Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/32 Mustang IV (P-51D/K) Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2014||Manufacturer||Zoukei-Mura Inc.|
|Subject||Mustang IV (P-51D/K)||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||32009||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Beautiful molding, excellent detail, new options||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$99.00|
As North American shifted production to the P-51D, the new configuration featured a cut-down rear deck with the cockpit enclosed under a teardrop canopy. Visibility was significantly improved, but change in aerodynamics made the aircraft less stable, especially with the fuselage fuel cell full. This stability issue was fixed by adding a dorsal fillet to the front of the vertical stabilizer during block 10 production. Many earlier P-51Ds were modified in the field with the fillet as well.
To increase production of the P-51D, the Inglewood, CA plant was augmented with a parallel production line in Dallas, TX. P-51B/C/D airframes had been equipped with the Hamilton-Standard propeller up to this point but H-S had reached maximum production capacity by the time the Dallas plant came online so an Aeroproducts propeller was fitted to Dallas Mustangs designated as P-51K. Problems with the Aeroproducts propeller in the field would eventually cause the Dallas line to revert to an uncuffed Hamilton-Standard propeller in later production blocks. The RAF and Commonwealth air arms did use the P-51D/K with Mustang IV assigned to the P-51D and Mustang IVA assigned to the P-51K.
Another subtle but distinctive enhancement to the P-51D/K was the introduction of the 'blown' canopy or 'Dallas hood' which changed the profile of the canopy to allow more headroom for taller pilots. The Inglewood plant also introduced a blown canopy which had a slightly different profile for the same purpose and these profiles did change between subcontractors.
The P-51D would become 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. The P-51 was the first fighter that had sufficient range (with external tanks) to escort bombers all the way to Berlin and back.
Two years ago. Zoukei-Mura released their 1/32 P-51D Mustang ( look here) which created an interesting debate between Mustang modelers because that kit came shortly after Tamiya had released their own new-tool 1/32 P-51D kit. I have both kits and both have their merits but I am still partial to the Zoukei-Mura kit. Where the first Zoukei-Mura release focused on the later production P-51D, they've now released their second kit to provide more options. Let's take a look:
- Super-detailed Packard Merlin engine
- Choice of Hamilton Standard or Aeroproducts propellers
- Lots of detail firewall forward
- Choice of closed or open cowling
- Beautifully detailed cockpit right down to wiring harnesses
- Choice of pilot's seat with and without belts/harness detail
- Choice of three canopy types
- Positionable canopy
- Choice of N-9 or K-14 gunsights
- Choice of engine air filter panels
- Super detailing aft of cockpit including O2 cylinders
- Super detailing under cockpit for radiator and coolant plumbing
- Choice of early or late vertical stabilizers (without or with fillet, respectively)
- Positionable radiator flap
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable elevators
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable flaps
- Detailed wing rib/spar structure
- Wing fuel cells
- Correct main landing gear well design
- Beautifully detailed landing gear
- Detailed gun bays
- Gun bay doors can be open or closed
- Canopy masks
The instruction book is printed to resemble the USAAF flight manual for the P-51D though it is issued from Headquarters ZM Air Forces. As with the previous three releases, the instruction book is well-illustrated with color photos and CAD drawings with text printed in Japanese and English. Painting instructions are provided using Vallejo acrylic paints. This manual is from the first release of their kit and there is a supplemental manual included which provides the differences between the two releases as well as the new decal options. Please study both manuals before starting so you can select the right combination of parts to render your selected subject.
Markings are included for four aircraft:
- Mustang IVa, KH774, 112 Sqn, , GA-S, RAF, Italy, 1945
- Mustang IVa, KH716, 3 Sqn, CV-P, RAAF, Italy, 1945, as flown by Sqn Ldr Murray Nash
- P-51K-10-NT, 44-12073, 460 FS/348 FG, le Shima, 1945, 'Sunshine VII' as flown by Lt.Col. William Banks
- P-51D-5-NA, 44-13410, 375 FS/361 FG, 1944, 'Lou IV' as flown by Col. Thomas Christian
Decals are provided on three large sheets and include all of the national, unit, distinctive markings plus post-D-Day and Pacific theater ID stripes plus a thorough set of maintenance stencils.
Following the first release of this kit (and the Tamiya kit), there are a wide array of detail and decal options available including a number produced under the Zoukei-Mura brand which include photo-etched details produced by Eduard, color-printed cockpit photo-etch also from Eduard, resin figures, and more.
Straight out of the box, this kit is awesome, but Zoukei-Mura wisely left the multi-media details out of the box to keep the retail price low and allow modelers to select what (if any) additions they may want in their project. In addition, Valiant Wings published their first 'Airframe Constructor' title based on the Zoukei-Mura P-51 kit which shows how to achieve some jaw-dropping detailing and weathering throughout the building of this kit. I picked up a copy of this title for my own build which we'll be starting soon.
This is yet another great release from Zoukei-Mura Inc., and they continue to impress modelers with their subjects and detail. At the time of this writing, they are finishing up the 1/32 Ho 229 and starting on a 1/32 Do 335! This is indeed a great time to be a large-scale modeler!
My sincere thanks to Zoukei-Mura Inc. for this review sample!