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Test build: Airfix P-51D Mustang 1/48 (31 posts)

  • After reviewing the Airfix 1/48 NA P-51D Mustang it´s about time to see how it fits together. My general plan is to build it per instructions. However, the final result is not really what Airfix had in mind.

    Step 1-9 is focused on the cockpit. All steps were built as intended exept for the headrest/armourplate. This bit was cut off right behind the upper bar of the seat. You will understand this surgical cut later on. I chose to slice off the seat belts as I didn´t think they looked convincing; i might be wrong though.The instructions are very clear and all parts fitted perfectly.

    Steps 11-15 concerns the under belly radiator. Again all parts were a press fit thanks to an ingenious design. The radiator surfaces have a very nice texture. However not much will be seen after closing everything up. But we know it is there, right? I am not painting anything at this stage, I´m taking my chances that nothing of this will be seen again.

    Frequent dry fitting between each step only confirms that this is a well fitting kit. No need to worry at all so far.

    By steps 17-18a we have come to the stage when it is time to build the tail wheel well. Left and right side of the well is a panel, with the well door attached to it, no need to glue tiny parts here. First one side is glued to the central body part, the tail wheel strut is then sandwiched between the two walls. Again all is secured and you can´t really go wrong here. The strut is fixed and will not come lose.

    Pretty soon we have come past the two first pages of the instruction booklet and it is time to finish up the cockpit section. Left and right hand walls are getting a few separate details and are then glued to the inside of the fuselage halves.

    After at test fit of the entire central assembly I can only marvel at the result. I´ll be back soon.

    Quick update: after having test fitted the two different fin units I can say there are no difference to the curve of the fin/fillet. The two fins are the same but for a panel line. Also I found out another reason for Airfix to have a separate fin assembly: the fin and fillet is slightly canted to the side, probably to counter propeller torque, and by having a separate fin the fuselage can be split vertically without problem. If the fin would have been part of the fuselage it would probably have to been placed right between the halves and thus not be slightly offset as it will be now. What looked like a complex way of adding a fin have now two reasons. But what happened to the “Swayfin”?

    Tags: 1/48, Airfix, Mustang, P-51D, test build

  • This looks like another kit for my wish list………. Looks great my friend. I’ll be watching for updates. Merry Christmas.

  • Merry Christmas, Louis!

    I´ll give the cockpit a coat of paint shortly and then it is time to close up the fuselage.

  • This kit has had nothing but good reviews, this looks promising!

  • Yes, George,I haven´t sen anything bad about it really but the occasional comment on deep and wide panel lines but I take that as a personal opinion rather than a flaw.

  • So, the build goes on. I sprayed the cockpit side walls and the central unit using Tamiya´s primer grey.

    As I will deviate a bit from the intended result I think this is an appropriate shade rather than greens. Details were picked out in black and dark green. Over this I splashed a wash of Payne´s grey to get a bit of depth to the details.

    I can conclude that none of the ejection pin marks but one (I don´t think this round mark is supposed to be there…) will be seen when everything is closed up.

    All of a sudden the fuselage was ready to be buttoned up. I ran some thin liquid glue along the seams. The only problematic bit was the seam that goes along the radiator intake. Only a tight grip with my fingers would let it stay closed so I had to use a couple of clamps to force it to stay tight. If this is due to my clumsiness or if it is because of Airfix´s tight tolerances I do not know.

    I also started to trim some smaller bits like wheels, propeller hub and spinner etc. Here is the main wheel well.

    According to the instructions the right and left hand fin halves should be glued to respective fuselage half. I did a bit of dry fitting and think it might be easier to get them lined up after tidying up the fuselage seams. Crossing fingers.

    Next step will be to sand the fuselage seams, take care of more fiddly bits and glue the wing parts.

  • The details in this kit are simply amazing………….. Love it !!!!!

    I like how you are going step by step with this, pointing out the good as well as any problems you may have encountered.

  • Thanks, Louis. As I intend this a as a review of sorts I can´t just skip all questions that arise as I build. In general I think a modeler ask him or herself how, what, when, was-it-my-fault etc, I just happen to write it down.

  • Friends, it has become clear to me this Mustang is a bit of a mixed bag, at least to me. As I go deeper into the construction of this kit I find myself smile like a crazy man at times yet frown as I see things I didn´t expect from Airfix at this level.

    Fast forward to the wing. I glued the wheel well at its intended place in the bottom half. As I let the glue set I got going cutting the upper wing halves of its sprue. It is here I get a feeling of both WTF and WOW at the same time. The details are stunning. Rivets, fasteners, signal lights, all complex lines, curves and fit. Yet, when it comes to how the runners are connected to the actual parts I can´t help but think “what were they thinking”. The runners are quite heavy and connects straight to delicate areas like the leading edge and the connecting edge where aileron and flaps meets the wing. However, it doesnt take more than a bit of careful cutting and sanding to clear this obstacle thanks to Airfix fairly soft plastic. But I can´t help but thinking of how Tamiya would have solved this issue. Maybe there are some casting qualities I don´t get, I might be asking for finesse where non are needed?

    After a bit of drying time for the wheel well I dryfitted and glued the left and right hand side wing uppers. Perfect fit all around. I couldn´t help myself but dryffited the whole wing package to the fuselage. I have never built an aircraft model with a better fit between wing and fuselage. NO gap at all! Sorry, no photo of this non-issue.

    Upper side of wing with flaps dry fitted…

    …and lower side.

    I also just had to dry fit the machine gun ports to the leading edge.

    Before I glued the wing halves together I made a few swipes with a silver marker on inside of wing. This way I have the reflectors for the coloured signal lights.

    After some lows and some huge ups it was now time for some more lifted eye brows. I cut and spent some time tidying the propeller up. Again the sprues connected to the part in a curious way. I am not an engineer so I don´t know the best way of making moulds but I didn´t feel too happy when I realized i had some fiddly sanding to do before clearing up the connecting points to the delicate propeller blades. Also, the tips had some strange and uneven plastic needing some extra sanding.

    A bunch of more necessary parts were cleaned up and glued. Rudders, stabilizer, wing tanks, front bit of lower wing in lower centre of photo.

    Nose got its inlet and pointy bit onto one sticks the propeller…

  • Been busy with other things but here is a quick update of the latest step. Added the fin not the way Airfix suggested but after the assembly of the fuselage halves. Airfix wanted me to glue each of the fin halves to each fuselage half, however we don´t always do as the kit manufacturer wants us to, do we? Got the panels to join up nicely. By this stage it is very visible how the fin is off set by one degree, to the port side. Well done, Airfix! After a bit of sanding to tidy up some glue I promptly cut the fin top off.

    Yep, we don´t adhere strictly to the instructions here. Some of you may now assume I will convert this Mustang into a Cavalier Mustang. This is correct. Or rather an inspired of Cavalier as I didn´t do anything about the radio and fuselage tank in the cockpit. When the glue has set I will shape the fin extension to its correct dimensions and also cut the rudder top.

  • A very comprehensive build review, my friend…quite helpful indeed. Looks like Airfix nailed it.

  • Great work Stellan !

  • Thanks, Craig and David. Am totally in love with some of the features but not entirely convinced by others. I´d love to sit down with some representatives of some of the kit manufacturers to ask a few questions like why they chose to do this or that a certain way when others do it some other way. Is it cost, buildability, simplicity, ease of construction, fidelity to original, staff skills…or what? How would Tamiya make a Mustang today if they would make a totally new mold model? Does Airfix have the same tools, money and skills as Tamiya but chose to use them in different ways?

  • After watching your build progress, I couldn’t stand it any longer……………… You talked me into ordering one of these beauties !!!!

    It didn’t take much convincing after seeing the pictures you posted………….. 🙂

    It should arrive in a few days. Thanks for the updates. I’ll be watching for more……………………….. 🙂

    It would be very neat if one did have the opportunity to meet with the kit companies………….. I’m sure it is a combination of things like you mentioned, plus there are probably other things too, such as copy right infringements to worry about…………. and ease of manufacturing comes into play as well.

  • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Louis. Not sure how copyright would change how to design a model though. I just read a review on AMK´s new Kfir. The difference of AMK, which is a fairly new company as I understand it, and Airfix is huge. AMK manage to get things glossy and sharp, why not Airfix? Different kit philosophy or financial muscles?

    A kit can have so many phases of pleasure: pondering getting it, ordering it, receiving it, unpacking it, planning the build, starting the build, painting, finishing it. Hope you have a nice time with your new Mustang!