We had some fun when I published the last Me 109G6 tweak lists. I'm wondering if if this one will possibly have the same effect...?
However, keep calm as I dedicated my time to a lesser known variant than the iconic Merlin Mustang: the A-36!
If we've a large choice of kits for the P-51D and a narrower one for the P-51B, we have no choice for the Allison-engined variants. Indeed, only Hobbycraft released some kits.
I'm not sure I'll do soon tweak lists for the other early marks as there were MAJOR differences between all the early Mustang marks. However, if you are interested in a P-51, P-51A, F-6A/B or Mustang I/II, I guess that you will find some interesting elements hereunder!
For a very odd reason, I love purchasing and looking at my Tamiya kits, but not really building them! Call me masochist but I love the Hobbycraft kits!
Have fun and as usually, do not hesitate to comment, compliment or correct...!
“Allison-engined” A-36A Axis-Busting Apache TWEAKS LIST
TYPE: North American Aviation A-36 Apache-Invader-Mustang
COMPANY: Hobbycraft Canada
KIT Number: HC 1710
MOLD CREATION DATE: 2009
TWEAKS LIST VERSION 1.0 (publication date: February 2015)
Compiled by Thierry Laurent.
The following list is intended to help modelers in improving scale accuracy of an airplane model replica. In no way is it intended to support or be offensive towards a scale model company.
As such, it is only the result of a progressive process and is in no way intended to be absolute or even comprehensive. Hence, it is intended to focus on commonly admitted discrepancies and will probably not cover some errors. It is up to the modeler to decide whether correcting the listed issues is worth the time and money he will have to invest in the quest for accuracy process.
No aftermarket correction or detail set is mentioned in this document as the availability of such items may be very variable. Hence, refer to other LSP sections to find relevant information. Moreover, aftermarket sets do not necessarily correct all listed issues. Please refer accordingly to relevant documentation.
- GENERAL REVIEW
- Kit is made of 5 sprues of neutral grey plastic parts and one of clear parts. The plastic of the large parts has a somewhat rough texture. So, primer and very fine layers of paint are used, sanding first the plastic surface with very fine sandpaper or micromesh is recommended.
- There are some optional/useless parts (seat, tires, antenna mast, propeller, etc.) but only part of them may be correctly used on an authentic A-36 replica.
- The kit has no separate control surfaces (flaps, elevators, rudder).
- Surface is generally free of flaws, blemishes or molding sink marks with some exceptions. The kit has only the most obvious rivets and screw heads but they are not flush as they should be in most cases. Panel lines are finely scribed and generally very accurate.
- Fit is generally very good but some dry fit is necessary.
- Regarding accuracy, the shapes are generally correct, the most glaring error being the too thin nose end and spinner.
- The main default of the kit is the fact that the kit looks like a pantographic copy of the 1/48th Accurate Miniatures kit. Unfortunately, what is fine in this scale looks raw in large scale. So, the kit asks for a considerable work to thin and detail parts.
- FUSELAGE (from front to rear)
- The kit spinner has a correct length but a far too thin diameter. In fact, it should be nearly 2.5mm larger. Accordingly, it does not look bulbous enough. Converting a correct P-51D (such as a Hasegawa one) is the easiest way to solve this problem.
- The dimensions of the Curtiss Electric propeller blades are not correct. Note than the thinnest blades shall be used for the A-36. Unfortunately the kit ones are more or less 2mm too long and their tip is too thin (too pointy look). The normal scale propeller diameter is 10.24 cm. The paddle blade type was only used on later P-51As as they got a more powerful engine.
- The nose end has a small step whereas the full scale plane had none. In fact, the tip of the nose should slightly taper and be covered by the rear edge of the spinner. This step may be left if a larger spinner is used to cover it.
- Behind the aforementioned step, the kit nose end top has a too concave section. As this part of the kit is far too thin, it is better to correct the whole nose area. Some plastic strips shall be glued on the nose end with CA glue and sanded to get a thicker profile (nearly 2.5mm of diameter shall be added). Note nonetheless that the kit cross section is correct at the level of the panel line scribed in front of the exhausts. So the nose shall be corrected on 7-8mm. Finally, re-scribe the three small access panels on each side and under the nose.
- The nose air intake is acceptable but its opening is too rectangular whereas it should be more rounded. It is recommended to add a plastic strip to close the lower side of the duct along the nose behind part C11. Moreover, the shutter located over the intake is only depicted by a faintly scribed line. The part shall be reproduced in a thin aluminium/copper sheet and added on the intake top.
- The ends of the exhaust parts shall be hollowed. Moreover, they are protruding too much out of the fuselage sides. So, to get a more accurate result, sand their support as much as possible. Last, flared exhausts had a curved exhaust end whereas the kit ones are straight. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to correct this without replacing the exhausts by more accurate ones.
- The cowling fasteners are correctly positioned but are depicted by divots whereas the actual planes had flush fasteners heads. So, it is recommended to sand them and replace them with flush ones made with a beading tool. It is necessary to rely on pictures as the number nor is the location fully accurate.
- The kit has the small door located behind the port exhausts but the very obvious hinge located at the rear is not present. Refer to pictures to detail the area.
- The actual airframe had two small holes under the nose. They provided hot air to avoid mist on the windscreen. They shall be drilled right behind the spinner.
- Note that all A-36s had not the .50 machine guns in the nose. They were generally removed from the planes as they jammed because the engine overheated them. If the chosen plane had them, it is recommended to thin a little bit the edges of the holes and to replace the machine guns with aftermarket ones. Check as well if the chosen airframe had not an additional metal sheet behind the gun muzzle (intended to protect the nose).
- The plane had three small louvres on the rear starboard side of the nose. The kit has them but they are not deep enough. Use a scalpel blade tip to get a deeper look.
- The kit air intake external profile is correct but the lip is far too thick (more or less a millimeter!). The internal side shall be patiently sanded to get a far thinner look. Note that the air intake is not hollowed as it shall be behind part C1. Hence, each fuselage half shall be drilled to deepen the intake. However, the kit has no radiator part. So, there is no will to scratchbuild it, at least paint black the aforementioned section of the fuselage. If the modeler is brave enough to create the radiator, the diameter of the part is more or less 25mm and the depth is 11.3mm.
- The kit has optional antenna masts but they are too thick. Keep in mind that some planes used a different specific mast during the North African campaign.
- A round panel (recognition device cover) shall be scribed on the spine between the antenna mast and the tail.
- The radiator exit ramp flap is molded shut. It is up to the modeler but is not recommended to open it as this will ask for a lot of work to rebuild the flap, its actuator and the radiator end plus the upper sheet closing the funnel. However, at least thin the flap edge as it is far too thick.
- Gluing correctly part E4 is not easy as the two tabs to support the part are not correctly positioned (too deeply in the fuselage). The part shall be aligned with the bottom of the rear fuselage. It is recommended to glue thin strips of plastic on the tab to get the correct height.
- The molded ribs of both sides of the fabric-covered elevators are far over scale. Heavy sanding is required to get a far more acceptable look. Sand as well the tip as the rear shall taper inboard. The seam between the stabilators and elevators is not deep enough. Use a scalpel blade tip to give the illusion of separate parts. Add the missing elevator tab actuating rod (underside on the port side, upper side on the starboard one).
- The seam between the rudder and fuselage is not deep enough. Again, use a scalpel blade tip to give the illusion of separate parts. Note that the fabric rudder has over scale ribs. Sand them a little bit. Last, the rear edge of the rudder part is too thick. Sand the internal side of each rudder half to get a finer edge.
- Take time to do various dry assemblies before mating the wings with the fuselage as the front seam on the belly may ask for noticeably sanding if the parts are not properly prepared.
- The kit has the flaps in the neutral position. This is not a problem as normally they were up.
- The aileron external rod and horn are very simplified as they are molded on the wing surface. Remove the section corresponding to the rod. Drill a slot in the aileron and add some copper wire to simulate a more accurate actuating rod.
- The upper starboard wing has a section of line scribed over the refueling point. This shall be filled in.
- The refueling point on each wing is noticeably too small.
- The airbrakes are correctly molded but the small holes have a lot of flash that has to be patiently removed with a small file. Moreover, the ends of each slot must be rounded rather than straight. Do not forget adding some plastic card behind them to avoid a see through effect. Fill the small panel line going through each airbrake actuator on the upper wings. Remove the line of divots behind the airbrake and replace them by flush rivets. Note that if the number of them is correct; their location is not accurate. Refer to scale plans or pictures.
- The external machine gun muzzle hole is located too high as the two holes of each wing shall be parallel to the ground. Fill it and recreate a new one lower. Only the machine gun ends are given but as it is not possible to see anything else, this is not a problem. Do not forget drilling each end.
- The external machine gun ammo chute hole is missing. Add a copy of the internal one half a millimeter behind the rear tip of the bomb pylon.
- Add plastic rectangles to box the hole behind the larger ammo chute hole.
- The recessed disks under the starboard wing shall be filled and sanded as the A-36 had the three IFF red/amber/green lights normally repositioned on the plane central axis, between the belly intake and the radiator rear flap. Drill three holes and add lenses to add them at the correct location.
- Add the two missing oval panels under the external section of the starboard wing. Add as well the oval panel missing close to the wingtip on each upper wing.
- The long clear cover protecting the landing lights is present on the wing front edge but the two lights and their support are missing. They shall be scratchbuilt and added.
- The nav lights near the wing tips are molded on the wing halves. So, either paint them to simulate lights or replace them with scratchbuild ones. Some photoetched sets have templates to crash mold such small lights.
- If the bombs are used, enlarge the two holes in each wing as they are far too small to position correctly the pylons against the wings.
- The bomb pylons are acceptable but need a lot of cleaning. The border shall be reshaped (more particularly at both ends). Some details shall also be added (such as some bolts and the stabilizing rods in the sway braces).
- The bombs are acceptable but their details are too thick and the bomb rear end shall be closed. Thin or replace the small spinner as well as the four rear wings.
- The cockpit details are rather accurate but very simplified and soft or thick. There are also some annoying ejector pin marks to remove. Moreover, the features are the same in all P-51A/F-6A/A-36/Mustang IA b kits whereas the bomber function of the A-36 required some specific panels on the port side. So, this asks for a lot of work to improve the existing parts and many small details shall be added. For instance, the seat belts, the very visible first aid pack located over the seat and all the electrical connections of the radio equipment are missing. Using an aftermarket cockpit or relying on some parts from a P-51B cockpit detail set would noticeably improve the area.
- The canopy parts are correct but too thick. Moreover, they lack all the internal details (framing and locking mechanism) which are very visible when the canopy is opened.
- The windscreen front lower edge part looks like the one of a P-51D (with a constant curve). On the full scale plane, the central section is curved but each side end is straight. Adding cautiously a small strip made of very thin plastic sheet and blending its ends will solve this.
- LANDING GEAR
- The main landing gear wells are detailed with basic features. However, they suffer from the common Mustang well syndrome: the wells shall not be boxed along their rear edge as the rear of each well should be the main wing bulkhead. Moreover, they are too shallow. Modify the wells or replace them with an aftermarket set as even if the main doors were normally locked closed on the ground the error is quite visible.
- Kit main wheels are correct but not fully accurate. The kit gives fully inflated or weighted tires but they have a too squared cross-section and the tires are 0.5mm too thick. Moreover, the hubs are a little bit too large and thick. Correcting this is possible but as it is easy to find cheap aftermarket wheels, replacing them is a no-brainer.
- Landing gear legs are globally correct but most details should be refined or added. Triangular holes shall be added in the scissors and many small bolt heads shall be added. There is no corresponding slot in the wells for the tab on each leg end. So, remove it.
- The tail wheel E23 has to too loose fit. Fill the hole in the hub and re-drill it or simply glue the strut end with thick CA or epoxy glue.
- The rear landing gear doors have no actuator. Both of them shall be added. Moreover, the landing gear bay shall be added. It had three round holes in its ceiling. Many Mustangs had a canvas protection to close it.
- OTHER REMARKS
- Do not forget adding the antenna wires.
- Mustang wings are notorious to be smooth. The first 40% of the upper wing of the early Mustangs were normally filled, sanded and covered with primer (globally from the front edge to the machine gun access panels). The underside was similarly treated but only up to the middle of the main landing gear door lengths. However, some pictures of camo painted early planes used on the frontline show that different panel lines (not only the removable panel ones) were visible. As kit panel lines are always exaggerated and some of them are going from the front to the rear, it is not easy to get a realistic reproduction of the effect. Indeed, filing them partly may give the feeling that some lines will stop in the middle of nowhere. So, it is up to each modeler to make up his mind.
- Decal schemes seem correct. However, note that the gas detection panel had not a true yellow color but rather a dull mustard one. So, it is recommended to paint them.
- It has been commonly written that the RAF only evaluated one A-36 and did not use it operationally. This is wrong. Indeed, one flight used the A-36 in Italy. So, it is possible to depict one front line RAF machine as included in the kit decal sheet.
- Keep in mind that the main landing gear wheel wells of the early Mustang were aluminium-colored with the wing rear spar in yellow zinc chromate (33481).
The following sources were used to build this list.
- CROSS, Roy, SCARBOROUGH, Gerald, P-51 Mustang, Classic Aircraft n°3, Patrick Stephens Limited, 1973.
- FRANKS, Richard, The North American P-51 Early Mustang (including the A-36A, P-51 & P-51A to C) A complete guide to the USAAF’s Famous Fighter, Airframe & Miniature n°6, Valiant Wing Publishing, 2013.
- KINZEY, Bert, P-51 Mustang Part 1, Detail in Scale n°50, Squadron Signal Publications, 1998.
- LOWE, Malcolm V., The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang A comprehensive guide Part 1 Allison Powered, MDF series n°21, SAM Publications, 2013.
- PHILIPS, Glen, Allison engine Mustang, Walkaround n°13, Squadron Signal Publications, 1998.
- SKULSKI Przemystaw, North American A-36A APACHE, Yellow Series N°6130, Mushroom Model Publications books, 2012.
- _, North American P-51 Mustang, n°401, Model Art, 1994.
- DAVIS, Larry, P-51 Mustang in action, n°1045, Squadron Signal Publications, 1981.
- DAVIS, Larry, P-51 Mustang, n°6070, Squadron Signal Publications, 1995.
- DAVIS, Larry, P-51 Mustang in action, n°1211, Squadron Signal Publications, 2008.
- JOHNSEN, Frederick A., North American P-51 Mustang, Warbird Tech series, Vol.5, Specialty Press, 1996.
- LUDWIG, Paul A., P-51 Mustang Development of the Long-Range Escort Fighter, Air War Classics, Classic Publications, Ian Allan Publishing, 2003.
- O’LEARY, Michael, Building the P-51 Mustang, Specialty Press, 2010.
Magazines : Various issues of Mustang Modeller & Enthusiast published by Charles Neely.
Some web pages (LSP, Hyperscale, Cybermodeller).