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RB-51 Kit

Fisher Model and Pattern 1/32 Red Baron RB-51 Unlimited Air Racer Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer Fisher Model and Pattern
Subject Red Baron RB-51 Unlimited Air Racer Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3210 Primary Media Resin/Brass/Photo-Etch
Pros Another magnificent resin release - no casting blocks, no pinholes, near-perfect fit! Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $225.00

First Look

RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit
RB-51 Kit

The RB-51 Mustang was a highly modified P-51 that was to eventually set the worlds speed record for a piston-powered aircraft. Sold as surplus in the late 1950s, the aircraft changed hands over the years as different owners sought to race the aircraft.

The P-51 became the RB-51 in the early 1970s as then-owner Ed Browning replaced the Packard Merlin engine with a Griffon engine with a contra-rotating propeller gearbox and matching props. The lines of the aircraft were also changed to reduce drag and improve handling. Some of the changes included clipped wings with Horner wingtips, an enlarged rudder for improved yaw stability, reduced profile canopy and ventral radiator scoop, and more.

The Red Baron RB-51 underwent a number of enhancements before it set that speed record of 499.018 miles per hour in August 1979 under the skilled control of pilot Steve Hinton. The following month at the Reno air races, Steve Hinton was once again putting the RB-51 through its paces when the propeller gearbox failed in-flight. As the story was told, the front propeller lost oil pressure bringing the blades to nearly flat pitch. This resulted in the front propeller disk turning into a big speed brake leaving the rear propeller with little air for thrust. The aircraft impacted the ground and disintegrated. While witnesses knew that nobody could have survived such a violent impact, Steve Hinton's crew sped out to the crash site and found their pilot alive and unconscious inside what was left of the cockpit structure. After a lengthy recovery, Steve Hinton still flies high performance aircraft and many of the parts salvaged from the Red Baron wreckage have been used to restore other P-51s.

Fisher Models and Pattern has developed a reputation in the modeling world for producing some of the nicest model kits in any medium. Fisher's medium of choice is resin and you can tell that he has researched the optimum combinations of resin and molding technologies to produce these masterpieces. But resin alone does not create such models - the craftsmanship in the master patterns is also evident. Where some pattern makers get close to their goal and release the product just to keep the money coming in, Fisher Models earned their reputation by not sending out models until they are as perfect in accuracy as well as in assembly as possible.

Some of the kits that we've seen over the years include the F9F Panther, F9F Cougar, TF-9J 'Twogar', Sea Fury FB.11, and Sea Fury T.20, all in 1/32 scale. Of course he also produced a single 1/48 scale kit with the XF6C-6 Page Racer. Perhaps we'll see more in this scale in the future. Besides this new release, Fisher Model and Pattern is also about to release the huge 1/32 F7U Cutlass kit which has been months in the making.

This release is of course the RB-51 Red Baron air racer. When you look at this kit, you'll wonder (and I've asked Paul Fisher out loud) why Fisher Models doesn't produce a P-51D kit since so many other companies can't seem to capture the lines and shape of the aircraft. One look at this and you know a P-51 in resin would be equally spectacular.

RB-51

This kit captures all of the engineering changes made to that original P-51D airframe to accommodate the Griffon engine as well as to mitigate as much drag as possible. The fuselage is essentially a one-piece hollow casting which allows for the assembled cockpit tub to be inserted up from the underside of the fuselage before installing the one-piece wing.

The cockpit nicely captures the details of Race 5 right down to the photo-etched instrument panel and the printed acetate instrument faces that align perfectly behind the panel. There are several smaller instrument clusters in the cockpit used to monitor the engine and support systems of the aircraft and these are also provided on the photo-etched fret and corresponding acetate instrument sheet. The photo-etch provides the pilot seatbelt and shoulder harness as well.

RB-51

With the cockpit installed, the wing and ventral radiator scoop cover the underside of the fuselage and you can see in the photos to the right how nicely these parts all fit without any glue or filler.

Assembly of the remainder of the airframe will happen rather quickly as this is a really simple build. One nice touch to keep this model sturdy is its brass landing gear produced by G-Factor and provide the main gear struts as well as the tail wheel strut.

The canopy is cast in clear resin and is separately cast from the streamlined windscreen so you can pose this aircraft with the canopy open.

When it comes down to it, you'll spend more time waiting for gloss paint to dry than assembling the model. The wings are essentially gloss white and the fuselage gloss red. Careful preparation of the airframe with MicroMesh to bring the resin surface to a smooth shiny surface will go a long way to ensuring a mirror-smooth paint job.

The decals are printed by Microscale and include the nice chrome surfaces around the exhaust stacks and under the tail. These decal images simply don't do the impressive chrome printing done by Microscale any justice.

This is another magnificent kit that will build into a show stopper. This one is also definitely highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Fisher Model and Pattern for this review sample.

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