One of the things I love about Tamiya is the fact that I can build one of their models, and have it be as close to a “perfect” model building experience as you can get.
There are no gripes about fit. No inserts that don’t work. No messing with filling gaps or sanding parts to make them fit. How Tamiya manages to do this so consistently and yet be affordable amazes me.
Such was my experience with their 1/48 P-51D kit. The kit itself was the recently issued “Tuskegee Airmen” boxing of their wonderful bubble-top Mustang. Being averse to natural metal finishes, and always a big fan of RAF colors, I decided to look for some Commonwealth markings.
I found a nice set of RAAF decals at Hannants, P-51D Mustang Mk. IV in RAF, RCAF and RAAF service, which had three camo options, and three NMF options. I praticularly liked the RAAF option with the blue rudder, so I picked those decals up, not from Hannant’s, actually, but from an eBay seller here in the US. It saved me a bit of money on the decals, and a whole lot on the shipping!
The option I’d chosen modeled a P-51K, which had an Aeroproducts propellor, not the Hamilton Standard that came with the kit. Also, many Commonwealth Mustangs had dust shields over the air intake covers. Thankfully, Ultracast came to the rescue on both counts.
For the prop, I ordered Ultracast’s 1/48 P-51 Mustang Aeroproducts 4-Blade Propeller & Spinner, which fits both Tamiya and Hasegawa kits. The parts are beautifully cast, as is everything I’ve ever seen from Ultracast. Assembly was simple- cut the blades from their casting block, and insert them in the spinner with a drop of CA to set things in.
For the dust covers, I ordered a set of resin covers, 1/48 P-51K Air Intake Dust Shield, made by Red Roo Models, from Ultracast’s website. Installation of these couldn’t be simpler. Remove from the casting block, add a drop of CA, and place them over the air intakes on either side of the cowl. Can’t get much easier than that.
Assembly of the model itself is without any drama. All I can say is follow the instructions. It all just fits. You’ll probably need to lightly sand down the joins a bit to remove any blemishes from the seam, but apart from that, I didn’t use any filler.
The paints were Tamiya for the exterior. I used the XF-81/XF-82/XF-83 set for the upper and lower colors. The spinner was Tamiya’s flat red with a drop of NATO black to darken it up a bit. The rudder was a mix of flat blue and intermediate blue, mixed to TLAR standard. (“That looks about right.”)
During the painting, I did some shading and fading usings various shades and tints of the base colors. After some paint chipping with a Prismacolor silver pencil, I gave it a good coat of Future.
The decals went on perfectly, no complaints at all. The sngged down nicely, but I always give any decal a good shot of Solvaset. After they dried a bit, I ran a new #11 blade through the panel lines, and added more Solvaset.
After another coat of Future, I used various oils for washes, stains, etc., and then gave it some more fading using highly thinned Tamiya Buff. This was followed by some Tamiya Smoke/NATO Black, highly thinned, for various streaks and stains. I topped it all off with a coat of Vallejo Flat.
I was very, very happy with the results of this build. I thought it looked great, and the assembly was a lot of fun. While I do enjoy a more difficult kit from time to time to help builds my skills, I find those efforts need to be interspersed with some builds that are not quite so taxing. Life’s too short for nothing but short run kits!