In Part 1, we got as far as test-fitting the finished Grand Phoenix resin cockpit into the fuselage, with some pretty nasty gaps to be addressed at some point. There are a few other tasks that need to be done prior to joining the fuselage, however, and I’ll need to attend to those first.
One of the issues that plagues a lot of older Mustang kits (in all scales), is the nasty seam line on this exit ramp (I’m not sure what it is, actually) underneath the fuselage:
The common way to fix this is to cut it out and replace it with a single piece of styrene sheet, which is what I’ll be doing:
I also created a small set of shelves out of styrene strip for the new panel to rest on, and will be installing it once the fuselage halves are joined:
My next challenge was dealing with the tail wheel. Hasegawa would have you trap the part inside the fuselage at this stage, and I really can’t stand that approach, so I tried to engineer a solution that would allow me to install the tail wheel at the end. My first approach was a bust, but I eventually settled on gluing a segment of styrene tubing to one of the mounting points in the fuselage:
The next step was to modify the tail wheel to suit this new approach, which entailed removing the cross beam meant to seat into the kit mounting points:
In the end, I had concerns about the overall strength of the tubing’s bond to the fuselage, so later on I added another section to replace the kit lug I destroyed. This should brace against the inside of the fuselage on that side, and provide extra strength and stability. I hope!
Prior to that, however, there’s still a bit of work to do before I can join the fuselage together, so I started working on the radiator intake and outlet parts. I found among the box of aftermarket products a small, nondescript sheet of photo-etch parts, and it took me ages to work out that it was from the Dragon P-51 kit. It contained some seat belts and a pair of grilles for the radiator duct, so I set about adapting the latter to fit the Hasegawa parts:
And the finished radiator air exit ramp:
The ramp panel was airbrush with Tamiya AS-12, decanted from the spray can. The radiator face was airbrush with Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black, and then dry-brushed with Mr. Color MC-218 Aluminium. It’s not perfect, but perfectly in keeping with the goals of this build, and certainly much better than what Hasegawa gives you in the box!
I also fitted the kit firewall, mainly in the hopes that it would help support the engine (I don’t think it will), but also to generally stabilise this area of the fuselage when the two halves are joined:
This of course leads to the engine itself. Even though I intend to build this model all closed up (with the possible exception of the sliding canopy), I figured I would need to assemble and install the engine, as it’s required to hold the propeller in place. So I assembled the basic components, trimmed away the mounts for the kit exhausts, and butt-joined the exquisite Moskit units with flexible black CA (AK’s Black Widow product):
I wasn’t done the engine yet, however, as test-fitting showed that there was absolutely no positive points of location for the completed assembly with the fuselage itself; it seems that it’s meant to simply hang off the exhaust stacks and prop shaft. I suspect the kit exhaust parts are meant to assist with these, but since I wasn’t using them, it seemed I would have a difficult time locating the engine properly and closing the fuselage around it. After mulling it over for a while, I came up with a solution:
Basically, I found some aluminium tubing that matched the diameter of the prop shaft (2mm OD – I would have preferred brass for strength, but didn’t have any in this size), snipped off the kit part, drilled suitable holes front and back, inserted the tubing right down the guts, and then trimmed it to length. It’s secured with brushable CA at each end. I also drilled a hole into the tank (oil?) in front of the firewall, to accept the tubing out of the rear of the engine, and support that end:
And here’s the obligatory test fit:
It’s still pretty loose in there, and will still require the prop assembly to lock it in place properly. But at least the rear end is taken care of, and it should make joining the fuselage halves much less ambiguous.
But we’ll have to wait until Part 3 to see how I get on with that.