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Tamiya 1/32 P-51D Mustang - "Bunnie / Miss Kentucky State", Ca

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Hi folks:

I've been a long distance admirer of the Tuskegee airmen for many, many years, so when AMW editor Chris Clifford, said he was compiling a team to produce a USAAF 'special' I jumped right on board and asked if I could pull Tamiya's big Mustang from the stash and finish it as Roscoe's bird. Green light given, aftermarket gear was roped in and plastic readied.

As part of the build, I decided to take a close look at the restored 'D' at the RAF Museum in Hendon, as this was reputed to have achieved a high standard of authenticity, particularly the 'puttied wing'. What I found both shocked me and prompted me to write the following:

The P-51D on display at Hendon RAF Museum is broadly accepted as a fine quality restoration of the marque and in its natural metal finish guise, also has wings coated in aluminium lacquer, akin to that used in wartime.

The factory process involved (after puttying the panel joints) one or two sprayed applications of DuPont Light Grey primer. This was then overcoated with an aluminium lacquer in the ratio of eight ounces of aluminium paste to a gallon of clear lacquer or varnish. It seems the aluminium in this mix reacted vigorously with oxygen and became aluminium oxide, a greyish material which accounts for the Mustang wings at Hendon being overtly grey in tone and emphatically not the solid silver or aluminium normally used to portray this feature on models. Depending on whether the lacquer was new or aged, therefore gives modellers scope for a more silvery grey, evolving to the darker grey of the Hendon Mustang. The build seen here can be considered somewhere between the two.  

Given the grey bias of the Hendon Mustang, a concoction of Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey (one part), Tamiya X-32 Titanium Silver (three parts), Tamiya XF-2 Flat White (one part) and Tamiya X-22 Clear (two parts) were mixed and sprayed over the appropriate parts of the wing. This gave a tone commensurate with the Hendon paint, while leaving a gentle satin finish, that was later glossed with more X-22 to more closely match the museum Mustang.

 

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The difference between the polished but untreated metal and the lacquered area is quite stark.

 

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This is the puttied wing 'map' I chose to follow.

 

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I emailed Dana Bell (who wrote a Tuskegee piece for the USAAF 'special) about this matter and sent him shots of the model with silvery grey puttied wings and he kindly responded (among other points) "I'm attaching a shot of one of the Tuskegee P-51Bs to show how well your model matches reality."

 

It was quite refreshing to know that this Tamiya Mustang was going to look rather different in its treatment and with that in mind, the lovely cockpit was brought together.

 

 

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The side consoles scrub up nicely with paint and Roy Sutherland's cockpit decals.

 

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Wheel well bits in various stages of undress.

 

 

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Dana Bell mentioned a batch of seats were painted 'Dull Dark Green' following an error on a procurement order - depicted here for simple variation. Tamiya indicate a demarcation line for the anti-slip black that's too far aft but shown adjusted here.

 

 

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Getting there...

 

 

On the flight line.

 

 

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Post script to follow...

 

 

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

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Very nicely done, sir!

Funny little things tend to catch my eye; in this case I really like the paint treatment you gave to the rubber bladder tanks behind the seat. Really quite convincing.

 

Marc B.

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Post script:

 

Back in the early part of this year, with the project tied up, I discovered that Roscoe had his own Facebook page and was living in NY, so I sent him a message teling him about the USAAF 'special' and whether he'd be amenable to signing a couple of copies. He kindly agreed, so off went three copies with a covering letter.

I was on the Mac one evening, about a week later, when my wife came up with the landline phone - "Dr Roscoe Brown, asking for you?" - I was floored. For about five minutes we spoke. Roscoe expressed his kind thoughts about the build and the memory of that unexpected honour will live with me forever.

A copy of my letter, with the two copies of the 'special' followed a short time after, annotated by Roscoe.  

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In return for his generosity, I sent Roscoe a couple of small gifts. He responded -

 

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It was no more than a few weeks later that I discovered Roscoe left us on July 2, to join those of his fellow airmen that had already passed on. Now recall his kindness, his phone call to me and understand (as I discovered in retrospect) that he had been extremely ill the previous winter and must have been in a very debilitated state during my contact with him. 

Incredible kindness and I wish my hero blue skies, with the sun on his back, always.

 

Steve

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