North American P-51B/C Mustang by Pro Modeler (Monogram)

1/48 scale
Kit No. 5931
Cost: $22.00 (aftermarket)
Decals: 3 versions – all U.S. Army Air Force: Topper III, flown by Captain Edward L. Toppins of the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group (Tuskegee Airmen), based in the Mediterranean and Southern European Theatres with the 15th Air Force; Ill Wind?, flown by Lt. Nicholas Megura of the 334th Fighter Group, based in England with the Eighth Air Force; and Hell-Er-Bust, flown by Lt. Edwin Heller of the 486th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group.
Comments: Engraved panel lines; highly detailed cockpit, including separate sidewall panels; detailed boxed-in wheel wells; pilot figure included; optional Malcolm hood for canopy

History

The P-51 Mustang is widely regarded as one of the best if not the best single-engine fighter of World War II. Conceived in 1940 to meet the requirements of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force for a high-performance fighter, the prototype XP-51 was designed in just over 100 days and made its first flight in October 1940. The first production Mustang I was delivered to the RAF in November 1941. Powered by a 1,150 hp Allison engine, the first 600 Mustangs entered RAF service with the Army Cooperation Command in April 1942, making their first sorties on July 27th They were followed by 150 Mustang Mk. IA’s and 50 Mk. II’s.

Two aircraft from the initial production batch destined for the British Isles were taken by the U.S. Army for evaluation at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. They were given the designation XP-51. Testing of these aircraft led to the A-36 Apache dive bomber and the F-6, an armed photo reconnaissance plane, and indeed the British discovered that the first Allison-engined Mustangs were slightly underpowered and unable to perform well at high altitude, making the initial production models useful mainly for low-level armed reconnaisance. When the British replaced the Allison engine with the Supermarine Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin (later to be license-built by the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit) , an outstanding fighter was born. The change in powerplant led to the P-51B and C variants. The P-51B entered service on December 17, 1943, and on January 15, 1944, equipped with auxiliary drop tanks beneath their wings, P-51’s went on their first long-range mission as escort fighters for Allied bombers attacking Germany.

With the Merlin installed, the Allies had a superb fighter equal to anything the Axis Powers had in the sky. The RAF gave the Merlin-engined Mustangs a Mk. III designation, the first of 900 entering service with No. 19 Squadron in February 1944. Most of the B and C models based in the UK did away with the factory-issue framed canopies, and were fitted instead with the improved British-designed “Malcolm hood,” canopy, a clear bulged section similar to that previously fitted on Spitfires and offering superior visibility. The Malcolm hood became so popular that they were much sought after by the Americans for use on their own P51-B and -C Mustangs — but they were often in short supply.

Special Note on the Box Art
One of the more interesting units to fly the Mustang during World War II, as depicted on the box art of this kit, was the Tuskegee Airmen, so named because its pilots were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field. This all-Black unit flew red-tailed P-51’s, and were also known as “The Red Tails.” One of it’s officers, Captain Edward L. Toppins was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron and flew 141 missions over Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania. Toppins was officially credited with four confirmed and one probable victory over Luftwaffe aircraft, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with five clusters, and the ETO ribbon with seven battle stars. Markings are provided in the kit for one of his aircraft, Topper III. Ironically, Toppins survived the war but was killed in a training accident in 1947, just six months after being married.

Powerplant: Rolls Royce/Packard Merlin V-1650-7 of 1,680 hp
Maximum speed: 711km/hour at 7,640 meters; 441 mph at 25,065 feet
Armament: Four 12.7mm (.50 caliber machine guns)

The Kit

Monogram/ProModeler’s P-51 is molded in grey and sports engraved panel lines throughout. The cockpit is beautiful with molded detail on the main instrument panel, separately mounted sidewall panels and a very detailed bucket seat. The only thing missing are seat straps, and these are easily scratch-built for those so motivated, or can be provided in a separate photo-etch set for those willing to shell out a few extra dollars. There is flush rivet detail, very detailed boxed-in wheel wells, and a three-piece pilot figure. A
As this was a relatively early P-51 variant, its armament consists of four wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns.  Six would later become standard.  There is an option for either a streamlined canopy featured on the -B model, or the convex (bulged) canopy of the -C version which offered somewhat better visibility.  Finally there are detailed landing gear featuring realistically flattened tires with very good interior door detail, and the addition of two drop tanks.

 

Conclusion

This is a richly detailed kit that unfortunately was short-lived due to its release just one year before Monogram merged with Revell in 1997. Highly recommended.

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