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In the box: Accurate Miniatures 1/48 P-51A

Though I try to give my favorite local hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House, the bulk of my business, I do drop into Hobby Lobby from time to time and see what’s on their shelves. Especially when they have one of their 40% off coupons sitting in my inbox. I’d been keeping my eye on one particular kit- Accurate Miniatures 1/48 P-51A.

I’d previously built the kit, one of the first I’d done since getting back into the hobby, and really enjoyed it. And though I’m certainly not opposed to building the same kit twice, what really caught my eye was the price- $16.99. All the other P-51A kits on the shelf were marked at $31.99, so I reported it to the staff.

A few weeks later, I went back, and there it was, still at $16.99. So I handed it over again. And went back a few weeks later. And there it was again. $16.99. I tried. I really did. Maybe they just wanted it to sell.

This time I came prepared- I had the coupon. A few swipes of the trusty debit card later, and I was heading home with a great kit for less than $11! Truly a bargain.

The kit has more than 60 parts, and they are just some of the most beautifully cast parts I’ve seen on a kit. No flash anywhere, and the few ejector pin marks are placed in areas where they won’t be seen. Surface detail is very nice, with very crisp, recessed panel lines and very petite rivets in places.

The cockpit is well detailed, with separate throttle quadrants and other various knobs and levers that will really make the interior stand out. The sidewalls themselves are also separate pieces, which gives good depth to the finished cockpit. The cockpit floor, control column and seat are very nice looking, as are the various radio boxes on the decks behind the seat. The only piece that is missing, in my mind, is the armor plating behind the seat. I base that on an photo in “P-51 Mustang: A Photo Chronicle” (Larry Davis) that shows the depicted aircraft, Capt. J.J. England’s “White 75” of the 530th FS, with armor plating behind the seat. Still- no major problem, as the kit will look great without it, or you can make the plating out of sheet plastic.

The wheel well detailing is very nice,and is some of the nicest cast detail you’ll find. Even built OOB, simply some paint, drybrushing and a sludge wash will really make it look great. Throwing in a few bits of wire and some careful detail painting will make it look like the real thing.

Some other features of the kit are weighted and un-weighted tires, standard and Malcolm canopies, an instrument panel decal, and a very nice set of decals- though only one option is provided.

There are a few things I would recommend from my experience building this kit. When joining the fuselage, I think it will work better to join the cowl pieces to their corresponding fuselage halves before joining the fuselage. I had a little bit of a problem joining the wing to the fuselage, and I think adding the cowl first would help correct this. You’ll also need to take care and line up the various cockpit deck pieces when you join the fuselage. And if I had it to do again, I’d put the seat in place before joining the fuselage halves.

Finally, watch out for part number 32. Though the instructions label it as the radiator exhaust door, if you examine the undersides of the fuselage, you’ll see that the actual exhaust door is cast in, and part number 32 is not a part that should be placed in the open position. Be careful in placing this part- test fit it a few times and it shouldn’t be a problem.

The bargains continue at Hobby Lobby. Not long after buying the kit in this review, I found another P-51A for $16.99- which I promptly purchased (with coupon!) for a friend who wanted to build this kit. And on the clearance table? Accurate Miniature’s F-6A, the Tac-Recon version of the P-51A-for $16.27! Look for that in a future preview. I guess they are trying to move these kits out, one by one.

The instructions are up to the fine standard Accurate Miniature has set, as much narrative as instructions. They stress following the suggested assembly order, and with the exception of the cowl and seat, I would agree after having built it.

This is one of the finest kits I’ve ever built, and I plan to build more of them. Aside from the decal choices being limited to the single set of markings, there is nothing to complain about with this kit. The casting, detail, fit and overall quality are superb.

So check your local Hobby Lobby- you might find a super bargain in Accurate Miniature’s P-51A! And even if you have to pay full price, you won’t be disappointed.