When I first returned to the hobby of scale modeling in 2006, the Accurate Miniatures P-51A was the third build I did, and the first in 1/48 scale. At the time, I was pretty proud of my results. It was the first time I used an airbrush, and the first really”modern” kit I’d built. I look at that model now, and it makes me smile. It reminds there is always more to learn.
One thing I did learn from that experience is that the Accurate Miniatures line of Allison-engined Mustangs were very good kits. When I saw that Italeri was re-releasing the A-36 Apache, I decided right away to get it and move it right to the top of the build pile.
Out of the box, the kit is nicely detailed, yet not overly fiddly. Clever engineering keeps the parts count low, yet very detailed. I did add an Ultracast resin seat, mainly so I would not need to deal with resin or homemade seatbelts. Given a coat of paint, some drybrushing and picking out details, and a wash, the cockpit looks very nice.
I had learned on previous builds that assembling the fuselage seemed easier if the rollover bar and seat & seat frame were added after closing up the fuselage. I did need to add a small piece of card stock to the top of the rollover bar to get a good fit to the top of the fuselage interior. Once the fuselage was closed up, it needed only minimal sanding to remove the seams.
The top wing parts were added to the full span bottom wing part, and this mated up to the fuselage almost perfectly. I used a touch of Mr. Surfacer 375 to minimize the join seam. (It had been Mr. Surfacer 500, but some of it had dried up. 🙂 )
Painting was fairly simple. I used Tamiya Neutral Gray on the undersides, and added some disruption with a “scribble” spray of lightened neutral gray. This was masked, and the uppers painted with Tamiya Olive Drab, and again disrupted with a lightened shade of this same color. A dot filter layer was added using various oils, then chipping with a Prismacolor silver pencil, and then the entire airframe was sealed with Future.
Decals went on next, and they were gorgeous. Italeri gets their decals from Cartograph, which means they are absolutely the best you can use. I did add Solvaset to the decals, and once dry, I used a new #11 blade to cut through the panel lines and add more Solvaset. Another coat of Future followed, and then came the oil wash to accentuate the panel lines.
A fading coat was “scribbled” in using Tamiya Deck Tan, highly thinned with alcohol. Post-shading was done with a mix of 2 parts NATO Black and one part Hull Red (both Tamiya), and then additional weathering was achieved by splattering oils a bit, and adding pastel chalks to dirty things up. The final dangly bits were added, and it was called mostly done.
One part I do not like about the Accurate Miniature molds for the early P-51s is that only the closed canopy option was provided. The canopy on these early models opened in a sort of “clamshell” fashion. The side panel on the port side folded down, and the upper panel folded up. I don’t know why an option wasn’t produced to allow for this, especially given how nicely detailed the cockpit is.
So I had to resort to a vacform canopy. I hate vacform canopies. They’re like the government. The promise sounds good, but it never really delivers.
But in order to show the cockpit, I had to have it open up. I’d decided early on to only use the center portion of the vacform canopy. The windscreen and side panels were the kit plastic. I cut the vacform canopy as carefully as my patience would allow, and then separated the portion that lowered from the rest. For the upper part, I simply scored the canopy plastic with my knife, and folded that part back. I masked both inside and outside, and painted the canopy. I probably could have build some detail for the canopy interior, but I chose not to. (Life is too short to detail vacform canopies.)
In the end, it looked…. OK. Not great. To be honest, I’ve never seen a vacform canopy that wasn’t obvious it was a vacform. (And not just by the thickness….) It takes a very, very special modeler to fair in a vacform canopy so well that the join is not obvious. Mine was certainly no exception. From 2 or 3 feet away, it looks fine. Close examination shows it for what it is though. Pure evil. 🙂
Overall, I was quite pleased with the results, and very happy Italeri has re-released this plastic. I hope they continue doing so with other boxings of these Accurate Miniatures early Mustangs, as they are some great models to build. Highly recommended!
This model was built in memory of Tom Myers.