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In-Box Review
148
Mustang Mk. III
North American Mustang Mk. III
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Revell have teamed up with ICM to re-box their P-51B/C – releasing it initially with markings for RAF's Mustang Mk. III.

ICM's Mustang first appeared about 12 years ago and it was clear straight away that it was itself a product of some type of inter-company “cross-fertilisation”, embodying elements of Tamiya and Accurate Miniatures kits. As has been noted before, it offered a useful alternative to the Tamiya model, being considerably cheaper in the (Eastern) European market – but it couldn't hope to match the moulding excellence of its Japanese counterpart.

Revell's new boxing comprises:
73 x grey styrene parts ( 11 spare)
9 x clear styrene parts ( 2 spare)
Decals for 2 x colour schemes

So, my immediate question was whether the kit would be better moulded in Revell's hands than the original ICM versions. Sadly, the simple answer is “No” - there is still a little bit of flash to clean up and, more seriously, parts such as the fuselage and wings are slightly warped. Certainly not unfixable – but anyone expecting Revell's in-house precision of their modern new-tool kits will be disappointed.

An uncut diamond?
However, lurking beneath this less than inspiring first impression lies a pretty decent Mustang. The outline matches the plans in the Valiant Wings Early Mustangs book quite nicely, and the surface finish is well polished, with subtle engraved panel lines and fasteners, together with a few raised rivets and a reasonable fabric effect for the rudder and elevators.

Once you've prepared the gluing surfaces and clamped the main parts together to kill the warp, the fit is actually very decent. But the clean-up required, combined with a lack of locating pins for the fuselage and wings, makes this a kit best suited for fairly experienced modellers – ideally with a few limited-run builds under their belt.

A few details
The ICM cockpit is quite nice and busy, with a dozen parts. It inherits Tamiya's mistake by depicting the floor as the top surface of the wing as in the earlier Allison-engined versions. (Along with the change to the Merlin, the P-51B/C introduced a wooden floor.) To be honest, it's not the end of the world - you could install a piece of thin plastic card and do some scratchbuilding, or simply rely on the well sculpted pilot figure that's included to effectively hide it anyway.

If you don't fit the pilot, Revell have included a decal harness to dress up the seat (not to everyone's taste, but again probably perfectly adequate through a closed canopy – and I'd rather see a decal harness than none at all). There's also a decal instrument panel which seems to be intended to sit on top of the moulded details, but as the panel is moulded clear, you might be able to line it up behind the bezels for a glazed look.

The kit doesn't include an RAF “spade grip” control column, but herein lies something of a mystery; although it's often mentioned as being fitted to British Mustangs (and, indeed, I duly added one to Accurate Miniatures' Mustang Mk.1A), the RAF pilots' notes show a standard grip as fitted to US aircraft. So, maybe the “spade grip” is an aeronautical urban myth?... I'd be interested to finally nail down the answer.

The wheel well is quite nicely moulded but, as with almost every other kit of the Mustang, gets the rear spar wrong. (Sergey Kosachev produces a stunning resin replacement as part of his Vector range of accessories and upgrades.) Although there's a welcome inclusion of optional weighted wheels, the parts themselves are rather basic, with soft and simplified hub detail, so replacing these will make a big visual improvement. The undercarriage can be built raised or lowered, but there's no stand included if you want to display your Mustang “in flight”.

A choice of bombs or drop tanks is included, with stencils for the tanks (although the decal ID number in the instructions is incorrect).

Finally, there's a choice of standard or “Malcolm” canopies. The parts are nice and clear, with well-defined frames. Both are designed to be build closed, with the windscreen and main section moulded as one, and separate rear quarterlights.

Instructions & decals
The instructions are printed as a 10-page A4 pamphlet and, while the drawings are quite good, I find the layout very cluttered and confused-looking. It doesn't help that the sequence jumps about in an illogical manner – for instance, building one main undercarriage sub-assembly in the middle of the stages devoted to the cockpit! Despite the two styles of canopies needed for the chosen colour schemes, only one is shown in the instructions.

Numerous “info views” pepper the illustrations, but one could lead to disaster as it shows the horizontal tail set with a small amount of dihedral! Ignore it – the Mustang's tail was totally flat.

Decals are provided for two aircraft:

1. Mustang Mk.III PK-E, s/n FB145, No. 315 Sqn., Coolham, England, June 1944
2. Mustang Mk.III AK-A, s/n FB337, No. 213 Sqn., Laverano, Italy, July 1944

The decals are very nicely printed in Italy with a flat finish and in perfect register. There are a few stencil markings included and these are crisp and legible under a magnifier, but the real fly in the ointment is the colours. While the Dull Red and Blue for the national markings are pretty good, the colour chosen to represent Sky is a vivid pastel green. Perhaps it's suitable for one of the many Battle of Britain-era variations noted before the colour became more standardised, but not for 1944. It's far too bright to match any of my references. Luckily, accurately coloured squadron code letters can be found as aftermarket decals – or, of course, you could always paint them.

Conclusion
The ICM Mustang certainly isn't a bad isn't a bad kit – there are plenty of excellent builds around to prove it – but it's not really one for beginners, on account of the extra clean-up and building skills it needs to make a nice job of it. It's real advantage is its low price compared with its Tamiya rival.

With that in mind, I can't help thinking that Revell's re-boxing of it sits rather awkwardly in the market. It's more expensive than the ICM original and hence that much nearer to the Tamiya kit, but is still partly let down by its decals. So, experienced modellers just looking for a cheap kit as a platform for scratchbuilding and aftermarket extras will probably still go for the ICM version, while anyone wanting an easy build will be drawn to the Tamiya kit.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Basically accurate. Good surface finish. Decent detail. Well printed decals.
Lows: Extra modelling skills required to overcome a few moulding problems. Some details incorrect or simplified. Poorly laid out and misleading instructions. Inaccurate colour used for RAF "Sky".
Verdict: Not a bad kit, but not for beginners. Revell's re-boxing sits rather awkwardly between the ICM original and Tamiya's easier to build rival.
Percentage Rating
75%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 04872
  Suggested Retail: £14.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 09, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.10%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 83.40%

Our Thanks to Revell of Germany!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

Well done, Rowan. I really do enjoy your straight-forward, honest reviews.
JAN 09, 2014 - 08:23 AM
Hi Ben Many thanks - I agonised over this one a bit in case it came across too harshly, so I hope I struck the right balance. Anyone expecting a new-tool kit to Revell's high in-house standards might be a bit put off when they open the box, but there's a perfectly presentable Mustang hiding in there - it's needs a bit of extra TLC to coax it out. If I ever get time, I'll do a Blog on it. All the best Rowan
JAN 09, 2014 - 09:56 AM
Rowan, thank you very much for such an honest review. Think when the times come to build a P51-B/C, I'll go with Tamiya's kit. Joel
JAN 09, 2014 - 01:52 PM
I think all the manufacturing will have been 'outsourced' to ICM with Revell doing the distribution. There was only one Mustang that was fitted with a RAF type 'spade grip'. IIRC it came from a Harvard. It was purely cosmetic and done to make it look more British when it was shown to the British Purchasing Commission. Photographs of the cockpit led to the erroneous idea that they were fitted to the first Alison-engined Mustangs. They were never fitted to production Mustangs. The cockpit has always been a bit sparse and, I think, ICM added a few more bits from the AM kits. A small PE set is still available from Eduard which will enhance it but Part have a much more comprehensive set which includes canopy framing. LINK I am a little puzzled why they would choose FB145 as one of the decal options and then add invasion stripes. Certainly it would have had them but I don't recall any photographs of it in this guise, they date from May 1944 when the squadron were working up. I am pretty sure that the squadron badge would have been applied by D-Day and there should be a black letter 'F' under the nose. A better set of decals for FB145 can be found on Techmod's sheet 48002 which includes the letter 'F'. It is noticeable that on a lot Polish Mustangs the Sky of the squadron codes is darker than the Sky band. It was difficult to squeeze a letter in between the roundel and the band and so one theory is that they added some black or Dark Green (which I would think the most likely choice) to darken the Sky so that it would not blend into the band. Perhaps that is the reason for the rather strange Sky of the decal sheet. Techmod's Sky is also darker that what it should be.
JAN 10, 2014 - 10:38 AM
Over all it really isn't that bad of a kit . Of course having the canopy in the closed position is a bit of a let down . Is the Squadron clear vac still out there ? I have one left which I'm using on the Tamiya kit . I sure this could be made to work ... Terri
JAN 10, 2014 - 01:38 PM
Cheers Antoni Thanks for the extra info. I remember finding a photo of the spade grip at the time I built my Mk.1A, and that - coupled with other references and the overwhelming consensus at the time in modelling circles - led me down the wrong path. It was only when I got a copy of the Pilots' Notes (of course, sadly too late for my build! ) that I began to doubt whether it was ever fitted to Mustangs actually in RAF service. All the best Rowan
JAN 10, 2014 - 10:33 PM
I will stick to the Tamiya model.
FEB 01, 2014 - 09:06 AM
Fred , I pick up this kit after reading Rowans review . The parts look very close to the Tamiya kit so I wanted too see . The are a copy of the Tamyia kit . You can see the tooling marks on removal of part of the cockpit interior . The lower wing and tail surfaces fit the Tamiya kit like a glove ! I have a resin pit so far so I'm not too worried about this area and with having the two styles of canopies they can be cut apart to have either one in the open position . I just need to find markings for Ding Ho ... Terri
FEB 01, 2014 - 09:33 AM
Good review Rowan. Never say "Never" Let me repeat, what I have stated before and I will state again, a limited, underline LIMITED number of early Mustang Mk.Is were known to be modified at the unit level with the replacement of the standard 'pistol grip' control column top section as supplied by NAA, with what I have been reliably informed was the ring grip top section of the control column from a Harvard Mk.I. Done for a small number of aircraft, for the unit OC - in the days when such things could still happen - and the unit OC had an aircraft that he called his own, not normally shared with other pilots. Confirmed by eye witnesses including a senior pilot who flew one of the Mustangs so modified - in my direct discussions with them. There is newsreel footage as well as stills photographs of RAF Allison Mustangs, Mk.Is taken in 1942 and 1943 showing them in service with the standard NAA 'pistol grip' type control column top section. So for 99.99% of RAF Mustangs the standard NAA pistol grip control column piece is correct, for a very rare and limited number of Mustang Mk.Is, I am talking maybe two or three at most from the information I have, and given the timeframe most likely AG or AM series serialed airframes -and I can determine one aircraft so modified from copies of the pilot's log book of the known senior RAF pilots to have his Mustang Mk.I so modified at the time.
FEB 07, 2014 - 08:56 AM
   

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