Eduard 1/48 P-51D in-box review

Eduard 1/48 P-51D in-box review

I just received my copy of Eduard’s new 1/48 P-51D, via Topnotch masks where Sean kindly included insignia masks in a selection of sizes.  As might be expected from a new-tool kit of a popular plane in a very accessible scale, it’s been attracting attention.  These are my first thoughts on the kit.

“Why bother with an in-box review?” you might be thinking.  After all, these are my thoughts before trying to stick it together, and as we’ll see when I post my review of Eduard’s Mirage III, that can be very misleading.  However, at this point there are a few issues and controversies which are not always being reported entirely accurately, so I want to give you some objective data points so you can make up your own mind.  I have also called out below where something looks nice but we just won’t know for sure until it’s gone together.  I’ll come back and address these in a build review.

I may aim for “entertainingly amateurish,” but I will never tell you what or how to build: just what I do.

The box

Who cares about the box?  It’s two pieces of cardboard that held the parts and arrived undamaged.  It’s bigger than I expected, largely because Eduard have created fewer, large sprues and printed the instructions in a nice A4 booklet.  I like the aesthetics they have gone for, it’s pretty eye-catching and along one side they represent the six different aircraft for which markings are provided.  Given that this is the first in a series of planned releases, it’s good to see the variety.  Like with the MiG-21, that range of options is likely to be a selling point for this kit.

Transparent parts

The first part encountered upon opening the box is a large and imposing transparent sprue in its own bag.  Unfortunately, all three canopy options had broken free of the sprue in transit: I have photographed this one still in the bag, as I removed it from the box.  Fortunately, none of the parts got scratched.  Even more fortunately, given that they left their part numbers apart and cannot be identified, Eduard’s included aircraft profiles are drawn representing the appropriate canopy, and a few minutes careful comparison was enough to figure out which was which.

I don’t know why these would have broken free, but I observed that the sprue gates are fine and there was quite a bit of space for this sprue to rattle around inside the box.  Some more secure packaging may have prevented this.  So it’s not a disaster, but it is a shame and a bit more forethought could have prevented it.

Photoetch

Eduare are known for their colour photoetch, and photoetch in general.  It’s a well-deserved reputation for a company which has certainly been innovative in this field.  Now, it may not be news to you that one criticism of their colour photoetch is that it can look unrealistically flat, especially in larger scales.  Therefore, I was interested to note two nice innovations in this set: first, that the instrument panel has a raised centre even before you add the second layer, more realistically recreating the scale depth; and secondly that the dials come with a neat little clear blob over them to give that glass effect.  These are small details but they should give a nice little boost to the effect.

The wings

Let’s face it, if you have been following the discussion around this kit, this is probably the sprue you were most interested in.  If you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown: the lower wing includes a small strip between the landing gear bays.  When built up, the bay interior pushes up against this, holding it flat.  However, many people are finding the strip is buckled upon opening the box.

As you can see, mine is one of the kits with the buckled piece.  I poked at it a few times, and I think I can see what is happening.  The sprue surround is quite thick, but the attachment to the front of the wing (forward of the gear bays) is the only support over a significant length.  Since the forward part of the underside is only joined to the wing proper by two thin bits of plastic outboard of the two landing gears and the little strip, that whole part can flex, buckling the strip.

Now for the controversy:

  • It has been suggested that the strip should be removed.  This does not appear to be the case.  The instructions clearly show the strip when the wings and langing gear bays are assembled.
  • Is it a big deal?  It is an unnecessary problem caused by poor sprue design.  Whether it affects your enjoyment or ability to build the model is irrelevant.  Eduard have designed a product which is arriving broken (or at least buckled).  Eduard have offered to replace the part where customers are affected, which is excellent.  Personally, I doubt I’ll take them up on that.  Mine isn’t that significantly damaged, it shouldn’t get any worse, the part is so flexible that the assembled gear bay should hold it in place, and it will be hidden between the wheel covers anyway.

I just want to reiterate that Eduard have continued to stand by their customers in this matter.  When the problem was pointed out to them, they offered to replace any affected parts.  This is great customer service, and entirely consistent with the company.  I have had occasion to contact them in the past, and the response has always been excellent.  

Incidentally, the rest of the wings look really nice.  At first glance, the upper wing surfaces don’t look too riveted, which is handy when the real thing would have been puttied smooth.  I notice the guns are an insert.  We’ll look more at that piece in a minute, but for now I’ll just note that I really hope the nice detail doesn’t come with a tradeoff of poor fit.

The fuselage

These look nice.  A couple of interesting details here: one being that the exhausts don’t have to be installed when the fuselage is closed up.  That could be handy for painting some of these schemes.  Also, note that the fin fillet on this variant is an insert.  This further confirms Eduard’s intention to produce several variants.  Would a whole separate tail have been better than an insert?  I think this approach will be fine, provided the fit is good.

Prop and interior parts

The interior parts look really nice.  A choice of detail parts is included, and the use of detail parts for the sidewalls should make for a nice representation.  Colour photoetch seat belts are included, so while this isn’t my favourite approach (I really love those fabric belts) it does mean that I don’t need to buy aftermarket to get a nice model.  Always a welcome touch.  We also get some seriously nice looking detail parts in here, and in general the sprue gates appear to be placed where they will be easy to clean up.  Not only do we have two different instrument panel shapes, but each one has a choice of raised instrument details or flat.  This will make using the photoetch or decal panels easier.

Eduard also give three different propeller blades and two spinners, which I must confess I cannot tell apart.  I’m glad those parts are firmly on the sprue!

Gear bays and exhausts

I don’t have a lot to say here, except that the parts look really nice, but that we won’t know for sure until its all together.  For the most part, Eduard are keeping with their usual approach of simple mould tools and nice detail.  Throughout the kit we get a nice mix of raised and engraved details as appropriate, but very little use of more expensive techniques such as slide moulding.

An exception to this rule is the exhausts, which are worthy of more attention.  The first thing to note is that these use slide moulding to produce lovely, delicate hollow tips to the exhausts.  They are a thing of beauty, but they are also exceptionally delicate and not protected on the sprue.  It is possible to protect slide moulded parts: you can put a bar in front and split it into an “O” section which the slide can pass through to make the part.  That wasn’t done here and as a result it would be very easy for these to get damaged.  I think Eduard are trusting the packing of the sprues in neat plastic bags to protect them, but I would rather such a delicate and prominent part had more protection.  I have heard of these being broken in the box.  Mine were not damaged, but there is a funny little bubble that almost looks like a short shot.  It won’t be easy to fix that without losing some of the delicate shape.

EDIT: I forgot to talk about the gun inserts!  These are a pair of inserts which pop onto the leading edge, giving a nice smooth edge around the guns and the ability to have a nicely moulded barrel tip.  The advantage of doing this is it avoids having a top/bottom seam through the middle of the guns.  They look great, I just hope they fit into the wings nicely.

Things to hang under wings

A rather nice sprue is provided with all the stuff you might want to hang under your Mustang.  Three types of drop tank, two sizes of bombs, rockets and bazooka tubes.  All look nicely moulded, and the colour profiles indicate which drop tanks are appropriate for which aircraft.  Incidentally, the instructions don’t mention the bombs or rockets at all.  I assume these are for a forthcoming boxing, though if you’re building some other 1/48 USAAF or USN aircraft, I would suggest taking a look to see if you want to keep these ones.  They are very nicely rendered.

Decals

Not a lot to say about the decal sheet.  It’s Cartograf and a nice example of their best work.  Stencils are legible, colours look nice, register is good… great.  Oh, and the various kill markings are available with the little swastikas in original, deconstructed or blank as per your preference.

Conclusion

I was excited to see a new-tool 1/48 P-51.  It’s one of my favourite aircraft, so while I hope to build another big Tamiya one some day, I wanted to get this one and see how it goes.  Eduard kits are a mixed bunch: their older stuff has some serious fit issues, but their more recent toolings have been really nice and hopefully this will stack up.  One thing I really appreciate is that Eduard haven’t started with an obscure variant just to get sales of multiple types.  This is the late-war ETO air superiority machine, probably the popular one, with some cool markings, and this is what they launch with, even if it is only a limited edition.

Oh, a quick word on that from a business perspective: smart move.  Doing a short run on a new tooling gets excitement and interest, but also shows them where there may be problems to fix.  Then they can go away and fix those before presenting the improved version for mainstream launch.

I can’t wait to build this: look for the build review in the coming weeks.  I’m also really interested to see what further boxings they intend.

 

Update: a friend and Mustang expert, Roberto Bracchi, has pointed out some issues with the kit and given me permission to reproduce them here.

  • While the rivets have been omitted from the wing to simulate a puttied surface, the panel lines should also be removed,
  • Some of the surface detail, especially on the wings, around the fin fillet, and control surfaces is too pronounced for the scale, since these are barely visible on the real thing,
  • The wheel well interior detail is a second piece that sticks inside the top wing, thus increasing the thickness and reducing the depth of the well.

Many thanks to Roberto for these insights!

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