Tag: North American

Completed : Tamiya 1/72 North American P-51D Mustang ‘AURI’

The Kit
Brand: Tamiya
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Cap Jempol Metal

The Subject
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.

North American P-51 Mustang
Ignatius Dewanto (in Bahasa Indonesia)
Allen Lawrence Pope
The actual shootdown

The Kit
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.

> View the project log

Number 10 of 2016

WIP : Tamiya 1/72 P-51D Mustang Pt.3

Work on decals begin as I was bogged down with another case of the gloss coat messing up with the finish. I had to strip and redo a few panels on the port side of the fuselage. In any case, it means I’ll have to avoid showing that side. The patching isn’t that great.

The AURI Mustang has a sharkmouth that has a unique Balinese flair to it. The colored decals all come as a 2 layer affair so some aligning needs to be done. Otherwise though, they prove to be easy to use even with my clumsy hands. They can take some handling and react well to Mark Softer.

I still managed to tear some of the decals due to the shape of the nose so I’ll have to go back to touch-up with paint once everything cures.

WIP : Tamiya 1/72 P-51D Mustang Pt.2

AURI (Indonesian Air Force) flew P-51s in the late 1950s. This Mustang will be in F-338’s markings, which is one of the few AURI aircraft to score an air-to-air victory: it shot down a B-26 piloted by a CIA agent during the Permesta rebellion.

The nose was masked and sprayed and the prop was painted separately. It’s nicely attached to the fuselage with a polycap. This particular Mustang had a unique bent antenna on the spine which I scratchbuilt with 0.5mm placard.

The decals are from a local decal maker Cap Jempol Metal (literally meaning ‘metal fingerprint’). The instructions also includes details of the bent antenna and stencils for the pattern on the nose which I transferred onto masking tape. The nose pattern was sprayed with Black Grey.

WIP : Tamiya 1/72 P-51D Mustang Pt.1

Using this kit to join a Groupbuild on ARC for the first time. Also hoping to finish this one by 17 August which is Indonesia’s Independence Day. This build will also hopefully kickstart my foray into aircraft flown by the Indonesian Armed Forces.

This P-51D will be wearing the colors of AURI (Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia aka Indonesian Air Force) from the late 1950s. Markings will be of F-338 piloted by Ignatius Derwanto who shot down a CIA B-26 over Ambon, Indonesia. Decals are from Cap Sakgelemedwe, a local decal designer here in Indonesia.

Only one minor detail needs to be scratchbuilt for this one, all else will be out of the box. Details are quite nice for the scale which unfortunately can’t quite be seen anymore once everything is closed up. Interior was painted, given a dark gray wash and drybrushed with silver. Seatbelt straps is a decal.

Closed this up in no time and the fit between the wing and the fuselage is very good. Perhaps this will be one of those mythical ‘shake and bake’ aircraft kits.


Completed : Academy 1/72 North American F-86F Sabre

Kit Info
Brand: Academy
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection Plastic

The Subject
The North American F-86 Sabre is a single-seat swept wing transonic jet fighter aircraft. First entering service with the USAF in 1949, the F-86 was one of the best and most important fighter aircraft during the Korean War. Armed with 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning machine guns and rockets, it proved itself against the similar Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights over the skies of Korea, accumulating a record of approximately 566 Mig-15s shot down for 104 F-86s lost to combat.

The F-86F variant is the most produced type at 2,239 built. It has an uprated engine and a larger wing without leading edge slats compared to previous versions. The Fs had much improved high-speed agility and higher landing speeds. Production of the Sabre would reach 9,860 units and the F-86 and its various variants would go on to serve in 31 different air forces. Although considered outdated by the end of the 1950s, it would continue to serve in various air forces until 1994.

Info adapted from Wikipedia

The Kit
Originally issued by Hobbycraft in 1986, this is a rebox released by Academy in 2000 with different marking options. Panel lines are recessed that are nicely done and consistent although a bit heavy by standards set by Tamigawa. The cockpit details are all of the raised variety with a simplified ejection seat which doesn’t have restraints. The kit also comes with a long intake without a compressor face and a short exhaust with a burner. Landing gear is simplified and the only stores available are 2 underwing mounted fuel tanks. The kit also comes with parts for the F-86E Sabre which aren’t used here. Instructions are of the folding variety and lacks details in some spots (notably the cockpit). 2 markings are provided in the kit and both are for USAF bare metal finished units fighting in the Korean War. The decals look good: glossy and well printed.

So, a decent kit by all accounts but it’s not without its problems as we shall see.

I began with the cockpit and I had to make a few guesses to where everything goes as some parts needed to be attached at angles which neither the molds nor instructions are clear about. Still, the details are quite nice here for 1/72 and it was a simple matter of spraying Black Grey and drybrushing with Dead White to bring them all out. The headrest on the seat was painted Bloody Red and I added 1mm masking tape to simulate restraints.

The cockpit sits above the intake trunking which is made up of an upper and lower half. The instructions called for some weights up front and I had to flatten the fishing weight before it fit into the space. The cockpit, intake and exhaust are all supposed to be fitted between the 2 fuselage halves. I went through some dryfitting and decided to add a sprue washer to angle the front of cockpit+intake assembly downwards so the gearbay will meet the bottom of the fuselage. I also decided to cement all three onto the right fuselage before fitting the left side. Turns out this was a mistake. I should have just trapped the cockpit+intake between the 2 fuselage halves and then adjusted the fit that way. Now there’s a step if you looked into the intake.

I then deviated slightly from the instructions by fitting the bottom wing assembly onto the fuselage first before fitting the top sections of the wings. Even so there are still minor gaps on the joints up top that requires fixing. Gaps in general quite easily fixed. There were however quite a few sink marks that needed to be fixed. It was especially bad on the bottom behind the MLG bay. I just did the best I could and moved on.

To fit the fuel tanks, holes needed to be opened up on the wings. The curve on the pylons looked different from the curve on the wings so obviously the fit aren’t good. I ended up going through a few rounds of scraping, sanding and dry fitting before it was acceptable. The holes were also smaller than the connectors on the pylons so these needed to be enlarged quite a bit. The external tanks themselves are split into top and bottom halves and they don’t fit well so they also went through quite a few rounds of fixing.

I then cut out all the landing gear parts, cleaned them up and set aside for painting. There is an error in the mold with the right landing gear having no attachment point for the tire. I drilled a hole and added a short pin in it with brass rod. The canopy is made of 2 parts and these were cleaned up, dipped in Future, masked off and glued to the kit.

Painting and Markings
First up I painted the gear and speed brake bays with German Cam Bright Green (which is apparently close enough to FS34151). Then I covered these up with blutack to prepare for the Bare Metal Finish (BMF). I also stuffed the intake and exhaust with tissue paper. This being my first ever BMF build and first ever use of Vallejo Metal Colors, I proceeded slowly. I first base coated with Gloss Black and let cure for 24 hours. Then I sprayed Aluminium in multiple coats. The paint is surprisingly easy to use and coverage was excellent. After drying for only an hour, there’s no residue on the finger after rubbing the finish. I then let this dry for 24 hours. After that I masked off the exhaust and gun barrel panels and sprayed Exhaust Manifold. The gun barrel panels are actually a lighter shade than Exhaust Manifold so after this has dried I carefully lightly airbrushed on more Aluminium to tone it down.

One nice thing about BMF finishes is that almost everything on the aircraft is the same color, so I proceeded to basecoat and color the other parts. One challenging thing about BMF finishes however is that the prep work needs to be neat as any scratch, gaps or mistakes on the surface can be clearly seen once the metallic color is sprayed on. Because of this, I ended up going back to fix visible mistakes, especially on the fuel tanks.

Then it was time to remove the blutack masking from the gear and speed brake bays. Disaster struck when in trying to remove the blutack residue I managed to push the gearbay hard enough for it to break off from the base and fall inside the kit. After about 10 minutes of swearing, I stared at my problem for another 10 minutes and decided that I can live with some extra panel lines on the bottom. So i cut off the middle spar to open up enough space to pull out the part, then carefully cemented the part back by grabbing it with a tweezer and holding it in place. Then I cemented the spar back in place. Now that area has 2 extra ‘panel lines’ but since it’s the bottom, I choose to accept it. I then handpainted German Cam Bright Green to patch any overspray.

Korean War F-86s had very colorful markings, and out of the 2 I decided on ‘Mike’s Bird’ piloted by Capt. Charles McSwain. However it turns out that the nose needed to be painted yellow and it needs to match the other parts in yellow which are provided as decals. I decided to go with Sun Yellow not knowing if it will be a match at all. I first basecoated Dead White then sprayed on the color. Luckily it turned out to be a close enough match.

I wasn’t sure how the metal colors would react to the Metal Gloss Varnish so I did a test first with the MLG doors. There is a tendency for gloss coats to change the tones of the metal colors but this varnish actually glosses up the metal colors more, smoothens the texture and somewhat hides the grain in the paint (which are quite obvious if you looked very closely). Nice.

And then naturally, disaster struck. When I went ahead and sprayed the Metal Varnish on the main kit itself, it started to spatter and to exhibit a pebbly orange peel effect. Then while trying to scrape off some the spatter, the Varnish literally peeled off! I tried sanding away the residue of the peeling but no luck there. So I ended up doing something quite drastic: I decided to strip off a whole section of the varnish. I limited the fix to a section bordered by panel lines. I slowly peeled off the varnish using a chisel. I ended up taking off some the paint and primer so I sanded and buffed off the unevenness and resprayed Aluminium over a black base. The fix is far from perfect but I’ll move on. My streak of disasters at the point of finishing is intact.

Now I had to redo the gloss again. This time I thinned it with Airbrush Thinner at a 3:1 ratio. The gloss went on much smoother with a less pebbly texture this time. Even after an hour the surface felt tacky though.

Decals was next and this is the first time that I’m using Academy’s house printed decals so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They turned out to be quite a bear to use. They take forever to detach from the backing, are quite fragile and don’t react well to Mark Softer at all. This stage ended up taking up a lot of time with most of it just waiting. I also ended up cutting some of them and joining them back on the surface. I also used Future in lieu of Mark Setter to force the more stubborn decals to stick. Quite a few of them also tore which I had to go back with handpaint and fix. I couldn’t really fix the yellow chevrons that were off-register though. Color fidelity is nice and definitely very sharp details and for the most part, look very good once cured. Otherwise, not much fun to use. As per usual, I did not put on all the tiny stencils. In this case, it’s because I really value my sanity.

After an additional gloss coat over the decals has dried, I proceeded to attach all the landing gear and doors with superglue. Hobbycraft originally molded the nosegear door for the wrong side. Academy’s instruction simply says to cut off the mounting points and butt join on the correct side. They didn’t bother to fix the mold. I ended up cutting off the mounting points, adding my own with 0.5mm plastic card and attached the door to the correct side. The Sabre’s speed brakes are supposed to sag when they are open but the ones here don’t. I simply shorten the lower braces to make them sag a bit.

The external fuel tanks were attached with superglue. I used Gator Glue for the braces. I only guessed how the braces attached as the instructions is vague on this. The fuel dump pipe was then attached and quickly handpainted in Bloody Red. The pitot tube/antenna on the starboard wing was also attached at this point. There’s no provision for wingtip lights on the wings and the instructions don’t indicate their existence either.

Another gloss coat was then sprayed over the kit to seal everything in and try to level the paint with the decals. I decided not to do panel lining as I’m not sure how the decals will react to the wash. Then last to come off as usual is the masking on the canopy. The edges were cleaned up with toothpicks and I’m done!

I’m glad that my first BMF kit turned out this well. In fact, the paintjob was the most problem-free aspect of this build. This bodes well to more BMF builds.

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Number 8 of 2016

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