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Revell Germany's 1/72 P-51B Mustang

 

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

 

History

The P-51 Mustang is probably the most well-known fighter of World War Two, due in no small part to the large number of flying P-51s still out there. The P-51B is one that isn't as well known as the more popular P-51D, but it had just as important part in the Mustang heritage as the latter. The P-51B version is what turned a mediocre airplane into the incredible performer that it's known as by replacing the Allison engine from the P-51A with the Merlin engine. With the Merlin engine the Mustang became the thoroughbred it was designed to be, and nearly 2000 P-51B/Cs and Mustang Mk. III (the RAF designation for the P-51B) were built before the bubbletop P-51D came out. Even after the P-51D was in service, the P-51B kept flying right up to the end of the Second World War, in both Europe and in the Pacific.

The Kit

I cannot think of any major kit manufacturer that does not have a kit of the Mustang in their catalog, and Revell Germany is no exception. The vast majority of these kits, though, are of the P-51D series with the bubble canopy (as it is the more popular), but lately there has been a growing interest in the earlier Mustangs. Revell Germany's release of the 1/72 P-51B is timely, as it follows a recent spate of early Mustangs put out by Condor, Italeri, and Model News.

The kit is molded in a dark green plastic, and has finely recessed panel lines throughout. The plastic is very hard, making the detail very crisp. With all the early P-51 kits I get, the first place I look is the wing to see if they've used a P-51D wing or have a real P-51B wing. The P-51D wing has more of a step on the leading edge at the wing root, while the P-51B is straighter. This wing is a true P-51B wing, which is nice to see. Also, the wheel wells are actually wells, which is another failing of a great many Mustang kits. Now that I've gotten the "Mustang litmus test" out of the way, I can look at the rest of the kit.

The cockpit interior is fairly decent. The wood texture on the floorboards is a little heavy, but once it's painted up and weathered it shouldn't look too bad. The seat is pretty good, with seatbelts molded in, and the instrument panel is provided by a decal. With the one-piece canopy, this interior painted up will be more than adequate.

Moving to the rest of the kit, there's a lot of external detailing that is very nicely done. The wing guns are molded into the lower wing half, poking out just a bit and looking very realistic. The fabric texture on the rudder and ailerons is very well done, and should look quite well under a coat of paint. There is some flash around some parts, but nothing to cause any real problems. A couple quick swipes with some sandpaper and it's gone. The propeller has separate blades, which will make painting the hub much easier, as you can leave the blades off until the last minute. Moving underneath the model, bazooka rocket tubes and drop tanks are provided, which is a very nice touch.

The fit of this kit is superb. Doing a quick dry run and fitting the lower wing onto the fuselage with no trimming done at all yields a near-perfect seam that is all but invisible. Placing the upper wing half on top shows a smooth wing root. If the rest of the kit fits anywhere near as good as these parts, all you'll need is a bit of glue and that's it. Definitely a no-putty model here.

The decals are excellent, and after looking at these I wish that the Revell Hurricane IIB decals were printed by the same guy. On the British set there's a bit of Sky behind the serial number, and it's an almost perfect match. Oh well, I guess you can't have everything perfect. The decals feel thin and the color is very good. Alignment is spot on, and there shouldn't be any problem with opacity either. My only gripe is that the P-51B I want to build isn't depicted. But then again, since Sweden only had two P-51Bs, I guess it wouldn't be a very popular choice anyway.

Overall this is a very well done kit, and given the price for these, this model should be appealing to both the seasoned modeler and the beginner. The choice of markings given in the kit will make for a couple very colorful P-51Bs right out of the box, and with nearly 2000 P-51Bs made, the potential out there for more neat choices is great.

My thanks to Revell Germany for the review sample.




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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
87199-0933
USA

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