Mustang kits are a perennial favorite of both modelers and kit manufactures. In this post I will be comparing the offerings of Hasegawa, Airfix, and Tamiya in 1/72 scale. On first impression, the kits are quite similar in detail and engineering. Here are the fuselage halves from Hasegawa, Airfix (light blue plastic), and Tamiya, top to bottom. All three have engraved panel lines, and yes, those on the Airfix kit are deeper and wider than the other two. Airfix gives you a separate rudder. Both of the Japanese manufacturers give you a choice of two types of exhausts, on the Hasegawa kit you must make the choice early as the exhausts are fitted from the inside of the fuselage.
This shot shows the cockpit sidewall detail, with an aftermarket resin wall from Airies for comparison. Detail on all three kits appears too shallow to my eye, with the older Hasegawa details being the faintest. There is enough to hold paint on the Airfix and Tamiya kits, which was close enough for me this time. All three kits could be improved either by aftermarket parts or some scratchbuilding.
The wing undersides show several differences, and again an Aeries resin wheelwell piece is shown at the top for comparison. All three kits treat the wheelwells differently, and note that all three openings have slightly different shapes. Starting at the top, the Hasegawa wells are extremely shallow, there is not even enough room for the doors, let alone the wheels. Not an issue for some builders, but it bugs the heck out of me. The forward curve of the well extends a bit too close to the leading edge of the wing as well. On the Airfix kit the inner surface of the wheelwell is molded into the upper surface of the wing. The big thing Airfix did right here is the back of the well extends aft to the main spar, just as it does on the real aircraft. The lower wing surface panels are a little thick, but that can be addressed with minimal effort. The other big win here for Airfix is they have provided two sets of separate flaps, both raised and lowered. Yay! On a Mustang when the engine stops the hydraulic pressure drops and the flaps and inner wheel well doors lower, so it is most welcome to have a kit which provides for the standard appearance right out of the box. The Tamiya wells are quite detailed, but they only go back to the rear of the well opening, not the spar. They are deep though, and I considered leaving them alone given they are on the underside where they don’t stand out.
Here are the cockpit components, again with Aeries resin parts at the top for comparison. Hasegawa is the less detailed of the three and is missing rudder pedals along with the prominent console on the port side. Airfix extends the cockpit floor to give you a roof for the tail wheelwell and a very nice pilot figure. The control stick is a bad combination of a thin part and soft plastic though, I broke mine during painting. On any future builds I will go with a wire stick right from the start. Tamiya’s cockpit is nicely done, particularly the seat and instrument panel.
Here the fuselage halves are taped up for comparison of component alignment. Top to bottom they are Tamiya to Airfix, Airfix to Hasegawa, and Hasegawa to Tamiya. As you can see, everything lines up pretty well on the top of the fuselage.
On the bottom of the fuselage we can see some differences in the way things line up. Hasegawa (top half, center) appears to have the tail well slightly short and everything else moved aft a bit, but most of these debates come down to whose drawings one likes best. In the end, I decided not to cut plastic here and just build the kits as they were molded. There’s the comparison of the major components, I’ll show assembly and improvements next.
Part II here: