“It’s clever touches such as this that set this kit apart from its competition, part numbers being kept down through well-thought-out design, rather than compromised detail and accuracy”
Gather together a group of modellers and you will no doubt be able to draw up a list of famous aircraft types that they’ve either built, or will recognise from the world’s kit manufacturers. Amongst that list will be the Spitfire, Me Bf109, Fw190 and almost without fail, the P-51 Mustang. From the genesis of plastic model kits, this aircraft has been a staple within the world’s ranges, a kit that’s guaranteed to generate money for those concerned, or simply put: a moneymaker.
Over the last year or so, the industry has once again decided to look at this aircraft, with brand-new replicas from MENG, Airfix and latterly, Revell, all appearing on the modelshop shelves. Having built the MENG kit last year and taken a look at the Airfix offering later in this issue, it’s Revell’s 1:32 package that we will be concentrating on over the next few pages.
In The Box
Designed by the ever-solid Radu Brinzan with help from Roy Sutherland, who’s choice and design of decals will grace your completed model, the kit is as accurate in detail and dimension as it is, devoid of whistles and bells. Whereas the Tamiya and ZM kits offered complex interior sections, engines and other paraphernalia to tantalise and impress, this one provides only the basics, cockpit, airframe, underwing stores and delicately rendered surface detail, just as they did with their Spitfire. It’s a pleasing approach that keeps costs down, time needed to complete the kit, short and the skill levels required to accomplish all of that, little more than those grasped eagerly by a beginner. I approve.
In terms of specifics, the kit replicates the P-51D-5NA and as such, includes the earlier tail without the leading-edge fillet that defined and distinguished the later variants. Though it’s understandable that Revell has decided to replicate this version first, it does rather limit the options should you chose to raid the aftermarket for alternate schemes, later aircraft predominating by some margin. Indeed, I bought a set of decals to create something different only to find that the parts I needed, were not in the kit…
But enough of the introduction, what do we actually get in the box? Well, despite the stripped-back nature of the kit’s approach, rather a lot. Moulded in pale grey plastic, the kit is beautifully moulded with delicate surface detail and intricate sub-structures in evidence. The cockpit is well-appointed, offering a realistic interior that will only need a set of seat straps to complete the picture. Unlike other kits where the cockpit wall structure is attached to the inside of the fuselage halves, this one is designed to create an open framework that will then combine with the intake trunking to complete the picture. Thanks to rather large tabs that join the parts to the runners (a problem that affects many of the kit parts, the underwing bomb racks being particularly problematic) care will need to be taken when removing them prior to construction, but other than that, I see little cause for concern. Detail is a delight, the cockpit floor, instrument panel, fuel tank and radios and those impressive frames, all being well-moulded, precisely detailed and accurate in appearance. Only under light — and I assume paint as the project begins — does the truly complex nature of much of the detail come to the fore, minute rivets and other surface features being there to enjoy and define with the paintbrush when the time comes. Full instructions guide the modeller through the painting process, with decals decorating the instrument panel and radio sets to complete the picture. Add more detail if you wish, but from the box and for a kit in this price range, the results will be more than acceptable.
The cockpit is well-appointed, offering a realistic interior that will only need a set of seat straps to complete the picture.
Having dealt with the cockpit, the interior is completed with the construction of the radiator intake. Once again clever design ensures that this is easy to build, large pieces there to deal with not only the radiator assembly, but also with the rear wheel bay, the upper surfaces of which form part of the main structure of the intake tunnel. It’s clever touches such as this that set this kit apart from its competition, part numbers being kept down through well-thought-out design, rather than compromised detail and accuracy. The kit only supplies what’s needed, nothing more, nothing less.
Construction moves on to the airframe and once again the kit appears simple and straightforward. The surface detail is delicately sharp, the comprehensively rendered panel lines offering high levels of accuracy and though rivets are noticeable by their absence, there is little to find fault with Revell’s approach and resulting features.
At this point you will already have completed the fuselage (including a separate tail section, sans fin fillet) so attention turns to the wings, beginning with the undercarriage bays. Again, these are superbly detailed and accurate, individual parts being used to create the internal structure of the bays, separate panels being used to deal with the subtle shape-shift of the aircraft’s wing leading edges and muzzle openings – or not as the case may be, the openings for the guns needing to be opened for a truly accurate appearance.. Intriguingly, it’s also at this point that the instructions suggest filling what appear to be very delicate mounts for external rocket rails, mounts that I simply would not have noted had they not been pointed out! These appear as the tiny screw/bolt holes that would hold the rails under the real aircraft’s wing, holes that look like patterns of rivets in miniature. Though simple to fill, they also point to perhaps other, rocket-armed variants, with perhaps the P-51K being in Revell’s sights, a point rammed home by the description of the box that this kit is the P-51D-5NA Mustang ‘Early Version’ and that early tail section…
Whilst on the subject of wings, the kit includes a full set of panel lines on upper and lower wing surfaces, so for those keen to imitate the puttied surfaces of the real aircraft should your chose subject demand it, these panel lines will need to be filled and sanded smooth – or rather those that don’t form the access panel for the guns and ammunition racks, will need to be and only on the upper surfaces. Thankfully, the panel lines in the kit are fine and delicate, so should be easy to remove if the mood takes you in that direction. Personally, I may keep them in place this time, having gone through the filling/sanding option with my MENG build and not really enjoying the process. We’ll see…
The completion of the airframe allows the modeller the chance to deal with the smaller details and thus we turn to the control surfaces, undercarriage, weapons and canopy. As you would expect from a kit in this scale, the control surfaces are all separate, thus allowing a degree of flexibility when it comes to the final set-up of the model. As with many of the kit’s competitors, this kit allows the flaps to be dropped or retracted, the latter working in concert with undercarriage doors that are moulded in one long section, thus allowing the aircraft to be depicted ‘in flight’, which is odd, because it contains no pilot, or a stand to display it on…
The remainder of the kit’s construction and in many ways the bulk of the smaller, more time-consuming sections, deal with the cockpit coaming and canopy, undercarriage, propeller and underwing stores. Once again, detail is delicate and comprehensive, the undercarriage in particular being superb and the way that the legs locate within the gar bays, solid and precise. Underwing stores comprise metal tanks, paper tanks and bombs, each of which look to be accurately formed and simple to construct. I was particularly taken by the surface detail on the tanks, careful painting and weathering likely to create some very fine features that will add to the heavy look of this pugnacious fighter. The canopy is superb, clear, thin and to this particular scribe’s eye, accurately shaped. Thankfully the canopy also features a frame that’s moulded in situ, so no tricky assembly on the path to construction. The clear runners also include navigation lights and gunsight, the latter needing care to paint.
Along with the plastic parts, the kit is completed with the aforementioned instructions and a set of decals that offer two different aircraft. The choices are as follows:
- P-51D Mustang, ‘Lou IV/ATHELENE’ as flown by Colonel T.J.J. Christian.
- P-51D Mustang, ‘DESERT RAT’ as flown by Herschel Pascoe.
The decal sheet is a real highlight of this kit, offering not only the national markings and individual motifs that define the two aircraft, but also plenty of stencils and smaller items that add to the look and finish of the completed model. The sheet itself is perfectly printed and the colours, accurate and well-defined. Of course, should you chose a different route there are some choices from a number of different aftermarket manufacturers.
This is a very fine new kit from Revell that will delight fans of not only this aircraft, but also this scale. The price is very competitive and combined with the quality of the parts, the accuracy of the airframe and details and the clever way that the kit has been broken down (thus allowing even beginners to tackle it with confidence) the package is one to be wholeheartedly recommended.
Thanks to Revell for the review sample.