Started: Sep 2011
Finished: Feb 2012
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The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in April 1940 by a team headed by James H. Kindelberger of North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission.
The P-51 Mustang was a solution to the need for an effective bomber escort. It used a common, reliable engine and had internal space for a larger-than-average fuel load. With external fuel tanks, it could accompany the bombers from England to Germany and back.
The Luftwaffe's twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters brought up to deal with the bombers proved to be easy prey for the Mustangs, and had to be quickly withdrawn from combat. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190A, already suffering from poor high-altitude performance, was outperformed by the Mustang at the B-17's altitude, and when laden with heavy bomber-hunting weapons as a replacement for the more vulnerable twin-engined Zerstörer heavy fighters, it suffered heavy losses. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 had comparable performance at high altitudes, but its lightweight airframe was even more greatly affected by increases in armament. The Mustang's much lighter armament, tuned for antifighter combat, allowed it to overcome these single-engined opponents.
The numerical superiority of the USAAF fighters, superb flying characteristics of the P-51, and pilot proficiency helped cripple the Luftwaffe's fighter force. As a result, the fighter threat to the US, and later British, bombers was greatly diminished by July 1944. The RAF, long proponents of night bombing for protection, were able to reopen daylight bombing in 1944 as a result of the crippling of the Luftwaffe fighter arm. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander of the German Luftwaffe during the war, was quoted as saying, "When I saw Mustangs over Berlin, I knew the jig was up."
The brand spanking new Tamiya P-51D in 1/32. This model was started immediately after I finished my battle with the Dragon P-51D and as you would expect there is no comparison between the two as this kit from Tamiya almost builds itself. Having said that, this is not a simple kit to build. It is overly complex in my opinion but I applaud Tamiya for giving us what will be for a long time to come the ultimate P-51 in any scale.
The 1/32 Tamiya P-51D can at first seem a bit intimidating. It is indeed a complex kit with metal pins, magnets, screws/bolts/nuts etc etc. My first order of business was to sort all these items into their own bags and label them for when I needed them during the build. In hindsight, this was a very good idea.
Tamiya has designed the instrument panel in an interesting way. The dials are molded in clear (for the glass effect) and the dial faces a single piece "reverse" decal. What I mean by reverse is that the decal detail is on the sticky side (ie facing down on the paper). You are meant to glue the decal to the rear of the clear part and hence when u look thru the clear part, see the dials. I did not like this idea as I felt the dial face would be too far back behind the glass as the clear parts are quite thick. So I cut each dial decal out and placed them on the panel sticky side up. I was not sure how this would work, but thankfully with setting solution etc they seemed to stick well enough. Once dry, they were sealed below a coat of Future.
After about 30 mins of work the dials are all in place and look much better than placing them behind the thick clear glass parts.
Having learnt some lessons from my build of the Dragon Mustang, I painted the fuselage fuel cell its correct color of Black (it was made of rubber).Here I have masked off the bits that will remain black in readiness for a coat of Interior Green
Skipping ahead a bit, the cockpit tub has been painted and weathered with an oil wash. I decided to not go for any aftermarket decals or details in the cockpit because a) Tamiya provide pretty much all the main details needed and b) I knew you would see very little of it once the fuselage halves were joined.
The cockpit was painted using Mr Color Interior Green and Tamita Nato Black. Details like the control column canvas boot were hand painted and general weathering done with oil washes and drybrushing.
Turning to the side walls, again Tamiya have given you most everything you need to produce a reaistic P-51D cockpit. I decided to glue the side wall detail to the fuselage before painting which did make picking out the detail more of a challenge, but meant that I could prepare the cockpit sill to my liking without damaging paint etc.
The details are hand painted using a combination of Tamiya Acrylics and Humbrol Metalisers which brush really nicely.
The completed port sidewall with all detail parts added, placards (decals) in place on the upper side wall and washes/drybrushing applied.
The starboard sidewall, complete with oxygen hose, placards and panel details. I am sure a resin set would look nicer here but as I mentioned above, once you glue up the fuselage you will not get bang for your resin buck.
One fairly distinctive visual detail of the Mustang canopy guide rails are the holes along its length. Tamiya has not reproduced this and so having let it slip on my Dragon Mustang build, I decided to add them here. Some 10 x 20 thou card was used and small (79) holes were marked out and drilled. A small touch, but quite visible on the finished model
Not sure where I first came across the HGW microtextile seatbelts, but I was keen to give them a go on this kit. The basic idea is that you assemble the seatbelt, just like the real thing with cloth straps and metal (PE) buckles.
First step is to cut out each strap from the micro textile sheet. As you can see, some of these parts are "very" small.
Next you scrunch up the straps by rolling them between your fingers. This gives them a "used" look.
Next the fun (and frustrating) part. Assemble each belt by using the strap and PE buckles provided. I used super glue where needed to secure the ends of the straps. Here you can see one completed belt and the parts to make up the matching belt.
The completed harness belts ready for installation on the seat. These sets are very good value for money from HGW as you get two complete sets in each pack.
The seat has the HGW belts in place and the only other scratchbuilt addition to the cockpit can be seen attached to the radio.
A final shot of the cockpit tub. Here we can clearly see the instrument panel with the decal dials and detail painting. All in all a more than adequate effort by Tamiya.
As I plan to glue the engine cowlings on for this build I put no effort into painting or detailing the engine. It really is only needed as a place to glue the exhausts and propeller to. As an aside, the engine is attached to the firewall using a nut and bolt.
With the cockpit completed, my attention turns to the radiator and intake assembly. This is a deceptively complex assembly and its worth checking the parts and assembly sequence a couple of times before you reach for the glue. The mustang has two radiators (water and oil) mounted in the lower fuselage. Air is taken in via the characteristic scoop mid mounted below the wings.
When working on the various doors associated with the radiators, I first came across how Tamiya use magnets to make workable doors. Here we see the magnet itself and the associated metal panel onto which the magnet will grip when the door is closed.
The larger rear door likewise uses magnets to hold it in place when open. However the larger doors has the metal plate on its sides (which line up with magnets buried in the fuselage sidewalls. Also notice the fist use of a metal shaft as an anchor point for a PE rod to allow it to freely move once glue has been applied to the plastic parts.
The completed pair of doors. Here you can more clealy see the metal plates (needed for the magnets) and the actuator rods made to swivel using metal pins and PE.
The radiator sub-assembly coming together. Tamiya kindly provides photo etch for the intake grills, but to be honest they are so far buried in the belly that you will need a torch to see them anyway.
The same sub-assembly seen from the rear. All the parts that must be added before we close the fuselage have been added now. The rest can wait.
The fuselage is now ready to be stitched up. To get the fit just right, some careful trimming of the tub and sidewall was needed. Not sure why really, but I'm sure its something I did.
With the fuselage mostly complete, it was time to turn to the wings and integral to these are the wheel wells. Surprisingly, some nastly ejection pin marks are present here.
The best method I have found to remove tricky marks like these without damaging the surrounding detail is to use a rounded blade. Using only the few mm's near the blade tip, you can scrape away the raised detail as needed. Ejection pin marks that are sunken are much harder to remove
The assorted parts that make up the main wheel wells are ready for painting. I chose to use Interior Green rather than Zinc Chromate yellow as most color pics I have seen seem to have this color.
To give the effect of field maintenance being done on the aircraft I sprayed some touch up areas in the wheel wells with zinc chromate yellow. I also used two shades of the base green to highlight the darker corners and lighter riased section. Detail painting and washes will follow.
With the wings held together with tape, a quick dry fit gave me a feeling for any problem areas which would need my attention. The engineering of this kit is really a joy to behold as you see it unfold during the build. My only reservation with this kit is the use of alternative "removal" parts for the undercarriage. Tamiya wanted to give us the option to change wheels up or down at any time, but in doing so comprimised the fit (and therefore realism) of several parts.
The underside view showing how the wheel well (plus the main spar) are key components of the wing assembly.
Tamiya provide the option to display both wing gun bays and ammo compartments open. I only wanted to do one side, so the port side panels were glued shut. These fit very well, but care is still needed in the gluing (from behind where possible) to ensure you don't create a mess that needs fixing.
One glue that I find is very forgiving and therefore ideal for parts that have to be glued from the outside is MEK. This glue is VERY thin and when applied with a brush will run into any gap no matter how small or tight. The rear fuselage section is an ideal candiate for this.
I seriously struggled with the rivets on the wings. Do I remove them or leave them alone. In the end I decided that even though they are very restrained (unlike the Dragon kit), they still were inaccurate (as far as I know) and were worth the effort to remove (or heavily tone down). I knew I would not need to go the whole hog with filler and super glue etc as per the Dragon kit, so instead settled on Mr Surfacer.
My inital efforts involved were using Mr Surfacer 500 with some light thinning to allow for easier brushing on. I did not want to fill the panel lines so started to mask them off with Tamiya tape. This was quite time consuming and I was not overly happy with the results of the 500 grade filler.
I switched to Mr Surfacer 1200 and instead of applying only one coat, applied two coats, each thinned to ensure the filler went into each rivet properly. This worked better than the one coat of 500 which tended to sit only in the top of the rivet and after some light sanding was quickly abraded away. This picture shows the Mr Surfacer was applied only to the rivets and allowed several hours to dry. Luckily the wing surfaces have little or no raised details.
Here we see a photo of the wing surface after the Mr Surfacer was sanded back and a coat of primer (Alclad Grey Primer) applied. The gun and ammo hatches retained their rivets to allow for some contrasting panels on the wing.
While the wing was drying I started fiddling with the control surfaces and enjoyed bulding each hinge from PE and metal rods. As seen here, the pins give a solid mounting point for the PE hinge which inserts and locks in the wing and stabilators. This results in a very neat and fully functioning constrol surfaces.
As I had decided to display the wing gun/ammo panels open, I decided to enhance the door locking handles. The doors are locked via flush handles, which when open, extend away from the door quite visibly. I scratchbuilt the handles from plastic card and here you can see where I will need to cut out the slot from the tamiya panel.
Before I could close up the wings I needed to complete some work on the starboard gun compartments. These are quite accurate with only minor enhancements needed if you decide to display them open. Most WWII gunbays I have seen pics of clearly show the guns with some sort of common number written/painted on the breach. I don't know for sure what the number means but I took an educated guess and used the last three digits of the A/C's serial number. These tiny number decals came from the spares box.
One of the more visible features of the Mustangs nose is the carburettor intakes on each side. For some reason, Tamiya provides you with the parts, but with the holes blanked up. Its a easy job to do the right thing and drill each one out.
One of the carb intake vents in place on the beautifully thin lower cowling part.
The tailwheel compartment is designed to swapped out at will by the modeler after the kit is finished. Two tail wheel compartments are provided (door open wheel extended and the other door closed wheel retracted). I have no interest in this toy like feature and so decided to glue the compartment in place. This meant that I would have the tailwheel extended during the remainder of the build (which was a recipe for disaster).
A quick examination of the tailwheel assembly revealed that I could cut off the two side locating pins from the tailwheel strut and hence insert it later after painting was finished.
The base of each propellor had very nasty sink marks from the molding process. Tamiya Basic putty was applied and sanded to correct these.
The completed interior of the starboard gun bay with the .50 cal ammo belts painted and installed in the ammo compartment.
I have never been a fan of rubber tires, no matter who makes them. The Tamiya tires have nasty seam lines which will be a bitch to irradicate. I had some surplus resin Mastercaster wheels from my Dragon mustang phase and I had just recieved my Jerry Rutman weighted wheels from Grey Matter Figures ebay store.
The Jerry Rutman tires are very well made resulting in a beautifully snug fit on the Tamiya hubs.
Much like the tailwheel compartment, Tamiya provides the ability to remove the main undercarriage once the model is complete, to allow you to display the model wheels up or down at eny time. Again I was not at all interested in this toy like feature and decided to see if the main gear struts could be added last if I glued in place the wing leading edge cover (which normally is removable and gives access to the screw holding in the main gear). This photo shows the main gear struts held solidly in place by screws in the wing. Its a neat system if only it did not require thos removable panels.
A closer look at the main gear showing the correct angle of the strut. I was also a little surprised to find that Tamiya gives you the 0.50 cal barrel tips molded in, rather than separate.
Here we see the main gear from the side. A common mistake I have noticed on many P-51 kits is the installation of the main gear at 90 degrees angle to the wing. As you can see, the main gear strut is angled forward about 10 dgrees from the perpendicular.
A test fit of the leading edge cover and main gear strut reveled that it would work if I glued the cover on and inserted the strut last (like normal models). Only thing I need to do was remove the holder for the magnet on the inside of the cover to give the strut enough room to slide in.
The cover has been glued on. As you can see the fit was pretty average. After the glue dried I decided that the whole seam had to be filled with super glue and rescribed to match the fine panel lines on the rest of the wing.
With the wing almost complete, I returned to the fuselage and set about sanding the centerline seams. This resulted in considerable loss of detail, especially in front on the cockpit where several of the raised DZUS fasteners where lost. Rather than try to re-add them as raised (which is incorrect anyway !!) I used my new MDC riveting tool shown here. The nice thing about this tool is that it creates small circular rivet heads rather than the normal single hole.
Testing of the wing to fuselage indicated a tiny gap that could be eliminated by expanding the width of the fuselage by a small amount. A length of excess sprue was used to force the fuselage open just a bit.
The kit part that forms the very front of the main wheel well attachs to the wing leading edge also. When dry fitting this whole assembly to the fuselage the wing leading join kept cracking under minmial pressure. To give this whole area more strength I added some globs of two part epoxy.
With the main work on the wings complete it was time to match then up to the fuselage and glue in place. The clamp was used to ensure the parts did not move as drying took place. As you can see, the flaps and ailerons have not been added as yet.
Tamiya provides masks for the windshield and canopy exteriors. As I always mask and paint the interior color as well, most times I have to mask this up myself (and no-one thinks to provide interior masks). In this case, I felt that masking the inside of the windshield would be quite tricky and time consuming so I used the Tamiya masks (which BTW are not pre-cut). These are designed for the outside, but I simply reversed them for the inside. Quick and simple.
One seam that must be removed is in front of the wing root. This is where the wing assembly joins the fuselage assembly and is not a natural panel line on the real aircraft. Due to the close proximity of the raised DZUS fasteners, very careful sanding was needed to retain the detail.
The intake lip is provided as a separate part which allows us to paint and mask the interior of the intake trunking before we attach the lip. It also means there are no internal seams for use to sand close to the lip. Good job Tamiya.
When I was looking at the panel line and rivet detail I would need to repair on the underside, I noticed that the panel lines do not match up with the join seams. As per the photo, some of the join seam needs to be filled and sanded away, whilst other parts need to form the panel line.
There are 3 lines of rivets on the forward part of the intake trunking which were destroyed whilst working on the join seam. I've long had a Rosie the Riveter in the draw that I've not had a need to use. This seemed like the ideal time to try them out. Dymo tape was used is used to provide a guide for the rivet tool, which is basically a studded wheel on a handle. You line up the teeth with the starting rivet and with a medium pressue, run the wheel along the tape. Easy enough with a bit of practise.
Here we see the scribing and riveting all under a coat of primer. Hopefully it looks just like Tamiya made it :)
The interior side of each main-wheel clamshell door is lined with a piece of sheet metal. These parts are always quite visible due to their high sheen. I am not exactly sure what these parts are for but Tamiya has given us the outline for the area and after painting the base interior with Alclad Aluminium, these sheets will be painted with Alclad Chrome (which requires a gloss black undercoat)
The main canopy has been masked inside and out in preparation for painting. The interior is black with the exterior natural metal (and some olive drab in this case). I decided not to use the provided Tamiya masks and the shape of the P-51 bubble canopy is not at all difficult to mask.
With the windscreen secured in place, the masking has begun. As I had used the Tamiya masks for the inside masking previously, I turned to Tamiya tape and some of my scribing templates to help cut some masks to fit the unusual bottom curve of the side windows. The oval templates provided me with almost the correct curvature and with a small amount of stretching a snug fit was achieved.
The windscreen completed, I contemplated attaching the canopy with Blutac temporarily to protect the cockpit from overspray, but in the end I was not convinced that overspray would not creep in and cause a mess. So I set about masking up the cockpit opening.
After a overall coat of Alclad Grey Primer (which was sanded back using micro-mesh polishing cloths) it was time to apply the first color coat on the wings. As discussed previously, the wings of P-51 mustangs were NOT left as natural metal, but rather the flush rivets (and some panel lines) were filled with putty/filler and sanded smooth. They were then primed and finally painted silver. So .. we need reproduce this "silver paint" effect by selecting a model paint that looks silver but not overly metallic. I settled on the Alclad Duralium shade as it has a dull finish about it and looks as close as I can get to the real thing.
Whilst the wings were drying I turned my attention to the display base for the finished model. My plan is to have a base with some dirt/mud, grass and some Marsden Matting (or PSP "Pierced Steel Plating"). The PSP sheeting I found in 1/32 was from RB Productions (purchased thru HLJ.COM) and comes in an A4 sized photo-etch sheet with 18 pieces. Each plank of PSP must be cut out from the PE sprue and the locking teeth bent down at 90 degrees. Here I am using my trusty PE folding tool from the Small Shop.
When laid down on the ground, PSP planks are interlocked in an alternating pattern, much like laying bricks. As I only have enough to do an edge of the square wooden base, here I am test fitting to see how it will look. Some trimming to fit the edge of the base is needed. A set of standard Xuron PE cutters does the trick.
After some marking and trimming, the PSP has been made to cover the left side of the base. As you can see from the small pile of left overs, not much went to waste.
With the base Alclad Aluminium (fuselage) and Duraluminium (wings) applied and well dry, its time to think about the Olive Drab upper surfaces finish. The masking for this scheme is a little more complex than you might first expect. This is due to the OD not extending down behind the lettering and star and bar on the furselage. To ensure I get the right alignment for the placement of the decals in relation to the paint, I have scanned and printed out the decals and then cut them out to roughly fit the to the fuselage using some scrap tape.
With the temporary paper decals in place, I can use them as a guide to place the blu-tac to achieve the correct spacing. This approach takes a lot of the guess work out of it. Once the blutac is in place, the paper decals are simply removed. Note also that I have temporarily attached the canopy as the OD paint extends up to part of the canopy framing. Finally I have also masked off the gun nozzles area from the Olive Drab coat as I have seen a few wartime photos of similar P-51's with this section paint free.
To hold the blutac in place and protect from overspray, I have backfilled using Tamiya tape. Also note here I have masked the demarcation line for the wing root and tail/rudder.
Using a fairly thin mixture of Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab, I first applied a base coat of the normal color (as it would come from the factory). I really want to weather this model extensively, inlcuding paint chipping and fading etc. The first step in the weathering process is to simulate the fading of the paint. The base OD is lightened (with white) and heavily thinned so when sprayed onto the panels gives a "filter" effect and can be built up slowly to get the desired effect.
With the Olive Drab coats dry additional weathering, in this case paint chipping, can take place. I am trying a new technique for this. More on this in the next update.
With the OD complete, my attention turns to the markings, some which will be decals, some painted on. The aircraft ID letter on the tail is provided by Tamiya as a two part decal (split betwen the tail and rudder). As this decal is simply a black box with a large white "Z", I figured I could paint it and eliminate one tamiya decal :)
A shot of the starboard wing, again showing the paint fading and chipping to simulate wear and tear. This is the side I have opened the gun bay on, so during painting I placed the spare gun bay cover parts provided in the kit over the hole. The real panels have been detailed and painted separately
This wartime color photo of Capt. Glenn Martin Webb's P-51D shows us a few interesting things. Firstly, the hydraulic pressure has not fully drained from the system yet as the clamshell main gear doors are not fully down (food for thought here :). More importantly at this painting stage of the model, the photo shows us that Tamiya has most likely made an error with the color of the identification band on the nose (and presumably the spinner tip). Tamiya has called for both places to be painted Lemon Yellow, whereas my research has shown that the ID bands were painted in White. The paint here has yellowed a little over time with the exposure to the elements, but no where to the extent of being a true yellow as called out by Tamiya.
To reproduce the slightly yellowed effect to the white paint on the nose and spinner I added a single drop of Tamiya Lemon-Yellow to the white before spraying. Hopefully this will give it an off white tone, which I believe is more accurate than the Tamiya full yellow.
As I had previously decided to paint the code on the tail rather than use the kit decal, it was now time to make a masking template from Frisket film. As I have done before, I make a copy of the decal (scanner and print), hold this in place over the clear frisket film with sticky tape and then use a new blade to cut thru the paper and the frisket film below. In this case I needed to keep the mask of the letter Z and place that carefully on the tail/rudder and then paint the black.
Like most post D-Day allied aircraft, black identification stripes are needed on the lower wing and tail surfaces. If you look closely you can see the stencil decals being applied to the area's around the pylons. The main paint used on the wings was Alclad Duraluminium. A light coat of Future was applied to the entire model prior to decaling.
With the decaling finished, it was time for a panel line wash. I went with my favourite Model Master Burnt Umber wash as it provided the right level of darkness and dirtiness I was after.
The fuselage underside still looking relatively clean after only the panel wash. This area will receive considerably more oil staining etc as the build progresses.
As it turns out I decided I wanted to use some Aeromaster Star and Bars for the wings and fuselage as I have had problems before with the thickish Tamiya decals not settling into the panel lines. Most decal manufacturers have to print any white areas as quite thick so as they do not become too transparent. With some softening solution (Micro Sol) and a sharp toothpick you can pretty much make any decal do what you want :)
Even though you can't really tell from this picture, I chose to remove all the excess carrier film from the fuselage ident letters (M C as seen here). This means the decals are far more delicate but once in place look much more realistic as you have no clear carrier film on the model.
The end result of the tape and frisket film masking to create the tail ID code. Pretty easy in this case as all the masking lines are straight :) Also not the subtle paint chipping along the leading edge of the horizontal tail planes.
Moving along, I have now applied a flat coat to the model (upper and lower surfaces) and removed the windscreen masking. I decided to give the new Alclad range of clears a go and at this point was very happy with the result. It was not until later when I tried to apply some oil washes that things went badly.
Another useful shot of the decals on the fuselage and as planned, the removal of the carrier film, the use of softening solution to get them into the panel lines has all served to make them look very realistic.
Having seen several other builds online by this stage I was interested in testing out some different ways to weather the natural metal finish. Here I was experimenting with the airbrush in and around the panel lines. It ended up a bit too stark for my liking but I did learn some new ways to mask off and get in close with the airbrush.
The spinner and props are brought together and glued up. The props were weathered via a combination of light sanding using micro mesh (just enough to take of the black and reveal the metal underneath) and for the edges some dry burshing and silver pencil. The main undercarriage has also been assembled and I decided to use the Tamiya provided brake lines even though to my eye they look a tad thick. The resin tyres (from Grey Matter Figures) look quite good with a brown mud wash in the tread. In my opinion this tyres are a little too wide.
The main canopy has had the same treatment as the rest of the airframe including panel/rivet detail wash and flat coat.
One of the distinctive features of Glenn Webbs P-51 was the use of a P-38 rear view mirror on the canopy. Remember that the 20th FG had converted from P-38's shortly after D-Day so they would have plenty of spares on hand. The P-51 came with no rear view mirrors so the pilots would have the maintenance crew fit them from left over P-38 stock or from borrowed Spitfire mirrors. Most wartime photos of P-51's show at least one or two mirrors fitted. Tamiya provide both types of mirrors.
As this was a tricky part to glue (clear on clear), I held the mirror in place with a thin strip of tape and applied very small amounts of super glue around the edge with fine wire.
The removable wing gun panel covers have also been painted, decaled and received a wash of burnt umber.
As the main model was coming along nicely, I decided it was time to put some effort into the display base. I had already assembled the RB Productions PSP sheeting before and had a good idea in my head about how it would look. For the ground I like to use standard interior grade wall Plaster Filler.
First step is to mix up the filler by adding water to the powder in the prescribed quantities. I used a standard plastic kitchen bowl for this as once mixed you have plenty of working time to get the filler onto the base and then cleanup with water.
Apply some masking tape to the edge of the wooden base and simply spoon the plaster filler evenly onto the base. At this point do not worry about the surface, just ensure it covers the base evenly.
Now we need to smooth out the top and for this I used the back side of a spoon. It works fine and as you build up excess filler just rinse it in water to remove.
As I already had the PSP matting cut to the desired shape and held together by tape, it was easy to simply lay this over the still soft filler. I pushed down on the PSP to ensure it sank into the filler just as the real thing would do in mud. In a couple of spots it went too deep and rather than try and fix it at this point (which I figured would create more of a mess than it would fix) I decided to leave it dry and then repair by drilling out the holes.
Continuing on with the work on the base, I started to assemble some ground service equipment from one of the 1/35 Tamiya Field Maintenance sets. These parts are fairly simple and I hope that by using a combination of them on the base will give the effect of a squadrons crew working on the aircraft
After examining some WWII period photos of Mustangs, many show the main clamshell doors in the retracted or partially deployed position. The Tamiya doors are designed to be displayed fully down which would only happen after a long time as the hydraulic pressure had bled off. To make my model a little more realistic I cut the kit doors and re-positioned them, each side different from the other. Once I had done this, I also need to trim the actuator strust to the correct length for each door's new position.
As I am placing the compressed paper tanks on the model, I decided to build up the metal tanks and use them on the base. Here we see them completed after carefully weathering with a series of oil washes.
Two views of the completed gun bay door from the starboard wing. The scratchbuilt locking handles are shown here in place and I think they were worth the effort to fabricate and drill out.
Next up I wanted to add some heavier mud effects to the main tyres and for this I decided to try out some of the MiG weathering powders I had purchased previously. First step is to mix the powder (Fresh Mud in this case) with the clear resin. This makes up a scale mud which can be applied to the model as needed.
I wanted to be very careful to not overdo the mud build up so I took it very slowly, looking to photos of real aircraft and trying to get the same effect. Here we see one treated and one untreated wheel.
As the MiG resin dried, the colour changed to some closer to dry mud. Next time I will do better, but I'm pretty happy with the effect and would recommend the MiG items.
Returning to the now dry base, it was time to start painting. The PSP was painted with Alclad Magnesium and then weathered with oil washes of Paynes Gray and Raw Umber. The rust effect was achieved with a product called Rust-All that I have had in my cupboard for years. Its designed for train modelers, but I figured it would be ideal for this usage. The dirt area had a simple coat of Tamiya Flat Earth applied.
Finishing touches are now applied to the main airframe such as the exhaust staining and installation of the exhaust stubs themselves. The general airframe with special emphasis on the decal areas has been washed with a filter of raw umber oil paint.
This close up of the nose area shows the exhaust staining and finished stubs in more detail.
Here we can see the oil wash effect over the white of the star and bar. One benefit of the oil filter wash is that it helps to tie the surface colours and shades of the model together.
Last closeup of the upper model surface shows the dulled down Alclad Aluminium on the fuselage. I wanted to make this NMF a lot more oxidised than the previous shiny Dragon P-51. In the end the entire model had several layers of different flat clears including Alclad Clear and the new Tamiya XF-86 Clear.
Like most aircraft, WWII or modern, the underside is where the realm grime accumulates. Oil and hydraulic fluid leaks from aircraft wheel wells and in the case of the P-51D from the mid fuselage mounted radiators. Artist oil paints were mainly used here to simulate oil streaks. Raw Umber and Paynes Grey work best I find.
To tone down the glaring white of the fresh decals, filter washes of oil paint, followed by targeted streaks were applied over the flat clear.
Note here how streaks have also been applied to the clamshell doors, just like in the real aircraft as oil leaking in flight would run with the airstream.
Returning to the base, I decided I was not happy with the dirt effect so I applied a light coat of the relatively new Tamiya Diorama Texture Paint "Soil Effect". This product works fairly well and results in a textured (rough) finish.
Final step for the base was to apply the grass. Examination of photos of wartime arifields in England shows that any areas that have heavy traffic result in mostly dead grass. I have never found bases with perfectly even, green grass to be realistic and so when laying down the brown and green grass I left most of the base area brown. This grass is the stuff they use for model railways and is held in place using 3M Spray Adhesive (the grass is simply sprinkled on). Obviously the PSP section was masked during all this :)
When I was test laying out the location of the various items on the base, I decided I wanted to make it look a bit busier. Tarps, ropes etc would have been common place around aircraft maintenance I suspect. One thing I learnt how to make when working on armour models was rolled up tarps from tissue paper. Here I have fabricated the rolled tarp and want to make it conform to the shape of the two spare drop tanks as if it was sitting on them. As the tissue paper was soaked with white glue, I did not want any of this getting on the tanks while it was drying. Simplest solution was to use some glad wrap as a protective barrier
Overnight after the white glue had dried, the glad wrap was removed and as you can see the tarp now sits realistically draped over the tanks.
I had placed an order for the Barracuda resin paper drop tank parts, but they took too long to arrive so I decided to see what I could make of the kit parts. The main problem with the kit tanks is that the shape of the nose and tail is not accurate as the "scalloping" is quite distinctive. Tamiya gives us a smooth surface with raised ribbing (as seen in the closer of the two tanks). I simply sanded off the raised ribs and then used a curved blade to carve th scallops in the nose section. After the blade I smoothed it off with some sandpaper to match photos of the tanks.
The tail of each tank got the same treatment with the curved blade. All in all it was a very quick fix and one that I think came up fine.
One glaring omission from the almost perfect Tamiya kit is any sort of piping for the fuel tanks. The paper tanks have quite visible plumbing which runs down the side of the pylon and into the tank at the rear.
A closer in shot of the piping that needed to be scratchbuilt. Notice the curved glass section on the rear of the top pipe. This is designed to break when the tanks are dropped before combat (or when they are empty). The interesting thing about the compressed paper tanks was that once they were fueled, they had a usable life of around six hours after which they had to be discarded as the paper started to degrade as the fuel was absorbed.
Here we see the tank (as yet unpainted) being test fitted to the brass rod plumbing. The use of brass rod caused more problems than it solved and I would find a more suitable material next time.
The tanks after painting and decaling. I exercised restraint on the weathering of these tanks because as I mentioned above, they came brand new from the factory and were used only once and then discarded.
I have been practising (and doing lots of reading and asking questions of those who know far better than I) my figure painting. These pilot figures are from Verlinden (front) and Ultracast (back). The Ultracast figure is definitely more detailed (and totally accurate based on my limited research) than the Verlinden offering, but together they make a good eye catcher.
The figures are mostly painted with Tamiya acrylics with the metalic details (buckles etc) being touched in using various brushable silvers. My achilles heal for figures painting is of course the faces and I recently discovered a wonderful artist oil paint called Daveys Gray which is perfect as a wash over flesh tones to simulate shadows. I am happy that for my small scale (1/32 and 1/48) this method does the job.
The mainteance base accessories have been painted and weathered accordingly. The hoses on the comprerssor and the oxy-acetalne bottles are made from 0.7mm solder painted black. The wheel chocks are made from balsa wood and stained with burnt umber oil paint
Here we see the spare metal drop tanks in place (with appropriate chocks) and on top is the tarp we made earlier from tissue, a coil of rope and some 1/35 wine bottles I had lying around.
I felt that the PSP base was too clean to represent a wartime maintenance display and so mixed up some black oil paint in a thickish wash and dripped it onto the base and nearby grass.
And so the finishing touches are being added now. The gun bay door, safety lever and locking mechanism have been added. Quite happy how this came out. Many built up models of the P-51 I have seen seem to have this area way to clean and it just looks odd.
The accessories are being added to the base and glued in place using two part epoxy (stronger than CA with more working time). I mucked around with various placement and in the end just placed them where I felt looked best.
Originally I had intended to put the pilots at the front near the propellor, but in the end had so much other stuff that I had to put them down the back. Glad I did as it tends to balance the display a bit more. Only thing I think is missing are some maintenance crew. Something for next time I suppose. I hope you have enjoyed this build, when you complete your Tamiya mustang please send me some pics :)
So that is the highly anticipated Tamiya P-51D in 1/32. This model was started immediately after I finished my battle with the Dragon P-51D. As you would expect there is no comparison between the two as this kit from Tamiya almost builds itself.
Having said that, this is not a simple kit to build. It is quite complex in my opinion but I applaud Tamiya for giving us what will be for a long time to come the ultimate P-51 in any scale.