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F-51D/RF-51D Mustang KOREA Limited Edition, Dual Combo
Eduard (ED11161)

Reviewed: Aug 2022

Eduard's latest dual combo, limited edition release is simply called "KOREA". In the box we get everything needed to build either an F-51D and/or RF-51D Mustang fighter bomber and photo reconnaissance as used in the war over Korea, during the early 1950's

It was logical that Eduard would eventually provide such a boxing as the importance of the role the P-51 played in the early stages of the Korean conflict was significant, if not costly.

Much like previous "Limited Editions", Eduard have chosen a theme and provided appropriate kits and markings to suit. This release is entitled “KOREA”, and is designed to cover the F-51 and RF-51 Mustangs used in the Korean war during 1950-53. This is also a dual combo kit and as such includes two full P-51D kits in the box. Included in the box for this release are:

The retail price for the kit is US$79.95 but I was able to find it fairly easily for closer to the US$55 mark. Like previous Dual Combo's from Eduard I'd consider that to be good value, compared to the standalone boxings of the same plastic.

On Sunday, June 25, 1950, at 0400 hours, the army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea set out to attack its southern neighbor, the Republic of Korea. The heavily armed North Korean army had overwhelming superiority over its southern neighbor. US forces had withdrawn from Korea a year earlier, and the USA provided South Korea with insufficient armament and virtually no air force.

The Mustang, that champion of World War II, actually replaced jet fighters in some squadrons during the troubled, early days in Korea. Photo-reconnaissance Mustangs, originally designated F-6D but known in 1950 as the RF-51D, did much of the allies intelligence gathering.

It was obvious from the very first days of the Korean war that the allied forces could not do much without air support. South Korea's air force was virtually non-existent, while North Koreans had at least 122 combat aircraft, including Il-10s and Yak-9s. The F-80s were not suitable for immediate move to the Korean theater, while their insufficient range limited combat operations from Japan.

The FEAF command therefore concluded that Mustangs, which were capable of operating in the harsh conditions of frontline airfields would be a solution. Another type under consideration was the F-47 Thunderbolt, but these aircraft were no longer available in sufficient numbers. There were still about 800 Mustangs in the US on the other hand but only a few dozen remained in Japan, especially at Johnson (now Iruma) AB, where they were awaiting scraping. The FEAF command therefore spared them and requested delivery of more F-51s from the United States as soon as possible. A total of 79 Mustangs were provided by the units of National Guard, with another 66 obtained from the McClelland Air Force Base warehouses.

The aircraft carrier USS Boxer departed Alameda, CA, on July 14, with 145 Mustangs on board. Under the command of Captain John B. Moss, she managed to make the trip to Japan in a record time of eight days and seven hours.

South Koreas' first warplane was the F-51D Mustang operated by the ROKAF's 51st Provisional Sqn. ROKAF fighter pilots were trained by Maj. Dean Hess, who was later portrayed by actor Rock Hudson in Battle Hymn. One of the first ten "Truman's Gift" F-51D's for South Korea, this Mustang is seen at Taegu Air Base, also known as K-2, in July 1950. In Korea, the number "4" is considered bad luck, while the number "13" on this aircraft bears no such stigma.

IN THE BOX - Eduard 1:48 KOREA Limited Edition (ED11161)

One of the things I like about Eduards Limited Edition boxing is the amount of subject matter research they include. The assembly instructions for the Korea boxing has the first two pages dedicated to a summary of the air war in Korea and of course the important role that the Mustangs played. For a more in depth read I'd also highly recommend the article ‘Back Into the Fire: The Mustangs in Korea’ by Richard Plos from the July 2022 issue of Eduards INFO magazine. In this article Richard traces the circumstances that led to the deployment of Mustangs in their last service as he explores the F-51D and RF-51D Mustang versions used in the Korean War in fighter-bomber and photo reconnaissance roles. An excellent read and just what you need to fill up your enthusiasm tanks as you start your build.

As I was leafing through the instruction booklet one thing that struck me with this kit was the large number of optional (or alternative) parts that you need to consider during assembly. It seems that at almost every step you need to make a choice as shown in these few examples. I find the best way to deal with this is to make a firm decision on final marking option before starting the build so that you know for sure which parts to use as you progress.

Sometimes, to get the maximum use out of a common part, manufacturers require the modeller to make small modifications to account for the differences between variants of the base airframe. One such example in this kit is shown here where Eduard has provided a small scribing template (PE57) on the PE fret which you can use to create a new access panelon the lower fuselage. The PE part is discarded once the panel has been scribed, hence the warning "DO NOT GLUE". Also note that some of the molded on detail needs to be filled to remove them. This certainly attests to Eduard attention to detail.

The parts list is pretty familiar if you have built or own any of the previous Eduard P-51 kits. The main parts that are marked as not to be use are the early drop tanks, propellor and weapons. Note that two fuselage types are included to allow the fighter (F - sprue D) and reconn (RF - sprue E) versions to be built. As with all Eduard profipack kits both masks and colored photoetch is included (for both kits).

Two photoetch frets are included for each kit. One colored, mainly focusing on the cockpit and the other plain brass which caters for extra detailing on and around the airframe. This second fret seems to be specific to the Korea boxing and I assume is needed in some cases to represent features found only on these very late model Mustangs and for which Eduard did not want to tool up new plastic parts.

As mentioned above, this is a dual combo kit so you get two full Mustang kits. Note that the fuselage parts are not the same because Eduard have provided one fighter and one reconnaissance fuselage sprues. This means that if you wanted to build two RF aircraft from this kit then you would be out of luck, likewise for two fighters. The surface detail is superb as we have come to expect with these modern tooling from Eduard.

The P-51 Mustang was a mathematically designed airplane and as such the first intentionally designed to use laminar flow airfoils. The use of this airfoil on the Mustang would greatly add to the drag reducing concept that was paramount in all design phases. An absolutely smooth surface was necessary due to the fact that any surface break or rough protrusion would interrupt the airflow and detract from the laminar flow theory. To achieve this on the P-51 wing (airfoil) a layer of putty filler was applied over the panel joins and rivets, as seen on this assembly line photo below.

To my knowledge, Eduard is the first (and only) kit manufacturer to design their wings with no rivet detail, hence attempting to better simulate the smooth puttied airfoils of the real aircraft. All other Mustang kits that I have seen (including the amazing 1/32 from Tamiya) have full rivet detail. Which looks better or is more accurate I will leave upto each reader to decide, but I do applaud Eduard for making a stand on this topic.

This high resolution picture of F-51D "Wanda" (FF-959) offers us a good amount of detail as to the general state of aircraft operating from open airfields during the Korean conflict. Dirt and mud quickly accumulated on all surfaces with oil & fluid leaks a common feature on propellor and jets alike. Curiously the one item in this photo that looks in good shape is the propellor with no visible staining, chipping or damage.

The level of detail that Eduard manages to achieve in 1/48 always impresses me. The last few of their kits I have built has me feeling they are as close to a "shake and bake" model as you are likely to find especially when you factor in the extra PE and masks included in their standard boxings.

At the frigid, mucky K-46 airfield near Wonju in South Korea in the late fall of 1951, Mustang pilots loiter around Capt. Devol (Rock) Brett's F-51D Mustang (44-14268), alias Noherohere of the the 39thFIS/18th FBW.

Drop tanks (converted to napalm bombs), bombs and rockets are provided on sprue F. Note that the compressed paper drop tanks are not applicable to Korea era Mustangs so save those in the spares box for your next WW2 build (excellent for a small vignette or diorama sitting next to the model)

These shark-mouthed F-51D Mustangs of the 12th FBS/18th FBG have been fully loaded with rockets and napalm ans are carefully looked over by ground crews at Chinhae Air Base, also known as K-10. The 18th FBG had its headquarters at Chinhae but due to the massive number of missions flown by the group, it had a fully equipped forward base at Hoengsong, near the city of Wonju (or K-46).

The markings you select will determine which type of propellor, Hamilton cuffed or un-cuffed, will be fitted. Note that for the uncuffed option you will need to square the ends slightly as shown in the Eduard instructions (in red).

Most sources I have found agree that Korean era F-51 cockpits were painted black, replacing the WW2 era interior green. This museum aircraft shows what this looks like and only the seat itself is still finished in green. It is therefore somewhat curious that Eduard (who I normally trust) call for interior green for the main cockpit interior rather than black.

The Eduard cockpit sprues typically cater for all versions and variants of a particular aircraft. Options are also normally provided for decals only, hand painting and photo-etch to allow for each modeller to select which is most comfortable for them. Given how much detail they manage to include in the kits plastic its a wonder to me that Eduard ever sells any resin cockpit upgrade sets (but I'm sure they do, by the truckload)

SAAF F-51D Mustangs line up at K-46 while armament crews prepare to load the squadron for another mission. The huge cache of rockets could easily be consumed in one day by a couple of squadrons. The SAAF's No.2 Squadron, the "Flying Cheetahs" remained attached to the 18th FBG for its entire tour in Korea.

If you decide that you want to add that something extra to your Korean Mustangs then Eduard certainly has you covered. Everything from replacement cockpits, engines, wheels, propellors, gun sights, cameras (for the RF-51) etc etc. Most of you will know of the quality of Brassin resin and Eduard are now moving in 3D printing as well

COLORS & MARKINGS - Eduard 1:48 KOREA Limited Edition (ED11161)

There is no doubt that one of the main drawcards of the Limited Edition boxings by Eduard is the range of unique marking options they include. For this boxing we can choose from no less than ten (10) options including three RF-51 (reconn) aircraft, four UASAF F-51, and a single option for each of the ROKAF F-51, SAAF P-51D and RAAF P-51D.

F-51D Mustang flown by Major Murrit H. Davis, dubbed ‘Sexy Sally II’, drops napalm during an attack on industrial targets on January 1, 1951

Photo-reconnaisance Mustangs, originally designated F-6D but known in 1950 as the RF-51D, did much of the allies intelligence gathering. Lt. Dale Frey stands in front of his RF-51D Mustang (44-13035) wearing markings typical of the period.

One of the first personal aircraft of Major Dean Hess with the Korean inscription “With Faith I Fly”

South African No. 2 Squadron “Flying Cheetahs” was a component unit of the 18th Fighter Bomber Group and all units converted from the Mustang to the Sabre last.

Royal Australian Air Force Mustangs of No. 77 Squadron at the Japanese base of Iwakuni in 1950, prior to leaving for Korea

To reinforce the point made earlier about the puttied wings (for improved laminar flow), Eduard have made the specific effort to include a painting guide for modellers as to where they should simulate a painted on 'aluminium lacquer' vs where a natural metal finish is needed. Of course let us not forget everyone's favourite decal, the humble stencil. Love em or hate em, you gotta deal with em.

As expected the decals in this kit are the now standard "in-house" Eduard printed decals. Eduard seem to be incrementally achieving better results with these new digitally printed decals since they were first introduced in 2018/19. The decals in my review kit seem to have good color opacity and accuracy. These decals of course utilise the new "removable carrier film" which seems to be so controversial on the forums.

CONCLUSION - Eduard 1:48 KOREA Limited Edition (ED11161)

I guess its not hard for you to guess that I think this new KOREA Limited Edition boxing is a winner.

The Korean conflict, often referred to as "the forgotten war", saw the end of the propeller-driven fighter era overlap with the early days of the jet age. Fighters like the Mustang were not just used as "cannon fodder" but played a critical role in helping to drive back the north koreans and forcing an armistice, which still holds today.

I've not focused a lot here on the quality of the Eduard 1:48 Mustang kits, because its all been said before. These are simply beautiful kits of the most iconic fighter aircraft of all time. The "Cadillac of the Skies".

It's a big thumbs up from me and I look forward to getting some glue and paint on mine.

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS - Eduard 1:48 KOREA Limited Edition (ED11161)