North American P-51B Mustang Mk. III by Revell Germany

1/72 scale
Kit No. 4167
Cost: $9.00
Decals: Two versions, both Royal Air Force (No. 316, Polish Squadron, August 1944; and No. 234 Squadron, December 1944)
Comments: Engraved panel lines, flushed rivet detail, boxed-in wheel wells, one-piece canopy, pair of 500 lb. bombs

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, built and flown in 117 days. Powered by a 1,150 hp Allison engine, the first 600 Mustangs entered RAF service with the Army Cooperation Command in April 1942, followed by 150 Mustang Mk. IA’s and 50 Mk. II’s.

It was not until later that the U.S. Army Air Force realized the Mustang’s potential. 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 Allison was replaced with the Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin engine, license-built by the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit, an outstanding fighter was born.

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 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.

With long-range fuel tanks the Mustangs became ideal long-range escorts for daytime Allied bomber formations. They were also employed by the RAF to patrol southeast England and intercept V-1 rockets. The Mustang III served with a total of 19 RAF squadrons until the end of the war.

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

Revell Germany’s P-51B is molded in dark green and consists of 50 parts on 4 sprues, including a gunsight and control stick in the cockpit, individually mounted propeller blades, and separately mounted clamps for the optional bombs or drop tanks. The exterior has engraved detail throughout, with faithfully recreated flush rivets. The kit offers excellent molded detail in the cockpit (notably the sidewalls and instrument panel), wheel wells, landing gear (the door interiors have nice detail and the wheels feature diamond tread), and auxiliary drop tanks. Combined with the level of engraved detail, this is simply the best P-51B the author has seen in 1/72 scale and should make for an excellent and rewarding build.  The instruction sheet is well-illustrated and easy to follow with the familiar Revell paint flag markers.

Decals

The decals are Italian in origin (‘Printed in Italy by Revell AG”), high quality, thin, and should provide a top-flight look to the finished product. The only criticism is that the pilot’s seat is a bit thick for the scale, but this can be remedied with a bit of sanding or even outright replacement with a resin or photo-etched example — but this is a negligible defect given the breadth of this kit’s merits.  It is a pity this kit is not more widely available in the U.S. It can be found occasionally on Ebay or if you commit as I did to patiently scouring of the aisles in every hobby shop in your vicinity until you hit paydirt.  Very Highly Recommended.

Reference

Kit instruction sheet

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