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Tom Cleaver
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Airfix 1/72 P-51D

April 7, 2017 · in Aviation · · 13 · 4.8K

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 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 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.

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.

Reader reactions:
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10 additional images. Click to enlarge.

13 responses

  1. Nice build in that "small-ish" scale (at least for my liking). Bradley Field is now Bradley International Airport (Hartford) if I'm not mistaken. I've flown in there several times when visiting family in NE - a much more 'user-friendly' place than Logan (Boston). And it's been years since I've heard the name Westover (near Chicoppe, MA)...I don't think it's even in existence any more. Saw the Blue Angels (Skyhawks) there one time (and two of 'em collided).

    • Now that Uncle Sam restored my eyesight to what it was 40 years ago, I'm taking a little pleasure in building 1/72 models without having to wear an optivisor. 🙂

  2. Very nice Mustang! One of my first builds years ago was Hasegawa's blue-nosed Petit 2, and I've been itchin' to take another shot at a D-build Mustang now that my skills have improved. This Airfix kit is making me salivate!

  3. nasty and about meds

  4. Everybody has their own experience of life.

  5. Profile Photo
    said on April 7, 2017

    Nice build Tom. Good article.

  6. Great build as usual! I find it hard to believe that once way back I had determined to only build 1/72! Fortunately, I kept a few of my favourites in 1/72. You are motivating me to get on with some of them!
    Congrats on the kit and article- also interesting as usual!

  7. Tom, Nice looking mustang (yes, always a favorite of mine). Also thanks for the review on this kit. I was concerned about the panel line depth, however your build looks good. I do find one correction in your comments, the Tamiya 1/72 scale mustang, I do not believe has dropped flaps, something very nice and unique about this kit. My only question is how is the canopy to frame fit ?, always an issue with the Tamiya kits.

    • Canopy frame fit is good, frame to canopy, You need to thin down the canopy frame from the inside to get the canopy to sit right. The only other way to get any P-51D canopy to sit right is to buy the Falcon Mustang canopy set of vacuforms.


  8. Great build and nice review.

  9. A very nice "Blue Nosed bird of Bodney"... I really like it. Looks like Airfix has packed a lot of details into this 1/72 kit.

  10. Very nice Mustang indeed. John Meyer mt all time favourite for obvious reasons! Always a treat to read your articles Tom!

  11. Looks good Tom, nicely done.

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