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In-Box Review
132
P-51 D Mustang
P-51 D Mustang
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by: Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Introduction
There is not much that has not already been written about the famous P-51 Mustang. Every aviation enthusiast knows the story of this iconic WWII fighter which has been designed by an American company (North American) for a British Purchasing Commission. Everyone also knows that once equipped with a Packard-built Merlin engine, the aircraft became a legend, although it performed very well in it's initial fighter-bomber role with an Allison engine until the end of the war. The P-51 was a masterpiece of technology and was able to combine performance, aesthetic and mass production to a level seldom reached in aviation history.

Like it is the case for the real P-51 Mustang, there is not much that has not already been written about the new Tamiya kit of the aircraft. As soon as the Japanese manufacturer unveiled its decision to do a P-51D in 1:32 scale, people started to get excited on modelling forums. It became hysteria when the first pictures of the plastic parts were made available and the first built up models were presented during the 2011 Shizuoka Model Show. The drama reached its peak when it was obvious that Tamiya decided to represent rivets on the wings (they were smooth on a factory fresh aircraft) thus leaving the modeling community divided in two: the pro and contra "rivets on a Mustang wing".

I don't pretend to be a Mustang expert. Certainly not. So I won't make final statements about the accuracy of the kit but rather focus on the content of the box and it's overall quality. The way Tamiya has decided to do their 1:32 kit of the P-51D may not be of everyone's taste but keep in mind that every plastic model is a subjective representation of the real thing based on technological limitations and economical aspects. I do hope, however, that this review will help everyone to decide whether or not this kit meets their standards… or not.

For more precise info about accuracy, please refer to the excellent article published on the IPMS Philippines website:
- IPMS Philippines Tamiya P-51 D test shots review

Content of the box
The first thing I have noticed when examining the new 1:32 scale Tamiya Mustang kit is that the box is bigger than the Spitfire and Zero boxes by about 20% (the package is longer and higher). Once opened, one realizes why: there is plenty of plastic inside, and even more is hidden under the cowling tray in a special box. Below is a list of what is provided in the kit:
- 16 sprues of medium grey injected plastic (some sprues are made of two separate trees).
- 4 separate cowling parts made of medium grey injected plastic.
- 3 sprues of transparent plastic parts.
- 1 sprue of black injected plastic (display stand)
- 2 vinyl tires.
- 2 photo etched frets.
- 1 sheet of masks (not pre-cut).
- 1 bag with magnets (three different sizes).
- 1 bag with screws and nuts in various sizes.
- 1 bag with metal rods in various sizes.
- 1 bag with a screwdriver and poly caps.
- 1 name plate.
- 2 decal sheets.
- 1 Instructions booklet.
- 1 color painting guide.
- 1 reference book.
- 1 A-4 size folder.
- 1 A-4 poster.

When I first opened the box, it took me one hour to examine the content of the kit and it was a very enjoyable experience. The overall quality is very high. It's a Tamiya kit after all so this is not a surprise. The plastic parts have been superbly done and I have yet to find a flaw somewhere. The only negative thing I have noticed are ejection pin marks on some parts, but more on that later.

The level of detail of the kit is amazing, the engine once assembled looks superb and the fact that the engine bearers are molded with the fuselage will make its installation easier than on the Spitfire kit. Like the latter, the Mustang kit includes very thin engine cowlings which can be manipulated on the finished model and which are held in place with small magnets. Apart from cables and pipes, I don't think there is much to add in that area apart from a good painting job.

The cockpit interior is also very nicely rendered. Not much is missing here and Tamiya have use the same receipts as in the Spitfire kit: crisply done plastic parts, photo etched details (seat belts), clear instrument dials and decals for the instruments, etc… Here as well, everything is provided in the box for an accurate representation of the interior of the aircraft. Optional parts are present such as different instrument panels and different seats to represent the variations found during production on the real P-51s. A pilot figure is included but I think it's representation is rather soft so I think it is best to forget it and it would be a shame to hide all that interior detail. The standing figure is much better though.

The fuselage halves are made of several parts. The engine cowlings are separate and so are the rear fuselage parts to allow the representation of two different tail configurations (with and without tail fillet). There are also optional parts for the elevators (fabric or metal) and the possibility to add the antennas of the AN/APS-13 Tail Warning Radar if needed. Some fuselage panels are separate inserts like the radiator access panels. Once assembled, one would never imagine that the fuselage halves are made of separate parts so precise is the fit.

The wings are made of one under part and two upper parts mainly. Additional parts are a complete landing gear bay with, at least, an accurate representation of its rear wall (wing spar), separate landing flaps and ailerons (with metal hinges) and the machine gun bays which can be left visible this time unless on the Spitfire kit. Tamiya have decided to represent the rivets on the wings, despite the fact that their were mostly filled on the real aircraft before entering service. This caused much debate already so I won't comment any further. My personal opinion is irrelevant anyway I guess so I will let the review pictures speak.

The clear parts are very nice as well but the bubble top canopy has a seam line on top which will have to be removed of course. Three (slightly) different hoods are provided and since only one is to be used for each variant, one will have two spares to test his polishing skills.

Once assembled, it will still be possible to change the presentation of the model thanks to modular parts. The landing gears can be positioned in up or down position, including the tail wheel, thanks to screws and magnets. The same is true for the cowling parts of the engines. Enough machine gun bay doors are provided to depict them in both opened or closed position. Of course, the canopy hood can slide to show the interior of the cockpit and two different external fuel tank models are included.

Extra parts not made of plastic are provided in the kit. They are bagged separately and placed in a special box in the kit. There are two photo etched frets including detail parts such as seat belts or radiator grills but also metal parts to be glued on the plastic parts to work with the magnets. Metal hinges are present on the frets as well. Along with the metal rods, they will allow the ailerons, flaps, elevators and the rudder to be movable. The tires are made in vinyl and look very convincing though a molding line will need to be eliminated with careful sanding. Some poly caps will ensure some reposition-able parts to stay in place like the lower engine cowling and a small screwdriver is provided for the landing gear legs.

One display stand is included in the kit. It is made of black plastic and it will be possible to show the model "in flight" without altering it's appearance thanks to an extra part hiding the opening located on the belly of the aircraft. Two name plates (metal or black) are included.

Decals are provided for three marking options:
A - P-51 D Mustang "Blondie", 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group.
B - P-51 D Mustang "Petie 2nd", 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group.
C - P-51 D Mustang "Glengary Guy", 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group.

The decals are well printed although a little on the thick side. The bigger one has been printed with solid colors throughout while the second one holding the stencils has the artwork printed with small dots. They are almost unnoticeable though.

The instructions are typical Tamiya (this means very good) and are composed of an A-4 sized, 36 pages booklet. There are a total of 74 construction steps!? An extra A-3 painting guide is provided for option A.

Extras
I don't know if this will be only the case for the first batch of kits, but some extras are provided in this boxing. The first one is a very useful A-5 sized booklet with walkaround pictures, history texts and drawings showing the different variants of the P-51 from the prototype to the F-51 D. Judging from some leftover parts of the kit, I assume a P-51 K and a F-6 D will follow next.

An other bonus is an A-4 sized folder though in this case, like the Spitfire Mk.VIII mouse pad, it is more a gimmick than anything else. I wish Tamiya would have done the reference book in A-4 instead of A-5 and forgot the folder.

Conclusion
This is another great kit made by Tamiya. Like the previous Spitfire kit, it will provide many hours of enjoyable building and end up into a beautiful model. The quality is top class and the level of detail amazing. Some will see some features as useless but in such a big scale, they sure are spectacular. It seems that the engineers have learned some lessons from the Spitfire kit in some places (engine bears for example) but unfortunately not in other places. The biggest let down are the numerous ejector pin marks in some hard to reach places (landing gear bay bottom). However, this shouldn't detract from the fact that this is a fantastic kit. Not better in my opinion as the Spitfire kit, but at least on the same level.

The representation of the rivets are an other thing. Like I said, one will have to judge by himself if this way of representing the surface of the wings matches his own standards. One thing is for sure, their representation is very subtle and it will be easy to remove them if one wishes so.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent quality throughout and high level of detail - Useful reference book included.
Lows: Some nasty ejector pin marks in some places.
Verdict: Once again an excellent kit from Tamiya. With no doubt the best in any scale of this iconic aircraft.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 60322
  Suggested Retail: £105.00
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jul 27, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.63%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 83.21%

About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)
FROM: MOSELLE, FRANCE

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.

Copyright ©2019 text by Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Appears to be a splendid model -- I look forward to seeing one built.
AUG 01, 2011 - 01:28 PM
I ordered mine at the week end
AUG 08, 2011 - 07:00 AM
Good job! What else can we say?
AUG 08, 2011 - 07:29 AM
I have a book on the P-51, I can't remember what it's called at the moment and it's packed away, but when I move I'll dig it out and find the paragraph about the filler. Basically when being chastised about the lack of serviceable aircraft, ground crew were complaining about how difficult it was to maintain the putty on the wings. The commanding officer then decided to see if removing it would make a difference. Basically it didn't, so at least that unit stopped the practice. Any Co worth his salt would do this simple test and, in my opinion, I don't built P-51s with puttied wings. I must dig out this item but you can bet your bottom dollar that there'll be many who will not agree that the wings were not puttied (cos they have P-51s that they have modelled this feature on) I love the look of Tamiya's Mustang and yes, Allen mine will be finished as BBD, as will several others judging by the requests that I’m getting. The checkers are proving to be the sticking point, but the BBD script is done [/quote] This has been extensively discussed on Hyperscale in multiple giant threads, and the combined consensus from all inputs was this: No known WWII era photo show putty removed... On the other hand, hundreds of known and dated WWII photos show perfectly smooth wings. Almosty all post-WWII photos of P-51s, including Korea, museums and airshows, show visible rivets and panel lines under low angle light. All Airshow and museum P-51s are thus clearly not a useable reference here... Many known WWII photos show panel line reappearing under the putty as extremely fine straight lines that are likely cracking from vibration, or in some cases, crash: The aircraft is invariably a worn-looking veteran... Some show faint accumulations of dirt in a faint rivet-like pattern, but hardly ever. Removing the silver wing paint is one thing: Removing the putty would be a huge time-consuming job involving the use of scrappers, and, as incredible as it sounds to me, apparently not one confirmed WWII era photo shows completely stripped-to-the-metal P-51 wings... The rivets on the Tamiya 1/32 wings are very small, if very numerous: They don't really matter. From seeing the wing parts, what struck me on the other hand was that the wing panel lines are typical Tamiya full depth and full width engraving, and that is clearly wrong for WWII: These panel lines in WWII were nowhere near that visible, and were in most cases completely invisible. Given the different appearance of Korean War P-51s, this kit really requires two sets of wings. Apparently the pace of WWII simply did not allow widespread wing putty stripping, but post-1945 leisure did, leading to Korean War fully stripped wings. Gaston
AUG 08, 2011 - 10:00 AM
Gaston To minimise the appearance of the panel lines a coat of primer will surely reduce their depth. This is a great kit and I really don't care if the panel lines are overscale by a small amount. Sounds to me that you could be nitpicking with this issue.
AUG 08, 2011 - 08:30 PM
Actually Gaston the paint stripper they use on aircraft had no trouble removing the putty at all. Same as it removed flesh from your bones if you were not careful. We used to call it 'yellow peril'.
AUG 08, 2011 - 09:03 PM
Perhaps you are right about the ease of stripping off, but you have to consider the extra work in cleaning the extra "thickened" volume of all the lifted gunk, which is required when it is "lifting"... This on a machine where everything has to work perfectly (hinges for the flaps and ailerons, locks for the gun bay doors etc)... And if the product is so strong, then it is a mess that hurts your hands if my experience with Suppa Strippa is any guide!! I think the "discovery" that engineer surface prescriptions did not have to be followed like the word of God was something more likely to occur in the leisure of post war. I have stripped a car's hood, and it is a huge amount of work for a much smaller, and less mechanically delicate, surface... It could have happened in wartime, but it seems all photos that can actually be dated to WWII all show smooth wings, so at the very least it was not common in any way... Chronology of recollections is especially tricky: Crew chiefs that claim wartime strippage could be recollecting immediate post war strippage... I myself would just build the kit as is, but I am glad I don't have a P-51 in my near future... Modeller Hal Marshman Sr. sat in a stripped-down wing P-51 in 1948, and the claim at the time by the crew chief was that this was done wartime, so you can go with that... I think an exercise for the dedicated would be to collect many WWII dated photos and count the wings... Gaston
AUG 08, 2011 - 10:24 PM
Just so you know Gaston, all you had to do was apply the 'yellow peril' to any metal surface, leave for a few hours to work its magic then hose it off. Back to bare aluminium etc in one easy step. Some of the really stubborn stuff may have been attacked with abrasive pads etc later.
AUG 08, 2011 - 10:40 PM
Gaston! I'll go with what I have read and what I believe to be the obvious answer to this. A discussion on Hyperscale holds no sway with me, mainly because I very rarely visit the site Another reason for me believing that wings were not puttied is because that you do. From your ranting over scale accuracy I tend to believe the opposite to what you claim to be the truth
AUG 09, 2011 - 06:16 AM
   

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