As I said in Part 1 of this build…
Two years ago, I made my return to modeling with this same kit. At the time, it was easily the best I’d ever built, but I’ve learned a lot in the last two years, and I’m interested to see how my additional skills and experience play out on the same plane that marked my return.
That past experience, both with that first P-51B and with the P-51D I built last summer, has been of great value during the construction phase of this build.
Well, not so much in the construction, as this kit is one of the best engineered kits available, but in taking steps to clear up some trouble spots that have popped up in painting the last two Mustangs.
On the Construction
There’s really not much to say about the actual construction of Tamiya’s P-51B. The fuselage halves go together without incident, and the wing slots into place quite well. As with my first P-51B, I found that I had to trim out a tab on the underside of the cockpit, since it interferes with the landing gear bay, but once its out of the way, the fit is perfect. The upper engine panels snick into place.
Trick #1 – The Ultracast Spinner
The Ultracast prop and spinner is a definite improvement on the kit parts, with one glaring annoyance – as it’s resin, the spinner has no mounting hole. To make sure everything aligned properly, I’ve found it best to use the kit’s spinner base and it’s central hole as a guide for drilling out the aftermarket spinner. I also snipped most of the length off of the spinner mounting pin protruding from the cowl, permitting me to drill only a small hole rather than bore the thing out. It fits nice and snug.
Trick #2 – The Gear Bays
I painted the gear bays before assembling the wings. This makes it easy to get in and get all the various nooks and crannies. I first used Model Master Green Zinc Chromate over a base of black, but it came out way too minty-green for my tastes:
So I put some black back on, then used Gunze Interior Green C27 darkened with a bit of Gunze RLM 80 C120. Much better.
When painting time comes, I’ll use the gear bay doors themselves to mask the internals.
Trick #3 – Prepping the Radiator Intake
The Mustang’s radiator scoop is one of its most prominent features, and it’s protrusion out under the wing makes it devilishly hard to paint. In the past, I’ve had major issue with dusting and running as I’ve tried to get paint into the space between the scoop and the lower wing. So this time, I decided to paint them before assembly with Gunze Mr Surfacer 1200, Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black, and then Alclad Airframe Aluminum.
Trick #4 – Seam Filling
The Mustang’s laminar flow wing was a big f’in deal back in the early 40s, and to reduce drag and take maximum advantage of the laminar wing’s properties, North American Aviation filled the panel lines on every P-51’s wings, then (on later, bare metal productions) painted them with an aluminum lacquer. On my first P-51B, I was ignorant of this bit of trivia, and on my P-51D, I didn’t have the panel lines exactly right. This time around, I do, and rather than wait for the wings to be attached, I filled the seams that run up against the wingroot first.
The panels were filled with Mr. Surfacer 500, then with 3M Red Acryl putty, and sanded super-smooth.
With the panels filled and general touch-up done around the rest of the airframe, the birdcage was masked and attached. The one-piece windscreen/birdcage fits incredibly well, and having done the last -B opened up, I’ve decided to do this one closed, since I think it does better with the lines of the hunchback Mustang.
That’s a Wrap
And…that’s it for main construction. Next up – paint!