P-51D “Frenesi” from Dragon 1/32 “Early Production” kit…
This is the 2nd 1/32 P-51 I have done, first was the Hasegawa kit, which I did as the famous “Millie G” of the 55th Fighter Group. I was not entirely happy with the result, and probably will not post it on iModeler.
I had read the Dragon kit had many problems, and I have to agree with some of them. However, the new Tamiya 1/32 P-51D is so far out of my budget range, that it is beyond consideration. So, I thought I would give the Dragon kit a try.
The rivets and panel lines on the Dragon kit can be dealt with, no doubt, by spraying a thick coat of primer, and sanding down. I chose to ignore them, and proceed. The prop blades I’m not sure about, they look pretty good to me, but maybe they are too symetrical from leading to trailing edge (the airfoil cross section)?, anyway I used them. The cockpit or fuselage seeming to be too wide, I’m not convinced about that, and think that it may be just the seat being too narrow. The clear canopy (which has to be sanded and polished to remove a seam down the center) does not seem to fit exactly right when open, but I included some photos of it that way, from angles that didn’t show that fault too much. But then I discovered I hadn’t installed the cross piece that goes on the canopy aft of the seat. When I did, the canopy really didn’t look right when open, so I am posting the original photos without the cross piece! The vinyl tires are not a good fit on the wheels, and it seems best to use a little cyanoacrylate glue to hold them on. Other things I either managed (you need to make a pitot tube), or chose to ignore. This kit does test you, in ways that seem unfair at times. Warts and all, here it is.
I was excited to get this kit, as I always liked the song “Frenesi”, part of my WW2 upbringing, and thought that Major Thomas Hayes’ early P-51D of the 357th FG looked good with that name. Some have said this means “Free and Easy”, but this is not true. It is the equivalent, in Spanish, of “Frenzy”, and was a popular love song of the WW2 period. Tommy Hayes named his early P-51D with that name, as a tribute to his wife Louise, as it was a song they liked. Dragon released a kit of the early version P-51D, without the dorsal fin extension, and Eagle Cals did a sheet with “Frenesi”, so the die was cast, and I had to build “Frenesi”.
The Squadron book on the 357th FG has a page devoted to Tommy Hayes and “Frenesi”, with the only photo I have seen (in several sources) of this aircraft (actually he had several P-51s named “Frenesi”). I at first was going to do the model “clean”, but the photo shows 108 gallon British pressed paper wing tanks attached, and they were included in the kit, so I decided to add them. The kit instructions showed how to “plumb” the 75 gal. wing tanks, but not the 108 gal., so I looked at as many photos and art profiles as I had, in the Squadron book and the Osprey book on 8th AF Mustang aces, and other books, and with a bit of scratch building, tried to do as good a job as I could.
I am sure most folks have by now written off the 1/32 Dragon P-51D kit, but, for me it is a small step up from the Hasegawa, and a humongous amount cheaper than the Tamiya. Interesting that the old Monogram 1/32 P-51D “Phantom” transparent kit actually had the after wall of the main wheel wells correct, as the face of the main wing spar. This has always been, for me, an inexplicable error, in every other P-51 kit until the Tamiya 1/32, amazing. Unfortunately the Dragon kit trips up on that also.
14 additional images. Click to enlarge.