P51 (Accurate Miniatures) Build #9

Time to turn my efforts towards the wings but that gap in the fuselage in front of the cockpit just sat there…looking at me. Fine, since it was going to be like that, I’ll fix it. Sheet stock was added and trimmed and now the coaming is ready to paint:

2016-05-02 A

With that annoyance dealt with, my efforts did go towards the wings…for about five minutes. Then something else started demanding attention. This kit had sat in a hot attic for about 13 years. Evidently this caused things to warp (other than my mind) so when the fuselage was being assembled, I realized I needed the addition of putty to smooth things out, so I added putty to smooth things out:

2016-05-04 C

Right. Wings. Let’s get to those now. The first thing that jumped out in my eye were the apertures in the leading edges of both wings for the landing lights. The P51 was the only Mustang to have a landing light in each wing. Though Accurate Miniatures made the attempt to thin this section, it was still far too thick, so I had to thin that area to a more scale thickness:

2016-05-04 A 2016-05-04 B

And then I noticed that the landing lights are angled downward (which, given the location of the ground to a taxiing or landing aircraft, makes sense), meaning there is less of a cutout in the upper wing surface than there is in the lower:

2016-05-05 01

My initial intent was to build scale lights (that’s what that cylinder in the photo below-left is the start of). Then I realized that I don’t need scale lights, I need something that looks like scale lights. So I decided to see if easily constructed lights would look correct (reminding myself that building a model is not engineering, where things have to be correct…it’s modeling, where things have to look correct). I started by finding a punch of the appropriate (as in, looks right) diameter. I punched out a disc of 020 plastic. Then I centered the disc over the next smallest die and punched the center out so that I would end up with a pair of bezels (he says using 26 words that made it sound easy and carefully not mentioning how many off-center discs got tossed):

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Aligning the bezels to the holes was easy; I used the punch as the alignment tool:

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I cut the two apart and then roughly placed one inside the wing to see how things would look (not bad) and how things would fit (not good):

2016-05-05 08

I carefully thinned the area where the landing lights go on both wings:


I placed a landing light in place and dropped the upper wing where it goes and was pleased with how it looked:


Now I needed the landing lights. For a reflective surface, I took a disposable aluminum baking pan and sanded and polished it, then I cut the polished area out and glued it to the back of the landing light, using a fine marker to make a dot for the “bulb”:

2016-05-06 A 2016-05-06 B

2016-05-06 C 2016-05-06 E

To make the lens, I punched out a piece of clear butyrate, put it in place, and was pleased with the affect:


Moving inward from there, I wanted to fix the armament. The P51 was the only Mustang to have 20mm cannons (Hispano Suiza units with 40 rounds per gun) and those were fairly large, resulting in much of the barrel being shrouded where it extended out of the wings. The kit’s “barrels” have what I take are cooling fins along the section of the barrels that aren’t shrouded. None of my resources showed any P51 with those fins, so that means I’m not using those parts. Instead, I used 032 brass tubing that I widened the holes in. The references (see…sometimes I consult them) show a lip around the muzzles. I drilled the center out of 047 styrene rod:


After doing that eight times, I ended up with a decent set of 20mm gun barrels (the muzzle band will be aligned better later):


2016-05-07 2016-05-08

And then I drove myself crazy(er) concocting elaborate and complicated means of getting the barrels mounted and aligned. Thankfully, before I started burning through materials and/or screwing up the only set of wings I have for this variant, I hit on a Clever Idea ™. I noticed that there is a slight lip where the barrels meet the shrouds on the actual aircraft. Since I had the 047 rod right there, as well as recent (successful!) experience center-drilling them, I’d use the rod as mounting sleeves! I also made a fence so that the barrels extended the proper distance from the shrouds (that turned out to be unnecessary, so I didn’t do it for the other wing/gun setup):

2016-05-09 2016-05-10


I didn’t attach the barrels at this point. Having them removable (they just slide in and out like…ahm…yeah…never mind) will make painting them a lot easier.

Unlike Merlin Mustangs, Allison Mustangs have mechanical catches that keep the large doors closed once the hydraulic pressure bleeds off. So when they’re parked long enough for that to happen, Merlin Mustangs’ doors drop open and Allison Mustangs don’t. But both Merlin and Allison Mustangs flaps drop when hydraulic pressure does, so I wanted to drop the flaps of this one. The Verlinden cockpit detail set also included a set of flaps, so I thought I’d use those. The first thing I noticed was that the flaps weren’t long enough, which meant I had to add plastic to the ends of them:

2016-05-12 2016-05-13

And then I noticed that the resin flaps were about half as thick as they should be where the flap meets the wing:

2016-05-19 01

Well, then…looks like I’m going to cut the flaps out of the wing and make those work instead:

2016-05-19 02

First I carefully glued just the flap sections together so that the profile would be established. To keep the kerf as small as possible, I used a panel scriber and MANY passes to separate the flaps from the wings.

And here I insert a warning about scribers. I like them better for most panels than using the back of a knife tip or needle because the knife tip is often too wide and the needle raises a lip on either side of the resulting groove that has to be sanded away. I’ve reshaped my scriber to be about as thin as I can get it and still maintain its structural rigidity and most of the time it works quite well. But it’s a tool. Any tool can be misused and if you look at the above photo closely, you’ll see a diagonal scrape to the right of center. This is what happens when a person gets impatient and tries to take too big a gouge out of the plastic too soon. Several light passes are MUCH BETTER than trying to take a lot of plastic out with one pass. Several light passes do create a groove that keeps the tip of the scriber from doing what I did with it, having it wander and gouge a surface that should not be gouged. So what my impatience has done, as it so often does, is make more work for me. The errant gouge needs to be filled. ::bangs head slowly on desk::

Look closely at the flap in the above picture again, but this time look at the curved section on the left of the flap. The actual flap fits under the faring at the wing root. The kit part meets the faring and, were I building this with the flaps up, that would be fine. So that area needs to have plastic added so that the surface of the flap is even across its width (after much scraping and sanding, of course):

2016-05-19 05 2016-05-19 06

If you look closely at the lower picture at the edge near the plastic addition, you can see where the TINIEST of brushes by a spinning Dremel tool’s bit took a gouge out of the plastic. So that will need to be fixed with another addition of plastic (and since fine motor control had deserted me at this point, I glued on more plastic and called it a night):

2016-05-20 01

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