So now that I’ve had a chance to look through the sprues and peruse the instructions for Tamiya’s new 1/32 P-51, I have a load of initial thoughts to share.
First – I can’t imagine anyone but Tamiya making this kit and actually pulling it off. Several areas of the build depend absolutely on a 100% perfect fit, in ways that would be at best extremely difficult to fix otherwise.
Second – the detail is stunning. Their big Spitfires are good. This is better.
Third – I think the idea of attaching the engine and firewall to the cockpit, and trapping both of those within the fuselage, is absolutely the right call. It’ll mean more work up front, but it also ensures proper alignment, and with the cowl framing already in place on the fuselage, the ultra-thin cowl panels should fit up with no issues.
Fourth – One thing I don’t particularly care for is the tailwheel assembly. This involves attaching the tailwheel into its bay, dropping it down through the outer skin, then attaching the entire “pod” into a gap in the lower fuselage. If the fit is good enough, it may be possible to paint it all up, then drop the tailwheel through and attach everything after painting. We’ll see.
Fifth – The rear fuselage spine, between the canopy and the tail fillet, is another separate drop-in piece. On the one hand, awesome, since this is one less ventral seam to worry about. On the other, again, if fit isn’t perfect, it’ll stand out and be a nightmare to clean up. Additionally, the instructions call for the canopy to be installed through this gap, slotting into the canopy slide from behind. The spine piece then “traps” it so it can’t fall out. I will need to play with this further when the time comes, but I see no reason one couldn’t simply slice off the bottom bit of the canopy slide guide, then drop it in from the top.
Sixth – The main gear attachment process is weird! If you look at the undersides of the wings, the entire area forward of the gear bays is missing, and added in later. This includes a small chunk of the leading edge of the wing, just ahead of where the gear struts actually mount into the bays. The struts are installed by literally screwing them in place from this gap. The little chunk of the leading edge is then held in place by an embedded magnet that I assume attracts to said screw.
Overall, this kit has a remarkably complicated build-up process, one that will involve careful planning and, ultimately, depends entirely on 100% perfect fit. It’s a very risky bet, but from what I’ve experienced with Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk.VIII, I have a feeling they’re up to the challenge.
I cannot wait to get started on this sucker!