Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Cap Jempol Metal
The North American P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. Introduced in 1940, it would go on to serve with air forces around the world till the early 1980s with more than 15,000 being built. It was armed internally with 6 0.50 caliber machine guns and was capable of carrying up to 1,000 pounds of rockets and bombs on its wings.
Indonesia acquired P-51Ds from the departing Netherlands East Indies Air Force in 1949 and 1950. They would serve the fledgling AURI (Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia or Indonesian Air Force) for the next decade.
PERMESTA (Piagam Perjuangan Semesta or Universal Struggle Center) was a rebel movement active in Indonesia from 1957 to 1961. Based in Manado, they fought the central government for fair division of economic and political power. In 1958 the CIA began covertly supporting PERMESTA by supplying B-26 bombers and P-51 fighters to form AUREV (Angkatan Udara Revolusioner or Revolutionary Air Force), weapons, equipment, funds and manpower in the form of CIA agents and merceneries.
On 18 May 1958, AURI pilot Captain Ignatius Dewanto, piloting F-338, a P-51D Mustang, shot down a rebel B-26 bomber over Ambon. The pilot, CIA agent Allen Pope, was captured alive, tried and sentenced to death (he was eventually released in 1962). His capture exposed the CIA’s involvement and they subsequently withdrew support for the rebellion.
This build depicts F-338 as she appeared during this engagement.
Tamiya has a reputation of producing shake and bake kits but they also re-brand 1/72 Italeri kits that are of various quality. This is thankfully the former.
By all accounts, this is a down-scaling of their excellent 1/48 kit. Details are very sharp, lack any noticeable ejector pin marks and are designed to allow for various variants to be built. This boxing allows you to build the WWII version. Even so, you are given different options for exhausts and canopies (which can be posed open). Externally there are only drop tanks but there’s a Korean War boxing of this kit that includes rockets and additional fuselage options. There are 3 marking options, all WWII era P-51s.
All in all, this looks to be a straightforward build.
Construction began naturally with the cockpit which had very good details for 1/72. Restraints are provided as decals. After a quick painting (Black Grey base, German Cam Bright Green as the main color, gloss coat, Dark Grey wash, drybrush with the silver pencil and then a flat coat), the 2 halves of the fuselage were cemented together, which hid all the detailed work. The lower wings come as a whole bottom span with a pair of separate upper wings. Such is the precision of Tamiya Engineeringtm that there are no gaps on the wingroots. The nosecone attaches to the body with a polycap but I decided to paint the blades separately from the nose. The exhausts were set aside to be painted separately and I decided not to attach the exterior fuel tanks to keep the lines smooth.
The canopy is designed with a separate frame which allows for easy masking. After masking with tape and masking liquid I attached it to the frame with Gator Glue. The whole thing was then cemented onto the fuselage. I won’t know if there was any smudging till the end of the build.
There is only 1 seamline to fix but it runs down the middle of the whole length of the kit. I paid more attention to the fitting on the top than on the bottom to minimize cleanup work. The intake on the bottom has multiple panel lines which the seamline cuts across. There’s also a small section that is inset that required multiple attempts to fix. I did the best I can and moved on.
F-338 sported a uniquely curved antenna blade on the spine that needs to be scratchbuilt. The markings for this P-51 is from Cap Jempol Metal (literally Metal Finger Print), a local decal maker. The instructions include a template for the antenna that I used to make with 0.5mm plastic card.
Painting & Markings
First, I painted the landing gear bays the same way as the cockpit. After curing, I stuffed them with blutack to prepare for the rest.
Vallejo Black Gloss Primer serves as a base with Vallejo Metal Color Aluminium as the main color. I decided to vary the color of the flaps, elevators and a few other random panels so I spent 1.5 hours masking off the panels and only 5 minutes of painting with Vallejo Metal Color Dull Aluminium. I can’t say it’s accurate to do this sort of variation, but I think it adds some visual interest. After I removed the masking tape I noticed I manage to scratch off some of the aluminium color so I went back to repair those with more masking and spraying.
I also painted the antenna, gear doors and struts with Aluminium in the same way. The tires were sprayed with Black Grey and then I used a circular template to spray the wheels Aluminium. The exhausts were based with Black Grey and handpainted Metal Air Gun Grey.
F-338 carried a striking shark mouth noseart with a uniquely patterned black nose. The instructions provided templates for the shape of the pattern which I transferred onto masking tape. I then masked the rest of kit and sprayed Black Grey for the nose. The rudder has a checkerboard pattern over a white color so I sprayed Dead White on it. The nosecone was Game Color Bloody Red and the prop was Black Grey with handpainted Game Color Sun Yellow over a base of Game Color Dead White for the tips. The completed nose is then attached to the fuselage with a polycap.
To prepare for decals I sprayed Vallejo Metal Gloss Varnish over the entire kit. Of course disaster would strike at this time. The bottom had some slight orange peel and the port side on top had some problems. I fixed what I could by stripping the paint there, sanding down then repainting. The fix doesn’t look that great (the gloss pooled) but I decide to learn and move on.
Confession time. The markings in the sheet are for F-324 and F-328. Except for the unit number, F-338 shares the same markings as F-324 (F-328 has a solid red tail and no sharkmouth). However, F-324 requires the prop that’s only included (part C1) in the the Korean War P-51 boxing. After chatting with Mr. Cap Jempol Metal (how’s that for service?) I decided to build F-338 instead, which was a more historically significant aircraft anyway. F-338 has the standard prop blade and canopy (D3) with the bent antenna. I just needed to mix and match the numbers on the sheet to get ‘F-338′ (’38’ is included as a standalone on the sheet).
There’s actually no photographic evidence of the checkerboard pattern on the rudder of F-338 during the engagement. There’s however an undated photo of it with a checkerboard rudder but no sharkmouth. There’s also a photo of F-324 that shared the same sharkmouth and it has a checkerboard rudder. There are currently 2 P-51Ds mocked up to look like F-338 which don’t sport the checkerboard pattern in museums but their markings aren’t based on any historical evidence. Absence of other evidence, I decided to just assume F-338 at that time shared the same colors as F-324. Besides, it looks better with it.
Most of the decals came as 2 parts so they required aligning properly and have no carrier film. All in all though, very straightforward. They are thin, are in good register and react well to Mark Softer. I managed to still tear some (especially on the nose) but these were easily patched up with paint. I then brushed on clear gloss to seal them in after wiping them with a damp cloth.
The bottom of the starboard wings has landing lights which I handpainted with transparent paint. The bent antenna and the landing gear were then attached along with their doors with super glue. I somehow managed to lose the light inside the gear bay though. The wingtip lights were then handpainted with transparent blue and red. Last to go as usual is the masking tape on the canopy. I cleaned up any bleeding with a toothpick and then brushed Future.
I decided to finish while I’m ahead and forgo panel lining, which might react negatively with the finish. Or worse, I’d screw something up again.
This was a really fun build especially the part where I researched on F-338 and finding more about the shootdown itself. The build was also relatively mistake free but as usual, I wasn’t careful towards the end. I finished this kit just in time for 17 August 2016 which is Indonesia’s Independence Day. Hopefully this will become an annual trend for me.
Number 10 of 2016