Airfix 1/72 P-51D
The 352nd Fighter Group was constituted in Sept 1942 and activated at Bradley Field, Connecticut on October 1, 1942. Two of its squadrons, the 21st (later changed to the 486th) and the 34th (later changed to the 487th) had long histories, but like the newly formed 328th, were short on experienced personnel. Early flight training in P-47 Thunderbolts was at Westover, Trumbell, LaGuardia and Mitchel fields.
The Group embarked from New York harbor July 1, 1943, arriving in Scotland July 5th and a few days later reached their new base at Bodney, England. Training for combat became intense those next few months.
The Group flew its first combat mission on September 9, 1943, an uneventful sweep out over the North Sea to escort returning B-17s. Although the 352nd had several minor encounters with the enemy in their early missions, it wasn't until November 26, 1943 that Major J. C. Meyer, C.O. of the 487th Squadron, scored the first victory, a Bf-109 attacking the bombers near Gronigen.
In April 1944, the 352nd Fighter Group was re-equipped with P-51B Mustangs.
During WWII the group flew 420 missions, destroyed 776 enemy aircraft to become the fourth-ranked fighter group in the 8th Air Force, and had 29 aces.
The top two aces were Major George E Preddy, Jr. with 23.83 aerial victories in the P-51 and three in the P-47 for a total 26.83, and Col. John C. Meyer with 21 victories in the P51 and three in the P-47 for a total 24. They ranked sixth and seventh among American aces of World War II. The group had more "aces in a day" (five victories on one mission) than any other Mustang group in either the European or Mediterranean theaters. George Preddy scored six Bf-109's, Don Bryan scored five FW-190's, Carl J. Luksic scored four FW-190's and one Bf-109, and William T. Whisner scored five FW-190's.
Airfix released their new P-51D three years ago, as a replacement for their ancient kit of this airplane first released in 1959. Unlike the original kit, which is at least “Mustang-like” in outline, this kit is one of the most accurate P-51Ds in 1/72. It is the only kit other than the Tamiya 1/72 Mustang to offer dropped flaps. Both types of canopy are also provided. The kit is one of the very few P-51 kits to have an accurate main wheel well, with the “open rear area” ahead of the main spar.
This release of the kit features markings for P-51D 44-14207 PE-E "Rose Marie"/"The Kelly Kid 2" that was flown by Lt. Eugene W James of the 328th FS, 352nd FG. “RoseMarie” referred to Lt. James's girlfriend, while “The Kelly Kid 2" was a marker applied by the crew chief s/sgt Ignazio L "Iggy" Marinello, and referred to a young relative of his. The figure was taken from an ad for Kelly tires. The white trim tab was a crew marking, and served to make the aircraft more easily identifiable on the flight line.
This kit definitely qualifies as a “slammer.” Everything fits, and with careful assembly there is no filler or putty required anywhere. The most time taken in the whole process was to paint the cockpit and then detail the molded-in sidepanel detail by drybrushing. The instrument panel is a decal.
I took the extra effort of filling the panel lines in the wings in order to reproduce the puttied wing the P-51 had. Once assembled, I moved on to painting.
I painted the blue nose, mixing some Tamiya X-4 Blue with X-14 Sky Blue to get the “Bodney Blue” used by the 352nd. I then masked that off and gave the model an overall coat of Tamiya X-18 Semi-gloss Black. I used Vallejo Dull Aluminum for the puttied wing, White Aluminum for the rest of the airframe, with some panels done with Duraluminum for contrast. The separate rudder was painted with Tamiya X-7 Red over X-2 Gloss White with the trim tab masked off.
The kit decals went on without problem. They are well-printed with very little backing, which makes them easy to apply to a NMF surface.
I attached the landing gear and prop. I “thinned” the lower frame of the sliding canopy to allow it to sit right in the open position and attached it.
This is a great little kit. Anyone from a beginner on up can get a nice result with it with care in assembly. There are numerous aftermarket sheets for P-51Ds, and at the very reasonable price for this kit, one could do an entire “P-51 air force.” Highly recommended for Mustang fans.
The 1/72 Defiant was a good indication that the 1/48 release would be good, and it was. I suspect the fact this 1/72 P-51D is as nice as it is bodes well for the 1/48 kit that will be released later this year.
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.