Mustang Mk. I by Special Hobby

1/72 scale
Kit No. SH72041
Cost: $21.00
Decals: Two versions, both Royal Air Force (UK), 1942
Comments: Builds one of four versions; two complete airframes; engraved panel lines; detailed resin cockpit, wheels, and replacement parts for wing armament; one-piece canopy

History

In 1939, the British Purchasing Commission asked North American Aviation to manufacture the Curtiss Hawk 87A-1 (better known as the P-40) for the Royal Air Force. North American’s president, J.H. Kindeberger countered with a suggestion that his company design an entirely new fighter around the same Allison V-1710-39 engine, but with performance superior to that of the P-40.
North American at that time had never built a fighter; but the British Purchasing Commission was so impressed with the proposal that they signed a contract for a new prototype in May 1940.

Before the prototype had flown, an order was placed for 320 aircraft. When it was complete, the prototype NA-73X outperformed contemporary American fighters, due to a number of innovations, including its laminar flow wing and the radiator mounted just beneath and aft of it. The Mustang I went into production with a long carburetor intake scoop above the nose (extending all the way to the prop spinner) and bristling with eight guns — two .50 caliber machine guns in the lower nose just beneath and aft of the prop spinner, and one .50 caliber and two .30 caliber guns in each wing.

The Allison V-1710 in-line engine hampered the aircraft’s performance above 13,000 feet, but initially the RAF intended using it for low-level ground attack and photo reconnaissance, so there was no requirement, and no immediate need, for high altitude performance. It was not much later that the Mustang was mated with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and an outstanding fighter was born. The first production aircraft took its maiden flight in May 1941 and was retained by North American for its own evaluation purposes. The second production machine arrived in Britain in November 1941 and was dubbed Mustang Mk. I. RAF No. 26 Squadron was the first of 14 UK-based Army Cooperation Command units to be equipped with the Mustang in February 1942. Given its high-altitude limitations, the Mustang was deemed unsuitable as a day fighter, but would make an admirable cooperation (ground attack) machine. Mustang Mk. I’s were fitted with F.24 oblique cameras behind the cockpit for reconnaissance work. In this configuration, they photographed the French port of Dieppe before the ill-fated commando raid in August 1942. In October 1942, it had the distinction of being the first UK-based fighter to strike a target inside Germany, during a raid on the Dortmund Ems canal.

Specifications

Wingspan: 37 ft. 3 in.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Maximum speed: 375 mph
Service ceiling: 31,000 feet
Range: 640 miles (1,022 miles) with external fuel tanks
Armament: Two .50 caliber machine guns in the lower nose; one .50 caliber and two .30 caliber machine guns in each wing

The Kit

While Special Hobby has marketed this kit as a Mustang Mk. I, sufficient parts are provided in this kit for one of four early Allison-engined Mustang variants: the RAF Mustang Mk. I, the RAF Mustang Mk. IA, the A-36 Apache, and the P-51A. This is largely due to the most striking feature of this kit: the provision of two complete airframes. There are two separate fuselages, two sets of wings, and two sets of elevators. While the modeler is advised by the instructions to simply disregard these extra parts, they point up an interesting range of four options, which are not to be overlooked because appropriate alternate parts are provided for building any one of them:

RAF Mustang Mk. I
One of the fuselages provided bears both the long carburetor intake scoop and the depressions in the lower front cowling (with separately molded machine gun barrels) that distinguished the Mustang Mk. I. While neither set of wings provided bears the Mustang Mk. I’s exact armament, there is the option to follow the instructions by trimming the 20mm barrel housings from one set of the wings entirely, and cut sections from the lower leading edge of these wings, to be replaced by resin plugs bearing excellent, intricately machined detail for the Mk.1’s all-machine gun armament of two .30 calibers and one .50 caliber gun in each wing. The quality of these resin replacement parts is truly outstanding. Finally, a separate part is provided for the Mk. I’s relatively small radiator intake.

RAF Mustang Mk IA
Another feature is that one set of the wings bears large barrel housings for the four 20mm cannon that armed the Mustang Mk. 1A. Separate parts are provided for the long 20mm gun barrels to fit into and protrude from these housings.

U.S. Army Air Force A-36A
The A-36A Apache retained the nose gun armament of its British counterparts. Another interesting feature is the provision of dive brakes in one set of the wings – while not separately molded, there are engraved into the upper and lower surfaces of the wings the dive brakes featured on one of the U.S. Army Air Force variants of this early version of the Mustang, the A-36 Apache, employed for ground support and dive-bombing after hard points fitted for two 500 lb. bombs under the wings were added. Separate parts are included for two detailed under-the-wing hard points as well as two 500 lb. bombs. Great attention to detail paid to the Mustang Mk. 1/A-36 variant; the two .50 caliber nose guns, which are not merely represented by depressions in the fuselage or stubby barrels molded into it, but separately molded, detailed gun barrels. A separate part is provided for the A-36’s radiator intake, which had been enlarged somewhat over that of the Mustang Mk. 1.

U.S. Air Army Air Force P-51A
While all of these aircraft had the long carburetor intake over the nose that is characteristic of the early Allison-engined Mustangs, the P-51A differed from its British cousins – and the A-36A — in that it had the .50 caliber nose guns deleted. One of the fuselages provided has a smooth lower cowling devoid of machine guns. One of the sets of wings bears depressions in the leading edge for the four .50 caliber machine guns that armed the P-51A.

References

  • Special Hobby instructions
  • P-51 Mustang in Action; Squadron Signal Publications No. 211, Copyright 2008
%d bloggers like this: