Modeling project

441st Squadron Mustang III

I wanted to do a plane for some times now, and I had this Tamiya Mustang III in the stash since forever. I’ve always found this particular box art to be totally appealing and it played no small part in finally pushing me toward the dark side.

It’s one of those project that I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted to do. This is generally not a good way to start a project for me. I need to feel inspired in some way. I knew I wanted to create a Mustang with the Malcolm canopy, which gives it a super cool profile (even more than a D if you ask me!)

Looking around a bit, the project quickly evolved toward a Canadian aircraft. I sourced IPMS Canada’s excellent Mustang IIIs decal sheet along with their pretty interesting and well-made reference guide and I decided to do that weird D-Day stripes-sporting 9GS ship (The 441st got hold of their Mustangs right at the end of the war. D-Day markings were out of fashion by that time).

You’ll notice I’m not providing close-up shots of that build. Some things are better left seen from afar, hehe. More seriously, this project was a learning experience, and a good one, but it really ain’t perfect, to say the least, and I post it here merely as a milestone on the path of getting better.

No matter how this project ended up, I’m super stoked for more aircraft modeling and I’ve grabbed Trumpeter’s 1/32 Mustang III to quite possible create a larger and, hopefully, better version of this very same aircraft.

Honest Assessment

Things I’m happy with

  • Painting. Still not perfect but I did obtain a pretty okay finish. I made my own mix since I didn’t have the exact colors on hand and it looks the part. Did a bunch of masking which worked out pretty well, too. Oh, and I masked and hand-painted the D-Day stripes to give them a rougher look.
  • Weathering. Could go muuuuch further but in this case it remained restrained but still somewhat meaningful.
  • Getting to the finish line. There were moments of discouragements on that one after I screwed the propeller,
  • I used foil for the landing gear’s hydraulic arm and I managed to pull it off not too badly.

Things I’m okay with

  • Decaling went well, despite the fact that the kit’s sheet went bad and I ended up with decal shredding all over the place. I managed to pull through using careful placement as well as falling back to stenciling the roundel using my portrait 2 cutting machine. I still have more silvering I care to admit but overall this is a good step in the right direction.

Things I could do better

Boy, where to begin?

  • Modeling aircrafts is pretty different than modeling AFVs. Duh! But hear me out. In broad terms, an AFV is a big chunk of styrene on which you slap a bunch of smaller parts. An aircraft is more like two halves of a shell that you prepare meticulously for the moment you’ll pair them. This means a lot of dry-fitting and a lot of small incremental adjustments to get that perfect fit. It can be tedious. I think I don’t dislike that but I do realize I need to approach this differently. More deliberately I’d say.
  • The cockpit was a humbling experience in that regard. Test fitting everything, then getting creative not only to make sure it would fit properly but that I’d be able to handle it while closing the fuselage was worrying (in a good way!).
  • Canopy masking, handling, gluing. All of that I need to refine quite a bit. It’s not easy to make a perfect canopy that sits where it should, remain clean, and has a sharp cut.
  • Wheels and landing gear. It was surprisingly tough to get a perfectly straight, sturdy and properly aligned set of wheels. I epoxied the wheels but I did the cardinal mistake of not having sufficient time to properly monitor the bond and ended up with a slight misalignment. Booo. And this is an absolutely basic thing to nail, just like tracks on an AFV. Nothing worse than an aircraft that doesn’t sit properly on its legs.

Projet Specs

  • Tamiya Mustang III (Kit ref #61047)
  • 3D-printed unshrouded exhaust stack (my own sculpt and print).
  • IPMS Canada Mustang IIIs decal sheet.
  • Eduard Propeller (for Eduard kit but easy to adapt to Tamiya’s; Kit ref #648487)
  • Aires P-51B/C Cockpit (Kit ref #4223)
  • Ultracast P-51 Radial thread (Kit ref #48134)
  • Scratchbuilt dorsal fin

Standard