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P-51D

Tamiya 1/48 P-51D Mustang Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject P-51D Mustang Scale 1/48
Kit Number 89732 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $61.00

First Look

P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D
P-51D

North American's Mustang fighter was a huge success once the Allison engine of the early Mustangs was replaced by the license-built Packard Merlin. The P-51B/C Mustangs were a formidable threat to the Luftwaffe. Like most fighters of the early war, the P-51B/C had the standard hood design of the day which was more of a greenhouse type that was streamlined into the rear fuselage. Aerodynamically, this wasn't a bad thing, but combat experience with this type of cockpit enclosure revealed fatal rear visibility. The Americans, British, and Germans set to work on the problem.

North American addressed this visibility issue with the next version of the Mustang, the P-51D. The rear fuselage was cut down and the canopy enclosure replaced with a teardrop canopy. Additional improvements included the addition of two more 50 caliber machine guns, bringing up the total to six, additional fuel tanks, and a new gunsight.

The P-51D became the principal fighter for the US Army Air Force and could hold its own against the Luftwaffe until the advent of the next generation of Luftwaffe fighters including the Ta 152, Me 262, etc. Even then, the Mustangs (and other allied types) outnumbered what was left of the Luftwaffe and retained air superiority over the continent.

Tamiya has re-released their tried and true P-51D kit with some interesting additions. The kit is the same one that we reviewed here, but Tamiya has added one new sprue for the aircraft, and a whole new kit to compliment the aircraft.

The P-51D kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clears. Molding is still crisp and the details nice.

The kit has a nicely detailed cockpit considering the number of pieces - six. The cockpit has the correct wooden floor that raised the pilot up into the bubble canopy for better all-round visibility. I've seen other Mustang kits with more parts in the cockpit, but as I said earlier, Tamiya has mastered the blend of detail and simplicity. An optional pilot figure is also included if you want to crew up your Mustang. If the level of detail isn't enough for you, Lord knows that there are lots of aftermarket sets available for this kit.

The only real glitch in this kit is the same glitch that plagues all Mustang kits to date - the wheel wells. For whatever reason, manufacturers opt to box in the wells, especially the outboard sections, but the real Mustangs didn't have the edges of the wheel wells boxed in this way. If you look at our photo walk arounds, you can see that the rear of the well is the main spar and this provides maintenance access to the hydraulics and wiring that run through the wings.

The original kit had the following options:

  • Positionable canopy
  • Choice of standard or Dallas canopy
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable rear radiator flap
  • Choice of exhaust stacks
  • Optional 75 gallon metal drop tanks

This update adds the following:

  • Optional 108 gallon paper drop tanks
  • Optional second seated pilot (new pose)
  • Optional standing pilot figure

Markings are included for three examples:

  • P-51D-15-NA, 44-15701, 343 FS/55 FG,CY-G, 'The Millie G', as flown by Major Edward Giller
  • P-51D-30-NT, 44-73304, 334 FS/4 FG, QP-U, 'Blondie', as flown by Lt. Marvin Arthur
  • P-51D-15-NA, 44-15300, 360 FS/356 FG, PI-O, 'Milly', as flown by Lt. Donald Jones

US Army Staff Car

Here is the first release of a typical US Army Staff Car, this one a 1942 Ford Sedan Four-Door. Quite a few civilian cars were drafted into military service and this one represents a typical staff car that would have been used by US forces in the US and UK. This kit has subsequently been released separately.

The kit is also molded in gray styrene and presented on one parts tree, plus a separately molded body, one die-cast metal chassis, and one tree of clear parts.

Assembly is quick and straightforward with a simple suspension, wheels pushed onto axles that are run through the chassis, flip the chassis over, install the seats and steering column.

The body gets the instrument panel, and as a nice touch, the rear window and rear side windows are molded as one part, the windshield as a second part, and each of the front side windows are also molded separately. This means that you can represent the model with all of the windows up, or with one or both of the front windows rolled down.

Put the body onto the chassis, add the bumpers and lights, and you're ready.

The Tamiya P-51 Mustangs are the easiest models to build and render the best results for the least effort. If you want to take a break from some of the more challenging projects 'out there', this is still one of the best kits available to just have fun and still achieve a master's result.

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