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1/18 P51C Mustang ‘Lopes Hope the 3rd’

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Hi everyone,


After reaching the pinnacle of my modelmaking goals and winning Senior National Champion at the 2017 IPMS Nationals with my Spitfire, I have been wondering what to do next…


What could possibly top that feeling – well maybe nothing, but just maybe it might be having another shot at it in a few years with another project.


After a bit of a slump and an attempt at a scratchbuilt Fairey Firefly, I have settled on something that has lit the fire again and in fact is very similar in approach to the Spit. I asked Mirek at HpH to run me off one of their bespoke 1/18 subjects – a P51C as again I could do a natural metal skinned finish, references are abundant and there are restoration subjects that have been documented that fill my need to understand an airframe inside out.


One of those restoration subjects is Lopes Hope a P51C-5-NT that Aircorps Aviation in Minnesota have just put back in the air. I was so blown away by the photographic records they kept and the absolute commitment to accuracy they employ that I wrote to them asking for more info about the airframe. I was stunned when their VP wrote back offering to share info, permission to use their photo’s in my build log and even a small part of a real P51 to include in the model somewhere! They are the same guys that host the Aircorps Library which is an incredible online resource offering for a nominal membership fee access to all the factory drawings and manuals for a range of seminal aircraft.


Their notes on this P51 and why they chose it echo my own:


“Lope’s Hope 3rd was a  P-51C flown by Lt. Donald Lopez.  Donald and Lope’s Hope 3rd served in the China-Burma-India theater with the 14th Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group, 75th Squadron.  The 23rd Fighter Group was the descendent of the famous American Volunteer Group or Flying Tigers after the US entered the war.   Lt. Lopez had 5 victories in China and went on to become a test pilot in the early years of the jet age. Later he was the deputy director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum until his death in 2008. Donald Lopez was instrumental in the construction and opening of the National Air and Space Museum.

The original wartime Lope’s Hope 3rd was  a P51C-5-NT,  Army Air Force Serial Number:    42-103585.  The serial number information was just acquired through the generous contribution of pages from Lt. Lopez’s war time log book by his granddaughter Laura Lopez.  Normally a WWII fighter’s serial number is easily determined by just looking at the tail number. Squadrons in almost every theater of operations number planes this way, but not in China. In China the 23rd Fighter Group’s squadrons were assigned a block of numbers for differentiating their aircraft.  The 75th squadron’s block was 150- 199 (or to 200 depending on source).  Lt. Lopez used 194 on both his P-40N s and on his P-51C , Lope’s Hope 3rd. Without his log book it might have been impossible to figure out his Mustang’s AAF serial number.

Our restoration airframe is a P-51C-10NT Army Air Force Serial Number:    43-24907 ,  that remained in the continental US during WWII and was used for training purposes during and immediately after the war. The decision to paint her in Lt. Lopez’s color scheme is intended to honor him and his service to his country in WWII and to aviation all his life.”




I also think it is one of the most attractive early model P51 schemes out there..




..and to show the kind of reference available through Aircorps Aviations website, these are a few shots that show how a part restored airframe (and this one was done from the ground up) is such a valuable asset to modellers – there are details recorded in pixel perfect clarity that you just wouldn’t see unless you were in the factory when it was built..














When you marry this with the document archive, it means I can go to the P51C parts manual, find the part I want to create and in the manual is listed every part number so I can ID a fuselage frame is part 102-31156 for example..







From there, I can search the library for that part…






..and from there create the part in Coreldraw for photo-etched parts to be made – here this part has a thicker core (in red) and then laminates with etched relief detail on them so when all assembled they will reflect the real part perfectly..







..at this stage I am still doing lots of this translation work and creating what will be hundreds of PE parts to detail out the model..


..lots of cockpit construction parts..






..instrument panel bulkheads..






..fuselage bulkheads..






..the instrument panel is a layered structure..







..and what will become a bespoke set of decals for all the markings & placards..





..onto the model itself.. this literally arrived today so I am just starting to look over it and need to find a good set of plans (recommendations welcome) so I can compare what I have here – on first look it looks good, but I am sure as I learn about the airframe I will find things to change..


..as with the Spit, it starts out as a one piece GRP moulding…







































..also included are flaps, ailerons & tailplanes along with the rudder & airscoop in resin..






..so quite a project hopefully, and certainly one I am looking forward to - although as with the Spit I have some trepidation as it is such a well known aircraft I am going to need the help of those who know it best to make the best job out of it..


..the only downside is that my day job changed in November and I have to be in the city a lot more so my modelling time is currently halved so updates will not be as frequent as in the past (who knows, hopefully I win the lottery & can quit…)


So that is that, I hope you will join me on a long journey into the magical P51 smile.png






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;)Holly Molly Peter!

this is going to be so much fun mate, knowing your skills it will turn into an amazing build, so glad you have choose this model, I'm also buildnig one in 1/32, transforming the D in a B model,  I'll be watching closely mate, great reference from Aircorps indeed!!!


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hi folks :)

thanks forthose drawings Antonio, Alexey let me know about them and they will be very useful..


onto the last few days output then...
I started by finding the appropriate structural drawings & turned them into negatives so I can better see what is happening when I draw on them - here is the side profile at the rear of the canopy and I have started to scale these to the models dimensions and work out major structural features - predominantly longerons & bulkhead positions.
..once I had the basics in lines I could scale another useful drawing that has some of the cockpit features laid out on it..
..I had taken a station (bulkhead position) drawing from the parts manual and scaled it to the model to get a rough idea of positioning..  this is the start from where everything else is oriented so a scaling check and correlation with the kit positions was started..
this taught me to not treat parts manuals as gospel, look to factory drawings for that as you can see how my basic structure does not align with the parts drawing..
..it aligns better with a good plan I found (jumpei Temma again) - I was after the Neely drawings but can't seem to find them available anywhere - these will do for now..
..once I had settled on the framework, I went back to make sure I had scaled all the parts I had designed to fit the model - this is where subtle translation of drawings and calculating scaling measurements is evened out to make them all fit the actual model in hand..
..they were all adjusted and tabs made to fit into brass channel that will form the lower longerons that run the length of the cockpit at top & bottom.. these are juts the cores, there are detailed laminates that fit each of these that carry the details like strengtheners or rivets etc..
so in summary, still a lot of PC work to do, but I might take a look at starting to model the seat soon as I did with the Spit - it sort of gets some wind in the sails on the project and is mainly tube & pressings so I think is something I can start to take a break from the laptop (..and give you something P51 to look at!)...

Edited by airscale
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10 hours ago, airscale said:

I was after the Neely drawings but can't seem to find them available anywhere

You may find them in this P51 shapes thread on RCGroups. Not checked yet but the drawings look to have been printed in a magazine with his permission.


But you could always contact Mr Neely (packardpursuit) and ask him direct.




Edited by dave665
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Good to see that you are back at the bench Peter. Great subject... a P-51C-5-NT with an interesting back story.


The restored P-51C-10-NT by Aircorps Aviation does looks gorgeous as Lope's Hope. But I'm curious are the differences between the P-51C-5-NT and the P-51C-10-NT minor?




Having studied the 1/5 scale P-51D Mustang at Cosford I'm looking forward to this... no pressure  :thumbsup:

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14 hours ago, dave665 said:

The restored P-51C-10-NT by Aircorps Aviation does looks gorgeous as Lope's Hope. But I'm curious are the differences between the P-51C-5-NT and the P-51C-10-NT minor?


The original "Lope's Hope 3rd" was manufactured first as a P-51C-5-NT, but then was immediately sent to the Dallas modification center where it received the addition of the fuselage fuel tank and radios for the China-Burma-India Theatre where it was sent. The addition of the fuselage tank essentially eliminates any real major difference between the C-5-NT and the C-10-NT. The P-51C-5-NT did have an earlier, two-exit oil breather system, where there was an exit port on both the left and right sides of the engine cowls. On P-51C-10-NT production, and also through a Technical Order, this was changed to a replacement system consisting of an exit port only on the right/starboard side. The restored "Lope's Hope 3rd" has this later system and a P-51C-10-NT generation cowl with only the oil breather port on the right side, where as the original "Lope's Hope 3rd" still had the earlier cowling with oil exit ports on both sides. This is really the only outward detail that separates the restoration from the original.


Unique to the China-Burma-India Theatre, the aircraft's radio equipment consists of the SCR-274-N radio set and the MN-26 radio compass set. The airframe restored as "Lope's Hope 3rd" is configured as the original was, including the rare/very unique radio and antenna setup (the only Mustang today that has the CBI Theatre configuration), a working fuselage fuel tank, early factory-supplied gun sight, early drop tanks, etc. On the restoration, there are only a minor few details that are different for modern safe operation - such as the addition of an emergency radiator door release, so that in the event of loss of electrical power or failure of the door motor it can be released to fall full open, and very limited/mostly hidden modern avionics, which are mounted in such a way that it didn't require the removal or reposition of any original wartime equipment (the aircraft was restored first and foremost to being absolutely 100% authentic, and then it was the task of finding any remaining room to add the limited modern avionics). In the restoration, they even went to such great lengths as coping stencils on the exterior of the aircraft, around the fuel caps, that are unique/specific to P-51C's of the 23rd FG/75th FS, besides all of the factory-done stencils/stamps/markings.

When the restoration began, I was happy to share a couple photos I had collected of this rare radio setup in these aircraft to assist in tracking down the right radio equipment, and AirCorps Aviation later was able to find the original documentation on the installation of the radio equipment, with all of the differences in brackets, wiring, etc., so it is absolutely spot-on. I was just going through a really old magazine the other day and found a photo of the original "Lope's Hope 3rd" I had never seen before and passed it along to AirCorps. In this photo you can see that it had an OD-painted left-side canopy frame (just the left side frame) - I've seen this on a number of other early bare metal P-51C's - I believe the likely case was that after the switch came to not painting the aircraft OD/gray anymore, they still had a supply of left-side canopy frames to use that had already been painted OD. You can also just make-out the loop antenna on the aft spine of the fuselage.



Edited by John Terrell
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Thanks for the comprehensive reply John. It looks like Peter will have a wealth of knowledge at his finger tips on this build.


I see the restored C-10-NT has the dorsal fin kit fitted. Do we know if the original "Lope's Hope 3rd" also had it fitted.


Some P-51Cs in China-Burma-India conflict did as shown in this photo on Wikipedia.



Edited by dave665
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wow guys that is fantastic information !! thank you


I am really enjoying getting under the skin of the aircraft and this sort of guidance would take months to learn (if at all..) so thanks again - John it looks like you are literally THE guy when it comes to this airframe, so please stick around and chime in anytime about anything :)


stand by, there has been some actual modelling lately...


So, one of the most important parts of making your own PE parts, particularly when they are major components like cockpit bulkheads, floors & instrument panels is making sure they fit the model you have in hand. I could just copy the manufacturer drawings and scale to 1/18 but I would run into issues in that either the model may not be bang on that scale, or things like the scale thickness of the fuselage skin is about the thickness of the litho I use so would not allow for the thickness GRP moulding the kit is made from (even when it is thinned down...)..


..the first job in this case is to get inside the fuselage and get a feel for the workspace I have to cram the cockpit into.. I set some dyno tape borders to mark out the section I will be removing to get space to work...




..then out with a 0.5mm diamond slitting disc in the dremel to cut to the boundaries - i sectioned to two fuselage station points and along the top of the wing root / bottom longeron..




..in no time I had removed the part I needed to get inside and see what the dimensions are..




..unlike the Spit, the interior is thin and even and offers an easy enough opening to drop a detailed cockpit 'pod' into..




..I used my micrometer to get the actual dimensions so I get some key points of reference for scaling & designing the interior - here I know the lower longerons are 47.65mm in max width at the rearmost bulkhead I will be including...




so the process (which features a full chapter in my new book which will be out soon :) ) starts with copying a real part from the drawing library (in this case the floor part the main fuel tank sits on..)..




..then scaling this to the longeron dimensions which are a blend of the dimensions of the model and the real shapes in the drawings...




..which I can repeat for all the floor parts in this case..




..then by saving the drawings as a PDF file, I can print them out in true scale in order to cut them out and see if they fit and any tweaks that might be needed..




..and finally before assuming I have the dimensions right a real-world test can be made with the model...  here the upper and lower longerons are being test fitted to make sure the cockpit pod will drop in perfectly in relation to it's surroundings...




..and thats it - I will check off the parts as I go and keep plugging away..


I leave you with a question - I can't find any photos of the floor without the seat fitted and I am struggling to make sense of assembling the parts that are labelled as floor parts in the library - I have all the ones in blue and think they are 'assembled' as they should be, but the only drawing I can find is of a P51D which shows a different layout even though the part numbers match the drawings I copied.


I know it's nearly there, but there is a big open section between umber 11 and number 9 I haven't quite made sense of..




over to you (hopefully :) )





Edited by airscale
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1 hour ago, dave665 said:

I see the restored C-10-NT has the dorsal fin kit fitted. Do we know if the original "Lope's Hope 3rd" also had it fitted.


The restored "Lope's Hope 3rd" was done to depict the original aircraft as it would have looked during a few days in early November 1944 - specifically between November 9th and November 11th '44. The reason for this is that the black tails weren't applied on these 75th FS Mustangs until November 9, 1944 (prior to then, the squadron was just flying them essentially factory-fresh in appearance), and only a few days later, on November 11th, was Lopez's last combat mission. The dorsal fin fillet kits & Technical Order were issued in the summer of 1944 (reaching England, for instance, in early August), and it is known that they were installed on Mustangs in the CBI before November '44, so even without photographic evidence, it's just one of those things that is known to have had to have been installed. There are some photos of other 75th FS Mustangs around the same time with the dorsal fin fillets installed, and there is a well known photo of Don Lopez standing in front of the tail of a 75th FS P-51C with a dorsal fin fillet (though it is not known if it is "Lope's Hope 3rd" or not). Some artistic impressions of "Lope's Hope 3rd" have the tail number 194 applied in white on the vertical fin, which had been the tail number applied on Lopez's Mustang before the tail was painted black, but based on the research that AirCorps Aviation conducted, it was concluded that it was very likely not re-applied to the tail at least during the point in time for which the restoration depicts (some actually ended up having the number applied in black on the sides of the cowlings, rather than in white on the tail).

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Peter, that gap in the floor was covered with an olive drab-colored duck cloth/canvas cover, which snapped onto the surrounding floor plates. When the seat is installed, you can barely see any of it.

It is illustrated in drawing 102-53065.

Edited by John Terrell
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Peter do you have access to the photos from the restoration of "Lope's Hope 3rd"?


There are three YouTube videos of them, the third shows the cockpit framework at around 13:06.


Aircraft P-51C 1943 restoration. Part 1

Aircraft P-51C 1943 restoration. Part 2

Aircraft P-51C 1943 restoration. Part 3 (Last)


The floorboards are pictured here in these restoration updates

July/August Lope's Hope Update

August/September Lope's Hope Update


The Aug/Sept update shows pictures of the rear of the cockpit under construction.


This photo looks to be the fitted rear floor panel p/n 102-53054 complete with hoses under the seat. No idea if any of this can be seen or is it under the cloth/canvas cover John described.



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In these photos from the "Lope's Hope 3rd" restoration, you can see peeks of the duck cloth/canvas floor cover. It was mostly made of the same material as all of the other dust covers - like the control stick boot, the tail wheel boot, canopy cover, electrical conduit covers, etc., but it had sections of both dark green (leather?) and olive drab fabric.





Note that the Warren McArthur seat installed in "Lope's Hope 3rd" is painted dark dull green, as many were, rather than interior green. The seats often kept the dark dull green primer, because it stood up to wear & tear better than the interior green primer. The inside of the windscreen and instrument panel shroud was painted dark dull green as well on the P-51B/C (and as is of course the case on the restored "Lope's Hope" as well).


Here are some great photos to illustrate the right-side cockpit/radio controls of a CBI P-51B/C (the restored "Lope's Hope 3rd") - control boxes for the SCR-274-N radio set, and the big MN-28 control box for the MN-26 radio compass. Note, like many/most P-51B/C/D's, it had no IFF radio installed, so as was done from the factory, even though the IFF control box (labeled "Danger") was installed, it doesn't have any detonator switches installed and isn't painted anything other than interior green.




Note how all along this stretch of the right-side of the cockpit, the only difference between WWII and today is the small line of switches & breakers added just below the main electrical switch panel. The only modern avionics installed are two small gauge-sized units that install via easily removable brackets, just under the instrument panel shroud, one located on each side of the gun sight (neither adding or removing anything that wasn't present during WWII).


Edited by John Terrell
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what can I say.


firstly MY favorite Warbird is the MUSTANG and for you to commence such  project has ME  smiling.:heart::wub:


I see that you have gotten a lot research and technical data to your hand; and would not expect anything less from you.:yikes:


it's AWESOME to see your MUSTANG build here and I look forward to another of  your AMAZING & EPIC build. 


I Love that you collate as much technical data and information for your builds and this I know will be simply ASTOUNDING to see.:clap:


following with much enthusiasm.


SUPER start .



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evening folks :)


Thank you for dropping in and helping out guys - that is one of the most wonderful things about posting a WIP in forums - you get to virtually meet fantastic people prepared to invest time in helping you out smile.png
John, I have particular thanks for offering some incredible insight into this airframe, the fact you helped Aircorps Aviation in getting the restoration right means there is no better authority to have as my wingman. I thank you not only for chiming in here and guiding me, but also for the obvious effort you went to with Aircorps in ensuring the end result was damn near perfect...


..now lets see whether I learned anything...


..the first thing was getting the floor panels from the right P51 variant, in the right order.. this was helped greatly by using the main installation drawing (once I was pointed to it..) which allowed me to understand the layout and create the parts needed.


The PE floor panels will serve as a guide for wood laminates so I created an underfloor part which is all the parts welded together and a few 'filler' sections so it is one contiguous part..




..the same drawing was scaled to give great reference (and scale) of the seat and control column.. (I turn the drawings into negatives to help me see when creating shapes on them...)




..I have spent days on parts for all sorts of components - fuel tank, throttle & pitch control unit, canopy parts, cockpit switchboxes, fuselage structure & members, and have started to pull them together into a fret...




While this part of the preparation has some weeks to go, I think it worth sharing the process and I hope you are not bored by it :)


I must admit I was getting a bit fatigued, so I started to think about what 3D modelled components I might make, especially as I was working on the radio components and these lend themselves well to 3D rather than the very two dimensional things you can do with PE.


..I haven't used Rhino 3D for 2 years so I googled getting a free 90 day trial and even though I used an email address I had used before it all installed with no problems. I watched a few Youtube tutorials on shapes & fillets and decisded I would start messing about with something relatively simple to get me back in the groove..


I settled on the MN-26C Radio Compass that is immediately behind the pilot's seat.. this is the actual one in the restoration so perfect reference..




..in Rhino you can import images so I found the dimensions of the radio unti in a 1940's Bendix manual and imported & scaled this photo... If you make some allowances for it not being a direct plan view you can use it as a great guide to locations & proportions..


...after a few vids I was soon setting out the structures..




..and in about an hour and a half, I had the radio complete. It looks difficult but really it is not - this is just a combination of shapes joined together - at a basic level actuallybit is just circles & rectangles..


the premise I use is to say draw a rectangle - you then 'extrude' this which meand it takes the flat one dimensional line rectangle and gives it walls as you lift it so you create a box. Once you complete that if you have ticked the option to create a 'solid' once you finish the action it caps the top & bottom so you have a 3D box with a surface on all sides


..you can then round the edges (called filleting) to various degrees, or do the same extrude process with a circle to make a rod, in fact if you subtract a little rod from a big rod you make a tube..


all of these features can be scaled, moved, one taken from another to make different shapes etc so the only skill that is really needed is to decompose something you are looking at into basic shapes...


..anyways enough waffling, here it is...







..I still need to do a few little bits, and make some holes for knobs etc to be added (going too small on sticky out things doesn't take too well when it comes to 3D printing), and I also need to play around with the feet, but all in all I am happy I remembered how to do it :)


..on to the SCR-274 units next..


I will pick up some glue and actually make something one day I promise...



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just finished the first of the other two radio sets - think this is a BC-457-A Transmitter..




..and in the real airframe..




..still got a few screws to add and some other tweaks..








..thats it for now, time to start the other one..




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