Building Classic Plastic Model Airplanes Kits – Promodeler (Revell-Monogram) 1:48 N.A. P-51B Mustang
guest post by Dylan Heidelberger
North American P-51B Mustang, Revell-Monogram “Pro Modeler”, 1:48 scale
The North American P-51 Mustang was one of the most famous fighter aircraft of World War Two. So impressed was the U.S. Army Air Force with the concept of this fast, highly maneuverable aircraft that orders for production models were placed while the P-51 was still on the drawing board.
The Mustang combined the elements of speed, maneuverability, range, and armament, making it one of the best all-around fighters in both the European and Pacific theatres. Early versions had a “birdcage-style” canopy blended into the rear fuselage. Pilots complained of limited visibility and eventually, the D-model was introduced which eliminated the fuselage taper and added a bubble canopy that afforded the pilot a 360-degree view. While the airframe essentially remained unchanged, the powerplant went through several incarnations before arriving at the powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, whose throaty roar gave the Mustang its unique sound. The P-51B and C-models were the first production versions to see combat. The improved P-51D became the most recognizable of the Mustangs, with many D-models serving onward into the Korean conflict. Hundreds of examples were sold to foreign air forces, especially France who used them extensively in Southeast Asia. Today, only a handful remain in flying condition, most in the collections of private owners.
I acquired this P-51 Mustang model kit as part of a lot of three kits purchased off of E-Bay. With a P-51D kit awaiting construction in the stash, I saw the opportunity to “kit bash” this one as a Christmas gift for my brother. Revell-Monogram did a pretty decent job with this kit under the Pro Modeler name. Impressive recessed panel lines, detailed cockpit, and smooth fit. Cockpit detail was better than expected, actually. Parts were molded in light grey and attached to sprue trees with no noticeable flash. The usual defects such as ejector marks were minimal, but were in precarious places such as the outsides of the tires.
Booklet-type pages were very straightforward and provided sufficient detail. A list of paints is provided with corresponding FS numbers. No parts list. Callouts clearly identified. What is impressive about the instructions is that the pages contain helpful modeling tips and painting notes to achieve desired results. But most impressive of all are actual photos of the real thing showing the detail of areas like the cockpit, landing gear, and engine area. Being black and white photos, they don’t do anything to aid in color-matching, but they do help with identifying areas where attention to detail is critical. Unfortunately for Revell-Monogram, the photos betray inconsistencies and errors with the plastic, but these errors are generally minor and invisible to the untrained eye. (The most obvious of these are the wheel hub details and the missing actuator rod in the hot air exit ramp.) The instructions offer the option of building a B or C-model, but it’s not necessary to decide beforehand which one to build until you get to the canopy and painting/decaling.
The build process went smoothly. Cockpit area was assembled and painted first, then the fuselage and wings went together rather quickly. No glaring fit problems and just some minor seam work required where the wings meet the fuselage. In fact, this is the only area where I used any putty at all. Fit was exceptional.
Gear and doors were assembled and painted separately, to be attached after the airframe was painted. It was during assembly of the wings that I realized the kit did not include parts for the four .50 caliber machine guns. The real life Mustang’s gun muzzles were recessed beneath the leading edge of the wing and this effect is realistic when viewing the model from above, but when you look at it head-on, all you see are empty sockets where muzzles should be! While the effect of the real thing is more or less achieved, Revell-Monogram could have at least molded some gun barrels…anything to put in there instead of leaving four empty holes! I stuck some wire rod in the holes to compensate. Otherwise, assembly was remarkably smooth and easy.
Towards the end of the build, I decided to finish the kit as a P-51B with the improved Malcolm semi-bubble canopy. This requires cutting away a pair of windows from the birdcage-style canopy. It’s at this point that the fit problems take a turn for the worse and I really had to coddle the four clear parts into place to make a reasonably respectable canopy.
The kit can be finished in one of three versions (a P-51C of the Tuskegee Airmen, a P-51B with the birdcage canopy, or a P-51B with the Malcolm canopy). Decals and painting schematics are provided for all three. All three examples represent aircraft that served in the European theater of operations during World War Two.
Varies from natural metal finish for the P-51C to olive drab and grey for the P-51B’s.
Revell P-51B/C Mustang
Revell/Monogram P-51B Mustang
P-51B Mustang with Crew
ICM Models P-51C Mustang
Tamiya P-51B Mustang 1/48
Decals for all versions are included on a single sheet. Probably due to the environment in which the kit had been stored prior to arriving at my doorstep, the decals were of horrible quality and fell apart easily if not soaked for just the right amount of time. In fact, even when given all the TLC I could muster, edges of the decals flaked away before even hitting the model, and often left bits and pieces of themselves along the model’s surface when I attempted to move them into position. After several fruitless attempts to salvage them, I eventually scrapped them and used spares from the spares box to complete the kit. After all, this was a build for my younger brother, so I figured attention to every conceivable detail wasn’t necessary at this juncture!
Very nice, but with exceptions that a critical eye would easily identify such as the missing gun barrels and other details. The model comes with “flattened” main gear tires for a more realistic effect, which is a nice touch. The propeller blades seem a tad on the thick side, but it could be just that their pitch is such that it gives the illusion of them being thicker. The air scoop intakes below the fuselage and below the prop spinner end in flat panels which need to be drilled out for realism.
A good, quick, clean build. Nice kit for a weekend kit bash or to build as a gift for a less scrupulous recipient (like my brother). In the sense that the parts fit well and the instructions are superb, this is a first rate kit. But if the Pro Modeler brand was meant to identify a kit of higher-than-average attention to detail, then this one just doesn’t seem fit to carry that name. While the details like recessed panel lines and cockpit are above par, Revell-Monogram missed other details that would have greatly added to the realism of the kit.