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P-51D Mustang Kit

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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2017 Manufacturer Airfix
Subject P-51D Mustang Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5131 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detail Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $25.98

First Look

P-51D Mustang Kit
P-51D Mustang Kit
P-51D Mustang Kit
P-51D Mustang Kit
P-51D Mustang Kit

If you're unfamiliar with the P-51 Mustang, you can read a brief introduction here with the Zoukei-Mura 1/32 P-51D Mustang first look.

If you were surprised by Airfix's announcement that they were releasing a P-51D Mustang in 1/48 scale, you weren't alone. While there are a number of P-51D kits available in 1/48 scale, each as had one or more issues, and all suffered the common boxed-in main wheel well design defect. You know it was serious to some modelers when a recent 1/48 P-51D snap-together kit was regarded as the best rendition of the quarter-scale Mustang to that point.

So here is Airfix's new P-51D Mustang kit and it is an interesting design. Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The surface detailing is scribed, and while the panel lines are a bit heavy, they'll blend nicely after painting and weathering. One pet peeve Mustang lovers have is having panel lines on the wing surfaces since North American puttied those seams at the factory to achieve laminar flow, but even so, there were still access panels to the guns, ammo bays, etc., that were present. You can see a good example of that with this wartime P-51D photo.

P-51D Mustang Kit

Among the features and option in this kit:

  • Detailed cockpit
  • Pilot restraints molded onto seat
  • Optional seated pilot figure
  • Contiguous floor/frame from firewall, floor of cockpit, top of radiator, to tailwheel well
  • Separately molded cockpit sidewalls with nice details
  • Radio rack behind pilot mounted above fuselage fuel tank
  • Positionable canopy
  • Choice of early or late bubble canopy as well as Dallas canopy
  • Choice of windscreen with or without rear view mirror mount
  • Nice radiator details
  • Choice of early or late production tail fillet
  • Choice of engine air vents
  • Choice of open or faired engine exhaust stacks
  • Landing gear can be positioned up or down
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable radiator exhaust flap
  • Choice of metal or paper underwing external fuel tanks
  • Optional bazooka rocket launchers

The kit provides marking options for two subjects:

  • P-51D, unknown, 2 ACG/10 AF, Kalaikunda, India, 1945, 'Little Indian'
  • P-51D, 44-15152, 361 FS/356 FG, RAF Martlesham Heath, UK, 1945, 'Jersey Jerk'

The decal sheet provides a nice set of airframe stencils with good illustrations in the instructions for placement.

The photo example above (click on the image) shows the visible panel lines on the airframe and wings, and aside from the slightly heavy scribing, Airfix did a nice job with these. The example above also shows the early production P-51D without the fin fillet, an option not included in this kit.

There have been some comments/complaints that the one-piece lower wing has the inboard leading edge and area over wheel wells molded separately. When the boxed-in wheel wells are molded to the lower wing half, it isn't a problem to include that inboard leading edge, but without the wheel wells, molding that area as part of the lower wing would have made for a very delicate lower wing prone to be broken around that leading edge.

In addition to the above, the three .50 caliber machine gun ports on the wing leading edges are also molded separately. What is nice about this is that you don't have a seam line running through the middle of those guns.

Out of the box, this kit provides a nice array of possibilities with the exception of the earliest P-51Ds without the fin fillet. That is something Airfix can add at a later date or be rendered in resin by one of the aftermarket companies. Speaking of aftermarket, there are already a variety of detail options for the Airfix kit on the market including photo-etched details inside and out, a replacement cockpit in resin should you want more than what's in the kit, and more.

The competition for the best P-51D in a given scale is similar to the competition in the 1950s-1960s at Edwards AFB to be the fastest man alive. Someone might achieve the goal but soon be knocked off that pedestal by the next contender. So it goes in the model kit market where a snap kit beat out the Tamiya kit in 1/48 scale only to be bumped off by this kit from Airfix.