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KIT REVIEW


Revell P-51D-5NA Mustang (Early Version) -- 1:32 Scale



The North American P-51 Mustang is one of the most famous airplanes in of all time, as this single-seat, single engine fighter made history around the world during WWII and the Korean War.  It is also a perennial favorite among scale modelers, with hundreds of injection molded kits from 1:144 to 1:24 scale that have been released over the last several decades.  Recently, Revell (formerly Revell of Germany) released a new-tool P-51D in 1:32 scale in late 2017.  With the woes experienced by Revell USA and the subsequent sale and restructuring process, it took three attempts and seven months to get a sample of this kit to Detail & Scale, and here, we are quite happy to FINALLY bring you our review of this new Mustang.  

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The origins of the phenomenon known as the P-51 go back to early 1940 when the Mustang was first developed not for the US Army Air Force where it gained its greatest renown – but for the RAF.  Developed by North American Aviation as part of a purchasing commission related to the Lend-Lease Act, what became the Mustang was to fill gaps in capability and numbers in the RAF fighter inventory as Germany threatened Great Britain.  The first incarnation of the Mustang was the NA-73x.  It featured a revolutionary laminar flow airfoil wing derived from NACA data and an innovative under-fuselage ducted engine cooling system.  It was very fast, maneuverable, and well-armed.  These early versions entered production in May 1941 and went into combat with the RAF 11 months later.  These were powered by Allison engines and typically equipped with two .50-calibre nose-mounted and four .30-calibre wing-mounted machine guns.  The 1,100 hp Allison V-1710-39 powerplant provided impressive performance, but only to about up to 15,000 feet.

RAF Mustang Mark Is and IIs were soon followed by improved versions operated by the USAAC and the RAF.  P-51As, Bs, and Cs followed.  British experimentation with the supercharged Merlin powerplant’s efficient mechanical supercharger provided for outstanding high-altitude performance, and by mid-1943, Packard-built Merlin engines became standard for new build P-51s.  The definitive P-51D variant was fitted with a Plexiglas bubble canopy providing excellent 360-degree visibility, and the aircraft could reach around 440 MPH while its service ceiling was just shy of 42,000 feet.  Its armament consisted of six wing-mounted .50 caliber machine guns while underwing pylons permitted the use of range-extending drop tanks, rockets, and bombs.  As is likely well-known to our readers, the legendary P-51D flew in all theaters of the war where it excelled at escorting bomber formations over Europe and the Pacific while carrying out every manner of air-to-ground attack and close air support that the fighter could offer.  Later re-designated as the F-51D in the early days of the USAF, the D-model again found its way into combat over Korea as a fighter-bomber before its eventual retirement in the 1950s, last serving with stateside guard units (though many continued to serve particularly in Latin American air forces for years to come).  Indeed, The Mustang’s impact was legendary, as this classic warbird dominated the skies even into the early jet age. 

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Revell’s new tool P-51D comes in one of their less-than-sturdy side opening boxes and there’s more than enough room for all the parts inside.  Nine light gray injection-molded sprues hold 147 plastic parts.  Nine clear parts come on two clear sprues.  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 74 steps.  One decal sheet covers the markings for two early P-51Ds:

Strengths:  The bar has long been set high in the world of 1:32 scale P-51s with the Tamiya and Zoukei-mura kits.  This kit’s design and configuration are all its own, and while certainly less complex than the latter two kits, it also holds it own.  I would say that I’ve gotten to know the Mustang pretty well from a technical perspective, and I can’t see any notable errors, flaws, or real oversights.  Revell has produced a great-looking early Mustang here.  

The parts breakdown is straightforward and this should be a relatively easy build.  Overall shape and configuration of this P-51 looks flawless for all intents and purposes.  It is also heartening to note the restrained surface detail.  That is, during the production process of the P-51, the few thousand rivets on the wing surfaces were puttied over and the entire wing painted silver in order to maintain the cleanest laminar flow possible.  Tamiya, Dragon, and Zoukei-mura all to varying degrees have riveted wing surfaces.  Here, the wing surfaces are appropriately and accurately featureless in that respect.  I also like the single-piece wing halves. Such engineering ensures the builder has the right dihedral for wings.  The separate leading edge machine gun inserts represent a great way to do the gun barrels and leave no nasty seams.  The shape of the fillet-less tail also appears to be right.

The cockpit looks quite good (but for a few observations, see below).  Just about everything that should be there in terms of hardware is nicely represented, from the throttle quadrant, trim wheel, battery, and radio, and other minutia.  The main gear well builds up out of several parts, and for an injection-molded kit, it’s quite good.  The radiator assembly likewise is nicely done, as are the landing gear, tailwheel, and Hamilton Standard prop.  The shape of the windscreen and canopy appear correct.  The optical quality is excellent and there are no seams to sand down and buff out. 
In terms of external stores, you get your choice of two metal drop tanks, two paper drop tanks, and two 500-pound bombs.

The marking options, while limited to two P-51Ds, represent a pair of good looking Mustangs.  The decals were designed by Barracuda Studios, and they look great.  The printing quality is excellent, airframe stenciling is legible, and even small data placards are included. 

Weaknesses:  Only a few critiques can be offered about this kit.  There are more than a few thick sprue attachments which will require care with part removal and cleanup.  There are no raised instrument dial face details much to the probable dismay of the detail painter, as it looks like Revell really wants the builder to use the decal instrument faces (which, incidentally, appear quite accurate).  While the built-up model on the cover of the instruction booklet shows shoulder harnesses on the seat, there are no parts for shoulder harnesses in the kit – neither plastic nor decal.
 
There are three styles of lower cowl vents on Sprue A.  The instructions are ambiguous as to which style of vent to use, but for this early P-51D, I think it should be A46 and A47.    

While the exhaust stacks openings are slightly recessed, it does not look convincing to me in 1:32 scale.  You might want to drill those out a bit or use aftermarket resin parts.

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Revell deserves a sincere tip of the hat for pulling off a really nice 1:32 scale P-51D here.  There’s may different highlights inside this kit, and it’s also quite affordable when compared to other 1:32 scale Mustangs out there on the market.  Given the parts breakdown and several unused parts that belong to other P-51 variants, it is pretty clear that Revell is planning to release additional issues of this kit.  Keep’ em coming, Revell!  Furthermore, there’s now plenty of aftermarket details out there for this kit, and if you want to add more detail to your early Mustang, the sky is just about the limit.   

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


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