Airfix P-51D “Big Beautiful Doll” 1/48
Yes…another P-51 build and another “Big Beautiful Doll”.
This “Doll” is painted in its last known markings as piloted by Col. John Landers at the time he took over command of the 361FG in England July 1945 after VE day. Landers flew two P-51’s during his service with four 8th AF flight groups and dressed his “Dolls” in 6 different colorful schemes.
Having completed Meng’s 1:48 P-51D as “Da Quake” (https://imodeler.com/2019/01/148-meng-p-51d-daquake/) a few months ago, I wanted to compare it to Airfix’s same scale 2017 boxing of their all new tool Mustang. The major difference between Airfix and Meng is the finesse and quality of the plastic. Meng’s is far more detailed and crisp looking with a lot of exposed rivets whereas Airfix’s surface detail is surprisingly more subdued but offers puttied wing panels and what looks like to me, just the right amount of those pesky you know what. However the kit’s styrene seems way softer than other recent Airfix offerings, so be careful when using any solvent based products. . I found a number of blemishes that required attention but no big deal. The overall fit of both kits is excellent but the assembly is completely different for each. It’s a though call which kit I preferred most as both Airfix and Meng delivered very satisfactory results.
Airfix’s P-51D is relatively easy to build just as long as you follow their well thought out instructions to the “T”. Don’t do what I did – glue a piece upside down which caused me nothing but grief when I tried to assemble the fuselage halves! Watch out for that tail wheel gear as it is guaranteed to break off easily and did. The canopy fit is the best I’ve ever seen yet by anybody. But I still don’t get why Airfix doesn’t bore out the exhaust stacks like they did with the wing guns here, but that’s easily remedied.
As with most Airfix kits, the wheels and tires still leave a lot to be desired, so I replaced them with much better looking Eduard Brassin versions and used their detailed tail gear replacement as well. Keep in mind these Airfix inner wheels have keyed slots to fit the matching plug on the kit’s main landing gear brake drums so modification is required to make any alternative resin wheels fit despite what their makers say on their labels.
I also installed Brassin resin paper tanks (although I doubt Landers ever used them after VE day) and exhaust stacks. Markings came from the multi-sheet Lifelike Decals “Big Beautiful Doll” special 48-051. One sheet is superbly printed by Cartograf. The second and much larger sheet by Microscale contains tiny common markings that are sub par so I used the much better Airfix stencils instead. Paint used: Alclad II lacquers, and Tamiya and ModelMaster acrylics.
I now have three completed 1:48 Mustangs in my corral: Tamiya (an aging but still great stress-free kit that is probably in need of a serious retool), Meng and Airfix in that build order. I like all three, although each has their own idiosyncrasies. This P-51D kit is further proof that the “new” Airfix keeps getting better and better with each new release.
I’ve included my build photos of “Da Quake”(Meng) and “Ridge Runner” (Tamiya) below. I can’t wait to see how Euard’s forthcoming 48th scale Mustang measures up to these three!
I’ve already made space.
10 additional images. Click to enlarge.