Airfix 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang – Kit Review
This is a review of the new (2017) Airfix model kit of the ever popular P-51D Mustang in 1/48 scale. Box number is A05131. I suspect we don´t need to waste any time and space on the P-51 history so we go straight to the review.
The kit is moulded in light grey styrene, kit parts are on five trees and a transparent tree for canopies, sights and lights.
Frame A: fuselage, wing uppers, drop tanks and the main interior piece.
Frame B: wing lower bit, cowling top, alternate fins cockpit walls, air scoop, under carriage doors.
Frame C: rudders, wheel well, propeller, pilot figure.
Frame D: wheels, most details and weapons.
Frame E: clear parts, canopies, wind screen.
Frame F: rocket launchers.
The trees come packed in a plastic bag and the transparent one is bagged separately but also packed in main bag. Strangely enough the transparencies were a bit scuffed but not more than a few swipes with a rag took care of the offending marks. How about a bit of wrapping material around it as protection, Airfix? All parts were still on the trees and none seemed to be bent. The number of parts stated on the box are 147. Mind you not all parts are used as you get a few optional parts depending on version and weapons load. More on this later.
Airfix does not provide any photoetched parts in the kit. Is it because of none are needed or does Airfix want to keep the price and complexity down? Sometimes photoetch seem to be a selling point even if such details are not needed.
The instructional booklet in A4 size follows Airfix standard. It is mainly in black and white but with the most recent added part is in red. All in all, it´s only 16 pages and this includes the normal “please don´t swallow any parts” text, a short history of the aircraft and some aircraft data. Also included in the booklet are two pages of painting and decalling instructions and a page for all stencils (there are quite a few of them…).
Markings are for “Little Indian” of the 2nd Air Commando Group in India, 1945, and “Jersey J**k”, a colourful fighter of the 361st Fighter Squadron in England, 1945. The decals come on a A5 size sheet and are in a satin finish. All decals look very good and are in register.
After a close scrutinizing of the parts trees I have not seen any flash. None. Airfix seem to have done a good job of avoiding visible ejection pin marks.
However, when looking closer at the cockpit side walls I can spot a couple that might be seen but I´m not totally sure. There are a few details to be added to the walls and after closing everything up these areas may well be hidden. Anyone who have built this kit who could tell? A few drops of Mr Surfacer or superglue will take care of the problem for sure.
There is a smartly constructed and well moulded piece that functions as main cockpit bit, radiator compartment top and tail wheel well. This looks very nice and forms the basis for the whole interior of the aircraft.The first two pages of the instruction booklet are dedicated to gluing bits and pieces to this important part. Don´t mess this stage up as you will be mightily sorry.
The panel lines are recessed and look fine to my eye. Possibly a coat or two of paint will make them look even better as they might be too deep for some modellers taste. I think it is tricky to tell just by looking at the lines on bare plastic. Only a couple of paint coats will tell the truth.
There are several beautifully rendered lines of rivets at places and a bunch of similarly beautiful panel fasteners around the engine cowling area.
The wing root filling plates are a wonder to behold and will surely be a classic example of what can be achieved with some modern moulding technology. How the wing roots and the wings will join up is still something we will have to see, though. The fuselage looks great, it can´t be easy to reproduce such mass of compound curves.
Wings, wings…Whenever the subject of the Mustang is coming up there are questions about the wings. Taking a close look at the wings one must first say they are stunning looking at as they have all sorts of details as rivets, panel lines and panel openers where so are called for. All this is making up for a fantastic sense of detailing I have never seen before.
With all this said, one should know that is quite possibly so all Mustangs in service never looked like this as they all had puttied and sanded panel lines to keep the laminar flow wing profile smooth and sleek (as I understand it). Any other opinions on this are appreciated. So, why do we keep getting a wealth of details where none should be seen? What kit maker will give us alternative wings without panel lines? Just a suggestion.
Airfix has solved a bit complex problem by giving us a separate piece for the lower front of the wing. It is part made up of a bit of the lower engine cowling and the lower front wing, the bit that is just in front of the landing gear wells. Smart solution. Don´t know if any other kit maker has done so before, though.
From what I can make out from the inside of the bottom half of the wings Airfix will release a F-51 from Korea later: the holes for the HVAR rockets are there already. Hope for some interesting decal options.
In the start of this review I promised you a few words on optional parts. I think this is called for as they are quite a number and smartly done.
– Two types of drop tanks: tear drops and paper tanks.
– Two types of wheels: zig zag or grove pattern. Is this also an indication on a coming Korea Mustang?
– Two types of fins: a very small detail at the fin base is the actual difference, maybe something for the connoisseur? No fin without the fin fillet, though. Why not?
– Two types of flaps: one for down and one for up position. Smart as this this gives the exact angle.
– Two types of exhausts.
– All rudders are separate. The maximum deflection angles are noted in the booklet.
– Underwing stores are two bombs and rocket tubes and the drop tanks mentioned above.
– There is a one-piece main undercarriage door if one should want to close this area up.
– Two front pieces for the canopy. I think the only difference is one got a slot for the rear-view mirror…
– There are also three main pieces for the blown bit. The lower frame is moulded with the clear part, so no fiddly gluing operation here.
The only spontaneous disappointment I have of this model is the quality of the blown rear bit of the canopy. I think they look a bit distorted, but this effect might not be too noticeable as the bits are painted and mounted on the model.
If you want inspiration and good close ups I can recommend Osprey´s MUSTANG, A Living Legend by Michael O´Leary. Lots of photos of restored Mustangs and a whole bunch of photos of then active aircraft in the colours of Fuerza Aerea Dominicana.
Personally I can´t wait for a possible Korea-Stang and I do hope Airfix chose to release one next year. The F-51, as it was called after WW2, came in one colour only but had a number of users during the Korean war like South Africa, Australia, South Korea and of course USA, each in its own distinctive marking and colours. I can only hope for some nice decals for this variant.
A second part of this review will be as a build report.
12 additional images. Click to enlarge.