Accurate Miniatures kit of the
P-51B appears to be an excellent model. Every review that I have
read of it only gives it praise. Lets see if I agree.
In spite of all that has been
said about following AM's instructions to the letter, I couldn't
help but change / improve a few things along the way. I started
by drilling out the holes in the air filter cover plate (on the
lower nose of the plane). Not very difficult, but there are a
total of 64 holes to be drilled between the 2 plates! I used the
AM provided scribed holes for placement and used a #78
(.016") drill bit. Once all the drilling was done, I
attached the tail to the fuselage halves. The beginnings of the
fin fillet need to be sanded away from the rear of the fuselage
halves (not if you are building the P-51C kit which included the
tail with the extension). AM correctly molded the tail offset
angle. After a little fitting the tail / fuselage mated up well.
The interior assembly was next. I
first scraped away the wood grain molded onto the cockpit floor.
This was out of scale in my opinion. The rest of the interior
was put together, and the sidewall details added to the fuselage
sides. The rollover brace was glued to the left cockpit
sidewall. Curiously, as it was standard on all P-51B's and C's,
AM doesn't give you the pilot armor. Templates were drawn for
the armor, and it was cut from .015 sheet plastic and installed
(if you want copies of the templates let me know).
Now the cockpit was painted
interior green (Model Master paints were used), and given a coat
of gloss. A black wash was applied and allowed to dry. When dry,
the cockpit was dry-brushed with interior green, then very
lightly with British "Sky". The cockpit details were
painted various colors. The decal seat belt was applied to a
piece of masking tape, then cut out and draped on the seat.
Small drops of super glue were used on the ends of the tape to
keep them from coming up later. Finally, some medium gray was
dry-brushed over it to "age" it.
The cockpit and instrument panel
were now glued in place on the starboard fuselage half. The fork
of the tail wheel strut was thinned (it is molded halfway across
the wheel), and the part installed. The fuselage halves were
next joined, and the chin and radiator openings attached. The
fit of these parts was excellent, and no filler was needed.
While the fuselage was drying, I
started in on the wings. Since AM used the same wings as their
P-51A kit, a few details have to be corrected. Missing on the
underside of the wing is the second ejection chute. Adding this
was simple, but it brought to light another problem - the wing
pylon is the wrong shape and positioned to far towards the rear
of the wing. The rear ends of the pylons were sanded to the
correct shape, the mounting pegs removed, and then the pylons
were glued to the wing bottom 1/8" forward from AM's
placement. The top and bottom halves of the wing were joined,
and once again the fit was perfect.
Next the wing assembly was added
to the fuselage. The seam here proved to be the worst one on the
kit. This was filled in with super glue. The tail wings were
added (the fit of these were fine). Another detail missing from
the wings are the small fairings just ahead of the ailerons.
There are 2 of these on the top and one underneath each wing.
These were added by gluing 1.5 x 7mm strips of .010 plastic into
place on the wing. The strips were then sanded to about half of
their thickness. Now I cut a piece of .040 plastic into a 6mm
strip, and sanded it into an airfoil shape. Cut into 1mm high
pieces, this was now glued into place, and sanded to the final
The molded on navigation lights
were carved away, and the prop assembled with no worries. A few
remaining cockpit details were added - the wire from the antenna
to the radio, a gun sight, and the first aid kit was added to
the pilot's armor. The canopy was next installed. The fit of the
rear and center windows was great, however the windshield
portion didn't fit well and needed to be filled. The landing
light was put in the front of the wing. The fit of this was
horrible as well. A base for the DF loop was made and added to
the fuselage top (the aircraft I am modeling had a DF loop
added). Since I wasn't added any drop tanks or bombs, I
installed sway braces left over from a Hasegawa P-51D kit.
The tie down rings on the landing
gear were drilled out, and the struts glued into place in the
wells. The P-51 was now ready for painting.Paints used were
Model Master Neutral Gray for the bottom, and Pro-Modeler Olive
Drab for the top. Both colors were darkened with black and the
panels subtly shaded. The landing gear bays were painted
aluminum with chromate yellow wing spars. Glosscote was sprayed
on to prepare for the decals.
I used markings for P-51B
(43-7060) of the 74th fighter squadron. These came from
Aeromaster sheet 48-429. They were applied without any problems.
The stenciling from the Accurate Miniatures kit was used.
AM provides both shrouded and
un-shrouded exhausts. I used the shrouded ones - parts 11R and
11L. These were painted and installed. The radio antenna and DF
loop were added next (this was also taken from a Hasegawa
P-51D). The wheels were painted, assembled and installed. I used
the "weighted" tires. The gear bay doors and actuators
were glued in place.
.50 barrels were inserted into
the wing openings. These were made from ¼" pieces of .040
plastic rod, with the ends drilled out. They were painted black,
then lightly dry brushed with gunmetal. Before spraying with
Dullcoat, I applied a black wash to the control surface lines.
As final touches, the navigation lights were painted, and some
black and gray pastel chalk was applied for exhaust staining.
Accurate Miniatures P-51B is
indeed a very good model, even though it is missing some small
details, none of them are difficult to add.