Accurate Miniatures 1/48 North American P-51 B
with Aeromaster decals - Debden Ponies Part 1 48-417
and Ultracast Resin P-51 seat (early style)
Model, Text and Photos by: Adrian Milford
The Accurate Miniatures P-51B is a crisply
detailed, impressive looking kit. The composition of the kit and brief history
have been gone over many times, so I'll skip straight to the construction
and painting. A very good preview of the kit can be found here
at Modeling Madness.
Construction began, routinely, in the cockpit. I was very happy with the cockpit supplied by accurate miniatures. The only addition I would make was an Ultracast resin seat (which was very well detailed). One of the odd things I found about the cockpit was that they included the signature clear instrument panel, yet no decal to apply to its back to represent the instruments.
To still use the clear instrument panel to my advantage I decided to paint the back of the it. I painted behind the instruments with their respective colors, to better represent the instrument faces. Then a quick drop of liquid mask in each instrument bezel would protect the colour inside the instrument. Airbrushed black, then drybrushed using a silver paint really brought the piece to life.
Overall the cockpit was painted with Gunze US interior green, then post shaded using very thin Gunze Tire Black in my Badger Sotar 20/20. I use this brush exclusively for shading (both pre-shading and post-shading), for camouflages, and for weathering. However, I only use the fine needles and tips, so it is not a very logical choice for base coats and wide sprays. The parts fit together nicely and I was soon ready to being putting the bulk of the kit together.
The Fuselage and wings
Each Fuselage half actually comes in two pieces oddly enough. The two pieces have a joint that is right in front of the tail (to accommodate other P-51 version I'm sure). Looking at photos of the plane I see that this joint is meant to be a panel line, so I lightly rescribed it to keep the line uniform after gluing the pieces together. The cockpit fit between the fuselage halves nicely, and overall I only had to use a small amount of putty on the underside of the fuselage (due to my of attention in building most likely, not the fit of the kit).
The wings went together quite well, although I did find a small gap between the wing root and the fuselage. This was easily remedied by a small amount of putty and a bit of light sanding. Within a few days I had the kit pretty much together and waiting its coat of paint. (A few days is remarkably fast for me).
I decided that I wanted to have my canopy positioned in the open state, so I swapped canopies with Tamiyas Mustang III kit. The fit of the Tamiya canopy to the Accurate Miniatures fuselage was quite good. I also took the "Spitfire style" rear-view mirror from the Tamiya kit since the plane I was looking to model, "Ill Wind" had the mirror installed. Using Tamiya tape I masked the front windscreen. I decided to leave the tamiya canopy piece off until the end, so I temporarily glued the accurate miniatures closed piece in its place to protect the cockpit from the paint.
The first step in my painting process was to spray the wheel wells aluminum. Although the kit recommends an entirely Interior Green paint job for the wheel wells, I found a few pictures that suggest they were in fact metal with a bit of chromate primer on the gear door, and with a bit of interior green on the inside. Asking on internet forums I found that many others agreed with these colors. I used Alclad II Aluminum sprayed over a primer coat of Tamiya Gloss Black. The Chromate primer and interior green were then brushed on, and the wheel wells masked so they would not be overpainted. Next I pre-shadow the entire model with thin Gunze Tire Black using my Sotar 20/20. Shortly after the model was painted using Gunze light Grey, lightly misted on with my Aztek A430 until the color depth increased to the level I wanted. Masking off the bottom with Tamiya tape and Kleenex I moved to the top surfaces where I sprayed Gunze Olive Drab in much the same matter as the Grey. Once dry I removed the masks and was very pleased with the result.
The front area of the model was then masked off to spray the red stripe behind the nosecone. This was sprayed with Tamiya (gasp! Not Gunze?) Flat red. The wings and tails were then masked to spray the white ID stripes on. I had originally planned to just take the lazy way out and use the decals, but I changed my mind halfway into the painting process, and decided to airbrush them.
The propeller was then given a coat of yellow, before being masked at the tips and sprayed with Tamiya Flat Black. The wheels were painted at the same time. Once dried the wheels were lightly drybrushed with a medium grey to bring out their nice detail. The next small detail to be painted was the exausts, which I painted aluminum and then ran a wash of brownish-black (to be strictly technical) over them . After installing the landing gear, the exausts, and the wheel well doors I gave the entire model a coat of Metalizer Sealer as a gloss coat.
Decals and Finishing
Applying the decals went very smoothly, until I realized that the Mr. Mark softer decal softener I was using was a bit too harsh for the aeromasters. A few of the decals had begun to become distorted. I carefully removed a few of them and reapplied replacements. I thinned my Mr. Mark softer down with water, so I have a "weakened formula" for the nicer decals.
After the decals were on I sprayed a few light coats of Gunze Flat Coat. Once this was dry I could begin my favorite part - Weathering!
I lightly sprayed light grey over the whole model to fade the decals and the upper surfaces. With my Sotar 20/20 I sprayed thin dark grey over some of the panel lines and down along the airpath along the wings. I added exaust staining and gun residue. I know some of it may be "overkill" but the few pictures I have of this actual machine show it quite abused. I applied the paint chipping with Tamiya Enamel Silver.
The final steps were adding the tamiya Canopy section, the drop tanks, and the aerial. I used a product called "Invisible Thread" to do the aerial. I found this at a local craft store. I test fitted the drop tanks and discovered they didn't fit on at all! Could it be? A fault in the kit? I wasn't sure.. I started doubting the quality of my build.. Did I put the landing gear on wrong? It looks right to me . Ahh screw it. I ended up throwing my beautifully painted drop tanks into my spares bin.
I was very happy with how my Mustang turned out. This was my first accurate miniatures kit, and ironically enough the company went under about a month before I started it. I decided to go out and buy what kits of theirs I could, because I enjoyed this one so much. Hopefully Italeri will rerelease these beauties, although I'm sure you can still find them on many online stores such as Roll Models.
I would definitely recommend this kit to any Mustang Fan.
(Editor: This model won the Best Junior award at the Rocky Mountain Model Club contest in Calgary this year. -Great Looking Model Adrian!)
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