Arma Hobby North American P-51 B/C Mustang Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

The first fourteen steps in the instructions are building the cockpit and other interior features. That’s half the steps! The radiator under the fuselage is well represented, but I seriously doubt the photoetch parts will be visible on the finished model. The bottom part of the assembly (part A30) has two ejection pin towers which almost look like they might belong there, but they must be removed for the part to fit.
The fuselage sides have a lot of detail right out of the box. There are several decals for each side to enhance the look, which is great because the sidewalls are more visible than the instrument panels on most aircraft. Kudos to Arma for including all the placards!
The kit provides a choice of seats, the Schick-Johnson seat is on the left and the Warren McArthur type is on the right. I had to look them up, the Schick-Johnson was introduced first, but either type could be used as they were installed as they arrived at the factories. Some sources indicate they could also be swapped out in the field during maintenance. Honestly, I’ll be guessing in many cases as to which seat will go into which model. Seatbelts are from the kit PE fret, and look the part after paint and a wash.
Arma provides parts to build three different configurations for the equipment behind the seats. According to Detail & Scale Vol. 50, the 85-gallon fuel tank was fitted on the production lines beginning with P-51B-10-NA and P-51C-5-NT but could also be refitted to earlier Mustangs. The tanks adversely affected the aircraft’s center of gravity, and so were only filled to 65 gallons in service. At some point a “+” sign was added near the data block to remind everyone of the fuselage tank, but I couldn’t pin down just when that happened.
All twelve cockpit assemblies together. Whew! One thing to watch out for is the instructions in step 1 show the brace behind the seat to be mounted in the holes seen here in front of the seat. The brace should actually mount to the step in the cockpit floor.
The instrument panel takes four decals and a piece of PE. I left the PE off as it really didn’t add anything other than texture under one of the decals which would be almost impossible to see even if you knew to look for it.
Everything has a groove, slot, and/or pin to fit into and aligns well. Don’t forget the tailwheel! As you can see here, much of the equipment behind the seat will be invisible once the fuselage is closed up. By this point you have to open up the two indicated recesses if you are modeling one of the F-6 photo-reconnaissance aircraft, or the recess for the HF/DF loop if you’re modeling one of the CBI birds. The instructions don’t mention opening the HF/DF loop hole but show the base going into it later so plan ahead if your subject needs the loop!
In step fifteen of the instructions you finally close up the fuselage. Fit is great. I was a little worried about getting all the cockpit assemblies to line up right, pay particular attention that the cockpit floor fits into the slots on both sides and that the instrument panel sits right. Other than that, flexing the fuselage sides a bit while gluing seemed to seat everything correctly.

Part III here: