Mustang Dio pt. 1
I’m building a Hasegawa P-51D Mustang. I kept wanting to build an airplane, but was never quite motivated enough to start one. Then there was Fichtenfoo Forum’s “31 Days” competition, which is to build a non-Gundam model with some kind of diorama in 31 days or less. I thought it would be a good challenge for me to try to do something fast. After considering a few different kits, I decided on this Mustang.
I had planned on doing this one in flight with wheels up. This allows me to capture the Mustang’s really nice lines without them being broken by landing gear or an open canopy. Plus, in flight I didn’t have to paint landing gear, so I thought it would be easier. I have another Tamiya Mustang kit which I planned to do fully open, but when I saw this Hasegawa for 50% off at Brookhurst Hobbie last summer, it was a no-brainer. I’ll most likely do it in red tail Tuskegee Airmen colors. The bright red and yellow trim should really add to the Mustang’s sleekness in flight.
I picked up this Citroen car kit in 1/48th as well. It’s French built, but German used and one of the color shemes in the box is for the Eastern front, so I’m guessing it’s legit anywhere the Wermacht traveled.
So my vignette will be the Mustang buzzing the Citroen. The only question now is whether it’s gonna be a shot up German Citroen or a not shot up German Citroen with scurrying Germans around it. I also have decals for Bud Anderson’s “Old Crow” Mustang, which would have been flying over France a lot, so I could do that Mustang with a civilian post-liberation French Citroen. The Tuskegee airmen operated out of North Africa, Sicily and mainland Italy, So I don’t think they would have really been over France much. Then again, it wouldn’t have been impossible for the Citroen to make it there, so I guess I can do whatever I want with it.
Unfortunately I’ve found this Hasegawa Mustang has nothing on Tamiya… Maybe it’s because it’s just a little older than the other two Tamiya airplane kits I’ve built. The Tamiya kits could be test fitted and the major components would stay together more or less without glue because the parts fit is so good.
This Hasegawa Mustang is made of thin flexible plastic so that the wing and fuselage halves are warped. It’s nothing glue doesn’t solve, but not as good as Tamiya.
All Mustang parts are de-sprued (all 20 of them). I’ve also finished one of the hard parts, cutting off all the control surfaces that will need to be deflected in a high angle knife-edge pass. I used a needle in a pinvise and a zillion repetitions of scoring to remove them with minimal damage to the parts.
The next challenge was the landing gear doors…
Since the plane will be flying, the landing gear doors have to be closed. Do the Hasegawa kit’s landing gear doors fit in the wheel wells like they should?
Of course not.
Are they even close?
The gear door on the right has been significantly shaved down on the inside to fit better. The one on the left is OOB.
I thought building the kit in flight would be really easy since I wouldn’t have to paint and detail the landing gear and the cockpit could be simple since the pilot would be obstructing most of it. After fixing the landing gear, I’m convinced that this is actually more work…
Here’s what I had to do to the inside to get the landing gear doors in the wheel wells. Top is OOB, bottom is filed down:
I decided that the wheel wells would be the best place to insert a polycap where I could mount the Mustang on a stand, so I scraped a flat spot in the surface detail inside and stuck this Wave socket in place:
I painted it red so I could place the door over it and mark where I needed to drill a hole:
After drilling the hole, I glued the gear doors on. I had to use a bit of white plastic to fix where I had ground too much off. You can’t see it in this pic, but the gear doors still stick out above the surface of the rest of the wing. You can see it better on the door on the right side in the first picture.
After sanding it all down flush, I had a kinda OK looking set of retracted landing gear. I’ll still fill in the cracks with Mr. Surfacer 500 and re-scribe the lines to clean it all up.
You know what really sucks? I have a Tamiya kit of the same airplane in the same scale. Just to torture myself, I decided to check if the landing gear doors fit in the wheel wells.
They do. Perfectly.
Unfortunately I had already desprued all the parts of the Tamiya kit, so it wasn’t eligible for the 31 Days competition. Besides, I want to use the better Tamiya kit later on for a full-open model of the Mustang. I’ve already got a set of photo etched metal parts for it.
Next up was the cockpit. This where I kind of catch a break. Like I said before, having the pilot sitting there means that the detail can be kinda soft in the cockpit since the pilot will block most of it off.
I had this pilot figure from the Tamiya kit. I came molded in 4 pieces, body, left arm, right arm and head. I still had to hack it up a bit, though. I had to file down the neck so I could tilt the head up:
Then I had to go to work on the left arm, which is meant to hang out the open cockpit. Since the cockpit will be closed, that wouldn’t work. I had to cut it at the elbow to change the angle of the hand to make it look like it was resting on the throttle. I then had to glue the arm to the side of the body and leave a huge gap where the shoulder should have been. I then had the sculpt the missing part of the arm and neck with MagicSculpt:
Finally, after checking the fit, it bothered me that the seatbelt straps were visible resting on the back of the seat. Obviously these straps should be going over the shoulders of the pilot. Since it would be a pain in the ass to make straps that would work seamlessly into the shoulders of the pilot and then drape over the back of the seat, I decided just to grind the offending straps off:
The above picture was in-progress. It came out smooth. Now that nobody will see the straps, I hope it won’t occur to them that the straps should be connected to the pilot.
Now I have to fit the tailwheel landing gear doors in place. I also have to decide if I want to cut out the doors on the Citroen. I can’t imagine if you were being buzzed by an enemy plane and scrambling away from your car for cover that you would bother to close the door behind you.
If I do cut out the doors, I then have to detail the interiors of the doors, since they are flat with no detail.
I don’t think I’ll make it… Meh, it’ll still be a pretty quick project and something different.
I’ve been going back and forth this week on the cockpit of the Mustang and the Citroen car. There’s not a lot to show on the car since I’ve just desprued all the pieces and skewered them. The one thing I have done is cut out one of the doors, I’ve got to cut out the rear door later. I’m not really looking forward to it…
The last couple days I did a bit of masking to get ready for today. Sticky-tack is a real life-saver with all these small bits of detail:
I spent most of today painting the cockpit and pilot. I got quite a lot done for just one day through a mixture of airbrushing and hand-painting.
The Future gloss coat has been applied so as soon as it’s cured I can give it all a sludge wash and also dry-brush on some highlights, especially on the pilot. I’ve got to try to bring the details out on his face. The Mustang I’m building is from the African-American Tuskegee Airmen squadron. Unfortunately the skin-tone I mixed for the pilot isn’t much different from brown I mixed for the leather flight jacket and helmet. I’m also kind of bummed that the “Khaki” I painted the pants looked pea-green after it dried… Oh well, the pants will hardly show.
Anyway, a couple more hours of work should finish up the cockpit, then I can put the Mustang together, fix the seams and really get to work. I picked up a great set of 1/48 scale road signs which includes telephone poles, picket fence and even a funny little billboard. It should really liven up the dio.
It’s been an off week for building. My wife has had a hectic work schedule which meant more time with my daughter which means less time to build. I’ve been putting some time into the project, but it just doesn’t seem like I’m getting anywhere. I had hoped to prime the model by this weekend, but it just hasn’t happened.
Here’s what I have done…
Both the interior of the Mustang and the pilot got a sludge wash of oil paint thinned with odorless paint thinner.
I then clearcoated the parts and gave them a drybrushing with oil paints to bring out highlights and assembled all the parts that make up the interior of the cockpit and underbelly intake/exhaust system.
After a few days I decided my pilots face, which I had worried about being too dark before the drybrushing was now too light, so I mixed up another shade of brown and re-drybrushed it:
Now it seems a bit too orange, but I gotta stop somewhere or the paint is gonna get too thick.
Having glued the fuselage together around the cockpit, I now turned my attention to cleaning up the control surfaces which I had cut out earlier, and filling in the gaps where I had cut off the rudder and ailerons:
And since I’ve always got time to complain, here’s a shot of some of the not-so-great parts fit I’m dealing with. I know I’ve been spoiled by the Bandai and Tamiya kits I’ve been building, but still, I don’t need this kind of stuff on a speed build:
Here’s the Mustang all glued together. I’ve since applied putty to the seams, but have yet to sand it off. In a few placed the parts fit is far enough off that I’ll have to sand bits of the surface off and re-scribe surface detail. Yay.
I’ve also been doing a bit of work on the Citroen and its inhabitants. The vignette calls for the Germans to be getting out of a car that they would probably assume is about to be strafed. The problem is that the German figures that come with the car are just casually standing around.
I decided for the Luftwaffe officer in back that this would be OK. Call it nerves of steel or fatalism or say his piloting experience made him realize that the Mustang’s angle of attack was wrong for a strafing run. Maybe he’s just too amazed by the Mustang’s Black pilot. Here’s the pilot. I changed the position of his left arm so it would rest on the Citroen’s door and used Magic Sculpt to fill in the gaps:
The driver is tougher. I had originally imagined him cowering under a tree or running away in a crouch. The problem is that non of the figures is in a posture anywhere near that. But, I found that by taking one figure and putting different arms on him, and changing the angles of the arms, I get a pretty decent figure of a guy who just jumped out of the car and is trying not to let the door hit his ass on the way out:
The feet look kind of static, I may reposition one of them to look like he is about to break into a run. Both figures have their heads stuck on with sticky tack since I won’t glue them until I work out the positioning of the figures and make sure they are looking in the right direction.
I got back to work on the Mustang, but then had some… problems… with the canopy.
Here’s Swanny’s review of the Tamiya kit:
If you look at the parts runner picture, you see a little runner on the left with a pilot and the frame of the canopy. The frame has a cross brace and a place near the back where teh inner curve of the frame becomes flat. To this frame, the clear bubble of glass is glued.
Hasegawa has molded the entire canopy as one thin clear piece. This requires a much more difficult bit of masking becasue getting that line straight around a the compound curve of the canopy ain’t easy, especially with the pitiful suggestion of a demarcation they have molded into it. On top of that, you have to glue two pieces of detail into the canopy (the cross brace and a little flat piece of plastic that makes the flat part of the inner curve). This, IMO, looks terrible and is tricky with the little barely-there markers they give you to glue the pieces to. Then, once you place the canopy on the fuselage, you see that it’s too wide by a good 32nd of an inch. All these gluing steps wouldn’t be too hard to handle, but I always try to glue my airplane canopies with white glue because it dries clear and won’t cause the clouding or fingerprints you sometimes get with CA super glues.
The problem is that the white glue isn’t strong enough to hold the canopy on once it’s squeezed into place. And in all the time I spent squeezing and holding the canopy trying to glue it in place, the two parts I glued inside of it were coming loose, and the cross-brace was wanting to lean to the back.
I finally gave up on the white glue and very carefully put tiny bits of CA glue on it and glued it. There were still cracks between the canopy and the fuselage, but I decided I could just live with it…
But anyway, I finally get the canopy on and the cross brace is leaning back, but like I said, I can live with it. I mix up some cockpit interior color and spray it (so that when you look inside, the inside of the canopy frame will be the appropriate cockpit color). Then I mix up some primer.
I go to dust the model off and it slips off its skewer and falls a couple feet onto the carpet and the rudder breaks off as well as the f–king canopy and I pick up the canopy and realize the two pieces glued inside popped off as well. Thus most of my progress of the last two nights is gone.
At that point I used every bit of profanity in my arsenal to curse this POS kit. I scoured the floor and found those two little bits then I put the model down gave my AB a once-over cleaning and walked away.
@onion7@ @onion18@ @onion10@ @onion1@ 😥 :waaaa: @onion4@
Anyways, the 31 Days tie limit on the compy has officially passed. I didn’t really think I would finish, but jeez I thought I would get farther in 31 days. On paper this was going to be a really simple project.
There’s not a lot of progress to show for the last week. Four rounds of puttying, priming, and panel line re-scribing later and it still needs a little more work. Of course this will all show in the end when I have a nice, smooth model.
There were several spots on the Mustang where the parts fit was pretty bad and needed to be sanded deep enough that panel re-scribing was necessary, including the air scoop under the chin, the scoop under the wings, all the landing gear doors, the horizontal stabilizers, and, by far worst of all the canopy.
I finally got the damn thing glued on (with Tamiya liquid cement, gtetra’s good idea), and the fit is TERRIBLE! I mentioned before that the canopy was too wide where the front of the canopy met the fuselage, but once I got it on, I saw that it was also crooked, the base was not flat, leaving a gap on the sides between the canopy and fuselage, and too narrow in the back, leaving the canopy on a shelf:
Soooo… A good gob of Tamiya putty, a couple coats of Mr. Surfacer 500 and lots of sanding later…
And It’s still not quite done sanding, although I believe I’m on the final round. I’ve painted Mr. Surfacer 500 on to touch up a few more places and after I sand that smooth I’ll have to restore more surface detail. The experience I got in panel lining the Sazabi is really paying off in this model. The part that’s really gonna suck is going to be recreating the break between the canopy and fuselage, since the putty has blended them together seamlessly.
Then it’s primer, gloss black lacquer and Alclad. I think painting should go very quickly, depending on how much I shade the Natural Metal Finish and try picking out different panels to make slightly different shades of Aluminum.
Anyway, here I am on Day 31…
Hall of shame all the way, but I think I’ll get a nice model once it’s all done and I’ll have made a naturalistic dio, which will be one more major skill under my belt.