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.
The difference between the polished but untreated metal and the lacquered area is quite stark.
This is the puttied wing 'map' I chose to follow.
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.
The side consoles scrub up nicely with paint and Roy Sutherland's cockpit decals.
Wheel well bits in various stages of undress.
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.
On the flight line.
Post script to follow...