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1/48 Tamiya P-51B

Don Gentile’s P-51B “Shangri-La

by Erik Bosch

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The kit used to build this model was the Tamiya 1/48th scale P-51B. I finished it in November 1996.The model was built almost straight from the box. At the moment of building I didn’t realize the cockpit as depicted by Tamiya was not correct for this sub-type so I used it unaltered. To be honest, the curved cockpit floor isn’t really visible when you look in the ‘pit of the finished model but the configuration of the control stick and it’s linkage is. The best option is to use the True Details resin set which addresses the problems of the curved instead of wooden floor and it also has the right setup for the control stick. The reference I used was the “Walk-Around” of the P-51D together with the “P-51 in Action”. My reasoning at the time was that because of the same engine and such, the difference between the –B and the –D were almost  non-existent aside from the canopy, fuselage spine and the armament. Oh, well... 

In the cockpit I added a trimwheel, a yellow arm (emergency landing gear control? Still don’t know…), the detail for the flare pistol port, map case, wire from the antenna lead-in to the radio, oxygen hose by winding thin copper wire around a thicker wire and Eduard seat belts. Looking back, I should have added some additional details to the hinged part of the canopy too! But that’s the learning curvature in modelling, isn’t it?

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The model falls together like a dream. There are no difficulties in the assembling process that I encountered. I just added some finer details and refined some oversimplified parts. For instance, the exhausts need drilling out, as do the towing eyes inboard of the main gear struts. I replaced the “blobs” at the front of the main gear by two plates per gear leg with a hole drilled in. Of course, the compulsory brake lines were added too. To make the model less static I cut off the tail wheel and glued it back off-center. For the antenna wire I used the thinnest (dark) fishing line I could obtain.

What I found was one annoying feature in this kit was that when built up, a seam line was visible inside of the radiator outlet walls. These sides were covered with very thin plasticard. The radiator outlet flap received an actuator arm. 

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Paints used were Tamiya’s. I airbrushed the white ETO-stripes on because that gives a much more convincing result than decals. I believe that to be correct with these markings, the spinner should be all-red. In any case, the dividing line between the red and white of the spinner was very sloppy during the short time this aircraft had this feature. Weathering was done with pastels for the exhaust staining and the guns, while a very light wash with Raw Umber took care of the panellines. The inner gear doors received a light coat of Tamiya Smoke which gives a wash-like effect. 

The decals are Tamiya’s kit decals. On the photographs the antenna wire is a bit slack, this is because at the last local IPMS-meet the antenna strut broke off. I reattached it with CA, but couldn’t get the tension back in the wire at that time. Next I tried applying heat, but PINNNNNNGG! And then I had two wires….. Finally I cut off the remains, drilled back a hole in the vertical tail and spine and rigged a new wire. It now sits in the display case in all it’s splendor…  

I hope you liked the article….. And now: shut off that computer and start BUILDING!!!!!!! ;^)

Erik

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Photos and text © by Erik Bosch

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