Tamiya 1:72 N.A. P-51D Mustang “8th A.F. Aces” – Model Airplane Kits Building

guest post by Michel Skoff

Kit Details:

Tamiya Item 60773*1000 – 1/72 Scale War Bird Collection #73 – North American P-51D Mustang 8th A.F. Aces

Aircraft History:

The Classic American fighter of WWII – the North American P-51 Mustang – didn’t actually have too much to do with America. Well, OK, it was made there but then Harley Davidson Motorcycles were made in Japan prior to WWII and Honda cars are made in USA today! It was designed to British specifications by a Czech and only really became a success when the British Merlin engine replaced the American Allison. The β€œ D” model was the bubbletop version with six .50 cal machine guns and hardpoints for drop tanks or bombs. It later saw action in the Korean war and was supplied to many airforces in the post WWII era.

In 1943, the US 8th Air Force began launching bombing campaigns from England air bases onto Germany using renowned aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator. Luftwaffe aircraft mainly consisting of Bf-109’s and Fw-190’s made the bombing runs perilous resulting in the need for escort fighters to accompany B-17’s and B-24’s. The P-38 Lightning was first employed for this purpose followed by P-47D Thunderbolts using drop tanks but neither could stay with the bomber formation for the whole journey. The P-51B Mustang emerged to finally provide the full range escort fighter the bombers needed and the P-51D with improved performance and endurance followed suit. The P-51D soon claimed air superiority over Luftwaffe fighters and significantly reduced the losses of B-17’s and B-24’s to Bf-109’s and Fw-190’s on these bombing runs.

This enabled many pilots to achieve the status of “Ace” meaning they had shot down at least 5 enemy aircraft. Aces from the 8th AF included Col. John D Landers with 14 confirmed victories fighting in both the European and Pacific Theatres, Cap. Charles E Yeager who was more well known for his test pilot feats in the 50’s with 11 victories from March 1944 including an “Ace” tally in one day; and Cap. Clarence Anderson with 16 victories many of which were taken on his first mission over Berlin. These three Aces are the subject of this kit.

The Kit:

This P-51 Mustang model kit has just under 40 crisp medium grey injection molded parts placed inside a plastic bag on one main and one smaller sprue. Surface and other detail is engraved and is superbly done which is no surprise for a Tamiya kit (be wary some Tamiya kits nowadays are reboxed versions of other manufacturers, particularly Italeri). Small rubber stoppers and the five nicely done clear parts are each bagged separately, as is the large decal sheet. The box itself has plenty of information, including art on the side for the two other versions the kit produces to complement the main theme on the boxart, kit

dimension information and a list of Tamiya paints including colours that are needed to do the kit. Unlike Airfix kits, you are told every colour, not just the main ones.

These parts of course are interchangeable in a number of other P-51D/F-51D kits made by Tamiya which are available so the contents of this kit can equally apply to them.


A fold-out booklet is provided for the instructions and caters for a number of different languages. It starts off with the obligatory overview of the aircraft which has been translated into English and ends with painting and decalling information including four-view diagrams of each of the three aircraft depicted in the kit which are labelled A, B & C. On the otherside are 10 assembly steps which are easy to follow and deal with major and minor sub assemblies and include smaller detail and paint diagrams for gear doors, propeller assembly, nav lights and so forth. The instructions point out where different option parts are used depending on the example you want to produce, and labels them A, B and/or C accordingly. Painting information is taken from Tamiya range with a list of colours provided, and a running commentary on sub assemblies also provided in the instructions.


This starts in the cockpit and be prepared for some long nights ahead, because the kit provides quite a lot of detail allowing you to spend hours really sprucing this up to competition standard. The cockpit floor is integrally molded with front and rear bulkheads plus a really lovely detailed radio deck with transmitters and receivers behind the pilot. It’s fun picking out the detail with dry brushing, using a combination of black, gun metal and aluminium to pick out this detail. Sure they are not quite accurately molded, but it looks nice anyway. The control stick looks reasonably convincing as does the main instrument panel which has rudder pedals molded integrally on it, and while there is console detail, a decal is also supplied. While there are no throttles or batteries or other finite detail, the kit does provide sidewall detail which again can be painted up nicely and a clear part is also provided as a gunsight. The seat is quite realistic, with a decal supplied as harnesses, and is separately affixed to the armour plate which sports the realistic looking circular head rest often touted as being unique to the Mustang. Not surprisingly, everything fits really well and installed into the fuselage half. With a large bubble canopy later, it really does pay to put in that bit of extra effort. For the first time, I was really tempted not to build a wheels up model, but instead a static one just so I could show off my handiwork!

On the fuselage halves the rear tailwheel doors are molded in the open position, I decided to slice these off and reposition in the closed position, for wheels up modelling. The problem is the doors are not molded to fit in the closed position, being larger than the hole, but nothing a #11 carve and a subsequent sanding couldn’t overcome. The fuselage halves as you would expect go together very nicely, but there was no way of preventing a gap in the belly, in spite of all the clamping in the world. So this had to be fixed up afterward.

I decided against sub assembling the main wings which are the usual upper halves and lower wing insert, and instead actually followed the instructions, installing the lower wing piece first. It wasn’t until I then affixed the upper wing pieces that I realised why Tamiya want you to do it this way, they have added a small alignment tab at the trailing edge root that goes under the fuselage – in otherwords you install the upper wing at this bit and then over the top (hope that makes sense!) so it is not engineered to allow you to sub assemble the wings separately. There are no resulting gaps, engineered to perfection! The tailplanes were also affixed without any dramas at all.

From here there is not much else to report, the propeller is a straight forward sub assembly and you do need to be careful not to glue the separate poly caps, to enable an easy to move prop blade afterward. The various coolers and intakes had their “mouths” affixed and there are two styles of canopies provided. No issues at all, construction was a breeze.

Colour Schemes:

As alluded to in the aircraft history this kit allows you to produce one of three aircraft aces aircraft and these are as follows:

“Big Beautiful Doll”, Col. John D Landers, Commanding Officer of the 78th FG, European Theatre, Summer 1945. This aircraft is featured on the boxart and is natural metal with black rudder, checkered wing tips and forward fuselage nose area and white spinner.

“Glamorous Glen III”, Capt. Charles E Yeager, 363rd FS, 357th FG, November 1944. This aircraft is finished in overall natural metal, red rudder, red spinner, red and yellow checkered nose, black stripe on inner wing area and invasion stripes on its belly.

“Old Crow”, Capt. Clarence Anderson, 362nd FS, 357th FG, late 1944. This aircraft is finished in an upper Olive Drab scheme over netural grey undersides. It has a red spinner, red and yellow checkered nose, white stripe on inner wing area and invasion stripes on its belly.


The nice sized decal sheet is contained in its own bag and also has wax protection paper so it is well protected. Add to this the fact that it is printed by Cartograf and one gets the feeling that these decals will be excellent in quality even before they are used. The register is spot on and they all look nice on the sheet with a glossy finish. There is plenty of stencilling and also all the checkered stripes, invasion stripes and wing stripes are provided, most of them cut so they can be applied in portions, so the only thing you need to do paint is the spinner and rudder. There won’t be any spares for the USAAF roundels as they are common to all versions.

Applying the decals actually took several hours and became a bit of a chore. There was nothing wrong with the decals because they went onto the model beautifully, and I found worked better on a gloss surface without needing any decal solution (that seemed to hinder more than helped). The problem is that the invasion stripes and a couple of other decals are provided in a number of portions. The idea here is so that you can apply them around opened ducts and exhaust outlets which Tamiya should be applauded for. The problem is that the way the instructions are done, it got very confusing about which decal and which way they were supposed to go, leaving the modeller to work it out for themself. It over complicated things in otherwords. In spite of my best efforts I found it impossible to line up the invasion stripe decals against each other leaving a number of small gaps. So afterward I painted the gaps which was easy enough to do except the white paint and white decal weren’t quite exactly the same! In hindsight, I should have probably just painted the invasion stripes on. But as I said, kudos to Tamiya for splitting up the decals, they just need to make it clear about which decal goes where and its correct orientation.


Measurements are as spot on as you can get them, the kit has all the right panel lines in the right places, the kinked wing looks right, and even the hamilton blades are reasonably replicated. Looks and smells like a Mustang and it is hard to fault. The detail is excellent and it just looks right!

Overall Recommendation:

Dare I say don’t shake the box too hard or your kit will come out assembled for you – yet another Tamiya masterpiece. It is well detailed, engineered excellently, good options for decals, and you can make up a whole squadron of Air Force Aces or different P-51D liveries if you wished. Superb kit in all respects… except of course for the price tag. If you can get this cheaply or the cost of kits doesn’t bother you then this appears to be the definitive model. However, if cost is an issue, there are so many other great P-51D kits out there which are cheaper – the early 2000’s tooling Revell kit comes to mind.

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