Smerís 1/72
North American
P-51B/C Mustang

 

By Norm Filer

History

If we were to compile a list of the "Most significant aircraft of WWII", the P-51 Mustang probably would demand a place near the top. The history of the P-51 series is very well documented, so perhaps it should just be said that the B/C version, which this kit represents, can trace itís roots to the original North American A-36 Apache, then to the Allison powered P-51 and P-51A. The P-51B/C was the result of one of those "made in heaven" matches: the already well proven Rolls Royce Merlin engine built under license by Packard, and the P-51 airframe. As they say on TV, "the rest is history".

For modeling purposes, the P-51B and C are identical. The B version was built in North Americanís Inglewood, CA plant, and the C was produced at North Americanís Dallas, TX plant. There were 1,988 B models produced, and another 1,750 C models. While it is outside the scope of this kit review, it is interesting to note that another 6,502 D model Mustangs were built, and 1,500 K models were also built.

By the time the B/C versions were replaced with the later Dís and Kís, the outstanding reputation was established. By the end of the WW II, every fighter group in the Eighth Air Force except one was flying the Mustang, and that group was scheduled to make the conversion soon.

The Kit

The kit is in a very light blue injection molded plastic. There are 40 blue parts and 8 clear parts. This is not a low-pressure cottage industry kit. In fact, the parts trees say "made in Poland" and "Intech".

The definitive 1/72 P-51B has been a very elusive subject. Most of the worldís plastic kit manufacturers have either or both the B and later D versions in their product line. Revell and Academy recently added the B/C to their line and most modelers have not given them especially high grades. Both seem to have made errors either in the shape of the teardrop shaped windows or the elusive inboard leading edge of the wing.

Smer appears to have reproduced the tear drop windows rather well. (They are integral with the canopy and windscreen), but dropped the ball badly on the wing leading edge. Like many others before them, they used the larger shape of the later D.

So how did they do on the rest of it. Unfortunately, not very well. The detailing, while recessed, is soft and indistinct. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it looks like the parts came out of the molds while still very soft, and the edges continued to flow, leaving rounded edges and "soft" panel lines. This appearance is rather common to low-pressure, thick sprued efforts but is not normal to high-pressure injection molding.

All of the parts on the sprue with the fuselage halves have a rather noticeable "rash" on all the surfaces. It is not removable without sanding the whole outside of all those parts. Since both of the two decal/paint options are for natural metal birds, the use of this particular kit for a silver bird would be questionable. With only one kit to look at I have no way of knowing if this is a common problem.

The clear parts remind me a lot of the early days of injection molded kits. They are pretty thick appearing, but are not really that thick. The Malcolm hood looks like a miniature magnifying glass. They are very clear, without any of the milky appearance we have seen on some kits. Also, the windscreen is not shaped correctly above the flat front part.

The decals are by Propagteam and are the best part of the kit. We get a nice set of Kid Hoferís "Salem Representative" of the famous 4th Fighter Group. Alternate markings are "Little Ann", another all silver bird with a blue nose from the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Group. With the fine, but noticeable surface blemishes on this kit, neither would be good choices. Perhaps an earlier all OD and Gray birds would be better.

Conclusion

This kit is a bit of an enigma. If it were of a less available airplane type, one would be tempted to work out the problems and build it. With so many other offerings to compare with, my inclination is to just say no thanks and use another kit.

Neither Poland nor the Czech Republic are isolated in todayís kit market. They surely must ( or should) know what the competition is doing. To invest time and money into an inferior example of an already available model seems to me to be a short road to disaster. And that would be unfortunate.



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