Tamiya P-51D Mustang Build Report 1: Cockpit and Main Assembly

My original intention – to use Tamiya’s 1/48 P-51D as something of a decompression build between the Sopwith Pup and Spitfire Mk.VIII – has foundered somewhat on the twin rocks of advanced modeler’s syndrome and the sheer epicness of Tamiya’s big Spit. However, with the failure of willpower that culminated in my pre-order of Tamiya’s forthcoming 1/32 Mustang, the 1/48 kit has taken on a new urgency as something of warm-up build for that kit, and a perfect platform to work on my natural metal techniques and masking the 352nd’s distinctive blue cowls.

The Cockpit

When I cracked open the P-51 box, I was hit by a slew of aftermarket accessories I’d ordered once upon a time: Ultracast gear doors, seat, prop and spinner, Squadron vac-form canopies, and an Eduard PE set.

After painting the cockpit areas with Lifecolor Interior Green, Vallejo black and Floquil weathered black, I opted to use the Eduard PE set in the cockpit, and was immediately unhappy with the quality of the instrument panel.

Ultimately, my displeasure led me to steal the instrument panel from another Tamiya P-51 I have in the stash. After painting and weathering, I used Airscale’s 1/48 instrument panel decals to punch up the gauges. Much better.

New Blast Tubes

Once the cockpit was installed and the fuselage closed, I moved on to the wings. The Tamiya kit’s representation of the P-51’s gun tubes is rather poor, so I drilled them out and replaced them with telescoping brass tubing.

Wing Seams

A lot of the Mustang’s speed and range came from it’s cutting-edge laminar flow wing. In order to wring the most efficiency out of the wing as possible, drag had to be minimized as far as possible. To that end, North American Aviation filled all of the flush rivets and panel lines on the forward sections of the wings right on the assembly line, and painted them over with aluminum lacquer. Most Mustang kits, the Tamiya included, retain the original panel lines. I opted to fill them. After taping off the gun doors and the few lines that had to remain, I dabbed the exposed lines with Mr. Surfacer 500, then sanded it down with 400, 1000, and 1200 grit sandpaper.

Main Assembly

Once the wings were taken care of, the P-51 literally flew together. Tamiya’s Mustang is the epitome of great fit, and if you’re careful you can get it together with a minimum of fuss.

Now that the Mustang’s together, I need to clean up a few of the seam lines, throw some paint at the wings to make sure the seams are properly filled, and replace some of the brass gun tubes I accidentally knocked into the wings while sanding the filled seams.

After that…it’s paint time!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark says:

    i Did this kit about 6 months back,…hmmmm didnt think about filling in the forward panel lines……good idea! I also had the Eduard PE set and was much disappointed. I opted to drill out the gauges and “sandwich” clear acetate over top of “home made” printer reduced gauge decals. results were ok,..but I like the looks of your “DASH BOARD” better me thinks! I did keep the bulkhead details though,..quadrant,..trim wheels …boxes and such, and added scratch switches. But ya know,…after closing her up and painting,…ya dont see very much detail at all. I was kind of miffed,…just like when I did the old Revell 1/28 Camel,….added tons of cockpit and fire wall detail that dissapeared once the fuselage was closed up. LOL!! the baine of Aircraft modeling I guess.
    Anyway,…looking good…..continue on my friend!

    1. Doogs says:

      Mark – yeah when I built the -51B about a year ago, I didn’t touch the wings. The guns get better treatment there, but the wing panels need filling regardless. One side benefit – great way to hide those two or so misaligned seams on the leading edge of the wings!

      Regarding the IP, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Airscale’s gauge decal sets. They cost about what most decal sheets cost, but you get so many gauges that I could easily see them lasting through a good dozen aircraft (and that’s excluding ones, like Tamiya’s P-47, where the IP decals are excellent and don’t need enhancement).

      So far, the only two aircraft I’ve built where I’ve been satisfied with the visibility into the interior have been the P-47 and my Tamiya Spitfire WIP. The worst was still the AM Dauntless I slaved over, with PE and all of Accurate Miniatures’ fussy assembly, only to have NONE of it visible inside that barrel of a fuselage. Doh!

  2. Heinz Johannsen says:

    Im 76 but today I have learn a few more things about tecnics, Well don., I buil the new Tamiya Mustang 1/32 and laso took Photos, how can I email them so you can have a look. (Email Adress ? Thank you Heinz Johannsen germany

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