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High Planes Models'
1:72 Learstang Vendetta


By Chris Bucholtz




Vendetta, a heavily-modified Mustang racer, has a reputation all out of proportion to its actual achievements. The plane never actually competed in a Reno Gold or Silver race, but like a great custom car, the plane had such an amazing look that it has remained in the minds of race fans since its final flight in 1989.

John Dilley built Vendetta, from a straight P-51D fuselage, mated with the wing and horizontal tail section of a Lear Jet 23. The modifications required to do this were considerable, and the landing gear and wing-to-fuselage joints had to be re-engineered to preserve a manageable center of gravity. The chin intake was removed and replaced by a NACA-style intake on the very top of the nose. Finished in polished natural metal, the plane was a striking addition to the racing scene.

In the air, Vendetta, was ferocious during testing, reaching 435 mph in one 1988 Reno practice run. When qualifying came, however, the plane was not up to the job and failed to make the field. In 1989, while trying to work the bugs out of the airplane, the engine broke a connecting rod, which forced the pilot to set the plane down in a soft field. The wheels sank into the soft earth and the propeller struck the ground, tearing the propeller and the gearbox from the nose. Vendetta then rolled over the still-whirling prop, inflicting terrible damage on the plane. A heartbroken Dilley couldnít bear to repair his racer; he sold the Lear Jet components to Bill Rodgers, who used them to create Miss Ashley.Vendetta's Mustang parts were then restored into a stock TF-51, and now the Mustang sedately lives out its days training new Mustang jockeys.

The Kit

The fourth of High Planes' 1:72 air racers, Vendetta, is a typical short run kit. The large airframe parts are very nicely done, and High Planes pays a lot of attention to accuracy of shape. The smaller detail parts - wheels, propeller, intake scoop, interior, exhaust stacks, tail wheel - will be challenges in themselves to clean up and salvage. Pillaging a spare Mustang kit - and a resin interior set, if that's the direction you lean - will remedy this problem quickly and easily.

The cockpit includes an instrument panel, seat, and floorboard. These are very rough and featureless. The NACA intake is provided as a separate part, and it may be a challenge to get the bottom of the intake to mount correctly inside the fuselage. The model uses the wings and tail from the Miss Ashley kit; the correct long horizontal stabilizers are included, but the instructions tell the modeler to trim the wing, according to the drawings in the instructions. This will require some careful re-shaping and sanding on the modeler's part.

While the wheels leave a lot to be desired, the white metal landing gear struts are lovely. The canopy is equally nice, and may force you to invest some extra energy in the cockpit detail. The propeller looks like it was copped from the Hasegawa kit, but it suffers from the short-run process; it and the spinner would be best replaced. The exhaust stacks are also quite mushy in detail.

As is the case in almost all of High Planes' racer kits, the decals are wonderful. There are 12 of them, and theyíre all very nicely rendered, even the Air Camel logo.

This kit is a mixed bag. I would have liked to have seen more refinement in the small parts, but with a little work - and some knowledge of the Mustang - it could make a shiny, sleek addition to a collection of 1:72 racers.

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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM

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