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A better 1/72 P-51B?

3 posts in this topic

Some BMers may remember that for the last P-51 Group Build I tried to complete the hat-trick of a B-model, a D and an H in 1/72. The H was finished first, followed after the deadline by the D. The B, for which I was using the new-ish KP kit, never made it to the finish-line, and ultimately was ... reduced to spares. Why? Well, I wasn't convinced with the overall shape of the model, and eventually the project ran out of steam. But I still wanted a B to complete my set, so recently I set out to build another. 


The question of which is the most accurate 1/72 P-51B on the market has been debated in detail, including on these pages. Essentially there are four main options these days: Hasegawa, Academy, Revell and latterly KP/AZ. I won't go into the detail of the merits of each here, but the debate centres on the shape of the wings (particularly the leading edge kinks and wheel-wells, but also the chord and area) and the fuselages (noses, cockpits, radiators and tails). I read all of this and came to the conclusion that of the four, the KP remained the least bad, and in the absence of the Hawkeye Designs wing-correction for the Hasegawa, perhaps the easiest to correct. 


I won't pretend that this will turn out to be a perfect P-51B, but I'm going to do what I can to correct what I see as the main niggles with the KP kit, and have something that will look the part next to my Airfix D and the RS H. I like pretty much all the Mustang variants, but I have a soft spot for the less numerous models, particularly the B/C and H. And researching this project has been useful to learn about the main differences between the war-time Merlin models.


My main bugbear with the KP kit was the shape of the fin-rudder, which leans forward from the vertical and gives he whole fuselage a sightly banana-shaped look, with the nose poking upwards far too much. There should be a gentle droop - not as much as on a Griffon Spitfire, but getting there. So that's what I'm going to start with. Here is the KP fuselage taped to an Airfix D-model, which shows the lean of the fin to good effect: 




I won't pretend that the Airfix is perfect, but it's not bad at all, and I'm looking for consistency in overall shape between the two. The length of both is similar, with the KP looking perhaps a tad short, though most of this is caused by the lean of the fin. Underneath, the KP's tail-wheel well is a bit far aft but otherwise the shapes don't appear too far apart. 




So, time to be brave and get the saw out:




I took the fin off just above the elevator where I could get a nice clean cut, and repositioned it tilting slightly further back, using the Airfix as a template. In the photo the joins have not set fully as I was still getting the two halves to match both the Airfix template and each other. Here's where things got to:






In the second photo I've tidied up he rudder post with some plastic card and it's being sanded to a uniform and vertical line. I've also started work on the cockpit, as I didn't like the shape of the kit's rear windows.


And here I've built up the canopy frame for the Malcolm hood, onto which I'll eventually put some plasticard rails.




In this view you can see the tidied up rudder post. Not glued yet but looking OK:




At this stage I started looking at the second bugbear I have with this kit: the wing-fuselage join. With a leading edge link that extends less far forward on the B than that on the D model, but all other plan aspects of the two wings being similar, the point at which wing joins fuselage should be further back on the B. But it isn't on this kit. I couldn't work out why: was it that the firewall was positioned too far aft on the KP? No - it's in the same place as the Airfix D. It was then that I noticed that the trailing edge of the B kit was positioned about 1mm forward of where it was on the Airfix D - so the whole wing is located too far forward on the KP. By moving it back about 1mm, it will be in the same place as on the airfix D, and the leading edge wing-fuselage join will be in a better place. Here's a rough first fit, with the wing-root sanded back a touch to meet the wing in the new position slightly aft. To me it looks better:




This photo also shows that I've started on bugbear No 3: the over-pronounced double-bubble shape below the spinner on the cowling. I've given that a bit of filler and sanded it back, and will give it a bit more treatment before rescribing that panel line. In the meantime I've put the cockpit and other internals together - basically OOB with some masking-tape seatbelts:






Almost ready to stick the two halves together. Another update soon.




Edited by Bedders
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Great start, should be good to see this pulled up to scratch 



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