Not another Mustang! Or:”That’s a Mustang … isn’t it?”
“This is a mustang or?” Strange that such a question arises with such a well-known aircraft icon as the P-51 Mustang! But this particular P-51 actually gives reason to ponder: as familiar as the contours may seem at first glance, a closer look reveals quite a few irritations. Some connoisseurs of this last version built in large numbers go so far as to say that nothing has remained the same except for the name. But, to come to a picture ourselves, let’s have a look at the essential differences!
Quickly you will notice the lack of the distinctive bend on the inner areas of the wing leading edges. The underside of the fuselage also appears to have been cleaned up, where the characteristic radiator air intake is still there, but runs in a much flatter curve to the tail.
The cockpit has been moved slightly forward, increasing the pilot’s position to improve visibility. A massive difference is also found in the elevation of the tail unit, which has been enlarged to improve directional stability.
Also striking are the smaller tyres, which are mounted on a simplified and smaller dimensioned landing gear. These external changes also correspond to changed “inner values”, which are all based on one premise: saving weight!
The history of all these modifications already started in spring 1943, when the chief designer of the P-51, Edgar Schmued, was confronted with British demands to reduce the weight of the Mustang, which was too heavy by British standards. Although the P-51 had proven to be fast and powerful, it was too heavy for the manoeuvrability needed in contemporary air combat to keep up with the high roll rate of the Fw 190.
The P-51 basic design was streamlined by a series of lightweight prototypes until the development was completed in spring 45 with the P-51H, which was lighter by about 332 kilograms. This fundamental revision of the Mustang was seen as such a success that an order for 1000 units was signed in the same month.
The maiden flight of an H took place on 3 February 1945. 370 units were built by the end of the war, a total of 555 P-51H could be produced by the end of production in November. By the way, all aircraft were assembled at the Inglewood plant.
With the promising start of the H-version it is remarkable that no light weight Mustang was used in combat. This also applies to the Korean War, which saw the P-51 being used by the UN forces on a grand scale.
However, the P-51H had its big appearance in the ranks of the “Air National Guards”, which had been newly established in 1947. The kit, which I will talk about in a moment, offers three aircraft of different ANG units out of the four marking options.
Today five P-51H are still preserved, two of them can still be flown – to elicit the anxious question at air shows: “that’s a Mustang … isn’t it?”
Modelsvit offers with this 2019 released P-51H not only a solid equipped multi-media kit, but also the only possibility to build an H-Version. The kit itself shines with perfect fitting accuracy and a high degree of fine details. This applies to all the critical areas such as the cockpit and landing gear bays, but also includes harmonious surface structures on the outer skin of the fuselage or wings.
What I also noticed positively about the components is the good relationship between appropriate complexity on the one hand and common sense on the other. This contributes to the fact that the building process is entertaining, but the time and energy expenditure remains manageable.
I also found the enclosed masking foils for the inside and outside of the transparent parts very helpful. Although these appear extremely thin, they are easy to use and do what they should do. The markings of the machine shown are from the kit; here too I can praise the quality in the highest tones!
My first contact with the new manufacturer Modelsvit has therefore, as the above words already indicate, shown an exclusively positive result. I am already looking forward to the next modeling experience with a Modelsvit kit!
The P-51H of ANG Texas brings a lot of colour into the showcase, also in the way, when with this lightweight Mustang a really rare bird shines out against the background of more familiar models!
13 additional images. Click to enlarge.