Not An Axis Airplane!
There are great many new and wonderful kits available to us these days, every one of which seems to be a significant improvement on anything that came before, but there are also a great many older kits still available that have stood the test of time rather well. I’d like to share one such kit with the group today; Tamiya’s 1990’s-vintage P-51D in 1/48th scale.
It’s a kit that’s classic in every respect, and one that’s also easy to build. Accuracy is more than adequate for most modelers with a couple of exceptions: The flaps have a goofy cutout in their inboard upper corners to allow them to fit the model in the retracted position, the semi-circular canopy brace is molded solid when it should have lightening holes in it, and their “Aeroproducts” propeller option is actually actually an uncuffed HamStandard, or at least that’s what it most closely represents. None of those issues were a problem in my world since I was building the model as a clothes horse rather than my personal interpretation of the Ultimate Mustang, while the prop was a non-player in any event since I was modeling an almost bone-stock 1945-vintage P-51 and therefore using the kit’s cuffed propeller.
The model was built to represent a Mustang shared by Lieutenants Ralph Gardner and Chester Jatczak of the 457th FS/506th FG while performing Very Long Range missions out of Iwo Jima during the Spring of 1945. I’ve always had an interest in the VLR P-51Ds because of their colorful markings and relative lack of representation in the modeling world, and Eduard’s recent release of a set of VLR tanks as part of their OverTree series dictated that a model be built.
The basic model is almost stock Tamiya straight from the kit, with only a couple of changes and modifications to convert it into a replica of a VLR aircraft. (If you go the Tamiya route yourself, look for their Korean War boxing of the kit; it’s to be preferred since it has the underwing rockets you’ll need for the project.) The interior was enhanced by an Eduard Zoom set, a set of VLR tanks were added thanks to the aforementioned Eduard OverTree set of VLR gas bags, while the pair of dorsal fuselage masts for the AN/ARA-8 “Uncle Dog” homing system were made from Evergreen rectangular shapes—the mast under the nose that’s also associated with that system is simply the kit’s dorsal antenna relocated. There should also be a set of antennae for the airplane’s AN/APS-13 radio antenna suite on either side of the vertical tail but I have yet to add them. The model needs rockets as well, but they’ve become a “someday” kind of thing, much like those antennae. I’ll get to them someday. Someday…
Anyway, the interior and most of the detailing on the model were painted with Mr Color. The fuselage was done with some of my remaining stock of Floquil Old Silver and the tail was painted with Testors Willow Green from their now-defunct ModelMaster range, while most of the markings came from Kagero’s Red Series “Pacific Mustangs Part 1” decal set, plus a few handling and stencil markings from the kit. I think the project ended up producing a fair representation of one of the more colorful VLR Mustangs, and it allowed me to use one of the Tamiya P-51Ds still in the stash. I hope you like it.
9 additional images. Click to enlarge.