An inexplicable gap in the line-up of 1/72 scale kits was the high-backed Mustang. Sure, there were kits, but all had fatal shape issues of the “once it has been seen, it cannot be unseen” variety which required heroic efforts to correct. Modelers have been bemoaning the lack of an accurate P-51B/C on the forums ever since there have been forums. Arma Hobbies from Poland has finally answered the call. Having agitated for an accurate B/C myself, I ordered enough through the LHS for a long-anticipated batch build.
The main parts are on sprue “B”. The kit is molded in a hard, gray plastic and features finely engraved panel lines and a satin finish. My examples had a little flash around the canopy rails, but otherwise the molding is crisp and clean. Sprue attachment points are heavy on the large parts and require care to separate. The kit offers the choice of tails with or without the fillet, a nice touch.
Sprue “A” has the smaller parts common to most of the Mustang family. Flaps are intended to be assembled in their typical “drooped” position when the aircraft is on the ground, but can be mounted up by cutting off the mounting tabs. Three types of ordinance are included, 250 pound bombs plus 75-gallon metal and 108-gallon paper drop tanks. The modeler has the choice of two types of seats and three radio configurations for the cockpit. For the nose one can choose between three different vent panels and two types of exhausts. With the expert set a small PE fret and vinyl masks are included.
The decal sheet provides markings for seven schemes (Evalina is represented twice, in both US and captured Japanese markings). You are provided enough stencils to build two models. Where Arma has gone the extra mile here is with the cockpit markings, which represent every dial and information placard. Depending on the particular equipment configuration, approximately 30 decals will be needed to dress up the interior. The one criticism I would offer here is the seatbelt decals are printed in yellow, not tan.
Here is a close up showing the finely recessed detail on the upper wing panel. While this is spectacular, it is also incorrect. The Mustang featured laminar-flow wings, to keep the airflow smooth the wing joints were filled with putty and the surfaces were painted with Aluminum dope. The gun and ammo bays should be represented, but almost all the other panel lines should not be seen. This is overlooked by almost every Mustang kit in any scale, but is incorrect. Having said all that, I have decided to leave the wings in my kits as they are rather than bother to fill them.
While the end-opening boxes will be of no help on the workbench, Arma’s sprues have a neat pin-and-socket feature molded in which allows for easy stacking. This helps keep things organized and saves room on the bench.
On a recent Plastic Model Mojo podcast Mike and Dave discussed the virtues of finishing the ordinance at the beginning of a build to avoid burn-out or being distracted by the next shiny new kit. I extended that concept to a variety of smaller assemblies and “bust offables” which normally come after major assembly. This is the general chaos on the bench with many smaller parts cleaned up and taped to cards for painting. Plastic Model Mojo here: https://www.plasticmodelmojo.com/
I thought the kit’s 250-pound bombs looked a little anemic so I replaced them with spare 500-pounders from a Monogram B-29 kit. The standard underwing shackles on the P-51 were rated at 550 pounds, although there are photos of Mustangs carrying 1,000-pounders. The rest of the builds will get drop tanks. The bar stock is inserted into holes drilled at the fuel line positions, the tanks will need to be fitted with the external plumbing when they are mounted.
The mask set provides masks for the main wheels. Reportedly the supply of the expected yellow Kabuki tape was interrupted by Covid supply chain issues, so Arma used the translucent green vinyl masks for their Expert Set. I always have problems with the vinyl masks, some of these wheels will need to be repainted. We’ll see if I can get them to work on the canopies!
Painting propellers is a chore so it was good to knock these out early. Each prop had to have the tips painted and masked and was provided with eight decals. I cheated a little by showing the paint of the backs of the blades worn off which was a common occurrence.
Part II here: