A venture into the 1/32 scale world with Spruecutter, or simply Mat
This P-51D-5NA Mustang build feature is Mat’s first article for the homepage. We hope to feature more of him in the future and that it is not his last. The article first appeared on Stateline Area Modelers Club. Mat runs an Instagram page, like most of us, which focuses on his scale modeling. The following build was for a 1/32 scale P-51 group build on Instagram. We must stress that all image rights are by Mat. They may not be used for any kind of purpose unless Mat permits you to do so. Following is Mat’s account of the build and we dearly thank him for submitting this article. We kick it off with some interesting 361st Fighter Group statistics. These documents are also courtesy of Mat and may not be shared without consent.
I chose the newer tool 1/32 Revell P-51D-5NA Mustang (Revell: 03944) with the markings of the 361st Fighter Group’s Lou IV flown by Colonel Thomas Christian, and the 357th Fighter Group’s “Desert Rat” flown by Captain Hershel Pascoe in the box. I knew right off the bat that I wanted to do “Lou IV”. More on why, later, however.
P-51D-5NA Mustang build in 1/32
As usual, I started in the cockpit. There was nothing really to note during the interior build. All the parts went together smoothly, and the detail is adequate for 1/32 scale (and the price point) but I decided to use some Eduard photoetch to really detail up the interior. I have not reached my desired skill level of perfection with photoetch skills but the outcome was successful and it really made the cockpit “pop.”
A few minor issues with the kit
- Tail to the fuselage: I really wonder why Revell chose to make this a separate part. The only thing I can assume is that they will be releasing a later version of a Mustang with the tail fillet. The panel lines do not match up 100% between the two pieces and there is a slight step that needed correction.
- Gun port to wings: There is no reason to make this a separate part. There are some gaps and steps here that require some extra work. In the end, I was not able to completely correct them, but it was better than during the original construction.
- Wings to the fuselage: Builder error likely contributed to these problems as it takes a lot of finagling to get the wing root as tight as possible. The fit is tight in the rear but loose in the front which leads me to believe that I did something wrong on the build. In the end, however, I could fix it all and solve the problem.
- Air scoop/intake: These pieces weren’t even close, and Revell should go back to the drawing board. There is a curved groove that should line up but there is no way to make it work. I ended up cutting the grooves away completely and had to resort to making the intake as level as possible, while still needing leaving a significant gap that needed to be filled.
Aside from the above points, the rest of the build was straightforward. On the exterior, I used a few pieces of Eduard photo-etch but did not use the entire fret. After the main build was complete, I masked and placed the clear parts. On to painting!
Painting the model – Priming
I primed the whole model with Alclad Gloss Black Base in two sessions. First the top and the then bottom in the second run. Please keep your hands off the primed model during the drying process. If you touch the primed model it results in stains and marks that will be visible later. For the last section, I ended up driving a thin paintbrush through the prop shaft area to hold it.
After the base was thoroughly dry, I went over the top of it completely with Alclad Polished Aluminum. Next, I used a 12000-grit sanding sponge over the whole surface prior to picking out individual panels for different shades of aluminum (White Aluminum, Airframe Aluminum and Duraluminum).
After the metallics were down, I started working on all the individual markings, starting with the yellow nose; invasion stripes on the top, bottom and fuselage; rear stabilizer markings on the top (white) and bottom (black). From here, all that I needed to deal with was the controversial part.
Lou IV’s P-51D-5NA Mustang and paint controvercies
My interpretation of Lou IV included only one color on the fuselage and tail – and it was not blue – and only two colors on the wing tops. I know that there are many “blue-liveers” out there due to reference photos where there appears to be blue on the fuselage and tail, but I am not one of them.
I do not disagree that there were Mustangs with blue on them. However in my opinion it was not a color that was used as camo markings such as these. I also have met a source who is a volunteer at the Bottisham Museum and has unpublished pictures of Lou IV. He states that it definitively did not have blue on it. I digress… Olive Drab covers the invasion stripes and rear stabilizer markings on top. This makes them visible and prominent. I used Medium Green for the remainder of the wings as well as the fuselage and tail markings.
All in all, I used Tamiya, Mission Models, and Hataka Orange Line paints on the markings. Once everything was how I liked it, I sealed the model with Alclad Klear Kote Gloss in preparation for decals.
Decal application and Weathering
I used the kit-supplied decals which appear to be from Barracuda. They were a dream to work with and recessed into the details nicely. The port side fuselage marking had something weird happen to it, though, on the star. Some sort of white mark appeared (not sure if it was my fault or a defect on the decal), though it is not very noticeable in the end.
Reference photos show very little weathering on “Lou IV.” I did a simple wash with Flory washes and minor chipping with a Prismacolor pencil around the access areas on the wing. I can highly recommend Flory washes.
My personal connection to Lou IV and why I chose it
I promised some more information on why this build was important to me and why I knew right away that I was to do Lou IV. My grandfather was also in the 361st Fighter Group, so it was really an easy decision. In fact, the only Mustangs that I have completed since I re-joined this hobby in early 2020 have been 361st FG Mustangs. My grandfather was in the headquarters section of the fighter group. He served as their operations clerk (think the “Radar O’Reilly” of the 361st FG, but not as quirky or nearsighted). He even received the Bronze Star for his actions in late 1944. While he was not a pilot, every job was important to the war effort and I am very proud of him.
As I went through the build, I was looking through his effects and there were many interesting ones. An operations summary report he wrote after the war included a top-secret photo of Bottisham Airfield. Moreover, it contained his promotion and Bronze Star paperwork. Last but not least many incredible photos in his personal photo albums, including one of…you guessed it…Col. Thomas Christian.
P-51D-5NA Mustang Conclusion
All-in-all this was my favorite build to date, largely due to the personal significance. The 1/32 Revell P-51D-5NA Mustang is a good kit, especially for the price of less than $US 50. However, is not without its shortcomings and quirks.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on the next one!
Thank you for this lovely build Mat. Feel free to get in touch with Mat in the comment section below or on instagram. Keep up the great work. For more aviation-related articles, click here.