1/48 Tamiya P-51B Mustang

Gallery Article by Carl Jarosz on Aug 7 2019



P-51B Mustang 352nd Fighter Group (8th AF)

The 352nd Fighter Group nicknamed themselves "The Blue-Nosed B**tards of Bodney," after their home base in England, Bodney, in East Anglia. 8th AF fighter groups had assigned color(s) to apply to the fuselage nose and engine cowling; by luck or draw, the 352nd wore solid blue. The highest scoring P-51 pilot in the 8th AF, Maj. George Preddy, belonged to the 352nd before he was killed in action. It's 487th Fighter Squadron (FS) was the only FS in the 8th AF to be independently awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (normally an entire group would get the award). The group destroyed over 800 combined enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground by the end of WWII. 

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The Tamiya kit has exceptional detail and engraving for its scale. I chose to build a 'B' model, but I used the Malcolm hood canopy piece instead of the standard multi-piece, close up canopy because it offered the pilot greatly improved visibility, especially from the rear quarters. I built the kit basically out of box, but made seat and harness straps from masking tape cut to scale size. Weathering was minimal, with mainly engine exhaust stains and gun powder residue on the wings, using black pastel and a stiff bristle paint brush, plus a black paint wash applied with air brush.

The standard 'B' model had a solid blade type radio antenna post aft of the cockpit. I chose to represent a later, improved version by adding a whip antenna: a short wire more aft of the blade antenna, which allowed the removal of the use of the long ground wire from the post to the empennage vertical tail. It had a characteristic backward flex in response to being blown in that direction as the aircraft was flown. I used .010 dia. Brass wire, cut to scale length, then used a similar diameter drill bit to create a small pocket in location; super glue set the wire in place.

I hand-painted all the invasion stripes - the white and black stripes - as I wanted to depict the aircraft partaking in the D-Day operation period (June 1944). I learned my lesson long ago about trying to use decals for such relatively broad areas: they tend to crack/brittle along the edges after a short while, and they're hard to conform to curved sections, not to mention that the width gets altered as one navigates a raised or recessed area. Besides - and this is important - my research books said the invasion stripes were hand painted by the group's staff personnel, which means one should expect variation in band widths and (un)straight edges!

Finally, I used only three small pieces of Bare Metal Foil, to represent very recent replacement of fuselage skins from damage or whatever. Any new aluminum exterior part would get oxidized and acquire a dull hue in little time on the real aircraft.

Carl Jarosz

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Photos and text by Carl Jarosz