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Trumpeter 1/32 scale P-51B Mustang II

Kit: No. 02274
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Price: $94.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 426 parts (1 resin, 71 photoetched-metal, 3 vinyl), decals
Pros: Rare subject
Cons: Some inaccurate parts
Issue Published: July 2008
For years, Revell's ancient kit has been the only 1/32 scale plastic P-51B kit available - until now.

Neatly molded in light-gray plastic, the parts are flash-free with recessed panel lines and rivet detail (an issue with the Mustang, as the wings were puttied and smooth). Clear fuselage halves are provided as an option to display internal detail. Also included are photoetched-metal parts, vinyl tires, a complete engine, .50-caliber machine guns with detailed bays, oxygen bottles, and internal bulkheads and stringers. Options include a selection of underwing stores - two types of drop tanks, two types of rockets, and 500-pound bombs.

The cockpit interior is adequately "busy" but a strange mix of A, B, and D variants: The left side is like the B, the right the D, and the curved floor is only accurate for the A. Also, the bulkhead behind the seat is fictional. Do not install it!

An extensive set of photoetched-metal parts fills the cockpit, with many details for seat belts and an optional instrument panel with film for instruments. The cockpit is part of a large interior module that includes the oil and coolant radiators.

After installing a vast number of fuselage interior parts, I was happy to find the fuselage parts joined perfectly.

Gun detail is provided in both wings, which feature separate access panels. Installing the .50-calibers, I noticed they were spaced farther apart than they should be - a serious accuracy problem.

The wing-to-fuselage fit was very tight, even with careful sanding.

The exhaust pipes are separate and mount to a backing part that looks wrong - something like a flat version of the exhaust cover. No exhaust cover is provided, either.

The engine placement affects the fit of the exhaust and centering of the propeller shaft, so make certain of its alignment.

All flying surfaces are separate. Strangely, they have tabs that only allow them to be plugged into the wing in a flat/closed position. You will need to cut off the tabs to show them dropped or angled.

The back of the wheel wells has the usual problem of many Mustang kits - it follows the contour of the landing gear opening instead of extending back to the wing spar.

The undersurface of the wings had two anomalies: There were two slightly raised pads for the bazooka-style rocket mountings. I filled the mounting holes and sanded the pads off. Also, there are no shell-ejector ports!
The inner edge of the landing flap is incorrect in both top and bottom profile. It should be almost 90 degrees to the length.

Navigation lights are misplaced in the wingtips: They go there on the D, but on the B they should be under and atop the wings.

The kit includes a framed canopy and the frame-less Malcolm version. The framed canopy can be either open or closed.

The Malcolm canopy does not have the correct "blown profile" when seen from above; it should be more bulged. It also seems designed only for the closed position, lacking the width to slide backward.

The aircraft Ding Hao used both the standard "birdcage" and Malcolm canopy. To use the Malcolm, I filled in the hole for the antenna mast and sanded off the light and aerial fixtures. I also added a whip antenna of stretched sprue. You may want to add canopy rails made from plastic strip.

I used the 75-gallon drop tanks from the selection of wing stores. The 108-gallon tank also is provided.

I painted my Mustang with Hobby Color acrylic paints. Decals are provided for two aircraft, but there are accuracy problems with both schemes. The yellow and black squares for the 325th Fighter Group are not in the correct pattern, and the name for the 325th aircraft does not match the documentation. The letters of Jim Howard's Ding Hao looked as if they had colored outlines, but not these decals. However, the decals are very well-behaved, settling very nicely with decal solution.

My references were Model Art Co.'s No. 401 P-51 Mustang and Osprey Publishing's 354th Fighter Group, by William N. Hess, which has photos of Ding Hao.

I completed my P-51B in 22 hours and, though I was pleased with the completed model, I was disappointed by its inaccuracy.

To the general hobbyist, the finished kit captures the look of a P-51B. But the serious Mustang modeler will need to clench his teeth and fix the errors.

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