by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
P51D/K Mustang Pacific Aces (2 kits)
Series: Limited Edition
SummaryP51D/K Mustang Pacific Aces (2 kits) is a 1/72 set in Hasegawa's Limited Edition series. Hasegawa supplies parts and decals for the D or K version in this nicely molded combo set.
IntroductionHistories of the P-51 are too ubiquitous for me to write another. Instead I will explain that the external differences between the P-51D and P-51K were mainly the propeller, exhausts, and perhaps canopy.
The 348FG was the Fifth Air Force group that brought the huge P-47 Thunderbolt to the Pacific war, demonstrating its prowess over featherweight Japanese fighters over New Guinea and up the islands towards Japan. Rivalry between Thunderbolt pilots and P-38 pilots was so intense that 348 CO Neal Kirby and leading P-38 ace Johnny Johnson were only stopped from a duel over Port Morseby by 5th AF commander Kenney! As they rampaged over Japanese air assets the 5th AF shed its camouflage for retro-USAAC pre-war livery, sporting some of the most striking USAAF schemes of the war, as seen on this 348th P-51.
The 15FG of VII Fighter Command was a VLR (Very Long Range) group tasked with flying from Iwo Jima to escort B-29 raids against Japan. Despite marauding directly into the corona of the setting sun, VII Fighter Command was not an ace-maker. While most every pilot had a kill, the 9 squadrons only produced three aces: Maj Moore with 11, Maj Tapp with 8 and Capt Aust Jr with 5. Perhaps this is not surprising as Japan’s air forces were pretty decimated by this time and what remained was being saved for a final massed kamikaze mission against the pending invasion of the Home Islands. What they did send aloft were effectively dealt with in the relatively few escort and fighter sweep missions.
In the boxThe top-opening box is decorated with profiles of a P-51D and a P-51K of the 348th and 15th FGs. Inside are two plastic bags containing four sprues of styrene. Some parts display minor scuffing. Each Mustang is built with 56 parts and;
52 x light gray parts
4 x clear pieces
1 x decal sheet for three aircraft
1 x instruction sheet
The parts are commendably molded with a smooth exterior of the airframe, only minor flash, no irritating mold seams (Note the clean gear struts.) or visible sink holes. Sadly there are disturbing ejector marks on several parts: wheels; seat; visible cockpit sides; gear door faces. (See the photos.)
The airframe is detailed predominately with recessed panel lines. Recessed rivet detail surrounds the fuel tank panels under the wings and the wing root fillets. The airframe is built with semi conventional components: single bottom wing with left and right top parts; one-piece stabilizers; separate underwing pylons; separate nose, intake, spinner and hub; fuselage halves; separate exhaust stacks. One fuselage half has the entire vertical stabilizer; this may facilitate molding and perhaps mitigate alignment issues when joining the halves, but I find the gap that is almost always visible – however slight – to be more distracting and difficult to fill than along the two halves.
Canopy parts consist of a windscreen, landing light, and two types of canopies. (Were there two? That’s in dispute.) The parts are clear and undistorted, yet the sprue attachment on a canopy hood has created small fractures. Those may be obvious on a NMF (Natural Metal Finish) airplane.
DetailsInside the main gear wells is good detail. Gear doors have basic interior detail. For the cockpit the big floor/fuselage tank/radio stack piece has fair detail. As does the seat although there are no seatbelts, molded nor decal. The instrument panel is without raised or recessed detail so the decals are essential. Cockpit sides are reasonably detailed. The horseshoe brace for the canopy has indentions to simulate the lightening holes but one should drill these out for accuracy. However, it will require a fine drill and steady hands.
The main gear and tail wheel have good, if oversized, detail. The wheels look very good (except for the ejector marks).
To make this Mustang a D or K, Hasegawa supplies separate propellers for both the standard cuffed version Hamilton Standard (P-51D) and Aeroproducts (P-51K) blades.
Both the 75 gallon and 108 gal. droptanks are included.
decals, instructions, paintingThe instructions open into a tri-fold. Black and white line art illustrates the eight steps and sub steps that build the model.
Three aircraft are offered as decal choices:
1. P-51D: U.S.A.A.F. 348FG Lt. Col. William D. Dunham "Mrs. Bonnie" Aug., 1945
2. P-51D: U.S.A.A.F. 15FG 45FS "67: Stinger VII" Iwo Jima 1945
3. P-51K: U.S.A.A.F. 348FG CO Lt. Col. William T. Banks "Sunshine" June 1945
The smooth, registered, opaque, sharp decals are very impressive. Pay attention to the data stenciling as both P-51D and –K stencils are included. Hasegawa also included yellow propeller tips! Plenty of data stenciling, too.
Only two paint brands are keyed to parts, not surprisingly, Mr. Color and GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color. Paint suggestions are keyed to most parts at each stage.
ConclusionI don’t know when this model was first tooled and released. It is a good model although some of the more recent P-51s may be a bit better. If you want a better cockpit then buy a resin aftermarket set. The impressive decals are smooth, registered, opaque, and sharp.
While the molding is generally good, I am disappointed by all of the ejector circles. I am dubious about only molding the vertical stabilizer onto one fuselage half.
It is a good 1/72 bubble top Mustang. I haven’t built any P-51 kits by Hasegawa’s rivals so I cannot directly compare them. However, this model seems to have bid farewell to its days as cutting edge. The decals are the highlight to me. Overall I can recommend this limited edition kit.
Please remember to tell vendors and manufacturers that you saw this model here - on Aeroscale.
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