This all-new tooling from Airfix includes optional parts for raised or lowered flaps and extended or retracted gear. Posable items include the rudder, canopy, and radiator belly-scoop-outlet door.
Airfix omitted a few details in the kit’s beautiful scribing — the elevator mass balances and the dzus fasteners along the length of the upper cowling weren’t present — but otherwise the detail on all the parts was executed with finesse. To attain such detail, the sprue gates are a little thick; I recommend detaching all the parts with a razor saw. The interior is sufficient without being superdetailed, using a decal for the instrument panel. I added masking-tape seat belts for the kit-supplied pilot figure when he mans his aircraft.
On my sample, the upper-right wing and the lower wing sections were warped. I had to straighten and glue a little at a time. Also, what appears to have been a packing problem bent both main gear struts pretty severely. They didn’t break, but, even after straightening, the plastic’s memory caused them to slowly deform repeatedly, necessitating continued attention.
In the “Well, yeah, but I know it’s in there” school of thought, the coolant radiator is a separate part visible by peering up inside the belly-scoop outlet, and the one-piece prop has blade shank and hub bolt details molded on — not visible when the spinner’s attached, of course, but for those considering a maintenance diorama, there’s your start.
The fit of all the parts in the kit was exemplary, with little need for filler. Kudos to Airfix for including rigging diagrams in the instructions showing the correct angles between the main gear struts and the wings and the droop angle of the inboard main gear doors.
The kit includes two canopies, with the earlier-style bubble used for this version of the P-51. Brilliantly, Airfix engineered the canopy skirt separately, and the windshield, with no lower frame detail, fits into a recess in the glare shield. This makes painting easy and installation a snap.
Painting instructions reference only Humbrol colors.
The decals provide markings for a Mustang flown by Tuskegee Airman 1st Lt. Spurgeon Ellington of the 100th Fighter Squadron, and are just possibly the best decals I’ve ever used on any model. Perfect register, all the tiny stenciling is legible, everything fits the model, and they adhere like crazy. There are six segments of the yellow theater stripes used on each wing; the instructions note only four, and a couple of their numbers are transposed, but it’s easy to see where they all fit.
With something for modelers of all skill levels, Airfix has produced a Mustang with considerable “bang for the buck.” I spent about 12 hours building it, and I enthusiastically recommend it to all modelers.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2013 FineScale Modeler.