BERT ANIDO AND THE MUSTANG
IPMS-Philippines’ founding president, the late Bert Anido, professed that his favorite airplane was the Mustang. When I first met Bert, he showed me his collection of “every kit of the Mustang ever produced”–from Strombecker’s solid wood kit to Revell’s P-51B Mustang; from Aeroclub’s multi-media 1/144 P-51 to Airfix’ 1/24 giant. His last acquisitions were in the scale he convinced me to collect (1/48)–Tamiya, Hasegawa, Modelcraft, Classic Airframes and Accurate Miniatures to join his Nichimo, Testors and Monogram P-51s.
Sadly, Bert wasn’t around to see a revival of manufacturers’ interest in the Mustang beginning with reissues of Hasegawa’s 1/32 kit and Monogram’s Phantom Mustang that not only rekindled modelers’ love for these classics but also began the clamor for an up-to-date, state-of-the-art Mustang in this scale. New-comer Trumpeter and Dragon were the first of the new-generation Mustangs that Bert would’ve enjoyed but though his favorite kit was Monogram’s, he told us that Tamiya’s 1/48 was the most accurate so…had he been looking down at his old club last Sunday, he would have been grinning at the contents of a Shizuoka 50th Anniversary Hobby Show loot bag… TAMIYA’S NORTH AMERICAN P-51D MUSTANG- 1/32 AIRCRAFT SERIES NO.22
Author’s Note: This quick look is limited to a partial kit of 6 sprues from a very early test shot that is neither labeled nor are its parts numbered. Presentation will be based on the order they were displayed at the Shizuoka show.
The first sprue contained the one piece lower wing surface, upper wing halves, pitot, pylons, flap pivot retainer and leading edge inserts holding the gun muzzles and hiding the landing gear pivots.
- The sprue runners surrounding the bottom wing surface have sheer webs molded to them that serve to protect the molded-in dihedral from being flattened in the box by the weight of the other sprue trees.
- The muzzles of the 4 outer guns are correctly molded protruding from the fairings while the 2 inner guns are represented by their blast tubes only.
- The laminar flow airfoil is the most accurate I have ever seen on a Mustang kit because not only is the leading edge taper and position of the thickest point accurate but the flaps and ailerons display the reflex of the airfoil too. There are also internal ribs designed to preserve the wing thickness and rigidity.
- Panel lines are very fine and feature very accurately-spaced rivet and fastener detail.
- The inner edges of the gun bays, gears bays and shell ejection ports are suitably thin as are inner surfaces where inserts providing internal structural detail will be installed. The outline of these thinned areas also indicates that the rear of the landing gear bay will also correctly reach back to the front spar.
There were 2 castings of the 2nd sprue in our kit and each one contains a choice of fabric or metail-covered elevators, 4 .50 cal. mgs, 2 ribs for the gear bays, anti-sway braces, 6 full or partial exhaust stubs, tail wheel housing halves, 2-pc. wheel rims, tourque links, gear door tie-rods and gun-bay doors.
- Very fine detail on the inside of the gun bay doors… hopefully the ejector pins will be moved to the gates to avoid leaving marks on the parts themselves.
- Unlike other kits and aftermarket elevators whose airfoil is straight and only rounds off at the leading edge, tamiya’s curves gently from trailing to leading edges. The mass balances are also accurately blunt.
- Exhaust stacks have hollow ports. 4. Elevators have half-circle torque tubes that will overlap inside the fuselage.
The third sprue provided the fuselage halves with separate tail section featuring the later type vertical stabilizer with dorsal fin, radiator side access panels, rear fuselage spine, various rear view mirrors and a radio antenna mast.
- The fuselage halves have the engine and cowling mounts molded integrally to them and makes for a very accurate yet simple part since the real structures lay just below the aircraft’s skin.
- The scale position of the fuselage break offers an easier chore than attaching a separate dorsal fillet.
- The separate dorsal spine reveals various mounting hole drill guides on its inner surface. 4. The wing and empennage fillets are molded as raised panels and even the weld seam that attaches the upper wing fillet to the lower surface is molded at the trailing edge.
- The radiator side access panels aft of the fillet are separate pieces to provide the later vented panels seen on contemporary warbirds.
- The lower fuselage surrounding the tail wheel opening is also separated along scale panel lines.
The fourth sprue contained the early style vertical stabilizer, rudder halves, horizontal stabilizer halves, flaps, ailerons, an auxiliary spar and flap inserts.
- All control surfaces have very accurate slots for hinges and actuators on the leading edges and accurate rivet detail on the very sharp trailing edges
- The horizontal mounting tabs have half-depth portions that are meant to overlap inside the fuselage.
- The flaps have indentations on their upper surface roots so that they lie flush under the wing fillet when retracted as in their 1/48 P-51. But this time, Tamiya has chosen to provide inserts to apply to these depressions if the flaps will be lowered.
- A hefty spar is provided that spans the landing gear attachment points.
The last sprue was a small one providing the 4-piece engine cowling.
- The pieces are very thinly molded.
- The surface detail very accurately portrays flush and raised rivets where appropriate. The fasteners are even molded with their screw-driver slots.
The provided sprues contained enough parts for the basic airframe so a limited build was attempted beginning with the wings.
The hefty spar actually decreased the dihedral molded into the one-piece lower wing slightly and is positioned a little aft of a spar that would form the rear end of the landing gear bay. When the upper surfaces were glued to the lower wing along the leading edges and the auxiliary spar edges, the spar did not reach their inner surface but compressing the wing to the spar depth did produce the best wing to fuselage joint i have ever assembled.
The ailerons are very thin and the moldings indicate the same wire- through-PE hinges used in the Zero and Spitfire, will mount them. The flaps have indented leading edges and inboard surfaces that allow them to retract flush to the upper wing surface as in their 1/48 kit. On the real P-51 though, only the leading edge was recessed while the upper wing fillet actually stood proud of the flap just as it did over the wing skin. So in this kit, Tamiya provides applique pieces to fill in these depressions so with flaps lowered, they will have continuous skins. These pieces fit remarkably well to the flaps but will prevent it from fully retracting unless the modeler shims the wing so it sits lower on the fuselage bottom producing a step down from the fillet to the wing skin. Tamiya actually molded this step from the upper edge of the fillet to the fuselage sides and this is accurate, as the Mustang’s fillet was actually fastened ONTO the aircraft’s skin.
Four, short leading edge inserts cover the landing gear attachment points and provide the six gun ports. The fairings of these gunports are very accurately shaped and sized. The outer 4 guns’ muzzles have accurate bores while the inner 2 gun’s blast tubes are nicely molded too. Just remember to ream out the outer guns after painting as they scale really close to 1/32 .50 Cal bore.
Like the leading edge inserts, Tamiya chose the actual fuselage break aft of the lift tube, to provide a choice of early -D tail and the later dorsal fillet-equipped tail. Both of which exhibit the anti-torque 1-degree offset. Both metal and fabric covered elevators are also provided. The large locating tabs of the horizontal stabilizers and wide mating surfaces in their respective fuselage slots automatically aligned them perpendicular to the vertical stabilizer…and I hadn’t even used glue yet because they overlapped inside the fuselage. It took the pushing of the whole assembly over two fuselage tabs to separate them, but gluing them together actually held the fuselage halves together!
Tamiya molded the cowl frames and engine bearers integrally to the fuselage into a realistic yet simple casting while other kits have you attach them to a separate firewall leaving you responsible for any ill-fitting cowls or misaligned thrust lines.
Moving aft, the top of the wing fillet very subtly overlaps the fuselage skin and the flare chute is great! There is a hardly visible turn in the fuselage cross section above the longeron just beside the cockpit. The fuselage widens slightly up to the canopy rail which is hard to see in photos but was visible on the full size P-51 at the Philippine Air Force Museum.
Farther aft and down, DO NOT SAND DOWN what looks like a raised seam line where the upper wing fillet intersects the lower fillet–the actual fillet halves were welded together at this point and Tamiya molded in the weld bead for us.
The side access panels for the Mustang’s radiator were molded separate from fuselage casting probably to provide vented panels shown in pictures of warbirds like the Confederate Air Force’s Mustang.
At the next panel line, but above the fuselage, the spine is separately molded and judging from the drilling guides cast inside this piece, it was done so modelers could fit any of the radio antenna masts or faired D/F loops installed on the Mustang during its long service life.
Lower down again and molded on the inside of the left fuselage half is a round cutout guide and locating holes which, coupled with a the separate panel outside and right below the lift tube, should accommodate camera port fairings for the photo-recon F-6D.
The last separate fuselage panel surrounds the tail wheel bay cutout. Not finding any variations here except for old post-war Mustangs with fixed tail-wheels without doors, I’m guessing that Tamiya is giving us the option of installing this as a subassembly later in construction to avoid damage to the wheel strut and door hinges.
Back to the front end, Tamiya provides the prototypical 4-piece engine cowl in its legendary scale thickness castings. Not having the sprue that contains the rest of the cowl frames nor the engine, I nevertheless taped the panels together from the inside and lo and behold…it slipped right onto the front end without any obtrusive gaps. I know this isn’t the correct assembly sequence nor is it the scale way to install the cowlings… but it surely is impressive!
And if there is any doubt whether this 13 piece fuselage will give rise to gaps; and fit problems… I only glued the tail halves together while the taped together cowl is holding the front together at a width that leaves no gap at the wing root.
Author’s Note: I would like to reiterate at this point, that all my comments are based on the basic airframe available to me.
Beginning aft of the carburetor intake, the outlines of the nose in plan and side views is perfect. Cross sections where the nose squares off to house the cylinder banks is just right and the gradual flow into the nearly straight, but off vertical sides of the firewall is accurate. The very shallow secondary curves at mid-fuselage trumps earlier kit’s flat renditions with the aforementioned widening of the cross section above the upper longeron and the perfect blending of the wing fillet. The gentle taper to the rudder post is correct with the cross section matching perfectly, pictures of rudderless Mustangs in maintenance.
Comparing the flying and control surfaces to pictures of D-day and Philippine Liberation striped Mustangs, Rikyu Watanabe’s and Bjorn Karlstrom’s illustrations and the Philippine Air Force Museum’s P-51, this new kit’s wings are the most accurate in outline, thickness and the all-important and until now elusive, laminar airfoil.
Tamiya got it right at the beginning with sharp and nicely tapered leading edges. From there, the climb to the thickest portion of the airfoil near the main spar is a beautiful shallow curve unique to the Mustang. Downwind of that to the flap and aileron hinge lines is where Tamiya aces it–the actual airfoil toward the trailing edge reverses its camber like the tail end of a teardrop and this kit faithfully reproduces it! Lacking the hinges, I attached the flaps and ailerons with masking tape full-chord the same way D-day stripes would show-off the airfoil.
The rudder and elevators were mounted to the stabilizers the same way and you’ll see that the elevator’s airfoil is not just a continuation of the stabilzer’s as other kits and even aftermarket resin parts portray. The actual elevators had an airfoil of their own downwind of the hingeline and Tamiya gets top honors for this.
It’s hard to comment on overall shape without the spinner, prop, nose intake, windshield, canopy and radiator intake but putting everything together matches pictures of actual partial airframes impeccably…not to mention I mistook a picture of an inflight builtup Tamiya kit in Hobby Link Japan for the real McMustang.
Skin and access panels are very sharp, narrow, shallow and accurately placed. Where appropriate, the very fine raised lines depict piano hinges.
Fillets to fair in the empennage and wing are represented as raised, overlapping surfaces that stand proud of the fuselage skin and this is accurate, however, assembling the horizontal stabilizers and wings to the fuselage results in flush joints with the fillets. I know this is nice to look at and it would have been fine with me had there not been a second argument (the first being: its more accurate and consistent with the molded-in joints) for designing them to stand proud of the wing skin as well: the kit flap would not need that inboard depression and it could then, actually retract up to the bottom of the fillet just like a real Mustang flap.
In modelling literature, it seems to be a word that should not be mentioned in the same breath as “P-51 Mustang Wing” especially in 1/32 and larger scales. The common argument being the “entire upper and lower main wing, from root to wingtip, excluding flaps and ailerons, was first primed with chromate yellow, then painted gloss silver”. “It was done to all natural metal P-51B, C, D and K aircraft to help smooth the airflow over the wing “ according to Larry Davis’ “P-51 Mustang In Color” from Squadron/Signal Publications, to make the most of the laminar airfoil.
Modelers have since been either sanding off raised rivets or filling in recessed ones while manufacturers in the smaller scales didn’t even bother anymore with either type. Even Tamiya’s 1/48 kit represented a factory-finished wing albeit with recessed panel lines on the wing.
In this kit though, the wing is replete with rivets – although, they are the finest recessed rivets ever to be molded onto a large scale Mustang. The accompanying picture of an unpainted P-51D-25-NA or RR-11 of the French Air Force Museum shows that their position and number almost exactly match a real Mustang wing.
Another picture of the wing’s underside shows the smoothed over and painted treatment. It was included to show that the fasteners outlining the wing fuel tanks are indeed raised. Other raised detail here include plumbing fixtures and bare hardpoints to represent detail that should not be obliterated should the modeler wish to depict a fresh aircraft.
Reasons to retain the rivets as molded, include accounts of factory finishes deteriorating and crews stripping all remaining paint and polishing the bare metal instead of refinishing the wings per North American factory standards.
Furthermore, the ordered removal of D-day stripes (July, 1944 for the upper surfaces and December, 1944 for all remnants) had all but obliterated any painted finish on those wings.
When news of this kit first began to circulate even before Tamiya announced the Spitfire, the legend of Tamiya’s A6M had just impacted the modeling scene as profoundly as Jiro Horikoshi’s creation had done in World War Two. The surprise of the Spitfire though, dampened the anticipation for what modeling prophets were already hailing as the final word in Mustangs. A relatively long wait turned into disappointment and frustrated Mustang fans began to ask if we really needed a new Mustang in this scale especially since in the interim, other kits would flood the 1/32 scale market.
The revelations of Shizuoka and this partial kit from Tamiya (they are still tweaking the engine and cockpit) show a well-researched kit (as if they had used an enormous 3D scanner on an actual P-51). My partial build has revealed flawless assembly while both design and research will allow us to build any production block, field modification or retrofit of the most famous and most produced version of the Mustang. The rivets on the wing (which are much more subtle than the picture of the port wing displayed at Shizuoka suggests) actually give us more options to model–from factory fresh to grizzled veteran! So whether you’re modeling a “Little Friend”on D-day or circling the slag heaps over Y-29 or photographing enemy positions in Northern Philippines or interdicting supply lines on the Korean peninsula, this kit is for you. And for those still asking if we need ANOTHER kit in this scale, the answer is “no”—we need THIS KIT. Unless you’re like Bert–then you’ll need even the next Mustang kit that comes along because such is the popularity of North American’s masterpiece that the history of Mustang kits, is the history of modelling itself.
IPMS Philippines-Bert Anido is eternally grateful to Tamiya and Lil’s Hobby Shop for the test shot. We would also like to thank Michael Benolkin for allowing us to use some of Jim Azelton’s photos of he Confederate Air Force P 51 in the Cybermodeler Online Website. Thank you also to Prime Portal’s “The Airstrip” for Giacomo Gramazio’s pictures of RR-11.