Revell 1/72 P-51B Mustang III Kit Build Review
By Michael J. Gething
|Date of Review||September 2019||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Subject||P-51B Mustang III||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||4133||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Good detail||Cons||Some delicate parts|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (GBP)||OOP|
Last year (2018) I was involved in assisting a local historian who was writing the story of our village (Cowfold, West Sussex) during the Second World War. He asked me to write about the aircraft that would have been seen over the skies of Southern England during that time. The end result was an appendix of some 5,000 words (delivered earlier this year), which covered airfields, air bases and advanced landing grounds within the area, together with the squadrons and aircraft types which operated from them between September 1939 and August 1945. From 1944, one of the types that kept appearing was the P-51 Mustang and when interrogating the Stash List, I found I had the Revell kit of the P-51B Mustang Mk.III (complete with the ‘Malcolm hood’ canopy) first released in 1999. Thus it entered the production line ... but first the obligatory potted history.
Although the P-51 Mustang became one of the foremost US Army Air Force (USAAF) fighters of the Second World War, it was originally designed to meet the requirements of the British Purchasing Commission by North American Aviation in 1940. The NA-73X prototype made its maiden flight on 26 October 1940. Initially powered by a 1,150hp Allison V-1710 engine, the Mustang Mk.I entered RAF service in April 1942 and was found to be underpowered at high altitudes, so was restricted to low altitude fighter-bomber and tactical reconnaissance duties (as were the P-51/Mk.Ia and P-51A Mk.II aircraft).
Re-engined with a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin (1,680hp) engine, it was designated P-51B (308 built) and P-51C (635 built), depending on whether it was built at Inglewood or Dallas, respectively. Many Mustang Mk.IIIs were fitted with a bulged, sliding canopy (similar to the Spitfire) known as the ‘Malcolm hood’. It was armed with four 0.5in machine guns and could carry a pair of 500 lb bombs or fuel tanks under the wing.
Designated Mustang Mk.III in RAF service, it entered service from early 1944, serving with 19 RAF squadrons. As well as being used in support of the Normandy landings, Mustang Mk IIIs were also used against the German V-1 ‘Doodlebug’ flying bombs.
The USAAF was impressed by the Mustang, ordering it in 1941, receiving P-51B/C models and, later, the more well known P-51D model with a cut-down rear fuselage, teardrop canopy and six 0.5in machine guns ... but that story is beyond this mark’s history.
So to the kit itself, which comprises three sprues of dark green plastic and one transparency sprue, with some 47 parts in all. The mouldings are crisp with engraved panel lines of a standard expected of today’s kits. There is a fairly detailed cockpit (with an instrument panel decal), but no pilot figure, and a choice to mount either drop tanks or bombs under the wings. The latter would appear to be undersized for 500 lb bombs (I’m not a total geek on all WW2 weaponry) so they could be 250 pounders!
Decals are supplied for two aircraft: FB353/SZ-H from 316 (Polish) Sqn, RAF, which flew from the Friston advanced landing ground (near Eastbourne on the south coast of England) in August 1944, and FB184/AZ-R from 234 Sqn, RAF, which flew from Bentwaters in December 1944. Both aircraft are in dark green/ocean grey upper surfaces with medium sea grey underneath. A single white stripe (presumably left over from the full D-Day black-and-white ID markings) is carried above and below the inner wing (and supplied as a decal).
Construction was straight forward and more-or-less followed the instruction sequence. I assembled the cockpit parts, and painted them in interior green, highlighting the seat in black and the straps dark blue, followed by a black wash. I also painted the fuselage interior green with a black wash, and the interior of the upper wing parts above the undercarriage bay. The fuselage went together well with the cockpit fitting neatly into place. The forward fuselage was then sanded down with Micromesh to remove the joint line but I left off the engine exhausts until later.
The lower wing – one complete part – was then attached, followed by the upper wings and tailplanes, followed by two air intakes and the underside exhaust flap. Some minor filling with acrylic Perfect Plastic Putty was needed, together with Micromesh polishing. Once done, I sprayed the whole model in acrylic matt white by way of undercoat and a check for any other joint irregularities, which were quickly resolved.
At this stage, I assembled the propeller, which comprised the four separate blades, spinner boss and a base mounting, to slip over the mounting pin integral to the fuselage. Care is needed assembling the blades onto the mounting – a subsequent accident required me to re-set two of the blades (and I think they are just about square). HOWEVER, the I made a small modification, cutting off the mounting pin and drilling a 2mm hole. I then cemented a short (300mm) plastic rod into the mounting, thus allowing me to remove the whole propeller assembly for transport, and thus reducing the risk of further accidental damage. It was also easier to paint and apply the markings supplied for the blades.
Before the camouflage was applied using a brush and Lifecolor acrylics, I masked off the white stripe above and below the wings (I declined to use the decal option for the stripes supplied), and a thin strip around the nose. The main camouflage took two coats. I then masked off the leading edge strips and painted them yellow, while the wing and nose stripes took a second coat of white. Once dry and some touching-up completed, the whole model was varnished with Klear. Left to dry overnight, the main decals were applied, another coat of Klear applied and finally, with the cockpit area masked, all was sealed with a Humbrol acrylic matt varnish.
Now it was time for the undercarriage ... and here some fore thought is required, as the main and tailwheel doors are moulded as single items, so for undercarriage ‘down’, the two door elements of each assembly must be cut and cleaned off. This done and after painting, main and tail wheels were fitted to the model, followed by the engine exhausts, bomb mountings, bombs and pitot tube. The canopy was then fitted and the framing painted, and the landing light in the port wing leading edge sorted. As the aperture to take the transparent cover supplied ended up being slightly offset on the two wing parts, a little filing and four successive coats of Micro Kristal Klear provided a suitable replacement. Finally, I used a short length of rose wire to create the whip aerial behind the canopy.
The finishing touch was an overall black wash (Citadel’s Null Oil, kindly supplied by The Young Master) to bring out the etched panel line detail and give an overall appearance of ‘having been in the wars’. Built from the box, I thought it made a neat result - Job Done.