Meng P-51D Mustang in 1/48th Scale

Meng P-51D Mustang in 1/48th Scale

by Mike Hanlon

Since released in 1995, the Tamiya P-51D Mustang has been benchmark for 1/48 Mustangs kits.  A simple and rewarding kit, it is not without its flaws and before talking about Meng’s effort I would like to revisit the Tamiya kit.

Tamiya’s Mustang has been released in five different boxes and has had one update to correct a flaw in the kit.  In the original release, Tamiya molded the sprue gates directly to the clear parts, the result being that clear could not be removed from the sprue without being marred. The subsequent revision moved the gate to the edge of the windscreen and the canopy but care must still be taken when removing the part that can be easily damaged.  The main canopy is molded separately form the canopy frame and leaves a nasty seam if care is not taken in assembly.

The kit has some minor deficiencies; the interior is basic and not up to current day standards.  The propeller consists of four separate blades and a two-piece spinner that does not go together easily and is best replaced with a resin propeller from Ultracast.  The wheel wells are inaccurate as the main wing spar forms the rear of the well on the actual aircraft. The kit well has a rear wall that follows the curve of the well.   The remaining issue is that seam on the underside of the fuselage is difficult to clean up as it runs through the supercharger exhaust and some raised detail.  The wings are scribed and have reinforcing rivets over the wheel wells.  Mustang purists may want to sand and fill the scribed panels

None of these problems is insurmountable and the kit remains a pleasure to build. Since released I have built five.

Meng’s kit is billed as being “Fast Cement-Free Assembly”.  It contains well over a hundred parts as compared to the fifty plus parts in the Tamiya kit.  I had read Brett Green’s review on Hyperscale as well as his build in Military Illustrated Modeler.  Several of his concerns in building his model carried over to my build and may have added unneeded complication to my build.

First things first, you cannot build the model without glue, some parts would simply fall off and others would have unnecessarily large gaps.  Green indicates in his build that the tail wheel must be added before the fuselage is assembled, subsequent reviews from other magazines do not mention this.  He also states that if you modify the landing gear struts they can be installed after the wing has been assembled.  On my model I followed Green’s example and found the exposed tail wheel could be easily damaged.  I also assembled the wing with the landing gear installed and this complicated my build.  Subsequent reviews I have read do not mention adding the landing gear before assembling or there being any problem with adding them afterwards.  Inserts are provided for the machine guns in the leading edge of the wings.  They do not fit well and require filling.

I started my build with the interior and it is a marked improvement over the Tamiya kit’s interior.  The only issue is the instrument panel decal that is rather crude.  The instrument panel itself has only the outlines of the dials but no additional detail. One saving grace is that the panel is so deeply inset that it cannot easily be seen.  This is also true of the Tamiya kit.

Assembling the fuselage is quick with huge connectors but some force (I used pliers twice) is necessary to get the parts closed and in some areas the gaps required an application of Mister Surfacer.  The vertical stabilizer must be glued together and clamped or it also has a considerable gap. The curved upper fuselage piece requires that the antenna be added before it attached to the rest of the fuselage.  I stole an antenna from a junked Tamiya P-51 that I added after painting.

The flaps and ailerons are designed to be trapped between the upper and lower wings.  I cut off the forward part of the connectors so that I could install them after painting.  I did this because I was painting stripes on the wings which passed through both the flaps and the ailerons and I thought this was make painting them easier.  It did, but attaching them afterward was not as
simple as I had hoped, the remaining pins were fragile and easily broken.  I also question the angle of the dropped flaps as it is much steeper that the Tamiya kit.  As mentioned earlier the machine gun inserts are an extremely poor fit and require careful filling.  Like the Tamiya kit the wing panels are scribed and Meng adds counter-sunk rivet detail.

The kit does have some positive aspects; the drop tanks are designed so no sprue marks are visible and glue actually isn’t required for a good fit.  Meng offers cuffed Hamilton Standard and an uncuffed Aeroproduct’s propeller.  These were easily assembled after painting and a vast improvement over Tamiya’s props.

Both the original and the Dallas main canopies are included and require that the center-molding seam be sanded and polished out.  As of this writing there are no canopy masks for the Meng kit, but I found that Eduard’s mask for the Tamiya P-51D can used with a slight modification.  The windscreen required minor trimming to fit properly.

The kit provides a choice of two aircraft; a Fifteenth Air Force plane flown by Captain John Voll and a 9th Air Force bird flown by Captain Richard Turner.  I elected to use Aeromaster sheet 48226 Ninth and Fifteenth Air Force Fighter Aces.  Captain Freddie Ohr, the only Korean American ace in World War II, flew the plane.  The model was undercoated with Tamiya Gloss Black and painted with Alclad Aluminum and White Aluminum Lacquers.  The yellow tail and stripes were Tamiya Flat Yellow and Tamiya Flat Red was used for the spinner and nose.  I gave the finished model a wash with Flory water-soluble clay washes.

The finished model looks very nice and I am still unclear as to whether the problems I had were self-inflicted rather than the kit’s fault.  That being said, much of the engineering that went into making the kit “cement free” was wasted and a simple and more efficient build would have been possible if Meng had designed this as a conventional kit.

In summary, the Meng kit does have some advantages and I have a second kit that I will be building soon.  On the other hand, I’m not getting rid of my remaining Tamiya kits and of course Airfix and Eduard have new kits on the horizon.

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Zveda 787-8 Dreamliner in 1/144th Scale

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in 1/144th Scale

Zveda No. 7008
by Paul Gasiorowski

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an American long-haul, mid-size, wide body, twin engine jet airliner made by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Its variants seat 242 to 335 passengers in typical three-class seating configurations. It is Boeing’s most fuel efficient airliner and is a pioneering airliner with the use of composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe. The 787 was designed to be 20% more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767, which it was intended to replace. The 787 Dreamliner’s distinguishing features include mostly electrical flight systems, raked wingtips, and noise reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles. It shares a common type rating with the larger Boeing 777 to allow qualified pilots to operate both models, A total of 500 airplanes have been delivered, 324 -8’s and 176 -9’s to date.

The kit was well packaged, one sprue of parts, 2  pieces for the fuselage, 2 pieces for the wings, a sprue of clear parts that contained the windows and the cockpit window. The first thing I did was wash the parts in a warm soapy water solution using a soft toothbrush gently as not to break off any of the small parts. The decal sheet that was included was for the Boeing Dreamliner initial rollout. They weren’t very colorful so I searched the internet for some other options. I found a decal sheet at F-DCAL in France for United and Continental markings. They included decals for the windows. Information on the decals and their placement will be made later in the review.

The first thing I did was glue in all the clear windows in both sides of the fuselages. I then applied a coat of Tamiya gray primer to all the parts.  This was a big model I added some lead to nose of the plane after I had glued the nose wheel box in place. The windows protruded somewhat from the fuselage, since there were decals for the windows, I sanded them smooth with the fuselage. After this was done, the halves were glued together and set aside to dry. The fuselage was then given another coat of gray primer.

I then proceeded to paint and assemble the engines. They were quite detailed, included double fan blades and a detailed exhaust nozzle. These assemblies were then put aside to be added later in the build.

The wings were then assembled; the lower wing was one piece and two pieces for the upper wing. After the wing dried, I did a dry fit with fuselage and it looked like I wouldn’t have to glue them together. That eliminated any filling and sanding going forward. The paint scheme was Gloss White on the upper fuselage and Light Ghost Grey (MM Acryl FS36375) on the lower body. The wings and fuselage were painted separately. The fuselage for the United Airline scheme had a wavy scheme from front to back. So I made copies of the decals and cut out the gold scheme decals and used them as a template for painting the lower fuselage. I cut out the copies and laid them on some Tamiya 18mm tape and traced them out. I trimmed them out with a brand new No. 11 blade. These pieces were placed just below were the gold decal stripes would be as the curvature is the same. I then added a little more tape and proceeded to paint the lower fuselage Light Grey (MM Acryl). I gave it two/three coats to make sure I had good coverage.

I them made more copies of the wavy scheme and applied them to the lower fuselage just lining them up with the grey that was just painted. Next was to apply several coats of Gloss White (MM Acryl FS17875). This process was done over several days. After applying the last coat of Gloss White, I removed all the Tamiya tape and misc. paper coverage from the lower fuselage.

The next thing I did was to paint the wings. I started with the Gloss White and applied several coats to insure good coverage. The lower part of the wing was painted Light Ghost Grey with several coats. After looking on the internet at many pictures of the Dreamliner, there was no definitive scheme for the leading edges of the wings. Some pictures showed an aluminum/silver leading edge, other were just white. Even in pictures of the liveries of different airlines, there was no consistence in the color of the leading edges.

The next step was to add the decals that I purchased from F-DCAL. I started with the door decals as the gold stripe decals would be going over some of the doors in the process. I added the decals and let them sit for a couple of hours before proceeding to add the window decals. These decals were added in segments since it would be easier to position smaller pieces, rather than use a long strip of windows. I let the plane sit for a day before adding the gold stripe along each side of the fuselage. These were also cut into manageable strips to aid in the positioning of the decals. The next day I added the United decals and any smaller decals, like aircraft number, the name Dreamliner, and any other small details. The decals came off the backing if you just looked at them; it took no more than about 20 seconds for them to come loose. The only decals that seemed out of the ordinary were the ones for the cargo doors on the right side and one decal on the left side. After applying them they were very glossy. The engines by themselves took a long time to apply as there were about 12 pieces for each engine. There was also one spinner decal for the inside of each engine. The cockpit window decal was one piece and it lay down very nicely.

For the landing gear I opted to use metal parts from Scale Aircraft Conversion which I ordered from Sprue Brothers. The cast metal parts are very delicate and are prone to be bent easily. Replacing the plastic landing gears was an easy decision based on the size of the model.

The cast metal parts took a little bit of cleaning up with some small files. Once the parts were cleaned up I did a dry fit to make sure that I had all the glue points determined. I used super glue for these parts. The main landing gear was glued in first and then followed with the 2 smaller parts for each. The four wheel bogies were assembled individually and applied to the main gear assemblies. This process almost insures that they all sit squarely on the ground. The front wheels were then added next.  I then attached the wing assembly and it fir great without any glue.

This was an enjoyable build, the Zveda kit was great as all the parts fit well. My next build will probably be a United 727, 720 or 747.  The problem is trying to find the decals for these particular planes. I plan to use the United Airline aircraft at the next club exhibit at the Butch O’Hare show next November.

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Bandai TIE Fighter in 1/72nd Scale

Bandai T.I.E. Fighter in 1/72nd Scale

by Mike Hanlon

I saw the original Star Wars movie when it was released in 1977.  I was 21 years old; I’m younger than that now.

Since it began, Star Wars models and toys have littered the landscape.  Models of Star Wars subjects have generally been treated as throw away toys with little regard for accuracy or scale.

International licensing agreements have added to the Hodge podge of kit availability and quality.  The original kits were produced by MPC.  Currently in the US and Europe, Revell holds the rights to produce kits, in Asia and Japan these rights are held by Bandai.  In the U.S., you cannot run down to the local hobby shop (if you still have one) and buy them.  They are readily available through E-Bay and Amazon from Japan. Bandai is primarily known for Gundam kits, basically giant, weird looking robots. These kits are also produced using state of the art molding techniques.

Their Star Wars kits do not require glue, but should not be thought of a “Snap Tight”, the tolerances are tight and the fit is amazing.

The T.I.E. fighter kit is molded in black and gray plastic and does not require painting to achieve acceptable results.  The kit also includes water slide decals and stickers, so it can appeal to kids as well as adults.  One challenge in painting the kit is that the instructions are printed in Japanese with no painting recommendations in English.  Searching the Internet yielded matches to Tamiya paints.  Fun fact, the original studio models were painted with Pactra Sea Blue.  On my model the cockpit and center pods were painted with Tamiya Neutral Gray, the solar panels were painted with Tamiya Rubber Black; Mig washes were used to highlight the panel lines.

I used glue on some parts, but mostly out of habit, it truly doesn’t need it.  The kit provides a clear part for the cockpit but also provides the same part in gray with no clear sections.  The studio models had no clear windows as they caused reflections.  I actually like the look without the windows.

The model goes together very quickly and was the most fun I’ve had building a model in quite some time.  If you like Star Wars, you owe it to yourself to try one.

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Minicraft P-3C Orion in 1/72nd Scale

Minicraft P-3C Orion, No. 1147, in 1/72nd scale

by Paul Gasiorowski

Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Exploración (EA6E) (Exploration naval Sqd)

The first P-3 Orion entered service in 1962. It was based on Lockheed passenger aircraft the Electra, shortened in the nose and a MAD boom added which added about 6 feet to the length of the plane. It is in use by several navies, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Norway, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Japan, U.S. Customs, Germany, Canada, Spain and others throughout the world. The US Navy is transitioning from the Orion to the P-8 Poseidon.

The model was obtained from a former member Dick Smith who had completed most of the kit except for the propellers and landing gear. I put it on a shelf in the garage where it sat for many years, collecting dust, etc. The reason to complete the kit was the theme for February which was “South of the Border”. I happened to find that the Argentine Navy had several of these aircraft, plus I was able to find a decal sheet for the Argentine Armada, more on the decals later.

Since the kit was mostly complete, I started off by washing the whole thing with soap and water and a toothbrush. Using a hairdryer to blow off most off the water and whatever got inside the aircraft. I then let it sit for a day or and shook it to make sure all the water was out of it. After doing some research on the colors, etc. and receiving the decals it was determined that the colors were Intermediate Blue (35164) and Gull Grey (FS36440). The colors used were Model Master Acrylics.

The decals were from The decal sheet calls out the following colors Grey 26440 Gunze Sango and Intermediate Blue 35109 Gunze Sango H56. The decals are a little different since they are produced as a mirror image, which requires you ‘flip’ the decal over before you apply it. This makes DEK L’s a little easier to apply because it reduces the risk of ‘curling’ or clinging to things. The decals are produced on a continuous piece of decal film, so accurate trimming is necessary. FYI, if you want to build an F-86 Sabre, they have a many different foreign Demo squadron decals. Some of the color schemes are very colorful.

The first thing I did was give it a couple of light coats of Tamiya Gray primer to make sure everything was covered and let it sit for a couple of days to completely dry. I did some rough masking prior to painting the lower fuselage with a couple of coats of Gull Gray. Then I spent some time masking off the lower fuselage and engine nacelles, this took quite a bit of time as I wanted the separation to look the same on all the engine nacelles. This was followed by several light coats of Intermediate Blue. The nose and glare panel on the front of the fuselage was masked off a given two coats of flat black. It was then followed with several light coats of “Future”. Letting is sit for a couple of days, I then glued in all the clear parts. The front windshield was not glued in because it was a great fit. I did give the edges of the windshield a touch of black highlighter on the bottom edge and touched up the upper edges with intermediate blue.

The decals came next, starting with the squadron emblem of the tail. The decal sheet came with a white decal the same size as the color decal, which helps keeping the colors from bleeding through. So I started at the back of the airplane on the port side and worked my way forward. I did the window frame decals the next day. The frame decals were kind of fussy to get down, so once I got them where they should be, I walked away. The following day I did the port side of the plane. There was some silvering of the large decals, especially the long “ARMADA ARGENTINA”. So it would take another coat or two to have a really glossy base. I have yet to knock down the gloss with a flat yet to see if the silvering goes away.

The next thing I worked on was the propellers. I painted the props with primer gray, followed by flat white 2 coats and then the Gloss Red (small bottle) tips, after I masked everything off. The spinners (2 pieces) were painted flat black. Then everything was glued together. The props don’t move because the original shafts were glued in and just attached with glue. Some of the shafts had to be sanded down a bit to make sure the prop assemblies sat flush with the nacelles.

The plane did not come with any missiles, but had the mounts. So I went to the 1/72 missile kit and dug out some Harpoons, which I assembled. I guess if you’re an Anti-submarine/Anti-ship plane you should be carrying some firepower. I painted these up in the appropriate colors and hung them under the wings. I finished the plane by adding some radio wire from the front of the plane to the tail. I used some small brass eyelets from a photo etch kit or the front attachments and drilled a tiny hole in the front of the upper tail and ran some nylon sewing line through it to

the eyelets in the front. After everything dried I ran a black felt tip along the wires to make sure they were visible. I touched up the hole it the tail with a dab of Intermediate Blue.

For not having to build the model from the beginning, it was a nice easy job to finish it. Dick Smith did do a lot of filling and sanding before I got to it. One thing this plane takes up a lot of space, about 18″ x 18″. Dick did give me the original box, which I thought just had the rest of the kit in it, but it was another whole kit.

Bonus pics (not in the PDF review)


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