Tamiya’s 1/48 P-51D Mustang is generally heralded as one of the best-engineered plastic injection kits in existence. It is the epitome of a “shake-n-bake” kit, with phenomenal fit and generally exceptional detail.
However, it does have some areas of disappointment. One of these is its representation of the P-51’s .50 caliber gun tubes.
While they aren’t awful and could probably be salvaged with some drilling out, they’re still a far cry from the real thing:
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have fussed with something like this, but my past few builds have demonstrated that paying attention to small but prominent details like blast tubes and gun barrels can have an outsized effect on the overall look of a finished model.
So I decided to fix the crappy blast tubes.
First, I trimmed off the plastic “tubes” with some flush-cutting sprue cutters, then sanded them smooth. Using an old Iwata airbrush needle as a center punch, I drilled out the six tubes.
Second, I cut six lengths of Albion Alloy 1.0mm outer diameter/0.8mm inner diameter brass tubing. I had to drill out the holes a slight bit more to ensure a proper fit.
Third, I removed the tubing, glued the wings, and cut four lengths of Albion Alloy 0.8mm outer/0.6mm inner brass tubing. The great beauty of the Albion stuff is that it’s designed to slide fit from something like 0.4mm all the way up to 1mm. These four were slid and glued into the outer gun tubes, then the six pieces were slid into the wings. I used a drop of Gators’ Grip glue applied to the holes in the gun fairings to secure the tubes.
And that’s all there is to it! While the drilling is somewhat daunting, all in all this was a quick, easy way to really dress up one of the more disappointing aspects of Tamiya’s otherwise-great P-51D!