Basic construction of the three kits has gone relatively smoothly. Surprisingly, the one fit problem was with the wing / fuselage joint on the Tamiya kit. This was a tight joint on all three kits, but you can see how far off the Tamiya kit was in this picture. The excess is at the rear of the wing piece, not the leading edge. A few swipes of the Exacto knife cured the problem. A bonus is any uneven cutting will be hidden by the air scoop. Removing material from the forward mating surface will result in a step at the wing joint so be sure to take it off from the back when building this one.
P-51s had a laminar flow airfoil design. To preserve the laminar flow most panel lines on the wings were filled with putty and smoothed. The wings were then painted in an aluminum lacquer. All the kits I’ve seen replicate all the panel lines anyway and these three kits are no exception. The extra lines can be filled with Mr. Surfacer 500 and sanded smooth but remember to leave the ammo bay panels in place.
Here is the underside of the Hasegawa kit. The shallow wheelwells have been removed and replaced with the Aeries resin insert. The forward edge has been built up with Evergreen strip and superglue. There is still a bit of trimming to do to make the fill flush with the Aeries insert.
This is the Hasegawa kit, major assembly completed. The wing panel lines have been filled, wheelwells replaced with the Aries resin, and the flaps removed. The flaps will be shown dropped using with the spares from the Airfix kit. One thing to watch with the Hasegawa kit is the wings tend to have little or no dihedral without some extra attention. I thinned and sanded the mating surface of the upper wing panels and applied liberal amounts of Testors liquid glue to mine. I also filed back the upper cowl to reduce the square “shoulders”.
Here is the Airfix kit. It went together without any drama, but I have made attempts to reduce the excessive panel lines. After filling and sanding the erroneous panel lines on the wing, the entire model was airbrushed with a coat of Mr. Surfacer 500. That was sanded down with 400 grit, and then another layer of Mr. Surfacer 1000 was applied and sanded down. That has reduced the depth of the remaining recessed panel lines a bit, we’ll see how it looks under primer and paint.
This is the Tamiya kit. The flaps were removed and their forward edges rebuilt with 0.080 inch Evergreen half-round strips. Easy. I debated about the wheelwells, but in the end they were also replaced with the deeper Aeries resin inserts. All joints were checked with a layer of Mr. Surfacer 1000 and sanded smooth with 2000 grit.
With major construction complete, it’s time for a look at a few of the fiddlybits. Here’s a shot of the landing gear components, from left to right Hasegawa, Airfix, and Tamiya. The Hasegawa wheels lack detail on the inner hubs, but otherwise look OK to me. The tread pattern on the Airfix wheels is a bit overstated. A bigger concern is the bend on the gear leg to the left. It came that way on the sprue, the dorsal antenna was also deformed. I was able to bend the gear leg straight again, but it may come back to haunt me given the reputation the Airfix kit has for weak legs. I liked the Tamiya wheels and decided to clone them for use on the other kits, in part because the sharp definition between the wheel and the hub will make them easy to paint.
This is what you get for stores, the 75 gallon teardrop tanks are in all three kits, and Hasegawa also includes a pair of 110 gallon paper tanks. The Airfix tanks are a disappointment – the shape is off, there is no ridge along the lateral seam, and for some reason Airfix has the filler cap located on the starboard side instead of to port. Best to replace these tanks, or leave them off entirely.
Part III here: