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The North American P-51D/K Mustang

The North American P-51D/K Mustang Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review January 2022 Title The North American P-51D/K Mustang
Author Richard A Franks Publisher Valiant Wings Publishing
Published 2021 ISBN 978-1-912932-23-8
Format 272 pages, softcover MSRP (BP) £24.95


Ever see 1987’s Steven Spielberg epic, “Empire of the Sun”?

Valiant Wings superbly surveys “The Cadillac Of The Skies” in The North American P-51D/K Mustang – 18th in the publisher’s popular “Airframe & Miniature” series.

Billed as a “Complete Guide”, this 272-page, one-stop library departs ever so slightly from the publisher’s familiar format.

Author/editor Richard A. Franks dispenses with extended prefatory comments on “operational use of the P-51D/K series during WWII”. Instead, he simply itemizes all US and Commonwealth units operating the legendary fighter in every theater of the conflict.

Those lists seamlessly segue into “airframe” coverage of P-51D/Ks in worldwide postwar use. Lightweight derivatives, Korean service, and Cold War brushfires naturally dominate details.

Two chapters chronologically and subsequently survey every P-51D/K version – prototype, production, and proposed, as well as lightweight derivatives.

Confused about, say, equivalent P-51D/K and RAF variants? Check here.

“Airframe” coverage then concludes with a colorful “camouflage & markings” chapter.

Dozens of Richard J. Caruana’s color plates – profiles, plan views, and insets – chart worldwide Mustang liveries. And three accompanying pages separately and conveniently detail metallic “surface preparation & paint”, stencils, and RAF camouflage & markings specifications.

Things get mightily meatier for modelers in the book’s concluding “miniature” half.

Assessments of currently available kits recap the accuracy of a model’s plastic and markings particulars – and a convenient “verdict” concludes each. And specially commissioned, step-by-step kit builds by Libor Jekl and Steve A. Evans graphically depict a selection of latest Mustang models in popular scales.

P-51D/K design evolution with chronologically arranged isometric drawings follows. And a final chapter explores bubble-top ponies “In Detail” – inside-out, prop-to-tail, tip-to-tip.

In addition to color plates, hundreds of other illustrations season the study – period photos, close-ups, museum shots, tech-manual excerpts, and more.

Four extensive appendices list kits, accessories & masks, decals, and references. And a glossary and pull-out 1:48-scale plans complete contents.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for this review copy.