Tamiya 1/72 F-51D Mustang Build Review
By Chuck Holte
|Date of Review||December 2015||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Kit Number||60754||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Well molded, excellent fit, easy assembly, good detail||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$19.50|
The P-51 Mustang was designed and built by North American as a single-engine, low wing, high performance escort fighter during World War II. As such, it provided top cover for the massive bomber formations servicing targets in the German heartland. The Mustang was also at hand when the Korean Conflict began and served with distinction until the jets arrived and relieved them from their dogfighting duties. Mustangs continued in the fight with bombs and rockets against ground targets until the end of the war, but suffered high casualties due to ground fire at low altitude.
The F-51D in this review, AF# 45-11608, was the personal chariot of Brigadier General (BG) Robert Lee Scott, Jr., while he commanded the USAF’s Jet Fighter School at Williams Air Force Base, AZ in the late 1940’s. General Scott was one of the early American aviation heroes of WWII, and a highly decorated Ace with 13 Kills. More about BG Scott may be found in his book “God Is My Co-Pilot.”
Tamiya’s 1/72 F-51 has been around for a few years, is still in production, and is one of my favorite kits. Reasonably priced at less than $20 USD, the kit is well engineered for a good fit; features finely molded surface detail on the fuselage and wings, several options for canopies, props, underwing stores and a nice, multi-unit sticker sheet.
I started the build in the usual manner with the interior and the bits and pieces that needed to be inside before the fuselage sides were joined. The kit has a nicely detailed cockpit interior that just needed paint and the kit decal sheet for the instrument panel. Cockpit parts were detailed by dry brushing with light gray and silver. The kit provides a choice of canopies and props for early or late “D” model Mustangs. I used the later Dallas canopy and the un-cuffed (or is it cuff-less?) Aero Products prop for this build. The overall parts fit was excellent and the kit went together well as I followed the clear eight-page instructions and painting guide.
When the seams had been touched up and deemed smooth, the model was washed in dish detergent, rinsed in cold water and put aside to air-dry. The clean and dry model was then masked with Tamiya tape and damp tissue paper. I sprayed the parts and fuselage/wing assembly with Tamiya rattle can primer. With the primer dry, I shot a coat of Tamiya rattle can gloss black (TS-14) as a base coat for the Alclad II metal finish; in this case Polished Aluminum overall, which was airbrushed.
The kit provides decal and painting options for three bare metal finish Korean War era aircraft. First is the Mustang on the box cover, a striking shark-mouth from the 18th FBG, second is the Commanding Officer’s mount from the same unit, and the third is a rather nondescript pony in 8 FBW markings. Other than the cockpit decals, seatbelts and fuel cover stencils; I didn’t use the kit decals. Instead, I opted for decals for BG Scott’s aircraft found on the IPMS/USA 2004 Phoenix National Convention sheet, created by Two Bobs and printed by Microscale. The decals are excellent and highly recommended if you wish to build Scott’s aircraft in either 1/72 or 1/48 scale, a colorful 1/48 USMC Adversary F-5 from VMFT-401, or a Bondurant Corvette in 1/25 scale.
Tamiya’s F-51D is a sweet build right out of the box with no need for extra frills or aftermarket bits. I wanted to honor General Scott’s memory with a model of his personal aircraft and the Phoenix Convention decals made it happen. Special thanks to fellow modelers at the Craig Hewitt IPMS Chapter in Phoenix and Bob Sanchez at Two Bobs Aviation Graphics for the excellent decal sheet used in this project.