Hasegawa 1/48 P-51D Mustang ‘Yellow Nose’
Kit #9688 MSRP $31.95
Images and text Copyright © 2007 by Matt Swan
I could talk about how North American designers Raymond Rice and Edgar Schmued put together a revolutionary aircraft design that was produced in record time to become one of the most famous fighter aircraft of the Second World War but why rehash something you probably already know in some detail? Since Hasegawa has targeted this particular model of the P-51D towards the 361st Fighter Group let’s talk about them.
8th Air Force, 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group
361st Fighter Group, nicknamed “The Yellow Jackets”, flew from bases in England, Belgium and France between 1943 and 1945 as part of the 8th Air Force. The 361st Fighter Group was activated on February 10th, 1943 at Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia under the command of Maj. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr. who was the great-grandson of the famous Civil War general “Stonewall” Jackson and was initially equipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. On November 30th 1943 361st personnel began arriving at RAF Bottisham, Cambridgeshire where the Group was assigned to VIII Fighter Command, Eighth Air Force. On May 1st, 1944 The 361st Fighter Group began to re-equip with North American P-51 Mustangs. During the D-Day Normandy landings the Yellow Jackets performed six strafing and dive-bombing missions, during which at least 15 locomotives and an ammunition train were destroyed along with 23 trucks and armored cars and two enemy aircraft on the ground.
On May 8th, 1945, Victory in Europe Day, the 361st Fighter Group stood down having flown a total of 441 combat missions in fifteen months of operations. The Group’s pilots claimed a total of 226 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and a further 105 on the ground with the loss of 81 aircraft. The unit began preparation for transfer to the Pacific where they would once again be flying the P-47 Thunderbolt but the capitulation of the Japanese made the Pacific trip unnecessary. Amid conflicting rumors about departure dates, 361st personnel prepared themselves for the trip home. Meanwhile, the Group’s strength dwindled with the grounding of all “war-weary” P-51s for storage and transfer of the newer planes to depots. On November 4th, 1945 the remnants of the 361st Fighter Group sailed for home on the Queen Mary and the unit was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on November 10th, 1945.
Hasegawa has done a nice job on this subject. The kit arrives in a sturdy box with eye catching art work. Inside the four sprues of parts done in medium gray plastic are contained inside a poly bag with a small tree of clear parts packaged with the large decal sheet. There is very little flash on any of t he parts and very minimal injector pin markings inside the larger parts. There are a few injector pin markings that need to be dealt with on the landing gear struts and on the rocket launcher tubes. Surface detail on the fuselage and wings is subtle with finely engraved panel lines and only minimal rivet detail. Unlike the Tamiya kit there are no rivet markings on the wings.
Inside the cockpit we have soft sidewall detail but do have molded in place seatbelt detail. They did some good work with battery and radio details. The instrument panel features raised detail and there is an instrument decal should you care to take that route. The kit offers excellent interior fuselage radiator detail and includes several items found lacking in the Tamiya kit. All this stuff fits inside very well with only a little fiddling. Landing gear bay detail is excellent and the struts are accurately reproduced. The modeler also has a good choice of weapons load for under the wings with bombs, zero rail rockets or rocket launching tubes along with choices of two different fuel tanks. Kit parts include both cuffed and uncuffed propeller blades as well as shrouded or unshrouded exhaust manifolds. The clear parts display good clarity with finely raised frame lines and the modeler has a choice of two different canopies that can be modeled open or closed. Parts inventory totals out with one hundred twenty five gray high pressure injection molded pieces and 8 clear parts for a total box count of one hundred thirty three pieces.
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Decals and Instructions
Kit decals are clear and straight forward. As with most Hasegawa kits the instructions come as a four panel fold-out printed on both sides. It begins with a short history of the P-51 in both English and Japanese. As this model is aimed at the 361st FG I thought it would have been good to cover some of their history here but such was not the case. Instructions contain a complete parts map with comprehensive paint chart. Three panels are devoted to assembly with eight exploded view steps. There exist plenty of color call-outs through these steps along with instructions to open various holes in the wing dependant on load-out. Two panels are devoted to exterior painting and decal placement for two aircraft of the 361st FG, Detroit Miss and Lou IV.
The kit decal sheet is both large and comprehensive. It includes black theater marking bands as decals for the wings and fuselage along with plenty of service and warning stencils. The decals are nicely thin with good print registry and color density. Also included are some markings for the drop tanks. The decals behave nicely with all standard setting solutions and snuggle down without issue.
While the kit decal offerings are just fine with no shortcomings I could discern I wanted to build something a little different – something with boobies! I selected an Aeromaster sheet of decals #48-657 “Yellow Nose Mustangs” which is also aimed at the 361st FG. This sheet covers Detroit Miss, Queen Jean and Death’s Angel. One of these featured Boobies so you can guess which one I’m doing. Before we continue with the construction of the kit let’s talk a little bit about Lt. Harry M. Chapman, the man who flew Death’s Angel.
Harry M. Chapman
Harry M. Chapman was born in Atlanta, Ga., in 1924. He entered the Army Air Forces in November 1942 as an aviation cadet and received his pilot wings and commission as second lieutenant in April 1944 and was then assigned to the 361st Fighter Group where he acquired three aircraft kills. On March 21st 1945 while 361st Mustangs conducted a target escort mission to Plauen Lt. Harry M. Chapman destroyed a Me-262 near Wittenberg. His other two victories were both aircraft destroyed on the ground. He returned to the United States in January 1946 and in February 1947 he was assigned as assistant operations officer for the 7th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, of the Fifth Air Force at Chitose and Misawa Air Bases in Japan. By February 1954 he had acquired the rank of General and was assigned to the newly activated 388th Fighter Bomber Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., as commander, 563d Fighter Bomber Squadron. In June 1969 he assumed command of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Republic of Vietnam where he completed 206 combat missions in the RF-4C. In October 1973 General Chapman was appointed deputy director for operations (reconnaissance and electronic warfare), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. He was a command pilot with more than 5,500 flying hours and 253 combat missions to his credit. He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general effective Aug. 1, 1971 and retired July 1 1974.
Construction begins with the front office being painted interior green. The floor was done with a light brown and wood grain was drawn on with a #2 pencil. I elected to use the main instrument decal treated with Micro-Set which made it snuggle down nicely over the raised detail. Side wall and radio details were done with black followed by spots of red and yellow enamels. Seat belts were done with a very light gray with silver buckles followed by a black sludge wash. Once the interior details were dry they were assembled and I began to place them into the fuselage.
Now the fuselage could be closed up. I used Tenax 7R as my primary glue for this process. The wings went together quickly with a few mounting holes for drop tanks and rocket tubes being drilled out in advance. Wings and tail surfaces were attached to the model and it was allowed to cure overnight. The next day some seam clean-up was done with Mr. Surfacer 500. I have just gotten a new tool my JCL razor saw from Roll Models and tried it out by clearing the panel lines and restoring the ones lost across the seams. Man, this saw is great. I can clean a line quick and easy plus the saw is so fine that I can cut new lines and the match perfectly with the kit panel lines. After a couple hours of wet sanding the seams and making sure all surfaces were clean and free of debris I was ready to start painting.
For this project I selected Krylon Gloss Black as my primer. Once the cockpit and various radiator openings were packed with damp tissue paper I coated the model with the Krylon. I went over it quickly with some very fine sanding film and water to make sure the finish was perfect and she was ready for some Alclad. I selected Alclad 2 Duraluminum as my base color and used both Aluminum and Magnesium for some of the contrasting panels. This was allowed to harden overnight then the OD anti-glare panel was masked off and painted. Now it’s time to add some color – the tail and nose are masked off with strips of masking tape and Testors flat yellow is applied with a Sotar 20/20-2 airbrush. This brush was a Christmas gift to me from my loving wife – WOW, what a great detail brush!
While the yellow dries I worked on the landing gear and load-out. I added some fine radio solder as brake lines to the landing gear along with some tie-downs made from thin strips of masking tape. Propeller blades and spinner were painted and Futured then placed aside. Back to the main model she was sealed with Future thinned 25% with isopropyl alcohol then the decals were placed. They were sealed again with Future and the kit was allowed to dry overnight. Next a sludge wash made from ground pastel chalks, a couple teaspoons of water and a drop of liquid dish soap was applied to the panel lines. I did not want to get his one real dirty, just a little in the panel lines as an accent. Landing gear and load-out were added along with the propeller. The canopy was masked and shot with some interior green followed by Alclad Aluminum. I drilled out the small hole for the aerial which was made from invisible thread drawn across a black magic marker.
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I only spent about 20 hours total on this kit spread over two weeks. It was a very easy build with all the parts fitting exactly as intended. I built the Tamiya P-51 a couple years ago and in comparison the Tamiya kit does feature dropped flaps which is nice and has an actual sliding canopy. I think the sidewall detail inside the Tamiya kit is better than the Hasegawa kit however the Hasegawa kit has better interior radiator detail, better landing gear and land gear bay detail and does not have the nasty wing rivets seen on the Tamiya kit. I won’t say that I prefer one over the other, both were very enjoyable builds and both look like Mustangs.