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Eduard P-51D Mustang

Review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit of Chattanooga Choo-Choo
When I heard Eduard was releasing a new P-51, my thought was why another Mustang? What we really need is something new to 1/48 scale, such as a Stinson L-5 or a C-46. On the first day of the IPMS/USA National Convention, I realized that the rest of the world had a different opinion. There were at least 40 people queued to buy the new kit. When I returned three hours later, people were still in line and the mountain of kits Eduard had was dwindling fast. So, I bought one before they were gone.

Opening the box revealed how wrong I was in my original opinion. In today’s world, it may seem cliché to say the surface detail on this kit is the best I’ve ever seen. But it is the truth: The petite panel lines and rivet patterns are absolutely amazing. The plastic cockpit was the most complete I’ve seen in this scale. And if that’s not good enough, pre-colored photo-etched parts (PE) add detail. Eduard provides extra T-handles and levers so when your tweezers launch the first part into an alternate dimension you’ll have a spare. (Unfortunately, I tend to launch the spares even further into that dimension!)

In addition, this limited-edition kit provides masks for all three of the optional canopies, six different decal options, and complete stencils. The 20-page instructions feature a parts-tree layout showing the multitude of parts, many of which are unused and clearly intended for future releases. It also has a chart for paint colors from GSI Creos Aqueous Color and Mr. Color along with Mission Models Paints. Four-view drawings are included for each marking option, and there’s another page for the stencils and even a page detailing what parts of the airframe were covered in aluminum lacquer versus natural metal. Unfortunately, even with magnifiers, I had trouble making out the color callouts, so I enlarged the instruction on a copier.

In the cockpit, install the starboard side frames (H20) before Part H12. I didn’t and had to surgically remove part of H12 to fit everything. I didn’t use all of the PE, opting instead for the greater depth offered by the plastic option. I did install the fantastic pre-painted PE instrument panel, although the plastic one with the decals looks almost as good. It’s a shame that so much of the detail will not be visible when the fuselage is closed.

The kit is well-engineered, but there is some play in parts locations, so take your time and keep checking fit as you go.

Don’t forget to open holes in the lower wing to mount pylons.

The wing seams disappeared with light buffing by a sanding stick. But I ended up with a ridge on the fuselage seams.

Page 4 calls for the removal of a small air scoop. If you ignore that, it will interfere with the placement of the big nose decal on Chattanooga Choo-Choo.

Eduard provides a PE screen (PE16) for the intake under the nose, but it’s not called out in the instructions. There is a huge amount of information on each page, so take the time to study the instructions. My model is currently without a pitot as I overlooked its installation on Page 10 — I guess that makes us even.

I painted the wing and fuselage separately, thinking this would ease masking the bare-metal and lacquered areas. I wish I hadn’t; although the fit between the subassemblies is outstanding, gluing them together without damaging the finish left the joint weaker than I would like.

Pay attention to the trailing edges of the wingtips if you wait to install the ailerons until after you’ve painted. The tips are sharp and tend to catch items surrounding the workbench. (During my build, about 2mm of starboard trailing edge snagged and broke off.)

I had difficulty getting the landing-gear legs to lock into place and the joints seem weak. A friend building the kit at the same time did not have this problem, but he later realized that he had flipped the legs. The wedge-shaped pins on the strut tops appear to be reversed, so reshaping them may improve fit.

I wish the drop tanks attachments were more substantial, but with patience, I got them in place.

The instructions indicate different exhaust, canopy, and mirror options for the marking choices, so pay attention.

I used Mr. Color silver (C8) for aluminum lacquer, Alclad II airframe aluminum over Tamiya gloss black for natural metal, and Mr. Color olive drab (C12) for the antiglare panel. Most of the decals went down without setting solutions, although Solvaset helped settle the upper wing insignia, starboard tail code, and nose decals over fairings and contours.

I spent a little more than 30 hours completing my Mustang, more than I would normally do on a single-engine fighter. Much of the extra time was used to add PE — and about seven hours was required to apply all the decals. I do love stencils.

Kudos to Eduard for the success of the P-51; this limited-edition boxing sold out at the IPMS/USA Nationals in two days and worldwide in less than a week. It lives up to the hype as an example of the “art of mold making.” I needed patience a few times, but the unmatched detail produces a phenomenal representation of the P-51.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2020 issue.
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