P-51D Mustang


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 To see the P-51D pictures click here.

There are many kits and markings available for the venerable P-51D, arguably the best piston engine fighter ever produced.  It was used by many of America's top scorers especially in the European Theatre...just thumb through the Osprey books Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force and Mustang Aces of the Ninth & Fifteenth Air Forces & the RAF...so how do you decide which one to build?  

My long time modeling buddy Ed has an affection for George Preddy's Cripes A' Mighty and was a technical consultant for a commercial decal sheet on the same subject.  Preddy was a high scoring pilot in the 487th FS, 352nd FG, 8th Air Force.  This Fighter Group was one of the top in Europe and the markings were certainly interesting, with their distinctive blue noses and natural metal finish this FG offered a treasure trove of modeling subjects.  Ed and I decided to model a pair of them...he of course would do Preddy's and I picked Lt. Col. John Meyer's Petie 2nd.  According to their entries in the American Fighter Aces Album both pilots were in the top 10 of US WW2 aces.  Col. Meyer had 24 WW2 victories and including his 2 MIGs in Korea Col Meyer achieved 26 air-to-air victories in his illustrious career.  Photos of these and others of the 352nd FG can be seen if you  click here

The kit I liked best is the 1995 release in 1/48th scale by Tamiya.  The box art features Petie 2nd but the quality of the kit itself was the reason it was chosen.  The only parts added to the Tamiya kit were fuel lines between the drop tanks and wings, and some metal foil for the characteristic bright panel on the gear doors.

To achieve the mirror smooth finish for the natural metal paint, the entire model had to be wet sanded with 1000 - 2000 grit and polished with a dry cloth soaked in Brasso.  For the aluminum I used the tried and true Spray N' Plate - Aluminum non-buffing -  I've hoarded since the early 80s. 

The blue was a real experiment.  A few well-known paint companies had sold acrylic paints for many years but they were too watery with little pigment, would not cover well, and I never used one for a model.  However PolyScale by Floquil had just released USAAC Blue (~15102) as an acrylic.  It was the perfect color match so I decided to try it.  After years of being disappointed by acrylics this was an experience that turned me around.  It was opaque, went down smoothly with an airbrush and adhered to the metal finish.  The modern acrylics are safer and I now prefer them over lacquers and oil based enamels.

A final note: I attended a lecture by Adolf Galland at the University of Texas at Dallas.  I don't remember the exact year, perhaps 1978 or so.  One thing that stuck with me was a question from the audience - "Which Allied airplane did you fear the most?"  Without hesitation his answer was the P-51.  It's a plane that deserves its high reputation.

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This site was last updated 11/26/07