Airfix P-51D and the 23rd Fighter Group Yokahama Yardbird
When most people think of the 23rd fighter group they are thinking of the extensive use of the various P-40 types during the campaign in China. Conversely it is thought that the P-51 is an aircraft of the European theaters or escorting B-29s to Japan. In fact, P-51s of various types flew in China from 1943 until the end of the war.
This model depicts a P-51D flown by Lt. Col. Older of the 23rd FG HQ Luliang, China in the spring of 1945. I used the newish Airfix kit, using decals from Aero Master sheet 48-429 S. E. Asia Mustangs 23 FG P-51s, and an ADF football from an old Monogram B-25 J kit. The reference material is from C. Molesworth’s book 23rd Fighter Group ‘Chennaults Sharks’ published by Osprey. Profile 30, page 58 depicts the aircraft Yokahama Yardbird. Page 112 has a photograph with the main landing gear doors and flaps in the up position as a technician is working in the cockpit. Note that the decals have Yokohama instead of Yokahama as in the profile. A picture from the collection of Carl Molesworth shows that it is Yakahama, along with a group of admirers.
The fuselage and the parts of the wings not painted were Alclad over a Tamiya black primer. The sections of the wings painted were first primed with a yellow zinc primer and then painted with part of my remaining stash of Old Silver. The fabric covered rudder was Bright Silver. After painting the surfaced is prepared with a clear gloss, the decals applied, and another coat of clear gloss sprayed to smooth the surface and to protect the decals. Next, I weathered the model. Oil paints of various colors then with mineral spirits was used as a wash, then brushed to represent various fluid leaks, and then to represent wear. After this step a flat coat was carefully airbrushed. Finally, exhaust stains were airbrushed and artists pastels used as a finishing touch.
I really liked the Airfix kit. I found the fit acceptable although not as nice as the Tamiya kit. On the other hand, I considered the that cockpit, wheel wells and the belly scoop as better depicted. The flaps were a good touch and the surface detail sufficient.
The copyright on the Aeromaster decals were 1999 but they were no problem to apply. I used the kit decals for the various stencils on the aircraft.
Overall a nice experience.
The last picture is clearly not the Airfix kit but Mary Lou, a restored P-51D at the EAA Oshkosh Airshow in July 2018. The wings are nicely painted and the fuselage is natural metal. There are so many P-51Ds there in various flavors of authenticity to their WW2 prototypes.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.