Accurate Miniatures P-51A

I finally finished my Accurate Miniatures P-51A. I was pretty excited about this kit, as I’d seen quite a few good reviews on it, and knew AM has a great reputation. The detail in the casting was great, and the overall look of it in the pre-built stage made me feel like this would build up into a nice kit. So going into it, I had some high hopes for the final aircraft.

The interior detail was very good. A resin set probably would have had quite a bit more, but for an out of the box build, it was very nice. (I described the cockpit detailing in an earlier post.) The only real problem I ran into was getting the interior components into the fuselage. It’s kinda tricky to glue things in one side, then glue the other fuselage half on and try to line them up right. Despite all the precautions in the instructions about “make sure this is level”, getting it all to come together correctly can be tricky. Still, I got it without too much fuss.

Once I had the fuselage together, AM has you glue the lower wings onto the fuselage. The lower wings are cast as a single piece. The tricky part here was getting the fuselage to join to the wings correctly in the front. I ended up using model cement for the back area of the join, and super glue to hold the front temporarily. After it was secured in place, I put model glue on the inside of the lower wing to fuselage join at the front. It’s kinda hard to picture unless you’ve built it, but it did take some thought to get it aligned right.

Once I had that done, I added the forward cowl, upper wings and tail planes. Not much filler was required, so there wasn’t a lot of sanding. This was to be my first airbrush job, so I was excited about that. I airbrushed the lower fuselage AMC gray. After letting that cure, I masked off a few places, and hit the top with OD green. The finish was good, but rather monotone looking. I tried some different techniques to get some shading in the panels, but none of it looked quite right. Still got some learning there.

The decals went on great- except for the first one. I was trying PollyS Decal Softener for the first time. It’s supposed to really tighten the decals down to the surface of the aircraft. I found out the hard way on the lower star decal that you SHOULD NOT TOUCH DECALS WITH SOFTENER ON THEM. Bad things happen. Lesson learned there. The rest went on very nicely. I love that softener now- it does stuff you just can’t do without.
After the painting and decaling, I did the panel line wash, which in retrospect I should gone a little heavier on. It looked good wet, but dried to light for my tastes. I also did some paint chipping. It didn’t look right to me, so I left it as is instead of potentially screwing up the build. I later realized the chips I added were fine- I just needed more to make look realistic. I may go back and add some- certainly learned the lesson for the next build.

Once all that was done, I added the final bits- landing gear, prop, antenna, canopy. Painting canopies is still a challenge for me. They look OK, but I would’ve liked a better look.

Of course, I do have a few things I think could be improved on as far as the kit itself goes. One, if you’re going to put all that great detail in there- why not an option for an open canopy? I did open up the kit canopy. The canopy with the kit is a bit thick, but getting a vacuform canopy and PE set from an aftermarket supplier isn’t what a lot of folks want to do. Also, the instructions were a bit vague in places and had a few minor inaccuracies. Nothing that couldn’t be figured out, but still, when you pay as much as you do for an AM kit, you’d expect the instructions to be spot on. And maybe another option or two for the decals would’ve been nice, maybe one of the 23rd Fighter Group (Flying Tigers) aircraft. Still- this kit shows that AM is right at the top of the heap for manufacturers.

Personally, I’d hoped for a better look in the end, but my skills are still getting there. The kit could’ve looked better, certainly, most of the fault simply lies with my skill level. I’m certainly proud of it- it’s a darn good looking bird. Eventually, I’ll have to get another one of AM’s Allison engined Mustangs (maybe the F6B recon bird) and give it another try.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this kit to any builder. AM put together a great kit for a not often modeled plane in the Mustang line. It came together well, and looked great in the end.