Having built Tamiya’s 1/32 P-51D back in 2012 or so I was pleased to find it every bit as nice as I remembered. This is a fantastic kit, but check the box schemes before building.
Subject: P-51D Mustang
Extras: HGW seat belts, Anyz stencils, Lifelike Decals, Topnotch masks (insignia), resin wheels
Paints: MRP, Alclad
I didn’t think I would be building another P-51 so soon after the Revell one which I didn’t really enjoy, but since many of my compatriots in the Scale Modellers’ Critique Group were doing them as part of our #ponygames project, I caved. This build is the original ETO release of Tamiya’s P-51D kit.
I couldn’t decide on a scheme to do, but eventually stumbled across this rather colourful example in reference photos and found a decal sheet for it. Of course, had I looked, it’s actually the box-top scheme for Tamiya’s PTO release of this kit. I could have saved myself all the bother. Oh well.
This being a late-war Pacific example (based on Ie Shima in 1945) brings a few interesting details. The recognition stripes here were not a short-term black and white affair like the D-Day ones, but rather a broader black-only stripe, at least on NMF aircraft. They covered the top and bottom of the wings and many references show them heavily worn and even coming off in sheets, probably because they were applied to a dirty surface. An interesting detail that ends up slightly irrelevant is that this aircraft is late enough in production to have a different model propeller (Aeroproducts I think) but photos show that on this aircraft it had been replaced by the older Hamilton Standard cuffed prop which is in the ETO box.
Sure enough, this kit is really nice. It’s not just the crisp detail, great fit, and absence of flash that makes this a joy to build, it’s how all of these combine with well-written instructions and nicely-designed sprues.
I tried to develop a higher-contrast approach to the cockpit interior than I have in the past. I’ve seen this referenced somewhere (I think it was one of Will Pattison’s Spitfire videos), that because the cockpit becomes very dark once closed up, it helps to exaggerate the contrast so something remains visible later. So while I kept thinking it looked a bit stark while working on it, I had to remember that was the point.
That’s my modelling goal at the moment: to gain enough understanding of what I’m doing to visualise how elements will come together in the finished piece. Part of this seems to be having the confidence to let it look a bit strange so it works later.
In the cockpit I added a couple of stencils from Anyz.io and a set of HGW fabric seat belts. The fabric belts sit more realistically than photoetch ones and even if like me you’re really ham-fisted putting them together, they give a great extra realism. By far the most useful tool for cockpits is my 20/0 detail brush. It makes picking out individual dials really easy, especially with the MRP Aqua brushable paints. The cockpit floor was given a bit of attention: the P-51 had a wooden (plywood) floor that was painted black, so I chipped through the black to a layer of light wood colour underneath. Also the seat was painted to represent the older Dark Dull Green while the rest of the cockpit is in the brighter tinted Zinc Chromate: this was apparently common in P-51s presumably because the seat maker had plenty of old paint left.
The other place that I tried to do something interesting on this kit is the wing rivets. It is fairly common knowledge that the P-51 used a laminar flow wing (which incidentally was a wing designed to provide laminar flow at higher airspeeds and altitudes – previous wings had already used carefully selected aerofoils to provide laminar flow, but these experienced airflow separation in the flight regimes that were becoming normal) which had the rivets puttied over and the whole wing painted with a lacquer paint. However, areas which saw a lot of foot traffic would logically scuff up and rivets would start to become more visible.
My theory is that selectively varying the presentation of rivets (removed, left, or highlighted) will help support the impression of varying foot traffic and work across the wing surface. This came from painting my previous Mustang, where I gave a very smooth paint finish on the wing outboards and a more marbled one inboard, which did create that impression of a smooth lacquered surface which had been scuffed.
The plan is to erase the rivets and panel lines on the least worn areas, producing a smooth finish, with smooth paint over the top. Allow the rivets to remain with a marbled finish on other areas, but without highlighting rivets, to suggest that wear from walking on the surface has started to expose them. Finally picking out the rivets on the highest-traffic areas to suggest greater scuffing and dirt being worn into the surface.
On the whole I am quite happy with the evolution of the NMF painting over these last three models, though there are still some things I want to try.
On this one I used the Uschi Trinity stencils to build up marbling of the metallics. That gave a really nice effect but I’m curious to try including some other tones in there too. I previously found that varying the colours under metallics doesn’t do much, but I do wonder whether marbling a dark grey, then perhaps a darker metallic of two under the final colour might give an interesting look. That’ll be for another model, but I need a bit of a break from NMF for now.
I chose this example because it was very colourful and attractive, which I have always gone for on these aircraft because I wasn’t able to make the NMF interesting. However, having been able to paint NMF better I ended up finding the bright scheme detracted from the overall look.