Tamiya's 1/32 P-51D, In Box Review.

Discussion in 'Model Kit Reviews' started by tourist, Aug 1, 2011.

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  1. tourist

    tourist New Member

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    I received my Tamiya 1/32 P-51D mustang kit a few days ago.
    Here are some thoughts after spending "An Evening with the Kit"!

    [​IMG]


    Once more Tamiya has produced a very well designed and engineered kit.
    I think I'll start with the obvious conclusion and then expand a little on the things they missed for those interested.

    As could be expected after their great Zero and Spitfire kits they came up with the best Mustang kit in any scale.
    The kit is fairly complex, extremely detailed and more importantly truly capture the essence of the P-51D.
    The shape compares really well to pictures and Charles Neely's drawings and passes the eyeball test under any angle with flying colors.
    Tamiya offers three canopies, a Dallas (part P1), a -2 (part M1) and a-6 (partN1), it is an almost impossible part to measure properly but after comparing them to drawings and pictures I am confident they look the part, including the different cross sections.
    All the kit's parts are very well molded with sharp and well detailed features and the surface detail is exceptionally fine and restrained.
    If you hold a part just in front of you the rivets will only be visible if you happen to catch the light properly, this greatly contributes to the scale effect, so do the thin trailing edges of the control surfaces.
    Based on previous Tamiya kits and the first comments from those who already started building it, the fit is (unsurprisingly) excellent.
    Tamiya went further with this Mustang kit than any other injection kit manufacturer before (themselves included) in trying to represent the evolution of the P-51D through its six generations with many extra parts for different options.
    The complete list of options has been published many times and can be seen on the Tamiya website.
    In theory this one box should allow you to build any P-51D (D-5 through D-30) built in Inglewood or Dallas.
    In theory only, as a few things are missing or have been missed, thankfully it is nothing that diminishes the extraordinary quality of this kit but some modelers may want to know what to look for.

    With the ambition of "boxing" six production blocks spread over two factories and the hundreds of small or big changes this represents in one package it is not surprising that Tamiya missed some things.
    Most are small details having to do with the evolution of the P-51D during its production, others are some odd or poor choices by Tamiya and finally a few things have been omitted.
    This is NOT an exhaustive list of things to correct, it would be a full time job to list all the changes seen on the different blocks and how they compare to the kit.
    I will not list all the kit's wrong or missing switches or other small errors that only a few guys on the planet know about, just the most visible details that make the difference in my opinion.

    I will start by mentioning the two biggest misses I see in this kit, the representation of the Dzus fasteners and the lack of "early" dorsal fin fillet.
    The Dzus fasteners on Mustangs are flush, this is not open to interpretation it is an easily verifiable fact yet for some reason Tamiya decided to raise the fasteners in a way that is quite visible depending on the lighting.
    This bothered me on the test shots as I could see them, they look wrong and will be a pain to correct with a beading tool on the very thin cowling parts, wrong move Tamiya.
    Some will mention that the same thing was done on the Spitfire kits, to which I reply: I don't care, I'm reviewing the Mustang and two wrongs don't make a right...
    When the Dorsal Fin Fillet (DFF) was added during production of the P-51D-5 (44-13902) it was originally curved as opposed to the straight one seen later (and in the Tamiya kit).
    The curved DFF (referred to as swayback DFF) stayed throughout production until the P-51D-15 (included) which means that a lot of "famous" WWII Mustangs that modelers will want to build should have it instead of the late DFF offered by Tamiya.
    As a side note the small square panels for the APS-13 antennas on the tail section w/DFF should only be there for aircraft 44-72127 and subsequent as well as earlier blocks retrofitted with the APS-13.
    Another poor feature are the rubber tires, they look fairly good but have a nasty seam line in the middle that will be a pain to get rid of.
    We also need to see more tread patterns for Mustang wheels, the diamond pattern wasn't the only one and the block and hexagonal / oval patterns were extremely common and can be identified on many pictures.
    In my opinion a separate piece for the swayback DFF do be added to the D-5 tail section of the kit and resin tires (diamond, block and oval) are the most sorely needed aftermarket parts for this kit, everything else is secondary.

    Tamiya's many options for the kit sometimes make it look like a toy rather than a model and can present their own set of problems.
    For example if you want to add plumbing in the wheel wells how then are you supposed to remove the center rib with the clamshell doors in order to replace them with the closed doors for the In Flight configuration?
    I didn't take too close a look at the engine since it's not my thing but if it's anything like the Spitfire you will need to choose between the open or closed position for the cowlings as the fit might not be good enough for a lot of "on and off" action.
    Another thing to consider is that the cowlings are not a realistic representation of the real things when off.
    Nice photo-etched parts are included in the box (I really like the shoulder harness option for seated pilot) but Tamiya makes odd choices, for example we find parts that will be use in future boxings to details the M10 triple-tube rocket launchers and even a Tiny Tim rocket which basically were almost never used on Mustangs!
    On the other hand the PE parts do not include the canopy rails that are quite visible on an open cockpit or gun and ammo doors details such as the gun door handles in the open position or the characteristic "teeth" of the ammo doors used to lock them in position.
    Speaking of Gun bay doors, the beautifully molded interior details are only good for the late P-51D's, earlier ones looked different and even though we get two sets of doors, they all are the later model.
    A gun bead sight to be mounted on the firewall for the earlier blocks using the N-9 gunsight as well as the extra manual ring sight would have also been nice.
    Other missing parts include clear separate pieces for the tail light and the battery sump bottle, locking hooks for the wheels (maybe as PE parts) and a dust boot for the tailwheel.

    This new kit like all those that came before suffers from an identity crisis, even with all the optional parts it is obvious that Tamiya studied a P-51D-30 and that's pretty much what you get in the box except for the missing square tipped Hamilton Standard propeller and the fact that the BC-966 (parts D51 D52) IFF transceiver is not to be used on most WWII Mustangs.
    Without those what you actually get is closer to a P-51D-25.
    Either way you get an easy out of the box late P-51D, for any earlier block you will have to do some extra work.
    For the record, the BC-966 mentioned above is the main component of the SCR-695 IFF set that was installed at the factory on P-51D-30's (that's why it's in the box) or as a field mod on a few earlier blocks such as some of the P-51D-20's and 25's deployed on Iwo Jima (also on many P-51B/C's and some Allison Mustangs but that's another story).
    Contrary to what the kit's instructions say the inertia switch (part D53 behind the headrest) should not be used, it is a part of the SCR-695 IFF set and unless you build a Mustang that used it this part just like parts D51 and D52 should be left out.
    Another feature that only belongs to late P-51D's are the underwing attachment points for HVAR rocket pylons, they should not be on any aircraft before 44-72227 (they come with the pilot's switch-box part D48) .
    In the same manner the underwing attachment points for the drop tank fuel lines were different on earlier blocks than what is presented here (under parts A9 A10).
    Surprisingly no plumbing for the drop tanks is included.
    Other differences between early and later models include:
    - The gun camera opening on the port wing root was round up to the P-51D-15 block when it became square like the one seen in the kit.
    - The canopy opening handle was square (instead of elongated) on early P-51D's, that would include all the -2 and some of the -6 canopies, check your references.
    The square handle was only on the port side but the later elongated one represented in the kit was on both sides.
     
  2. tourist

    tourist New Member

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    In the cockpit:
    - The armor plate was mounted 2 1/4 inches lower before the P-51D-20, as a result the headrest cushion was placed higher.
    - The WMA seat included in the kit is nicely shaped but a few visible details are missing on the back plate.
    Speaking of the kit's seats, based on the instructions it seems that Tamiya would have you put the Shick-Johnson (D32+D38+D39) seat on early P-51D's and the WArren McArthur seat (D19+D21) on later ones.
    In fact while the WMA seat was the already the main seat on P-51B's and continued to be so on P-51D's regardless of production block, the SJ was randomly installed throughout the P-51D production, checking pictures is the only way to know which seat was on a specific aircraft.
    - Although not very visible the rear cockpit could have been more detailed with a dynamotor for the radio behind the armor plate, liners for the fuel cell, and wooden blocks to keep it from bulging.
    - The radio itself lacks detail and is shown front to back in the instructions, the smaller jack should be in the back, it is wired to the antenna mast.
    - It looks like a part is missing from the right side wall (D55) just below the oxygen regulator, that's the compartment for the gunsight spare bulbs, I am also surprised to see that no cockpit lights are included.
    - Finally, I wish the instrument panel was offered as a PE parts since the instruments look way too deep in the panel when using the kit's parts. The real thing is fairly flat. A few other inaccuracies need to be corrected there but these are small details.

    Finally, there several ejection pin marks throughout the kit, they are discreet but a few of them will need to be erased and the instruction's color guidelines should be taken with a grain of salt.
    some modelers have already pointed out that based on what's in the box we can expect future releases to include; Korean war F-51D's, F-6D's, P-51K's (Mk.IVA?) and possibly Iwo Jima based VLR Mustang.
    I agree with their conclusions.

    Tamiya's new P-51D is a truly magnificent kit and I really hope a P-51B/C is in the cards.
    Kits have become pricey in the past few years but this one is as good as you're likely to get for your money and should be available at lower prices in the coming months and years (I'm sure it'll be around for a long long time).
    Zoukei-Mura has announced their own 1/32 P-51D kit, I'm not a big fan of companies who issue expensive kits looking like they were molded by Monogram thirty years ago and who would have you spend another hundred bucks on extras just so you have all the available details for the kit but I'll wish them luck.
    Who knows, maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised!

    Now, if only Hasegawa would release a 1/32 P-51H...
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks for taking the time to post such a comprehensive review - nice one !
     
  4. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting. Maybe some day....
     
  5. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    With all here. Thank you for sharing the info.
     
  6. tourist

    tourist New Member

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    Thank you guys.
    I forgot to mention that the small access panels on the top and bottom of the engine cowling evolved during production, what the kit offers is the latest configuration.
    The two pipes for the ventilating system going up on each side of the armor plate are the earlier (and most common) ones, the outlets and their position changed on the P-51D-25.
    Finally below the fuselage to wing fairing (on the starboard side where the flap's inner tip meets the fairing) there is a small vent (a tiny hole really) which should be erased unless you build a P-51D-30.
    I also forgot to mention that the small scoop seen on the lower left cowling should be erased unless you build a P-51D-30, some Iwo Jima based VLR Mustangs or a post war F-51D (not all of them so check out you pictures).
     
  7. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Thanks...I AM still resisting....:)
     
  8. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    #8 N4521U, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
    I CAN'T resist! That's all there is to it. Cause it's gonna be my 1/32nd Merlin's Magic!

    *And I just ordered it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  9. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Good on Ya Bill!
     
  10. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    And now it's on it's way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    I'm not excited.
    Seems like everything I have done thus far has lead up to this one.
    Broke into my B-24 since I have no GB coming up for it.
     
  11. Silver Dollar

    Silver Dollar New Member

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    I just got mine today and I'm completely blown away by it. It's nice to have a kit with so much detail where I don't have to spend a lot of time adding it. I get burned out very easily. This kit's going to help me avoid that.
     
  12. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Having my kit underway, modifying it as a Reno racer, Merlin's Magic, I'm as happy as a clam.

    One thing I like about this kit is the ease of working with the material itself. The plastic is neither too hard or too soft! Take for instance the canopy crank handle. It's a little flat to the inside of the cockpit frame. I have a habit of doing this... I shaved it off! It cut very easily which allows a smooth cut under. I added a little plug from PVC I cut from very thin sheet at the crank end. I then cut off the handle, as the one in MM is more square with a fat boss at the end. I put some PVC rod in my dremmel and cut the proper shape then glued this to the crank. Because of the kit material, this was just so easy to do.

    The instrument panel is verrrry different and had to be cut out of the kit part and replaced with punched PVC, this was so easy to cut out, file and sand. I am loving this kit!!!!!!!!
     
  13. stevie B

    stevie B New Member

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    Hi Tourist,

    Wow!! loads of great information in your post. I wonder if I can ask you for some advice?

    I'm about to start my build of this kit, when I put the finishing touches to my Tamiya 1/48 Lancaster, and, as usual, have been trawling the net to pick up ideas and information on the kit.
    I'm intending to build it as a late version of Big Beautiful Doll and have bought a bunch of after market bits and decals for embellishment.
    To begin with though, I want to get the basics right, like which instrument panel to use, should she have the radar set etc? Would you be able to help??
    Many thanks,
    Steve
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Hi Stevie, looks like 'Tourist' has only made a very brief appearance here, so maybe I can help.
    By 'late version', I presume you mean Landers' BBD from January 1945 onwards, with the 78th FG at Duxford?
    If so, then certainly no radar, and no radio antenna wire. Not sure which instrument panels are in the kit, without seeing good pics of them, but a look at Gary's (Geedee) posts about his 1:1 scale P51D (in the 'Start to Finish Builds' section of Modelling) will probably give you what you need, as it is based on a 'standard' P51D in the ETO for that period.
    Hope this helps, but feel free to ask if you need anything.
    (BTW, I have a couple of period colour shots of this aircraft if you eed them - not perfect, but not bad either.)
     
  15. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Question is though (mine anyhoo), is it worth the double price over Dragon and Trumpeter?
     
  16. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Probably old boy, although, being Tamiya, the price is a touch steep. Not seen a Trump kit, but I have built the Dragon example and, although it produces a very nice model, there are some major problems (internal parts don't locate either side of the fuselage, for example!), and too many gimmicks (metal hinges for control surfaces, springs for the oleos etc.), all of which lead to frustration and a lot of work. The surface detail has been heavily criticised too, although if thought out, and the painting done properly, isn't a major drawback.
     
  17. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Heard that the Dragon panellines looks like trenches old boy...
     
  18. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Not quite that bad, although rivet detail is a touch heavy. Did mine in NMF and, in normal viewing conditions, it looks acceptable, although close-up photography really shows the heavy detail !
     
  19. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Well, you do get TWO Dragon/Trumpeter Mustangs for the price of one Tamiya, so that's one thing one can live with.......maybe! :lol:
     
  20. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Can't beat the fit and lack of agrivation in the Tamiya kit. Joining surfaces are actually flat, and parts fit snuggley. I am having a real easy time in building Merlin's Magic in 1/32nd scale. The gun bay is closed on MM, and there is NO gap in the doors fit on the wings. It shows they spent a lot of time on the dies!

    I bought the Trumpeter kit long before the Tamiya, and couldn't bear working with the texture on the outer surfaces of the parts. MM is polished on the fuselage, filled and painted wing surfaces. Lots of detail in the cockpit, but just couldn't deal with the texture.

    My 2 cents worth. I would save up for the Tamiya kit! Prices are coming down.....
     
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