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Tamiya's 1/48 scale
P-51B Mustang

by Roger Fabrocini


North American P-51B Mustang


Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-51B Mustang is available online from Squadron




This is Tamiya's 1/48 N.A. P-51B, kit # 61042 done in the markings of Lt. Clarence "Lucky" Lester's P-51c-5-NT, of the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332 Fighter Group, 15th Army Air Force, operating in the MTO, July, 1944.

On 18 July, 1944, Lt. Lester shot down three Me 109s on one mission earning himself the Distinguished Flying Cross.





Tamiya's P-51B is typical Tamiya, well detailed and engineered, but suffers from some inaccuracies. The most glaring are the misshaped propeller blades, a curved cockpit floor that is more suited for a P-51A, a cut out in the landing flaps and an inaccurate gear well.

I used the following aftermarket sets, whole or in part, to help correct and detail my P-51.

  • Ultracast corrected flaps #48139 (I consider these a luxury. One could easily fill the cut out in the kit flaps

  • Ultracast detailed exhaust #48026 (this set includes both shrouded and unshrouded exhausts)

  • Ultracast Hamilton Standard cuffed propeller and spinner #48136 (in my opinion, has the most impact on the kit's appearance.)

  • Ultracast Mustang wheels (block tread) #48133 (another luxury, but I just love those block treads)

  • Aires P-51B/C cockpit set #4223 (careful with the Aires sets, originally they supplied the incorrect curved floor in set # 4092. This is one of the few times that I had little or no problems fitting an Aires cockpit/detail set. Aires' set fits into the tabs in the fuselage meant for the kit cockpit with minimum grinding of sidewalls needed)



  • Eduard Photo etched set #49-219 (really helps detail the main landing gear struts and the gear wells.)

  • M.V. Products light lenses for the lower wing I.D. lights #LS502

  • Quickboost resin 50 calibur gun barrels from set #QB48 029

  • CMK navigation lights from set #7031

There were a few areas that I scratch-built my own detail. I never liked the way Tamiya molded the small exhaust door in the lower fuselage, so I cut it out and built my own out of card stock and plastic rod for the actuating rod.



I also added some detail into the radiator exhaust door after thinning the door for a more scale appearance.



Tamiya fails to supply any ducting behind the carburetor intake (something they addressed in their P-51D release). I fashioned the upper duct interior out of a curved piece of plastic cut from an old Phantom nose cone.


P-51 wings were puttied and painted silver lacquer so I filled the appropriate panel lines with CA glue. I also removed the inaccurate raised rivets on the top and bottom of the wings.

I wanted to experiment with natural metal finishes and riveting for a future F-86 project. Seeing that the wings of the P-51 were puttied, sanded and painted I thought this would be an easy aircraft to use, seeing that I would only have to rivet the fuselage. I used a #1 beading tool and drawings in the AJ PRESS monograph #57 on the P-51 as a reference.


The last bit of extra detail was removing the molded in kit wing guns and fashioning small mounts for their replacements (the QuickBoost gun barrels) out of plastic stock.



Painting, Markings and Weathering


My goal in finishing my Mustang was to replicate the difference between the silver lacquered wings and the natural aluminum fuselage. I sprayed some tests with different paints and settled on Mr. Color Super Silver Lacquer for the wings (no surprise there, it's silver lacquer paint, just like the original) and Tamiya's Rattle can #AS-12, bare metal silver for my NMF base coat.

The whole airframe was first primed with Mr. Surfacer 1200. Next a coat of the Tamiya bare metal silver, decanted from the rattle can, was airbrushed over the whole plane. I "stole" a technique from Jun Temma and dry brushed Mr. Color stainless steel on the wing tips, wing fillets, wing gun access doors, ailerons and lower wing fuel tank covers. Allowing a short drying time I masked the dry brushed areas and painted the wings with the Mr. Color Super Silver. I painted the panels around the exhausts and the fuselage spine with Alclad II dark aluminum. I also used the dry brush technique on panels under the nose, on the fuselage sides under the canopy and on the tail. On some areas I scrubbed the paint in. On others, specifically under and around the cockpit, I created vertical streaks. A few other panels were sprayed with Testorís Metalizer "Buffing Aluminum".


At this point I contemplated painting on all markings and using Hobby Decal dry transfers for the data, but there was just no getting around using water slide decals for the data/serial number stencil and the pilot's name. In hind sight, I think I may have been able to just gloss the one panel where the decals were to be located, but I took the easy route and gloss coated the model with Mr. Color Super clear gloss. National insignias were painted on using Eduard's Vinyl masks #XF-526. After the masks were removed I sanded down the markings using MasterCrafter's polishing stick letting some of the aluminum show through the white. The anti glare panel was painted using Gunze acrylic O.D. The tail and nose are also Gunze acrylics, H327 fs11136, with some flat red and white added. The yellow theater bands were painted using Gunze yellow H4 and white.

I used TALLY-HO decal's sheet # 48-016 for the personal markings of Lt. C. "Lucky" Lester's P-51C. I found one picture on the web of Lt. Lester's a/c showing the name "MISS PELT" on the starboard side of the nose. Pictures of other aircraft of the 100 FS/332nd FG show names written on the port side as well, but TALLY-HO supplies only one MISS PELT decal. I scanned the sheet in my printer, reproduced it in black and white, then printed it on Testors clear decal paper. The remainder of the decals were sourced from Techmod's sheet #48002D for N.A. Mustang III.

Weathering was achieved using a post shading of Tamiya red-brown and black, a steel Prismacolor pencil on the wings and a silver Prismacolor pencil to create chipping on the red tail and nose, theater bands and anti-glare panel. Paynes Grey and brown/black artist oil washes were used to pick out detail and panel lines.


Final coat is Humbrol Matt Cote for the forward fuselage and Floquil Flat finish for the wings and balance of the fuselage, I like the semi-gloss sheen it produces.





This was a thoroughly enjoyable build without any construction problems.

The finish was a good test bed for future natural metal models I have planned. And I have finally learned my lesson and reset my Nikon CoolPix 4500 camera to its default settings, shooting in manual mode. I've come to the inevitable conclusion that Nikon knows more then me about camera settings. Pictures don't lie.

As always, thanks for the indulgence.



Additional Images


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Model, Images & Text Copyright © 2007 by Roger Fabrocini
Page Created 02 January, 2007
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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