Internet Modeler : First Look : Aviation

ICM 1/48 North American Mustang III (RAF)

By Michael Benolkin

Background

For those of us who've been following ICM's great line of kits, we've been really impressed with the quality and detail in each new release. With the release of their 1/48 Spitfires, I was extremely impressed by the detail and accuracy of the kit. Compared to the offerings from Japan, the ICM Spitfire is the most accurate for dimension and shape. While there are a few sink marks to contend with, you are also offered a significant amount of detail in the cockpit and inside the cowling. With this new standard of detailing, I was really looking forward to seeing what ICM would do with the P-51 Mustang.

The Kit

At first glance, this new Mustang is nicely molded and features some good details, though the inside of the cowling is conspicuously empty. So much for an open cowling vignette out of the box as with their Spitfire kits. Then at the suggestion of one of my IPMS colleagues, I pulled out a Tamiya 1/48 P-51B to compare to this ICM kit. Much to my surprise, the ICM Mustang is a virtual duplicate of the Tamiya kit!

As you'll see in the scans, the tree layouts are different between the ICM and Tamiya kits, and there are a few subtle differences in these offerings. For instance, the main interior floorboard is molded with a separate firewall ahead of the cockpit whereas the Tamiya molds these two parts as one. The pilot's hands are also molded in a different pose between the two kits but are otherwise identical though the detail on my ICM example is a little softer than my Tamiya example.

Another interesting difference is with the instrument panel. Where the Tamiya panel is molded in gray with nice details, the ICM panel is molded in clear with the same details. In fact, two different instrument panels are provided in the ICM kit. The tailwheel gear doors are molded onto the fuselage halves on the Tamiya kit and are separate parts on the ICM offering.

Despite these subtle differences, you can mate the fuselage halves from the ICM and Tamiya kits together and they fit nicely and even the finely scribed panel lines on the ICM half align perfectly with the Tamiya half.

Two different types of propeller blades are provided in this kit as well as two types of canopy. The two Mustang Mk.IIIs featured in this offering use the Malcom hood, though the 'classic' P-51B/C canopy is also provided. What is rather disappointing here is that the canopies and windscreens are molded together, which means you can only pose the model with the canopy closed unless you borrow a Tamiya canopy or buy the Squadron vacuform canopy for the Tamiya kit.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • Mustang Mk.III, 316 Sqn (Polish), June 1944

  • Mustang Mk.III, 65 Sqn as flown by Sqn Ldr Westnera, 1944

Conclusions

What can I say? The Tamiya 1/48 Mustangs are the best in this scale and the ICM kit is a virtual duplicate. The extra parts are nice and the clear instrument panels can offer some nice detailing potential, though this is lost with the closed canopy.

The retail price difference between the two kits is approximately $7.00 USD - Tamiya's kit is listed at $27.00 while the ICM kit is listed at $20.00. Street prices will vary. I certainly hope that their upcoming Bf109 kits do not follow the same path as the Mustang.


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