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Building the Hasegawa P-51D in 1/32 Scale: Part 4

We ended Part 3 with with the fuselage finally joined, but some nasty gaps and misalignments to deal with. The one that had me most concerned was the mismatched exhaust openings on the port side, but after considering my options for a while, I decided to try the simplest solution, and carve away the excess material at each end:

It’s not perfect, but certainly much improved.

The gap to the rear of the upper engine cowling was easily fixed with some styrene strip and copious amounts of Tamiya Extra Thin liquid cement:

A little bit of Mr. Surfacer 500 and some more sanding, and this nasty gap is gone.

The gaps on either side of the cockpit sidewalls took a bit more effort, but finally yielded to some CA glue and clamping. They look much better now:

I decided that this was a good time to assemble the wings and tailplanes:

I was a little concerned that squeezing the cockpit sides in to fix those nasty sidewall gaps might have had an adverse effect on the wing root joins, but a quick test fit allayed my fears:

Before joining the two sub-assemblies together, however, I decided it would be easier to deal with their respective seams while they were still separate, so I spent some time filling and sanding until I thought they were ready.

I also took the opportunity to attend to the every-so-slightly oval gun ports. They weren’t so bad that they needed to be replaced, but were noticeably out of round, so I grabbed this handy reamer tool by Ustar:

This made short work of the problem, and made the gun ports at least acceptable:

I also managed to join the spinner cone to its base plate:

At this point, I could join the wings to the fuselage!

And true to the test-fitting I did, the resultant gaps were only minor, and while I was happy enough with how the wings and fuselage came together, the small gaps at the wing roots revealed during the test-fitting required just a little bit of extra attention, so I stretched some kit sprue, and forced it into the those gaps with copious amounts of liquid cement:

This is done not so much for gap-filling purposes, but to ensure that there’s sufficient plastic joining the wings to the fuselage in this important area, and this something that styrene does better than pretty much every other choice available to modellers.

And this brings us to the end of Part 4! Wing root seams await, but we’re getting close to final assembly now. Stay tuned!

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Building the Hasegawa P-51D in 1/32 Scale: Part 1

The venerable Hasegawa 1/32 scale P-51D Mustang has been around since since the 1970s, first hitting the streets in 1972. At the time, it represented the state of the art in injection-moulded plastic kit production. Now of course, it has been eclipsed in all regards, and effectively been made redundant by vastly superior renditions of the P-51D in 1/32 scale.

Nevertheless, after narrowly surviving a major house move, I needed what I thought would be a relatively quick and simple project to instigate my return to the workbench after a long absence. I chose this kit thinking it would fit the bill, and because it also qualified for the The Mighty Eighth Over Europe Group Build on Large Scale Planes. It was also gifted to me by a friend who had long since lost interest in the hobby, and I felt his generosity deserved to be repaid with an actual build of the kit.

As it happens, some years earlier, another friend had sent me his started example of the same kit, himself having abandoned it in favour of the then-new Tamiya release. He was part-way through scratch-building a new cockpit, and had made improvements to numerous other parts. More relevant for my build, however, was the inclusion in the box of a handy selection of aftermarket products, including Moskit exhausts, Grand Phoenix resin cockpit, True Details wheels, and some Eduard photo-etch sets.

So, with an unstarted kit in one hand, and a box full of useful upgrades in the other, I was off to the races!

As is the usual practise, I started with the cockpit, which meant removing the moulded-in detail from the kit fuselage sidewalls, to make room for the resin parts:

My friend had already done some clean-up and minor assembly work with the cockpit components, and unfortunately the seat had become broken at some point:

I tried in vain to glue the two parts back together as is, but in the end, it was easier to cut away the broken areas, and replace them with a single piece of styrene sheet and copious amounts of black CA glue (super glue):

The cockpit tub itself is a single-piece affair, with separate sidewall pieces. My friend had already started adding some additional details to the batteries, but since I was planning to keep this build as simple as possible, I decided against adding anything more.

The instrument panel supplied with the resin set comprises resin, photo-etched, and acetate parts:

The photo-etched component of the instrument panel. Also found on the PE fret are the rudder pedals.
This pre-printed acetate sheet contains the instrument dials, and forms the ‘meat’ in the sandwich between the resin and photo-etched parts. Here, the rear side has been painted white to bring out the otherwise transparent dial detail.

The first order of business was to lay some primer down on the resin parts, ready to accept the final paint coats. I normally use Mr. Surfacer for this job, but I’ve had some of this specialised resin primer from Mr. Hobby lying around for quite some time, and decided to give it a whirl:

I thinned it 50:50 with Mr. Color Levelling Thinner, and splashed it onto the resin components with my trusty Iwata HP-C Plus:

Cockpit sidewalls and instrument panel column.
The mended seat in primer, with the joins happily all but invisible.

Using Mr. Hobby H-58 Interior Green, in combination with some Vallejo colours for detail painting, we arrive quite quickly at a decent-looking set of cockpit components:

The instrument panel turned out especially well, I thought. The yellow line is pieced together from 4 sections of appropriately-coloured decal.

The various cockpit placards came from the Eduard pre-coloured photo-etch set (32 515). I applied some acrylic washes, some light dry-brushing, and a bit of chipping on the seat using a Prismacolor silver pencil. Done! Please don’t quote anything I’ve done for accuracy, however, as my goal here was to simply make it look busy and colourful, though not too far from the truth.

I decided to add a section of styrene strip to each side of the fuselage to aid with locating and supporting the cockpit:

I then gave selected areas of fuselage a coat of Interior Green, and test-fitted the now-finished cockpit:

Hmm, some decent gaps at the sidewalls there! But we’ll have to wait for Part 2 to see how I get on with those.

Stay tuned!