subject. The typical finish of the P-51D is highlighted in the photo and explained below:
Blue areas - two layers of sprayed putty and polished for the smooth surface entirely with no rivets seen. Then sprayed with a silver paint
Green areas - one layer of sprayed putty and polished for the smooth surface entirely with no rivets seen. Then sprayed with a silver paint
Yellow areas - a silver paint only
Kit Additions / Modifications:
In case you were wondering, I came upon much of this helpful research after I had finished my lovely low-stress Tamiya kit - Ignorance is bliss sometimes (so I apologise to those who I just introduced a more complex P-51D build next time around - myself included.) As it turned out I built this Mustang pretty much Out-of-Box with the exception of added seatbelts and after-market decals.
As you may have noticed, if you follow me on twitter, I have a tendency to do my aircraft builds in like coloured groups. This build suffered from being in a rather large group of NMF aircraft. Every once in a while, a reasonably sized group, gets some add-ins to create a excessively long spray booth set (as well as "fiddly parts" finishing afterwards). I have since made a note to limit the group size to counter this risk of "Let's just finish off this group and move along" mentality that can set in on a kit (or group of builds).
I was painting with oil-base enamels at the time and used a highly thinned lacquer-based aluminum paint with some panels varied in colour, for added realism. More realism would have been obtained had I spent more time on the finish, however this Mustang still turned out acceptable. Black wing / tail stripes and red nose / tail squadron colours were painted on. The decals were quite thin, pliable and settled in well.
The After-Build Report:
This is a nice kit all things considered, therefore the Tamiya Mustang is on my recommended list. There are other nice Mustang kits in 1/48th scale as well, the Eduard, Airfix and Meng kit have very good reviews and the Hasegawa kit is still decent. Next Mustang, I will try and incorporate most of the above refinements, whichever kit I end up selecting.
Completed build #110 - August 2009 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #61040 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers