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David A. Thomas
14 articles

Tamiya 1:48 P-51B of the 486th FS, 352nd FG

June 29, 2017 · in Aviation · · 28 · 2.7K

OK, folks, my first article on IModeler. As my profile states, I'd been out of the craft for about 35 years doing life, and now life seems to have granted me to get back into it. This featured model is my third essay (the previous being an F4F Wildcat and the A6M2 "Rufe" Nakajima float plane, both 1:48 kits) as I hone my skills and prep for some kits that I have savored doing for years but never got to as a kid.

The P-51B in the pics is the outworking of a dream I had when I was young. I love the P-51D, but the earlier B model always captivated me with its lines. I always thought it interesting that units commonly featured a mixture of Ds and Bs. Don Gentile also flew the P-51B on the way to one of the top ace records among American airmen in the War, so there's that, too. My rendering takes modest artistic license to present a D-Day era fighter of the 486th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group based out of Bodney, England, a unit affectionately self-designated as "The Blue-Nosed [Sons-of-Questionable-Legitimacy-Please-Employ-Imaginative-Use-of-Aliteration-Skills] of Bodney." The characteristic cobalt blue nose and the "PZ" code associated with this particular squadron in the fighter group is telling, though I have played things a bit loose with other specific markings (the "Y" went with an unpainted P-51D in the squadron, not an olive drab B).

This project marked a number of firsts for me in reestablishing myself in the hobby. The Tamiya P-51B is already a venerable kit, and is a beautiful, straightforward build. It took me a long time, though, in part because of my busyness with other matters, but in part because I took it slow and careful on a number of items.

On this project I learned the virtues of priming for myself. I had never used primer before, but I learned it made a significant difference in both the overall quality of the final surface and also was extremely useful in revealing flaws in my putty job at seams (a minor but nevertheless vital issue for the final appearance). I used Tamiya Fine Primer in a rattle can. After that, all paints used are Tamiya acrylics, except for the nose for which I used Model Masters cobalt blue acrylic.

I started with the cockpit and decided to include the stock pilot figure Tamiya provided. I think enamels are definitely better for figures than acrylics (either that or my memory isn't what it used to be), but I am fairly satisfied with the result. The bird cage canopy I polished carefully with Tamiya polishing compound--first Fine, then Finish--using polishing cloths. (Since then I have graduated to soft string buffing wheel that fits my Dremel, but I was young then.) I painted first in chromate green then laid a coat of olive drab over it. Again, I am fairly satisfied, given my recent reentry into the hobby, but let's not kid ourselves, canopies are tough and require great patience and care.

My next new horizon was the decision to paint invasion stripes. I knew this would be a challenge, but not content with that I also decided to give masks a try for the insignias and code letters on the fuselage and tail. The only decals on this model are the serial numbers on the tail, the red steps on the flaps, the kills under the cockpit, and markings on the props--the rest are all painted on via masks. This required me to airbrush the pertinent areas white, mask off for the next stage, then proceed. I masked the invasion stripes with Tamiya masking tape, by I had to cut the strips down to scale since they were too wide for 1:48 markings. After doing the mask thing for the black and insignia blue, I painted the rest of the aircraft. (Note to beginner self: paint the underside FIRST from now on!) Here's where the priming coat really revealed its importance to me, and the minor "orange peel" surface on the upper side where wing meets fuselage is my own failing. I am ambivalent on the masks: you avoid the unsightly sheen of decals (overcoats still don't satisfy me there), but the Montex masks I used ended up a bit heavy on the adhesive and it was tough to remove all the residue without affecting the acrylic; doubtless enamel wouldn't present the same problem.

The drop tanks are finished with Bare Metal foil.

I finished the whole with a semi-gloss coat. I would have stuck with flat, but in photos I have seen even these painted birds had a bit of a sheen to them, so my model reflects that. Over the final coat I used black and umber watercolor for the pin wash in the stock scribed lines. I used a sludge wash in the landing bays.

Comments and tips for improvements welcomed!

Reader reactions:
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17 additional images. Click to enlarge.

28 responses

  1. Very nicely done. I always preferred the early mustangs, more attractive.

  2. Really can't go wrong with pretty much anything that sports the Tamiya name, David...and this just goes to prove it. Wonderful build, sir. You'd never convince me that this is the result of a 35 year hiatus, either. Well done indeed.

  3. Thanks, guys. You are very kind.

    When I was a kid I remember riding my bike to the luxury hobby shop across the Grand River (grew up in Michigan), and lusting over Tamiya's Lancs and specialty Japanese fighters in their Tamiya catalogs. But I usually couldn't afford them, and had to stick with Monogram from Kmart. Now I'm wishing Tamiya had more editions out there. I'm having to go to other manufacturers for the light bombers I want to do (I have a thing for the early A-20 Havoc).

    By the way, any tips on rotating pics? My last one is supposed to be a vertical format, but I haven't found the web tool for that yet.

    • You should be able to rotate it from whatever photo hosting site you're using (but not here). The administrator might be able to, though - if he sees that 's what you want.

      • Ya...I'm just posting it from my desktop and it has the proper orientation there. It seems this site wants to default to a landscape format for all pics.

        I'm new to the whole thing. How do I petition the admin?

        • Well...if you really want it fixed, you can try editing the article yourself and either trying to rotate the pic on your own, eliminate it all together or go to IModeler Help & Support in the Groups section. Either way, I wouldn't worry about it. We'll just crane our neck to the left. 🙂

    • A very nice job. For my photo editing I use, a free download. The poor man's Photoshop. I take dozens of photos of the same thing and to decide which ones I want to keep I use Irfanview, also free. What I like about this is you can scroll through your photos quickly and decide which ones to keep and which to toss. You can also edit with it

  4. This is a great looking Mustang. I like how you used Bare Metal Foil on the drop tanks...

  5. Great looking Mustang, David! I, too have that kit in the pile as a future project, and like you, I prefer the look of the razorback Mustangs to the later models. You're in like company here as many of us are getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus. This is a great forum and I'm sure you'll find lots of help and ideas here.

    I noticed that pic rotation thing when I posted pics of the Pogo, which came out upside down. As Craig mentioned, a quick note to the help section will get you answer you need.

    Welcome to the asylum!

  6. David, Welcome back to our beloved hobby and nice work on a nice looking "B", I'm a little different than most in that I don't care what version mustang it is, its a mustang, They're all cool !, (and sound even better).
    I also always liked the blue on OD scheme you have here, its kind of bad color combination that looks really good !

  7. Hi David.
    Great build and a fantastic read. It's really nice to hear your thoughts as you worked out your own processes and shared your learning points. It's one of the main reasons I appreciate this site; people don't set themselves up as experts and are looking to improve and learn.
    Really enjoyed reading this.

  8. Being a Mustang fan, I like 'em all! Beautifully done, David!

  9. Excellent! Veteran builder or not, this is a build to be proud of. Welcome back to the hobby - and to iModeler!

    • An honor coming from you, Greg. You do amazing stuff, and sans an airbrush! I almost always did my planes (always 1:48) wheels up when I was a kid, and I'm doing a P-38M Night Lightning that way now.

  10. Excellent job!

  11. Nice build love 352nd Mustangs. Bodney airfield is still there and still being used - as an Army camp - the Memorial at the old entrance is really well maintained.


  12. Cool to know! My mother-in-law, now departed, was a Brit war bride. Married her GI husband and came to Ohio, but never because a U.S. citizen. My dad made it over there by the end of the War but went straight to France and Germany as part of the occupation forces.

    By the way, your Defiant is amazing!

  13. Nice work. The Tamiya kit rewards the effort.

    The airplane could well have been coded "Y" since the P-51D would have been a later replacement. There was only a period of a few months in the summer of 1944 during the early introduction of the P-51D that both sub-types operated in the same unit simultaneously. By the fall, almost all the B's were gone, at least in the ETO.

  14. David, that is a well done blue nose Mustang! Tamiya gives you a well done model without a lot of corrections. Know what you mean about looking at their catalogue, and being less affluent.

  15. Good to see an early Mustang for a change, especially when it's as nice as this one.

  16. Profile Photo
    said on July 3, 2017

    Very nice Mustang

  17. Great looking Mustang. I always liked the look of the P 51 B even though it is mostly modeled in the D version. Well done and welcome to an awesome online group of modelers !

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