Hasegawa + Hawkeye 1/72 scale
by Cameron Lynch
North American P-51B Mustang
Lt. Wendell Pruitt, 302nd FS, 332nd FG
Ramitelli, Italy September 1944
HobbyBoss' 1/32 scale F-84E Thunderjet is available online from Squadron
I’ve always wanted to build a P-51 in markings for the eponymous 332nd Fighter Group, I also had a desire to build a 1/72 P-51B. Little did I know that this project would haunt my in-progress shelf for almost four years.
After some comparisons, I realized that there is no single definitive 1/72 P-51B kit extant. All of the different kits have “fatal flaws” of one sort or another. I managed to obtain the beautiful but out-of-production resin wing correction and cockpit from Hawkeye Designs for the Hasegawa kit...so that is where I began. The construction was pretty straightforward, except for my compulsive need to replace the kit canopy with a vacuformed replacement. I mean…why go to the trouble of a nice cockpit if you can’t see it through the greenhouse? I used a lovely Squadron canopy that included the entire fuselage portion along with the two rear windows. The only problem was mounting this canopy so that it was solidly attached so that I could fair it in with CA glue. It needed to be solid enough that it could take the abuse of sanding and polishing that would be required for the natural metal finish the markings required…all without being fogged up with the CA that I used to attach it. I got the canopy the way I wanted it after couple of failures and then painted the kit with SNJ spray metal. It looked great and then I masked off the tail with Tamiya tape and painted the tail, wing tips and yellow wing recognition markings. That’s when disaster struck…when removing the maskint tape on the fuselage the tape pulled up several sections of SNJ all the way to the plastic. It looked like something on the plastic had prevented the paint from adhering in several spots…in spite of several soapy water baths before painting. This left little divots in the finish that would be obvious if I just touched up. Frustrated and angry, I put everything back into the box and stashed it on the top shelf of doom. For three years.
Then during a push to wrap up some of the projects that had been started but lay unfinished, cluttering up both the shelf of doom and my soul, I pulled out the Hasegawa P-51. I stripped it back to bare plastic, trying carefully to avoid stripping the paint in the cockpit as well. I replaced the canopy which got messed up during the stripping process, and re-faired it in. Then I repainted the kit, only this time I used Alclad for the metal fuselage and Tamiya lacquer for the wings. Some Aeromaster acrylics were used for the anti glare panels, red wing tips, spinner and tail and the yellow recognition stripes. I didn’t like the kit wheels, nor did I much care for some of the resin aftermarket versions, so I took a pair from a Tamiya 1/72 P-51D and made copies using an RTV mold and resin. I then decaled the kit with a sheet from the now-defunct Three Guys Replicas.
It is frustrating that Tamiya hasn’t scaled down their beautiful 1/48 kit yet. But until they do, this will probably remain the only 1/72 P-51B on my shelf. Ultimately this was an exercise in endurance and resolve. I wasn’t going to let this project beat me…and although it took two tries and four years, I’m pleased with the results.
Model, Images and Text Copyright ©
2012 by Cameron Lynch
Page Created 29 May, 2012
29 May, 2012
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