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Build Report: Tamiya 1/48 F-51D Mustang Korean War

Agape Models forum member Jim Deck (ShutterAce) sent in this detailed build report for his F-51D. Thanks so much Jim!

What needs to be said about the North American P/F-51 Mustang? Fast, sleek, and with incredible range it dominated the skies over Germany from Early 1944 until the end of the Second World War. Redesignated F-51 in 1948 to comply with the naming conventions used by the newly established United States Air Force the Mustang served in Korea as a ground attack and strike aircraft. It was finally retired from USAF service in 1957. Serving in many of the worlds air forces over the years the last operational Mustangs were retired from the Dominican Air Force in 1984, more than 40 years after first entering service with the RAF in 1942. The “D” model was produced in the largest numbers with around 8000 machines built.

The Kit:
I found the box art on this kit nice but unimpressive. It just seemed bland to me. Inside you will find four gray sprues, a single clear sprue, decals for three Korean War aircraft, and of course the instruction sheet. It’s all typical Tamiya with engraved panel lines in the plastic and decent illustrations to help guide you along. There were a couple of ejector pin marks but nothing horrible. Unfortunately the decals are also typical Tamiya, meaning thick. I do not understand why they don’t put decent decals in these kits. They might as well not have any in the box as far as I’m concerned. All that said, this is the 1/48 bubbletop Mustang kit to beat all. Why? Because it comes with both exhaust and canopy options, as well as under wing armament. Everything you need to build any “D” model with the fin filet.

Kit: Tamiya 1/48 F-51D Mustang Korean War
Kit Number: 61044
Price: $23.99
Decals: Aeromaster Decals – The Very Long Range Escorts The Iwo Jima P-51D Mustangs Pt 3 #48796
Reviewer: Jim Deck
Notes: Can be had for @ $18.00 if you look.

The Build:
To begin with I dipped the entire clear sprue in Future and set it aside under a plastic container. This kit basically falls together. I only had two issues with the entire build. First there is a slight gap between the port side of the top of the cowl and the fuselage, and second I broke off the shaft that the propeller assembly slides on to. The gap in the cowl was filled with paint and the propeller assembly was just glued to the front of the aircraft with CA when everything was complete. The only other real issue was a nasty ejector pin slug in the radiator exhaust channel that a swipe or two with my knife took care of. The two piece canopy that seems to give some modelers fits was not an issue for me and I think it looks just fine. I always use Aileen’s Tacky Glue to attach canopies and windscreens. Panel lines in the wings were filled with Mr. White Base 1000 to replicate what was done at the factory when the aircraft was built.

Before I get started here let me say I like solvent based paint. If you do too, please wear a respirator. It’s worth every penny you’ll spend on it.

The cockpit and airframe interior were sprayed with Testors Model Master Interior Green and the Testors “Square Bottle” Zinc Chromate. Sidewall boxes and panels were picked out with black and the details with various other colors. I then dry brushed the instrument panel with Testors Metalizer Non Buffing Aluminum added some masking tape seat belts to the seat and gave the whole cockpit a wash of diluted India Ink.

The exterior of the Mustang was an experiment in natural metal finishes. I had been using Metalizer for a number of years but decided to give Alclad a go along with some foil. The airframe was primed Gloss Black that was decanted from one of those .97 cent spray cans from Wal-Mart. After letting it dry Alclad White Aluminum was sprayed overall. Next I masked some panels and added Duraluminum and Dark Aluminum to the mix. The anti-glare panel was then masked and brushed with MM Olive Drab. Last I added a few panels of foil from an old sheet of Testors Chrome Foil I’ve had laying around for years. This was my first experience with Alclad and all I can say is all the good things you hear about it are true. Try it you’ll like it.

I think I put more time into thinking about the decals for this bird than any other aspect. As stated before the kit decals are typically thick Tamiya, not to mention that I don’t have much interest in Korean War subjects. An aftermarket set of markings was in order. Now, I’m one of those guys who likes to go off the beaten path so I ended up marking my bird as a member of the 458 FS of the 506th FG based on Iwo Jima at the end of the war. Pacific Theater Mustangs had some pretty colorful schemes and they are definitely off the beaten path. I used Aeromaster Decals sheet number 48-796 for the markings. Aeromaster decals are wonderfully thin and snuggle right down when used with Micro Set and Micro Sol as directed.

Final assembly:
Once decaling was complete all the bits and pieces like landing gear, canopy, windscreen, and exhausts were attached. They had all been painted, or foiled in the case of the canopy and windscreen, during the construction phase and were just waiting to be placed. I then sprayed the model with a coat of Future and once that was dry gave it a wash of diluted India Ink, gave it another coat of Future, and then brushed on some exhaust stains. Finally I brushed some Testors Acryl Clear Flat onto the anti-glare panel, prop blades, and tires.

I’m pretty happy with this build. It went together easily which was a real blessing considering I had many new techniques being tried for the first time. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on fit issues which allowed me to think through the rest of the construction and assembly. When you start with a really nice kit, a great set of decals, and some enthusiasm the sky is truly the limit. If I were to do it over again I would probably tone down the exhaust staining and add the correct antenna configuration. Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely happy with my Mustang. If you want to add a Mustang to your collection this is the one to get.

Jim Deck’s Bio:
I’m a forty something Christian, Husband, and Father of three who lives in the western part of Colorado USA. I built my first model with the help of my Grandmother at the age of 4 and kept it up pretty much non-stop until my early 20’s. Family and kids forced a hiatus that had kept me model free for about 15 years until now. I prefer World War 2 aircraft subjects but do dabble in armor a bit.