Over the past few weeks, the idea of Mustangs has been coalescing over at SMCG. I’ve been focused mainly on the Intruder, with a bit of increasingly halfhearted dabbling in figures, but the Mustang worm has slowly wriggled its way into my brain.
My initial plan was to tackle Eduard’s new VLR Mustang, but the other night, inspiration struck, and struck hard.
Instead of building one 1/48 Mustang, I’m going to build three. And I’m setting myself the crazy ambitious goal of having them done by October 1st.
Why the fuck?
Believe it or not, there’s a method to this madness.
A few years later, when Revell dropped their new-tool Bf 109G-6, I built it alongside the venerable Hasegawa 109 (in ProModeller G-4 form). And two years ago, there was the whole Flankoff thing between Kittyhawk and GWH.
There’s also the time I built two 1/144 Eduard MiG-21s and two 1/72 Flyhawk FT-17s, but I don’t really count those as they were both cases of two kits in one box. And tiny.
Whatever the case, I have a positive history with building multiples of the same subject from different manufacturers – so why not a stable of Mustangs?
Second, I have a tendency to go down the rabbit hole on builds. Last year, the 1/32 Jug and Corsair each took me about six months. The Intruder is probably going to be around the same time commitment. Even the 1/48 P-47M I built earlier this year took about 3 1/2 months.
By setting myself a (completely arbitrary) date of October 1, I’m basically giving myself about six weeks to finish three aircraft. There’s every chance I’ll slide past that by a bit. After all, it’s not like there’d be consequences.
But still…I’m hoping to set a quick pace, keep moving, and not get bogged down in detailing or fits of accuracy.
And third, I have a Tamiyastang that’s about a week’s worth of work away from paint. I’m itching to get back to it, and with these three, I can give those bare metal muscles a workout beforehand.
Moving fast is going to mean a few things.
No super-detailing. These are going to be run-and-gun builds, so I won’t be slowing down to do shit like wire up radio boxes or gear bays. There will be some aftermarket, but only with things like seatbelts, exhausts, and wheels, and only when they will save me time and effort. For example – installing nice resin exhausts will take less time than drilling out a bunch of tiny ass holes and snapping several drill bits.
No (or limited) paint masks. There’s a decent chance that I’ll paint the insignias and fuselage codes, but nothing else. And even on the insignias, I may just resort to decals. We’ll see. It really comes down to what takes longer – the initial application of the masks, or the potential long-tail work of blending decals in and hiding carrier film.
Accuracy sacrifices. P-51Ds had pretty intricately colored gearbays, with one common arrangement being a bare metal “roof” and chromate spar and stringers. Mine will in all likelihood be just…chromate. I may also make choices in the name of coolness or ease. For example, photos seem to indicate the F-51 Airfix chose to depict sported diamond tread tires and a good old cuffed Hamilton Standard prop. But I will quite likely go with grooved tires and the cuffless prop. In the case of the tires, Airfix couldn’t carry the diamond tread detail past the sidewalls, and they use a mounting arrangement that doesn’t play nice with aftermarket tires. In the case of the props – the cuffless is just the cooler looking one.
Let’s take a look at the three kits in play.
Eduard P-51D-5 Mustang
The Eduard kit is the current belle of the ball when it comes to pony kits. Highly detailed, probably closer to the Tamiya 1/32 kit than their older 1/48 kit in terms of detail and parts count. There are a ton of options for this kit, but also word of some intense fussiness and some questionable engineering choices.
Meng P-51D(-15?) Mustang
Meng’s kit came out like two years ago and it seems like it was promptly forgotten about. In part that’s because it’s designed as a fucking snap-together kit. Though I think in the world where Bandai exists, it’s time for modelers to be open to snap kits also being awesome kits. Kinda like how Mini blew up the notion that small cars had to be shitty, cheap penalty boxes. It looks really nice in the box, with the exception of the fugly one-piece main gearbay, so we’ll see.
Airfix F-51D Mustang
If there’s a black sheep of the group, here it is. The Airfix is another recent tooling and looks decent enough. There are some goofy choices going on, though. Like molding the lap belts to an actual part of the fucking seat. Again, deep breaths, move fast. It also looks relatively simpler than the Eduard, and that may end up being a huge strength as we progress.
Schemes will be revealed in good time, though I will say the Airfix F-51 perhaps interests me the most, since it’s going to be the odd one out. It’s pretty well known that Mustangs’ wings weren’t bare metal, but painted in an aluminum lacquer. Well, after World War II, a number of Mustangs also had their fuselages painted in aluminum lacquer, which I guess makes sense, since it’s probably more durable for extended service than bare metal. When you look at postwar Mustangs – ANG birds, F-51s in Korea, and those with foreign operators like Canada, you can see plenty of examples of lacquered-up fuselages. One giveaway is that the heat-resistant steel panel surrounding the exhausts no longer has that distinctive, darker tone, but blends with the rest of the airframe.
Well, Airfix went and chose an F-51 that appears to have been painted – and I’m going to treat it as such.
Stay tuned. The first #ponybash action got underway last night with the first batch of cockpit priming and some initial color work in the tailwheel bays and radiator ducting.