After painting, I applied a layer of Testor’s Glosscoat to protect the paint and provide a nice, smooth surface for decaling. The kit decals provide the markings for Major James Howard’s “Ding Hao!” which was high on my list for subjects. I left the broom markings and crew name decals off to depict an earlier version of his aircraft. The decals performed flawlessly. The kit’s stencils and national insignia were used for all twelve builds, the wing insignia needed a little extra Micro Set & Sol to pull down over the raised details but that was it.
Here is part of the P-51B/C decal stash. Remember the good ol’ days when Squadron would send out their monthly fliers and actually mark down prices on things? This is where the trouble began. The Eagle Strike and AeroMaster sheets were likely picked up for just a couple of Dollars and thrown in with the rest of the order, and I’ve been waiting ever since to use them.
Props-Are-Us was also having a sale! Props are a lot of work, I did the blades early in the build and painted the spinners along the way.
All the models got the dangly bits under the wings. There is no positive attachment point for any of the options, so they were all pinned in place using bronze rod. The drop tanks will also need the plumbing as this was external, here represented by beading wire and solder.
Late in the build I discovered the vinyl masks had bit me again. This time, one of the transparent vinyl masks had popped off one of the quarter panels unnoticed. The transparent part had received the brunt of all the airbrushed layers from primer to gloss. Gently stripping it fogged the plastic, so it was sanded back, buffed out, and re-painted. If there is any doubt remaining, I hate vinyl masks!
What’s better for the modeling mojo than finishing a model? Finishing twelve! It’s very efficient to build in batches, the major downside is it delays the gratification of seeing your project completed.
For reasons which defy logic, 1/72 scale modelers have never had an accurate P-51B/C Mustang until now. All previous releases have had one fatal shape error or another which was impossible to un-see and difficult to correct. Arma has hit this one out of the park, and it should be a license for them to print money well into the future without any of the inflationary consequences when the U.S. Government does it. The kits are accurate, well-detailed, and provide all the optional parts the average modeler could ever want. The engineering is superb, the only fit issue I encountered was a step at the forward edge of the windscreen which needed sanding.
My boxings were the “Expert Set”, which include a fret of photoetch and a set of masks, and here is where I will pick a nit. The PE fret adds little, I used the radiator parts but they are impossible to see without flipping the model over and using a flashlight. I used the PE seatbelts too, but nothing else from the fret.
The vinyl masks were a disaster. I understand there were supply chain issues when Arma released this kit and they were a victim of the global Kabuki tape shortage, but the vinyl masks tried their best to ruin an otherwise excellent modeling experience. They (mostly) stuck fine to the flat panels, but pulled off of anything with a curve. In the end the PE and vinyl masks were a mixed bag and significantly raised the price of the kit. Masks ARE a good idea however, I sincerely hope Arma includes a set in future boxings – this time using Kabuki tape, including inner and outer masks for the open panels, and (here’s a thought) making the seatbelts out of Kabuki tape instead of PE.
I understand Arma’s Ki-84 kit is currently selling even better than their P-51B/C Mustang. I have a batch on pre-order, and am looking forward to building those as well!
Build posts Part I here:
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:
The newest Kingfisher on the shelf is this 2019 offering from AZmodel from the Czech Republic. The Kingfisher was the most common shipboard observation aircraft fielded by the U.S. Navy during the Second World War and has been well-represented in 1/72 scale.
The main sprue displays both raised and engraved surface detail. Fabric areas are perhaps a little exaggerated but look the part under a coat of paint. Beaching gear is included which is a welcome addition.
Parts are included to model the Kingfisher on either floats or wheels, which is appropriate as the actual aircraft could be converted easily as the need arose. A choice of single or twin guns is given for the observer’s position, and there is a set of bomb racks and 100-pound bombs for underwing stores.
Basic cockpit detail is provided. The mounts for the observer’s machine gun need to be trimmed back for the gun to fit properly.
Here the interior has been painted and weathered up a bit. I used the kit engine and added ignition wires. I was not clear on the position of the forward portion of the observer’s “shelf” and mounted mine too far forward.
Major assembly is complete in this photo. By this time I had realized my mistake with the cockpit part. I made adjustments to the kit with an exacto knife and made adjustments to my attitude with some modeling fluid from a little brown bottle. The seams were also smoothed out with some Perfect Plastic Putty.
More filling work was needed on the underside. The cockpit parts had spread the fuselage which left a gap on the underside. This was filled with superglue, and more PPP was needed along the wingroots.
Fit of the clear parts was not great, and I didn’t help matters by trying a new technique I had read about online and using Gorilla glue. The advantage to using Gorilla glue is that it does not fog and excess can be wiped away with a wet swab. The problem I encountered is the setting time is long and the bond is initially quite weak, which resulted in the canopy shifting slightly overnight. My next Kingfisher will feature vacuformed canopy sections. Here the canopy is in the process of being masked with little rectangles of masking tape.
The floats got some extra detail. Circular access ports were added to the top, there is no way they could have been molded on due to the mold release angle. Test fitting revealed there would be a gap at the rear support so this was built up with plastic card. The front of the float has an open cleat, while the underside has the hook for the towing sled and catapult attachment point added. The rudder linkage was added to the rear support, and the wing floats got wire handholds.
The beaching gear was missing several small details, but these were easily added with Evergreen and wire. The propeller hub looked odd, but then I noticed that it was just missing the counterweight assemblies and that was soon fixed.
Part II here:
Hasegawa’s business plan is to engineer their kits to allow for multiple sub-types, and then to re-release them in different markings. All well and good so long as they can keep the kits available, but Hasegawa has kitted several subjects which are best in scale and have not been available for years, in some cases decades. Their excellent Buffalo is hard to find, but has been released by Hobby 2000. The Buffalo was on my list and I was lucky enough to win this one in the raffle at the Louisville IPMS show a few years back.
The molding is crisp with fine recessed panel lines and is what you would expect from Hasegawa. The fuselage halves are clipped at the nose and tail to allow for variations, the Buffalo was fitted with a different engine for export. The small fret in the upper right corner provides for the cowling changes needed for the Model 239 exported to Finland.
The small parts frets include parts for standard and cuffed prop blades as introduced on the F2A-2. I was hoping all the parts needed for a Marine F2A-3 at Midway would be included, but I’ll need another boxing to add a VMF-221 machine to my collection.
Like most Hasegawa kits the cockpit is a little under-detailed. I added side consoles, ribbing, and basic surface detail from Evergreen. This only takes a few minutes, but can be hard to see with the canopy closed so I didn’t go nuts with the detail.
Here is everything painted and ready to close up. Seatbelts are from masking tape strips. The engine is wired with copper winding from broken earphones. The engine face is visible on the finished model so extra effort spent here is worth it.
Fit is excellent, as is typical for modern Hasegawa offerings. There were only slight gaps at the leading edge of the wing/fuselage joint, which were easily filled with a swipe of Perfect Plastic Putty.
Part II here:
This is a relatively obscure subject, the Curtiss AT-9 Fledgling, better known as the Jeep. This is a limited run kit from Pavla, first released in 1999. Building this kit turned out to be a sacrifice to the modeling gods, as Dora Wings has just announced a new tool offering. I first saw this aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, and was attracted by its smooth aerodynamic lines.
There is a single injected sprue. All things are as one would expect for a limited run tool. There are flash, ejector pins, and seam lines, along with wide sprue gates. Detail is soft and there are no mounting pins. Actually, I don’t mind the lack of alignment pins in general, IMHO we modelers make too big a deal of this “limitation” of the limited run kits.
Pavla also supplies prop blades and engines in resin and a PE fret. The canopy is a provided as a vacuform part, and Pavla even includes a spare, which is a very considerate and welcome addition.
The best way to think of this kit is as a craftsman kit, the starter parts are there to provide the framework and the modeler has to take responsibility for the accuracy and details. The first example of this I ran in to was the wheel wells on the wing undersides. The slots for the landing gear are molded closed and need to be cut out if the landing gear legs are to be mounted.
One issue is the mounting of the scoop under the engine nacelles, which also doubles as a faring for the exhaust stubs, which are not provided. The scoop has a sink mark which I filled with superglue. The bigger challenge here is the scoop will drop right through the opening with no real way to mount it. I used plastic card to cover the opening from the inside and provide a way to mount the scoop.
The cockpit parts were relatively crude so I raided the spares box for replacements. The rear bulkhead and center console are kit parts and the instrument panel is from the PE fret. Seats and control yokes are from the spares box, the rest is from evergreen sheet. The throttles are from 1/700 scale ship railings which allows them to be mounted as a group.
Here is the cockpit and the engines painted up and ready to go. The yellow cushions are actually photographs of actual cushions reduced to the proper size and printed out on the home printer. The belts are from the kit PE fret. The engines have been given ignition wires.
The wheels were really thick and distorted, the mold has suffered a bit in this area and there would be a lot of clean up required. I substituted better wheels from the land-based option of the AZ Model Kingfisher kit which I did not intend to use.
Part II here: inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/02/11/pavla-curtiss-at-9-jeep-build-part-ii/