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1:32 P-51D Mustang from Tamiya

By Jim Zeske
Published: September 12, 2011
Tamiya P-51D Mustang
Tamiya P-51D Mustang close-up
Product: Tamiya’s P-51D has to be one of the most anticipated aircraft models in recent times. With the growing popularity of 1:32 scale, a new, up-to-date P-51D was in high demand.

On opening the box, my first reaction was wow! They pulled out all the stops on this one! Cleanly molded in gray plastic, Tamiya’s all-new Mustang is at the highest standard for engineering, molding, and fidelity of detail. Exemplary of the deluxe nature of this big kit is a modeler’s reference guide with color pictures, a synopsis of Mustang development, and profile drawings that illustrate the placement of markings for three aircraft.
The list of construction options is lengthy: two pilot figures; two tails, three canopy styles; two exhausts; wing-gun details; complete Packard Merlin engine; removable engine panels; multiple cockpit configurations; and that’s naming just a few. The model can be depicted landed or posed in flight on the provided stand.

Assembly: I started out by carefully reviewing the instructions. It appears that Tamiya has put serious consideration into the assembly sequence, so deviate from the directions at your own risk. I found that constructing the subassemblies and painting these as the build progressed worked well.

Magnets (17 in all) are used throughout the construction to support the numerous removable panels.
The engine went together easily. Modelers should decide which exhaust to use when building the engine to be sure to install the proper back plate for the pipes.

Of the two tail sections provided in the kit, one is for the original D model without the tail fillet; the second has the fillet. Note that the kit features the later-production straight-profile fillet. The early version of the tail fillet had a slight curve in its profile. The tail’s attachment to the main fuselage is excellent.

The tail-wheel area is modular to allow posing the gear up or down. This is where I found the only gap that need filling.

The P-51’s landing gear bay is accurately portrayed. Also, modelers should install the wing-gun mounts even if they plan to close the gun bays. The mounts provide detail that can be seen through the shell-ejection ports.

All of the flight surfaces are movable, with photo-etched metal hinges and metal rods for the pivot points. Check the fit prior to gluing the surfaces together. I had fit problems when inserting the hinge into the slots in half the cases (one wing and one elevator). There are two types of elevator parts: fabric- and metal-covered. Make sure not to confuse the two.

The landing-gear assembly is screwed into place, which allows it to be removed for a gear-up display. The vinyl tires do have a visible seam.

Tamiya provides a different canopy for each set of markings in the kit. I believe this may be the first kit to accurately present the initial version that was associated with the first D series planes produced. If a builder plans to make the canopy movable, Part Q2 should be added as late as possible. Adding it too soon and gluing it into position means that modelers won’t be able to insert the slide guide into the fuselage slot.
Painting masks are provided for the clear parts. They are printed, but you will need to cut these out of the sheet yourself.
The decals are for three P-51s of the 8th Air Force. These applied well over a gloss undercoat. However, care should be taken since they are a bit fragile.

Marketing: Tamiya’s engineering and execution of the P-51D is just brilliant! While it’s not for beginners, I would not hesitate to highly recommend it to experienced builders. They will not be disappointed.
Consider stocking Building the P-51 Mustang, by Michael O’Leary (Specialty Press, ISBN 978-1-58007-152-9) and 20th Fighter Group, by Ron MacKay (Squadron, ISBN 978-0-89747-368-2). Both of these contain very useful information and photographs to help with building and finishing.

Product: P-51D Mustang
Maker: Tamiya
Scale: 1:32
Stock No.: 60322
MSRP: $168
Availability: Check your favorite model distributor

Great engineering
Looks wonderful when built
Tricky fit on flaps; seams on tires