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  1. I've always been fascinated by the Korean War. It was a bloody conflict that in many ways was a precursor to Vietnam, where the majority of the folks in the US (unless they had a father, husband or son serving) paid little attention to it. This was in stark contrast to WW2 where the entire nation was involved and engaged in the war effort. Another interesting thing was that the equipment used was mix of cutting edge technology and WW2 leftovers. Specifically regarding WW2 leftovers, we have the F-51D Mustang. 5 years before, the Mustang was the F-22 Raptor of WW2. Arguably the best fighter of that war (especially when you factor it's amazing range into the equation), in Korea this thoroughbred was simply an expendable bomb truck. Many aircraft lost their puttied wings, which provided a few extra MPH due to laminar flow, many others lost even more performance when the USAF opted to lock it's tailwheel in the down position to reduce maintenance issues from mud and ice building up in the tail gear bay. In the end, performance no longer mattered and these once cutting-edge aircraft were simply fed into the operational squadrons, used until lost or scrapped and then replaced by others. The aircraft were no longer waxed and polished for maximum performance, instead, they were left outdoors in truly horrible weather conditions and apparently, little effort being made to clean them. Part of this was probably due to the tempo of missions. Instead of flying long range escort missions maybe once per week as they did in WW2, weather permitting, these Mustangs often flew 3-4 times per day. This tempo also took it's toll, Mustangs (and their pilots) were lost at a horrific rate. Many have argued that the Mustang had no place in this conflict as a close air support aircraft, due to it's light construction and especially it's liquid cooled engine. The underside of the Mustang was a maze of coolant piping and a single rifle round in this area would result in the Mustang being lost as it's critical engine coolant rapidly leaked out. The P-47 would have been a much better fit but in the cold logic of warfare, it was determined that there were more Mustangs available, so these aircraft were pulled from state-side ANG units and sent to war again. That being said, these aircraft and their pilots performed heroically under extremely challenging conditions. The F-51 was basically just a re-designated P-51 with a few changes. There are some threads in the General Discussion Forum that go into much greater detail but a few things differentiated these aircraft from their WW2 counterparts - All F-51D's had mounting points for 6 x 5" HVAR rockets. Many (possibly all) had the battery relocated from behind the pilot to the engine compartment and in these cases, a cooling air scoops as added to the side of the fuselage. Many (but certainly not all) had "cuff-less" propeller blades. Many (but certainly not all) had additional radios and IFF gear mounted behind the pilot, on top of the fuselage fuel tank. Many (but not all) had the putty removed from their wings during rebuilding at USAF maintenance depots prior to being sent overseas. Lastly some also had cooling louvers retrofitted on the fuselage sides, behind the wing root. I think those changes pretty much cover it. I'll provide more details and some illustrations once I get into the build. Moving onto the model, at this stage I think I'll be replicating Little Beast II, a hard-serving F-51D assigned to the 12th Fighter Bomber Squadron in mid-1952. Not 100% sure on this, got plenty of time to figure this out. Here she is taxing out for yet another combat mission. She's armed with a standard load of 2 500 lb bombs and 6 HVARS (the other standard loadout consisted of two napalm tanks and 6 HVARs) and appears to have her tailwheel locked down. For this kit, I'll be using the Tamiya Pacific Version P-51D kit, along with AIMS Korean War Mustang decals (sadly, I believe these are the only decals of Korean War markings out there, another indication that Korea is still the "forgotten war") and a bunch of Barracuda resin upgrades. I'll provide details on all the AM bits later. My biggest concern is going to be the NMF finish on these aircraft. I've always struggled with this and in the case of these Korean War birds, it's going to be compounded by trying to replicate the extreme weathering they were subjected to. Here is a great example: Note the high degree of filth and also note how dull and weathered the metal finish is. Looks more like dull, grimy grey instead of the shiny, immaculate finish seen on most WW2 Mustangs. The pic above also does a nice job of showing those cooling louvers retrofitted behind the wing root and the additional radio gear behind the pilots seat. If anyone has tips for replicating this type of finish, please let me know!! Anyway, that's pretty much it for now. One last note - this is going to be a looong build. I'm inherently lazy and my modeling time is always limited. I'll post updates when I can. Thanks for looking!
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