Tamiya 1/48 P-51B Mustang

Discussion in 'Start to Finish Builds' started by JKim, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. JKim

    JKim Well-Known Member

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    My next project is going to be a Mustang. The first Mustang I've ever tried. It's a great aircraft, obviously, but I was never a personal fan of those stilleto straight edges and metallic finishes. Coldly efficient was how it appeared to me. Personally, I was more drawn toward the evocative curvature of Spitfires, Messerschmitts and Zeros.

    But I have to admit to getting chills down my spine when that scene in Empire of the Sun introduced the "P-51, Cadillac of the Skies!" The coolest sequence featuring a WW2 fighter that I can think of. "HORSEPOWER!!!!!!"

    So I will pay homage to the Cadillac of the Skies. This is being built as a birthday gift for a friend. He's not a WW2 buff but he knows most of the American fighters of the war and his favorite is the Mustang. But instead of the definitive D version, I'm going to do a Malcolm-hooded P-51B.

    Tamiya offers two versions of this aircraft in 1/48 scale, one packaged as a P-51B and the other as a British Mustang III. I believe that they are identical kits except for the decals so I simply chose the Mustang III kit as a starting point because it was 70 cents cheaper than the P-51B on Ebay.
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    I was originally planning to keep it as close to OOB as possible but it's impossible for me to resist those aftermarket goodies. So I'm going to address the most often criticized feature of the Tamiya kit with the resin wheel well set from Vector. I also picked up resin seats from Ultracast, which takes care of the missing seat harnesses. Finally, I got the Eduard canopy masks for the P-51B, mostly for those pesky small fuselage cut-out windows... I think I can manage the Malcolm hood without Eduard's help.
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    The Vector wheel wells are impressively detailed but it looks like it'll be a pain to paint properly since most of it cast as a single piece. I'm not familiar with the Mustang so I'll have to do some research on this one with regards to wheel well and cockpit colors.
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    The Ultracast resin seats come in pairs. The harnesses are molded onto the seat. With careful painting I'm hoping that these can be made to look a bit more realistic than the stiff P.E. harnesses that I normally use.
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    The Tamiya kit isn't overly elaborate. Only two grey sprues and one clear. The molding is circa 1994 and is no longer state-of-the-art. Still very good though.
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    Another issue with the Tamiya kit is that it depicts the cockpit floor as a curved surface, presumably the top of the wing. But the real P-51B had a flat floor above the wing surface. I doubt that you can see this curvature, especially if one leaves the canopy shut but it looks to be an easy fix.
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    The instrument panel features molded bezels but no instrument details within. That means I'm forced to use the decal, which didn't look too impressive at first glance.
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    Two types of exhaust pipes are offered, shrouded and unshrouded. I haven't decided on a particular aircraft yet so we'll have to see what type of exhaust I'll be using. The ends will need to be hollowed out... no slide molding in 1994!
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    Just to confirm that I bought the right type of seat. Looks like a match.
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    The other sprue holds the wings. I know that the wing surfaces of the Mustang were often puttied so I'll have to think about filling in some panel lines.
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    I'll also have to do some surgery on the inside surface of the bottom wing so that the resin wheel well will fit. Fun, fun, fun!
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    The wheels and tires look ok to me. Hopefully the tread pattern is aligned along the mold seam.
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    The clear parts feature the two main canopy types. There are two version of the birdcage, open and closed but only a closed version of the Malcolm hood. I'm a canopy-closed kind of guy so this should be ok. The canopy is clear but on thick side and has a fair bit of distortion.
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    The decal sheet looks to be typical Tamiya... flat finished and on the thick side. I'll be going aftermarket for the aircraft markings. I want to avoid using any of these Tamiya decals so hopefully the AM decals will have stencils too.
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    The instrument panel decal isn't very convincing but might look ok if I punch out the dials. I'll have a peek at my spares to see if I can cobble together better instruments.
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  2. JKim

    JKim Well-Known Member

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    Thinking about the floor replacement in the cockpit, I set up a mule to test wood finishes using oil paint. I gave the piece a coat of tan and set it aside.
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    Once it dried, I gooped on some brown oil paint and spread it around the surface. I added a dash of reddish brown in a couple of spots. Using a clean brush, I wiped the oil paint off in one direction, adding a wiggle to the stroke. I did this about 3-4 times and was amazed to see something that looked like wood.
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    Hmmm... not bad! I'll probably give the floor a wood finish even though black is a more likely color.
     
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  3. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good start John, and it's a nice kit.
    The wooden floor normally had black, anti-slip sections on each side, in line with the rudder pedals, and had an 'angled' cut out in the center, to clear the control column and linkage. Some aircraft had the anti-slip overall, depending on whether it was done in the field.
    This was simply a mix of sand and black paint !
    Wheel bay was overall clear-lacquered aluminium, with the rear wall (the main spar) in zinc chromate. Insides of the main doors and gear leg doors were also aluminium, regardless of what might be shown in some profiles and colour pics. Post war, and restored aircraft, often show zinc chromate, but they came off the line as described.
    From memory, the prop blade locating pins are too long, giving a 'stalky' appearance to the assembled prop, but they can easily be adjusted.
    Note that the 'Malcolm' hood did not have vertical frames - only the bottom, horizontal frame for the runners was metal, the hood having 'rolled' edges.
    The rear, side windows were removable, by undoing the studs, included in the kit mouldings. These windows can be fitted after painting the model.
     
  5. chuter

    chuter Member

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    There may have been more than one effectivity of Malcolm canopies.

    This one has a metal edge on the forward edge, not aft edge ...
    P-51 Mustang With A Malcolm Hood of the 336th Fighter Squadron 4th Fighter Group | World War Photos

    ... and this one on only the aft edge.
    F-6A Mustang (Malcolm Hood) and LtCol George Peck Commander of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group | World War Photos

    ... or ... the same model turned around? It's likely the windshield frame had the same contour dimensions as the fuselage behind it as the clamshell canopy didn't need clearance to slide back (obviously) so if the Malcolm was the same size both ends it would allow someone to put it on "backwards" but I would guess the forward end would be slightly smaller than the aft end to fit behind and seal with the windshield better.
     
  6. JKim

    JKim Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info Terry and Chuter!

    A little bit of work on the cockpit. I drew out the floor panels on sheet plastic.
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    After the pieces were cut out, the floor boards were checked for fit onto the cockpit floor.
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    I am choosing to exercise some artistic license here and show the floor in unpainted wood instead of black. Using the same technique that I used on the test mule, I put brown oil paint over a tan base coat and simply brushed the woodgrain into effect. Probably a bit overscale but it will be buried into the cockpit under a closed canopy so it won't stand out. It may not even be visible.
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    The gun sight is supplied as a clear piece. I'm going to cut off the reflector glass portion and add an optical element to this piece to try to make it look better.
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  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Nice work John.
    I'm not sure that either of those canopies shown in the B&W photos have metal edge frames - although it's difficult to be certain, I think it might be the effect of light on the rolled edges. If they are metal, then they're the first I've seen on wartime Mustangs, although at least one restored 'B/C' type flying in the USA today does have a framed canopy, which is a modern reproduction.
     
  8. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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  9. F-104nut

    F-104nut Active Member

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    WOW off to a awesome start and way to go on the cockpit floor :)

    Cheers Brian
     
  10. JKim

    JKim Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys! I always bookmark your builds as reference Andy due to the research that you do and the details that you add. Will definitely use Lambie II as a guide for this one.
     
  11. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks John. Let me check if I have spare decals for a Malcom hood version around but I don't think o.
     
  12. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #12 Wurger, Jul 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016

    I'm afraid, the opinion about the hood edges is wrong. Enlarged parts of the basic pics show that the appearance of these edges is a result of the glass thickness and the light trick. The same effect we can seen in images of the Bf 109E canopies that had slided back windows of the side opened hood. Because of the double glass thickness and some of dirt/dust gathered at the areas it is often confused with a metal frame bar of the hood. Additionally, these edges seem to be a little bit more matt but it is still the result of the material thickness I would say. However the front edge might have been more matt because of some scratches, the dirt and dust gathered there due to being a kind of a flange and its going under the front windscreen frame.

    P-51_With_A_Malcolm_Hood_1.jpg

    P-51_With_A_Malcolm_Hood_2.jpg
     
  13. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    And here two next shots... please make a focus on the second pic below. I think it is the best side view on the Malcolm hood showing its proper appearance.

    P-51_With_A_Malcolm_Hood_4.jpg

    P-51_With_A_Malcolm_Hood_3.jpg
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Wojtek, that confirms exactly what I thought regarding light reflection on the rolled edges. It's often confused for a bare metal frame, where no frame exists.
     
  15. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Yep.. Here is a shot of Horbaczewski's Mustang. The same appearance of both edges we can notice in the post above.

    horbaczewski_2.jpg
     
  16. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Great work so far John!
     
  17. SANCER

    SANCER Active Member

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    It is a great start John; I really like the effect of wood, it looks very real. The kit and accessories will make a very interesting process to follow; and with the support of the guys ... I do not miss it !!

    Felicidades amigo :thumbup:

    Luis Carlos
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Very nice work!
     
  19. JKim

    JKim Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the comments guys! Nice information about the Malcolm hood. I'm pretty sure that I'll be modeling this one with everything buttoned up but it's good to know. Creeping along with the cockpit work. Not much detail is being added but I am trying to paint it nicely. The Tamiya kit has put most of the ejector pin marks in non-visible locations but there are a few exceptions. This one in the cockpit is very obvious and needs to be addressed.
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    I used the kit instrument panel and decal sheet but I punched out each individual dial instead of using the whole decal.
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    The Ultracast resin seat was nicely molded but it had weird striations on the surface of the seat. It was most prevalent on the seat sides where it won't be visible. You can see it on the seat back between the harnesses.
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    A couple of the cockpit components that have been completed and can be set aside.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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