|KIT:||MasterCraft 1/72 P-51B 'Swiss Air Force'|
|KIT #:||30513 (C-51)|
|PRICE:||$3.94 at www.hobbyshop.cz|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Developed for the British in lieu of the P-40s they wanted, the Mustang was one of those happy turns of fate. With the original Allison engine, it was a superb fighter in all respects as long as it stayed below about 15,000 feet. Above that the engine's performance dropped off considerably.
The British installed a Merlin engine into a P-51A airframe and saw an immediate improvement in high altitude performance. Armed with this data, North American redesigned the nose section of their Mustang to incorporate this engine and the P-51B/C was born. Initially not wanted by the USAAF as it 'wasn't designed for us', US pilots in Europe who had flown the re-engined Mustang lobbied long and hard, finally convincing USAAF brass that this was the plane they'd been seeking for years as a long-range escort fighter, and the rest is history.
Mastercraft kits are the perfect kits for those who are modeling on a budget. Molded in a somewhat thick medium grey plastic, the level of engraved detail is good, but a tad on the 'soft' side. In that, I mean that the edges of the engraving are a bit more curved than sharp. The texture of the plastic itself is slightly 'pebbly'. I encountered a few sink areas on the gear doors and found there were ejector pin marks on many of the parts such as wheels, gear door interiors, and exhaust. Nothing that unusual, but you do need to be aware of them.
There is some interior sidewall detail, but that is somewhat marred by large ejector pin marks. The cockpit is fairly well detailed with a floor section, seat, control stick and instrument panel. The seat has a huge ejector pin mark that will be difficult to remove and there is no instrument panel detail, that being provided by a printed one on the instruction sheet. A seat belt decal is included which is something that is quite adequate for this scale.
Under wing pylons are separate with no guides as to precise placement. Drop tanks are the only under wing option. The canopy is a single piece with part of the fuselage incorporated into the back section. I'm also somewhat concerned that the wings have too sharp a transition near the wing roots. It seems to me that the P-51B/C wing should be pretty much a straight shot into the fuselage without any kink. When Hasegawa did their P-51B, they used what was pretty much a P-51D wing and received much angst from the modeling public. This may be the same case here.
Instructions are quite well done with clear construction steps and colors provided in FS 595 references as well as those of several other paint companies. Markings are provided for four aircraft. One is the box art Swiss AF version in unpainted metal with large areas of red and white; one is John Godfrey's 336 FS aircraft; one is 'Termite' from the 334 FS (both of these in OD over Neutral Grey) and the final aircraft is 'Bald Eagle' in unpainted metal with full fuselage invasion stripes. The decal sheet itself is well printed and quite matte.
Overall, this really is a pretty nice kit. It is a bit on the thick side in terms of the plastic and it isn't quite as crisply molded as one would see from the Japanese, but then again, it is 1/4 to 1/5 the price. To be frank, most of us don't build for contests and if you are seeking a kit that will be a very nice shelf model when it is done, then this is for you. It is perfect for those who are on a budget but still want a nice model.
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