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F-51D Mustang (FAS)

by Ian Robertson


F-51D Mustang (FAS)


Tamiya's 1/48 scale F-51D Mustang is available online from Squadron.com




On July 17 1969, during the 100 Hours War between El Salvador and Honduras (also known as the "Soccer War"), F-51D Mustangs of the Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña, or FAS) were sent to support Salvadoran ground troops at the Honduran border. During the flight the Mustangs contacted a patrol of Honduran F4U-5 Corsairs. In the ensuing skirmish Cap. Douglas Varela was shot down and killed in his F-51 Mustang (#407) by Maj. Fernando Soto Henríquez. I chose to depict the Mustang that Maj. Henríquez shot down. Decals and markings for this aircraft are produced by Aztec Decals (Latin American Mustangs I, sheet 48-014).


Note: Maj. Henríquez' corsair was the recent subject of a feature article on Hyperscale by David Aungst, as well as a photo essay by Floyd Werner.


Modifying Tamiya's 1/48 Scale F-51D

The Aztec Decal instructions outline two minor cockpit modifications for converting a standard F-51D Mustang into one used by the FAS.

First, the back of the pilot's seat and the head rest were discarded and replaced with a simple tubular framework made from plastic rod. Second, the radio behind the pilot's seat was removed and replaced with a bare bulkhead and floor made from plasticard. The area behind the seat was painted scale black; the cockpit was painted US interior green.


The decal instructions also show an antenna on either side of the aircraft's tail. I used three pieces to make the antenna. A central post of syringe tubing was inserted through the tail, and on either side of the tail a piece of stretched sprue was bent into the proper shape and then inserted and glued into the syringe tube. The antenna was painted aluminum.



Paint, Decals and Details


Polly Scale Acrylics were used in painting except for the metallic colors. Three main colors were used: (1) neutral gray for the undersurfaces and (2) yellowish-sand and (3) dark green for the upper surfaces. For the yellowish-sand color the decal instructions call for FS 33531 - something I could not find a match for. I opted to mix my own color using 5 parts French Beige (FS 33564) to 2 parts Italian Camouflage Yellow (FS 33481). The dark green used was RAF Dark Green (FS 34079) with a touch of Italian Dark Olive.

The complex camouflage scheme on this aircraft presented a challenge.

I balked at the thought of using paper masks and tiny pieces of rolled up tape. Freehand spraying was out of the question because I wanted a tight edge to the demarcation between colors. My solution was to use UHU Tac, a removable adhesive putty found in craft stores, as a masking agent. The UHU Tac was shaped by hand and applied to the model once the yellowish-sand base color had dried thoroughly. Dark green was then sprayed over the model. The UHU Tac was easy to remove and did not leave a residue on the model's surface.


The markings on this aircraft were minimal (8 decals in total*no stencils were added). Aztec's decals are thin and perfectly in register, although the white areas are not completely opaque when applied to the high contrast camouflage on the model.

An additional modification I made to the kit involved the tail wheel. Tamiya's Mustangs have a tail wheel molded in a single piece. As such, the wheel does not sit freely from the strut mechanism. I decided to modify the kit part slightly by removing the wheel from its strut and then reattaching it with a piece of wire. The wire was bent with pliers and attached to the wheel and strut using CA glue.





If you want to build an P-51 Mustang in an unusual paint scheme, Aztec offers a variety of striking schemes which include aircraft from the air forces of Guatemala, El Salvador, Uruguay, and the Dominican Republic.


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 11 July 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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