North American P-51D Mustang
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Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang model kit in 1/32 scale 

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The American North American P-51 Mustang was developed in the end Nineteen Thirties following a British Specification as the threat of the Second World War emerged. The design of North American was for a high speed and long range aircraft that would operate along side the Spitfires of the RAF. The P-51 utilized a (partially) laminar flow wing, reducing drag and giving longer range. The Second World war was in 1939 a fact and there were urgent needs for aircraft from all Allies. 

Various versions of the P-51 were developed, including the P-51D that got a license built Merlin engine, had a large canopy hood for better pilot view and an improved armament. Drop tanks were also possible and the P-51D was able to escort Allied bombers all the way to Germany with its range of about 3700 km. It was first used as fighter but later also for ground attack. Although not without its faults, the P-51 was an important aircraft.
After the Second World War, many P-51 aircraft were surplus and used by various Allied countries, including the Netherlands. In the retrieved Dutch East Indies colony air power was needed and the Dutch ML-KNIL air airm used P-51D and P-51K aircraft. The P-51K is only internally a little different than the P-51D. 
The Indonesians wanted independence and during various battles and campains (called "police actions") , the KNIL P-51's  performed various ground attack missions. But after a few years, under United Nations pressure, Indonesia obtained independence. Several P-51's  were even transferred to the new Indonesian Air Force TNI-AURI. 

The 1/32 P-51D model will be made as an early Dutch ML-KNIL aircraft with large Dutch flags.

The Tamiya P-51D kit no. 22 / 60322  in 1/32 scale was issued in 2011 and replaces all the older kits in this scale as it is superior as far as detail, accuracy, fit and overall execution. 

Parts are crisply moulded and the model gives various "options" that enable it to be posed with our without undercarriage down, engine shown or not with loose panels (kept in place through tiny magnets), open or closed intake, etc etc. Screws, magnets etc. are in the box. Also in the kit are a canopy masking set (although you have to cut the masks yourself) and some small tooling like a screwdriver. A display stand for "in flight pose" is also in the box.

The Packard V-1650 "Merlin" engine is a separate item in the kit and can be seen when cowling panels are not fitted.

The kit decals are a bit thick although stencilling is also provided. Decals are for:
- USAF 487 Fighter Squadron, 352 fighter group
- USAF 79 FS / 20 FG
- USAF 334 FS / 4 Fighter group

Better use decals obtained elsewhere. 

An early P-51D without dorsal fillet can be made from the kit, a P-51D with the fillet and some optionable parts are there for interior parts like different instrument panels, 2 seats etc.

Two types of droptanks are also in the box. 

Very nice is also a booklet in colour with history about the P-51 with photos and text.

I did not use all the "movable" options, as the model is "static" displayed. The only thing kept detachable are to be engine cowling panels to show the very nice Merlin engine in the kit.

The model parts fit is very good with no putty/ filler needed. 

Starting the build
The kit will be made following the Tamiya kit instructions. I missed parts layout drawings in the pages, making searching for some parts a bit difficult.

A "straight out the box" build will be done as far as possible. 

During assembly, you will note this:  in order to achieve a good fit, Tamiya has the sprue gates on the part mating edges. So all these gates were to be removed after cutting the parts with a special cutter and the sanding with a file and sandpaper. This is a tedious job, but will ensure a very good and neat fit on the parts. This is done for each sub-assembly and each part. 

Next, pre-painting of various parts and sub-assemblies was done while still on the sprues. 
Paints used were acrylics from Revell Aqua, Gunze Sangyo. For interior green, White Ensign WEM ACUS09 / FS 24151 enamel was used. 

The model will be made as a P-51D in Dutch ML-KNIL scheme , which has in fact these colours:

- aluminium "painted" sections of the main wing, this being aimed at getting laminar flow; on new aircraft the many rivets were filled to have a smooth finish as much as possible, and the wing painted aluminium to get a smooth finish. Later on this was often, after maintenance, not so well kept after.
(also note the detachable large panels to access the guns/ armament). 

- bare metal surfaces on fuselage, empennage with fin and rear tailplane, wing trailing edge flaps and wing tips.

- olive green like anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit wind shield. 

- for the interior, I believe the Dutch ML-KNIL Mustangs had the "interior green" surfaces. This applies for the cockpit but also gear bays. 

Several sub-assemblies were made, such as for the engine (STEPS 1 - 6) and bulkheads. These were airbrushed beforehand with the appropriate colours as indicated by Tamiya.
The lower intake was also assembled as shown in STEP 19 for "pre-painting".

STEPs 1-4
The very nice Merlin engine was assembled. 

At the bulkhead, I cut off the small knob on the bottom of part V3. 

Some extra detailing with electrical wires and rods is worthwhile but will be done later on as the engine is accessible. 

The instrument panel for the Dutch ML-KNIL to be used was unclear, I settled for the later panel D31 (option A/B). A transparant glass part with decal is provided, very nice. 

The nice "etched metal" seat belts, harness and straps will be painted first and later fitted.

STEPs 9-12
The simple seat was used (option A/B) and the nice cockpit interior assembled. Much pre-painting was needed here.

Note that the seat straps/harness is not yet fitted on the seat as well as the parachute pack.

STEPs 13-18
Assembled as indicated for option A/B with the K-14 gunsight. The interiors are nicely done.

The frames in the forward fuselage require carefull painting/ airbrushing as well. Some areas are aluminium. 

The intake and radiator was assembled, but I had some minor fit problems were the etched metal parts A-13. The whole interior was sprayed aluminium later on.

Note the small magnet.

STEPs 20-22
I will not use the "detachable" rear tail wheel option, so V26-V28 not really needed. The 2 fuselage halves were joined using clamps, fitting in the lower air intake and interior with forward engine. 

The shorter engine exhausts were used (option "B") with parts J19. 

STEPs 24-31
Interior piping, tailplane and so on were assembled. Cleaning up the sprue gates is a lot of work. 

The carburator duct is a detachable "loose" part.

STEPs 32-33
As noted, the tail wheel will be set fixed in place. So the magnet idea is not needed.

The fuselage is now assembled. Next are the wing with flaps and landing gear and much more.

On to next [ Page 2.... ]

- Book: P51D/K Mustang, Dutch Photofile 1, G.Casius and Luuk Boerman, 2011

- Book: Camouflage en Kentekens, van de Nederlandse Militaire Luchtvaart, JHN Greuter et al.., Bonneville uitgeverij. (rare standard "must have" reference book in Dutch)


IPMS NL P-51 Walkaround

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Created this page October 31, 2013