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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.


26 responses to Airfix P-51D and the 23rd Fighter Group Yokahama Yardbird

  1. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    Exceptional addition too the P-51 Mustang model stable Wayne. This one I believe due to the markings and so much more … the fuselage color striping … sets this one apart. Nice metallic sheen to it.

  2. Really</I< nice…

  3. that is sooooo pretty

  4. Very nice. Interesting to note your comparison with the Tamiya kit

  5. Very nice indeed, your NMF has a particular sheen that I find realistic for an operational aircraft in that area of combat. Thumbs up

  6. Fantastic work! Colors and details are so nice.

  7. Judge Older would love this. He hated the P-40 about as much as he hated the F4F Wildcat (“that narrow gear was nothing but trouble whenever you were in trouble”) and he loved the P-51 (“An airplane designed right”). He was nobody to mess with. When I would drop by his home over in Westwood, I would sit in my car and look at my watch, to be sure I knocked on the door at *exactly* the time we had agreed I would arrive. As he told me, “I had no problem in the least sentencing the Manson scum to death.”

  8. A great result Wayne. I especially like the way you have depicted the metallic/painted finish & the restrained weathering sets it apart. I too like the Tamiya kit with its fine detail, but I feel the Airfix kit fixes a few of the shortcomings of the former; such as the wheel wells, canopy framing & the choice for flap position. Admittedly, they can all be fixed fairly easily, but Airfix has gone the extra mile & done it for us. I’m just thankful to have the choice.

  9. An excellent rendition, sir….love those ‘just right’ panel lines, too. Beautiful work.

  10. One pretty pony, looks great!!

  11. Beautiful and inspiring build and finish, congratulations!

  12. Great paint job. I would like to know what you used for gloss and flat clear coats over the Alclad II. Was the final clear finish “sticky” to the touch?

    • No sticky finish–but it takes a few steps. The gloss is Future put on gradually. That is followed by the decals and another coat of future. After that coat is dry I may take a sanding cloth (very fine grit–even up to 12000) to further blend the decals into the finish. After another application of future to the areas I have sanded dry then I use the oil paint wash. I use paint thinner to give the oil the consistency I am looking for and then apply it all over the surface I am working on, Because the paint thinner evaporates so quickly I can take a soft cloth and wipe off the excess in a few minutes. I also use the oil paint to represent oil and hydraulic fluid leaks, and spilled fuel. The last step is the airbrushing of very light coast of Testor Model Master flat lacquer. I do the same to the parts painted in Old Silver. I do take a soft cloth and buff the paint to get a smooth finish.

      Thanks for your note.

  13. Really nice! I’m itching to try my hand at more NMF, to attempt to get results close to this beautiful bird. Well done.

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