by: Magnus Fridsell [ ]
On a rainy Friday in September I just happened to go by our main hobby shop in Stockholm and this kit just jumped into my bag without me being able to stop it...
The kit really takes me back in time to my beginnings as a modeller, it has all the hallmarks of a Series 1 kit: side opening box with painting details on the rear side, one marking option, all the parts on two sprues (three sprues counting the clear parts)... And I really like it!
The single marking option is for a colourful bird from the famous Tuskegee Airmen. They do look nice but I didn't use them so I don't know how they perform. Can someone, who has already used them, come to my rescue?
The plastic parts look good without being exceptional. Surface detailing is a bit on the coarse side and details are a bit soft. Another thing that is soft is the plastic itself, it is easy to overdo the sanding and I was actually quite worried about the strength of the landing gear.
Load options are limited to a set of drop tanks but there are other features worth mentioning: I really appreciated the two separate sets of well fitting flaps: one set for flying and one for landing configurations. Add to this a separate rudder and I think there is more than one would expect in this box!
The low points are limited to the blank instrument panel in an otherwise adequate cockpit (decals simply don't do it for me), a windscreen that, due to the way it attaches to the fuselage, is tricky to glue and finally the most stupid thing there was to copy from the Tamiya kit: the two-piece main canopy with the clear part separated from the frame. They will have to be glued together one way or another...
So, what is it like to build? To sum it up in one word: easy! Especially if you follow the instructions...
As with every Mustang build it all starts in the cockpit. There are no moulded seat belts in the seat, I painted mine but paper tape or photo etch frets will do the trick as well. The rest of the cockpit was painted and the not-too-good-looking decal was attached to the instrument panel. Resulting in a not-too-good-looking instrument panel...
The rest of the build is a very quick process, after less than an hour it does look like a Mustang! A few points to look out for: wing fit is tight, check before glueing, and wait with the flaps until the wings are glued to the fuselage! The wings themselves fit well together apart from one critical area: around the cannon ports. There seem to be some kind of insert in the mould that isn't really flush with the rest. I quickly gave up on filling and filing the cannon stubs round and substituted Albion tubing instead.
The smaller parts are well done, especially the wheels have nice deep detail and a well cast diamond thread pattern. Landing gear are easily attached and the strength seem to be enough despite my initial worries!
The final problem, and the one thing I put off the longest, is the canopy... My friend Ulf has always been a strong advocate of thinned white glue for his ship models and I decided to give it a go this time. After all, it can't really go wrong since it can be cleaned up using water... I mixed water and glue and brushed it on to the top of the frame, quite a lot of it so that capillary action forms a bulge. Then I attached the canopy carefully and prayed! When the glue dries it shrinks, leaving a neat seam that is adequately strong. Problem solved!
The finished Mustang really looks Mustang: it is a big, mean and chunky piece of flying machinery and Airfix has captured that look very well. It looks heavy and I like it a lot, full points for that!
So how does it compare to the other kits on the market? I would say that I prefer the Airfix offering over both the Italeri kit and the well cast but rather skinny Hasegawa offering. The Tamiya kit is outstanding but almost three times the price of the Airfix. Let's say it like this: if I was in the shop looking for a Mustang and there were Tamiya and Airfix to pick between, I would probably pick Tamiya due to a bit more refined details. If there only was the Airfix I would happily bring that one home without going looking for alternatives.
Finally, a few words about my choice of markings: the Swedish Air Force operated more than 150 Mustangs after WWII, among these there were two green-painted examples, the rest were silver/natural metal.
I read about blue N many years ago and legend has it that this was one of the fastest Mustangs in the air force. It's regular pilot was an NCO who, probably due to being the most junior pilot at the squadron, had gotten the scruffiest plane there was as his. When he realised just how good it was, he carefully made sure that it was kept that way so that nobody else would lay their hands on it! When Swedish decal manufacturer RB-decals released a sheet with this aircraft it was finally time to build it.
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