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Bedders

A better 1/72 P-51B?

34 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

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: 

 

IMG_2686_zpsfugtilut.jpg

 

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. 

 

IMG_2688_zpss9llvbp6.jpg

 

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

 

IMG_2706_zps8ybspuz6.jpg

 

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:

 

IMG_2708_zps5d3ympsd.jpg

 

IMG_2707_zpsdqf6rtvg.jpg

 

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.

 

IMG_2710_zps60wag9cu.jpg

 

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

 

IMG_2711_zpskyximypt.jpg

 

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:

 

IMG_2715_zpspceasyf8.jpg

 

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:

 

IMG_2719_zpsbtosi2la.jpg

 

IMG_2721_zpsrxi8cift.jpg

 

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

 

Justin

 

Edited by Bedders
Typos
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Looks up from busily scribbling down notes - I'm in.

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

 

Rob

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I'm always interested to see how inaccurate kits can be corrected so I'm in on this one!

 

Ian 

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I too shall be paying attention, having a couple of these in stock.

Steve.

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This is becoming quite a job: you start thinking you're all very clever having tackled certain tasks, when you realise there's another little issue which if you don't fix, it'll mean that the hard work you've put in already won't count for much. So the question now is at the front: the nose still looks a bit wrong and the reason is that the opening for the exhaust pipes is too high. This makes the whole nose look a bit small and unable to house a Merlin. The panel detail on this KP kit is very nice and sharp, but unfortunately it's inaccurate. What to do? I decided to be brave again and start carving up the nose. Again using the Airfix D as a guide, I rescribed some of the nose panels and deduced where the exhaust opening should be. Then I drilled out the inset mounting points for the kit exhausts and began to file the opening southwards, eventually filling in the top bit with some plastic card. I haven't tidied up the rounded front and rear of the openings yet, but I'll aim to do that with a needle file. I think though that the opening is now in a better place, giving the nose a more muscular look:

 

IMG_2722_zpst6dzmgra.jpg

 

Justin

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Hell Justin, that is some job of work you're doing on that. I'm not sure I like mine anymore :( . I might just go back to making Revell & or Academy ones. :D

Steve.

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Nice work, agree with relocation of exhaust looks much better.

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, stevehnz said:

Hell Justin, that is some job of work you're doing on that. I'm not sure I like mine anymore :( . I might just go back to making Revell & or Academy ones. :D

Steve.

 

Steve,

 

Interestingly the KP fuselage, particularly the nose, is a close copy of the Revell. I think (though haven't checked) that the Academy nose is the better of the two in profile, though the carburettor intake is a bit too smiley. These are the problems we face when trying to do B-model Mustangs. Airfix, please come to the rescue...

 

Justin

Edited by Bedders
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2 hours ago, Bedders said:

 

Airfix, please come to the rescue...

 

Justin

Too right. :)

Steve.

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Posted (edited)

So I've been working away and made some progress. At the front, I've added a small plate of thin plastic sheet and filled & sanded it, to give the kit nose a bit more of a chin, which I think is lacking.

 

IMG_2738_zpsjd4v2fol.jpg

 

The wings are only dry fitted, having placed a couple of shims in front of the wing to make sure it stays in the rearward position that I've chosen for it. I've also made good progress on the exhaust openings, which now take an Airfix shrouded exhaust snugly. The aircraft I am building had the unshrouded exhausts so I'll need to find a way to mount them in due course. You can also see the slightly fuller chin, which works for me.

 

IMG_2739_zpsczvmvhwi.jpg

 

I chose at this stage to fit the rudder, with a new hinge-block in place as well as an actuator for the trim tab (on the other side) and a rear marker lamp from stretched sprue. Hopefully it'll stay in place for the rest of the build.

 

IMG_2740_zpsf9vhvtfr.jpg

 

In this view you can see that I've moved the outer gun opening inboard a touch, so that it's in line with the ejector chute which looks about right to me. I'll putty the appropriate wing panel lines in due course. One thing I haven't done is the little operation on the wheel wells to move the rear of the opening backward to the spar-line. I think I decided that was too much work given all the other stuff I was going to do to this kit, but now I kind of regret it. I'll see if I can do a trick with the paintwork when I get to that stage.

 

IMG_2741_zpsmehd3g6n.jpg

 

I'm quite enjoying this build now. Once I'd made the leap that this would not be a straightforward job and I would have to take some risks to get what I wanted, my often-lacking patience seems to have been strengthened. The only pity is that given the amount of work involved, this will probably be my only P-51B for some time to come!

 

Justin

Edited by Bedders
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Wow Justin, all of your subtle changes are adding up to a big difference in the final, more accurate and pleasing, look. At the same time, my KP kits are moving further back in the build queue - it's hard to love a Mustang as much as a Spitfire.

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They are some nice additions, really smooth work as well. Nice

 

Rob

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Despite my earlier reservations, it does look as though the work will be worth it & the way you've broken it down, not too awful to do. :unsure:

Steve.

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3 hours ago, Cookenbacher said:

Wow Justin, all of your subtle changes are adding up to a big difference in the final, more accurate and pleasing, look. At the same time, my KP kits are moving further back in the build queue - it's hard to love a Mustang as much as a Spitfire.

 

I reckon the Mustang vs Spitfire debate will run as long as there are two pronunciations of 'tomato'. I love the Spitfire too. But there are reasons why I have a soft spot for the Mustang. First, for a Brit, there is always going to be a fascination for 'the other': Americans 'over here' doing extraordinary things etc etc. I was born near Debden, home of the Eagle Squadrons when they became the 4th FG, and this model will be a 4th FG machine.

 

Second, the Merlin Mustang is in some ways the aeronautical counterpart (albeit in reverse) of an AC/Shelby Cobra - a British machine with a corking great US engine, and a combination which guaranteed it a place in the pantheon of motor sport greatness.

 

And thirdly, an old friend (and ex-RAF chum) of my father's, not long dead, set about building a 1/72 Mustang from each fighter squadron of the 8th AF, and mighty impressive that collection was too. So my P-51s will scratch a few of those itches, and that's why I'm having so much fun with them.

 

In the meantime I'm learning loads about 1/72 Spitfires from your great builds!

 

Justin

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I was in no way criticizing your love of the Mustang, Justin, merely bemoaning my lack of enthusiasm for cutting a chopping my way to a better version. That being said, Mustangs were my first foray into kit bashing.

 

I also suppose that it's a bit heartwarming for a Brit to be especially fond of the Mustang, while the the Yank holds the Spitfire nearer and dearer.

 

I would love to have seen that 8th AF collection. 

 

 

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Some good work there ,i also have been tinkering to make a better B/C from what's available.It's interesting to see how another modeller approaches the same task differently.Below is a pic of mods i made to the KP kit,i went for a direct graft of the Airfix nose and rudder to correct the major flaws.The wing leading edge+root  is a bugger and i don't think i will ever be happy no matter  how long and how careful i sand it.

 

All this work lead me to my conclusion that the Hasegawa B/C has the best shape ,just a rework of the wing root (a replacement rudder maybe also) and the rest is internal detailing.

p51ckpconvo_zps8nwftg9l.jpg

 

 She will be a P-51C from the CBI when finished 'Princess'.  (if i ever finish sanding that wing ;) ).

 

 

Shane.

 

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V interesting Gwart; when mulling this project earlier I was thinking of slicing it differently, i.e. Complete Airfix D fuselage but grafting in the razorback top bit from KP,  and adding the KP wing to finish. Someone ought to try that approach out and report back on how it went.

 

In any case I like how you've got the B/C fin fillet built in. 

 

Justin

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3 hours ago, Cookenbacher said:

I was in no way criticizing your love of the Mustang, Justin, merely bemoaning my lack of enthusiasm for cutting a chopping my way to a better version. That being said, Mustangs were my first foray into kit bashing.

 

I also suppose that it's a bit heartwarming for a Brit to be especially fond of the Mustang, while the the Yank holds the Spitfire nearer and dearer.

 

I would love to have seen that 8th AF collection. 

 

 

 

I remember those builds well Cookie, particulartly that NMF machine whose finish I must say was was quite inspirational. 

 

Justin

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23 minutes ago, Bedders said:

V interesting Gwart; when mulling this project earlier I was thinking of slicing it differently, i.e. Complete Airfix D fuselage but grafting in the razorback top bit from KP,  and adding the KP wing to finish. Someone ought to try that approach out and report back on how it went.

 

In any case I like how you've got the B/C fin fillet built in. 

 

Justin

 

 I've done that with the Tamiya and Airfix kit using a Polish copy of the Hase kit and the old Monogram kit. <that experiment lead me to conclude that the Airfix kit is the best shaped D in 1/72.

 

Shane.

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Is there anything wrong with ye olde Monogram kit?  I've a part started one in the stash, along with several other Mustangs, including a Frog P51A that'll end up in whif markings at some point.

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Posted (edited)

p51bcstuff._zpsj78v8cn9.jpg

 

My rabbit hole of razorback mustangs,from top to bottom:-

 

 Academy

Airfix

Tamiya

 

Hasegawa,the red lines here show where the fuselage is off by about a mm between the firewall and tail joint,it would need a cut similar to what some do on quarter scale spitfires to fix.It's a tiny amount off though.(the red lines are not where to cut if anyone is wanting to do it ,it just shows the area and  hypothetical cut lines.)

 

Shane

Edited by Gwart
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3 minutes ago, The Wooksta! said:

Is there anything wrong with ye olde Monogram kit?  I've a part started one in the stash, along with several other Mustangs, including a Frog P51A that'll end up in whif markings at some point.

 

The nose is quite slim and the lower fuselage intake is slim also,wing is superb though.

 

Shane.

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Fascinating builds Gwart - this thread just gets more and more interesting.

 

The last time I caught some of Justin's plastic surgery it inspired a year and half (and still counting) of Spitfire cut and pasting. Must resist. I do have the KP and Airfix kits somewhere around...

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4 hours ago, Cookenbacher said:

Fascinating builds Gwart - this thread just gets more and more interesting.

 

The last time I caught some of Justin's plastic surgery it inspired a year and half (and still counting) of Spitfire cut and pasting. Must resist. I do have the KP and Airfix kits somewhere around...

Once I find the envelope I have with your address on there will be something in the post to hopefully inspire you further cookie :) 

 

Shane and Justin, both your builds and the different ways you are going about the same thing are immensely interesting!

 

Rob   

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