Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

P-51B Mustang

by Ken Stanton


North American P-51B Mustang
"Short Fuse Sallee"


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




This is Tamiya's  'RAF Mk III' Mustang (AKA a P-51B with a Malcolm hood) in 1/48th scale. It is one of the best engineered kits I have made in quite a while. I'm not sure I have done it justice it many areas.

 I completed it as Capt. Richard Turner's "Short- Fuse Sallee" from 356FS / 354FG of the 8th Air Force.





Before I comment on the one area of criticism that I do have for the kit, I'll list the areas where I think I could have done better. 

  1. Painting of white areas: Thought I'd be smart and do this first and mask off later. As a 'brush painter' getting an even coverage of Humbrol matt white over the dark grey plastic took several coats and obscured some fine detail. I managed to offset this by re-scribing between coats but I missed some around the nose. Next time I'll use a spray can of white primer.
  1. The 'sit' of an aircraft is important. I spent so much time trying to ensure that the wingtips were level I lost the plot a little and I've got some forward rake on the u/c legs. Araldite doesn't allow for a second go at that one!
  1. Check alignment FIRST, especially with aftermarket parts. The end result of the cockpit looks really good but I was lulled into a sense of false security by a good looking resin set. The side panels do not align. Result: a 2mm cut into one side to straighten up the instrument panel and a seat that is too far forward. Are they on runners like a car? Thought not, no escape there then!
  1. The u/c legs look a bit bare. The addition of brake lines would help here.
  1. Decals. I could not get them to conform to some features despite multiple applications of Micro Sol and Micro Set. I could not find in Plane Talking any reference to anyone else having this issue with this manufacturer's decals so I accept that I probably need to do something different.

As I said, this is a very nice kit.

Assembly was a dream with just a little filler required under the nose and under the rear fuselage. I'm no Mustang expert so I won't comment on its overall accuracy. It looks very good when complete. My only gripe would be the canopy. The Malcolm hood is moulded in one piece with the windshield and when I separated it I found (as others have too, I suspect) it does not fit over the fuselage spine in the way it should. I managed to widen it a little with boiling water and a spreader but it still looked wrong so I extended it to emulate the runners. I'm not happy with it. A Squadron vac form part will fix that at a later date. 

I started by removing the ailerons, elevators and rudder from the kit parts and creating the grooves where required for Ultracast parts to attach. I also thinned down the edges of the aileron shrouds in the wings.



I then moved to the Aires cockpit. This is a very detailed set. The casting is very crisp and the etched parts are far finer than my eyesight can cope with. The carpet manages to swallow them OK though. All resin parts were sprayed with a grey cellulose primer and Humbrol enamel used to finish. The cockpit parts were assembled and also attached to the kit using a 5 minute epoxy resin (Araldite®). For what followed I'm glad I used something substantial. The quality of the casting, which includes cutouts that locate beautifully on Tamiya's cockpit sills, leads you to just apply them directly to the fuselage sides. I did just that and when I offered up the floor (with the instrument panel attached) it was 2mm out on one side. I should have checked, I know, but I would argue that with this level of expertise in the product I shouldn't need to. A little shaving to make a good fit is acceptable; I would say removing 2 mm of material isn't.



The instrument panel etched part is exquisite and the acetate sheet has the instruments finely printed and also includes the reflector sight glass with its support frame printed on it. Cutting that out was a challenge for me! I painted the rebate in the resin panel with gloss white, dropped the trimmed acetate on to it and lined it up while the paint was still wet and left this overnight to dry. I ran a fair amount of gloss varnish into the rebate over the acetate. I dropped the etched panel (previously painted black and gently 'distressed' to show the metal on the edges of the bezels) into the wet varnish and pushed on the panel until the varnish partly filled the instrument apertures and left it to harden. The end result was quite impressive.



When I came to attach the lower wing panel I was prepared to have to 'fettle' the underside of the cockpit floor but not as much as was finally necessary.

I have a set of scrapers (clay modeller's tools I think they are) that I used to remove the resin from the cockpit floor. Had this part not been firmly fixed to the kit there was no way it would have survived this amount of punishment. By the time I got the lower wing to fit to the fuselage the resin looked grey where the black paint was showing through and the upper part of the wheel bay was wafer thin. This is 'close to the edge' stuff. Perhaps some artistic licence on scale accuracy could be employed to compensate for the thickness of the kit parts. If a specific kit is the recommended companion for an aftermarket set I would expect not to have to almost destroy a part of that kit to make the set fit. Not a rant, but a personal observation.

From then on the build was fairly straightforward. Any glitches in the assembly were down to me. The decal sheet from Tally Ho shows Capt. Turner's machine as having a whip aerial. My only reference for its location was a 1972 Scale Models article with a P51B Plan View. This showed the location for the attachment plate but stated this could be on either side of the fuselage. I looked at some pictures of typical aircraft and they all seemed to be on the starboard side. I made a small oval plate and glued it to the fuselage side. When dry I drilled it to take a short section of plain guitar string (a B string from an Ernie Ball Regular Slinky set for those who know about these things  - 0.013" or 0.33mm for those who don't). 

I opted to reposition the control surfaces so I obtained replacements from Ultracast along with exhaust pipes, wheels and cuffed prop blades.



The quality of Ultracast's products is excellent. I've used them before and would recommend them without reservation. The picture of the exhaust pipes for this kit shows more than I could say; I used the non-shrouded ones (you get both types!) because they look so good. The control surfaces fitted very well. The longest job was filing the recess for the elevators in the trailing edge of each horizontal stabiliser. The wheels look convincing and aren't overly flattened.



Painting and Markings


For the paint scheme I used Humbrol No. 66, which is quoted as an equivalent for Olive Drab 42, and No. 64 for Neutral Gray. The OD came up quite dark after varnishing but as many machines were polished it seemed OK to me. The discussions over the correct hue for OD are beyond my depth of knowledge so I'll make no other statement. The aircraft (except for the prop blades) was then brush coated with Humbrol clear varnish. 

Short-Fuse Sallee's markings came from Tally Ho's P51 Mustang Aces Pt1 and the documentation that came with them was sufficient to place each decal accurately. One area where I had to resort to Plane Talking was with the signalling lamps under the starboard wing and was the Star & Bar repositioned to avoid them? Within a few hours I had the answer, this is a Block 1 airframe and it didn't have signalling lamps! Great place is HyperScale.



Can't recall the gent's name but "thank you". 

Only one genuine gripe was the slight white line around part of the dark blue centre of the Star & Bar. I took the first one off the plane in the hope it was the only one but they are all the same. I could have edged them with OD or NG to cover it but I felt there was a risk I would spoil the clean edge of the blue so I lived with it. I suffered quite badly with silvering. It is evident in picture of the propeller blades yet these had been sprayed with car cellulose paint and were super glossy! I used Micro Set and Micro Sol. The final coat was Micro-Flat, again brush painted.





This kit was my 'get back into it' project and I was determined to finish it before I started something else.  I'm already more than half way into an Eduard Tempest V. 

Note to Jim Kiker, I still have the PRXIX Spitfire to finish. It will get done.



Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2003 by Ken Stanton
Page Created 19 October, 2003
Last updated 17 March, 2004

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Features Page