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1/48 Accurate Miniatures P-51B Mustang
by Steve Kasza

 

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 shape.

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 " 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.