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Academy 1/72 scale P-51B Mustang

Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by Model Rectifier Corp., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818-6312, 732-225-6360.
Kit: No. 1667
Scale: 1/72
Price: $9
Comments: Injection molded, 67 parts, decals.
Pros: Excellent fit, good recessed panel detail, choice of underwing tanks and ordnance, opened or closed hatch canopy, good interior.
Cons: Misshapen Malcolm hood and rear windows, translucent decals.
Another Mustang kit? Well, if you like affordable kits with recessed panel lines, excellent fit, and plenty of optional parts, why not?

Academy's Mustang is such a kit. The parts breakdown is reminiscent of Accurate Miniature's 1/48 scale kits: the rear end of the fuselage is molded in separate halves, indicating that an alternate version with a fin fillet will be issued in the future. A tiny pip on the spine of the main fuselage halves should be removed.

Academy's instructions are easy to follow with each part identified with a number and color reference. An additional sheet is included for paint scheme and decal placement on two of the three marking options.

Assembly was quick and simple. I expected to have some mating and filling problems with the fuselage and tail section, but I was surprised at how little sanding was required. The cockpit assembly is nicely detailed with a floor that extends from the cockpit to the radiator section. It includes shelves for radio equipment behind the pilot's headrest, but the simulation of the grain of the plywood floor is overdone for this scale. The pilot's seat has no harness, but the detailed instrument panel and side-wall detail make up for it.

Be careful when you remove the control stick (part No. B10) from the sprue as there is excess plastic surrounding the hand grip. My sample needed some filing around the rear portion of the cockpit floor assembly, but otherwise, the fit is good.

The optional 75- (metal) and 108- (paper) gallon fuel tanks, 500-pound bombs, and two bazooka rocket tubes are well done. You get alternate radio antennas and exhausts, too. You can leave the ventral radiator door open or closed. I like the standard hatch-style canopy, and Academy provides opened and closed versions of it. The optional Malcolm (bubble) hood is too tall, though, and can't be installed open as it isn't wide enough to fit over the fuselage spine. The rear vision windows are a little flat on the bottom.

I painted my model with AeroMaster enamels which went on great! Bud Anderson's "Old Crow," Fred Glover's "Rebel Queen," and a No. 315 Polish Squadron RAF machine are represented on the decal sheet. It is well-printed but the inks are translucent. You can clearly see the invasion stripes underneath the fuselage insignias. The decals were a bit stiff and had difficulty going down on compound curves even with a setting solution.

Don't make the mistake I made. If you model "Old Crow," apply the bottom invasion stripes to the wing first. These have cutouts for the landing gear doors. Then you can add the stripes on top of the wing and align them with the bottom stripes at the leading and trailing edges. I put my top ones on first, and found to my horror that I was off nearly 3/16" when I added the bottom stripes!

I used P-51 Mustang in Detail & Scale (Part 2) as my primary reference. A photo in the old Squadron/Signal Aces of the Eighth shows that "Old Crow" had white wall tires (even the tail wheel!), so I painted mine that way. The instructions missed that.

The model took me about 11 hours to build, paint, and decal. Beginners and experienced modelers alike will appreciate the good fit, finish, and optional parts.


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