Revell have teamed up with ICM to re-box their P-51B/C – releasing it initially with markings for RAF's Mustang Mk. III.
ICM's Mustang first appeared about 12 years ago and it was clear straight away that it was itself a product of some type of inter-company “cross-fertilisation”, embodying elements of Tamiya and Accurate Miniatures kits. As has been noted before, it offered a useful alternative to the Tamiya model, being considerably cheaper in the (Eastern) European market – but it couldn't hope to match the moulding excellence of its Japanese counterpart.
Revell's new boxing comprises:
73 x grey styrene parts ( 11 spare)
9 x clear styrene parts ( 2 spare)
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
So, my immediate question was whether the kit would be better moulded in Revell's hands than the original ICM versions. Sadly, the simple answer is “No” - there is still a little bit of flash to clean up and, more seriously, parts such as the fuselage and wings are slightly warped. Certainly not unfixable – but anyone expecting Revell's in-house precision of their modern new-tool kits will be disappointed.
An uncut diamond?
However, lurking beneath this less than inspiring first impression lies a pretty decent Mustang. The outline matches the plans in the Valiant Wings Early Mustangs book
quite nicely, and the surface finish is well polished, with subtle engraved panel lines and fasteners, together with a few raised rivets and a reasonable fabric effect for the rudder and elevators.
Once you've prepared the gluing surfaces and clamped the main parts together to kill the warp, the fit is actually very decent. But the clean-up required, combined with a lack of locating pins for the fuselage and wings, makes this a kit best suited for fairly experienced modellers – ideally with a few limited-run builds under their belt.
A few details
The ICM cockpit is quite nice and busy, with a dozen parts. It inherits Tamiya's mistake by depicting the floor as the top surface of the wing as in the earlier Allison-engined versions. (Along with the change to the Merlin, the P-51B/C introduced a wooden floor.) To be honest, it's not the end of the world - you could install a piece of thin plastic card and do some scratchbuilding, or simply rely on the well sculpted pilot figure that's included to effectively hide it anyway.
If you don't fit the pilot, Revell have included a decal harness to dress up the seat (not to everyone's taste, but again probably perfectly adequate through a closed canopy – and I'd rather see a decal harness than none at all). There's also a decal instrument panel which seems to be intended to sit on top of the moulded details, but as the panel is moulded clear, you might be able to line it up behind the bezels for a glazed look.
The kit doesn't include an RAF “spade grip” control column, but herein lies something of a mystery; although it's often mentioned as being fitted to British Mustangs (and, indeed, I duly added one to Accurate Miniatures' Mustang Mk.1A
), the RAF pilots' notes show a standard grip as fitted to US aircraft. So, maybe the “spade grip” is an aeronautical urban myth?... I'd be interested to finally nail down the answer.
The wheel well is quite nicely moulded but, as with almost every other kit of the Mustang, gets the rear spar wrong. (Sergey Kosachev produces a stunning resin replacement as part of his Vector range of accessories and upgrades.) Although there's a welcome inclusion of optional weighted wheels, the parts themselves are rather basic, with soft and simplified hub detail, so replacing these will make a big visual improvement. The undercarriage can be built raised or lowered, but there's no stand included if you want to display your Mustang “in flight”.
A choice of bombs or drop tanks is included, with stencils for the tanks (although the decal ID number in the instructions is incorrect).
Finally, there's a choice of standard or “Malcolm” canopies. The parts are nice and clear, with well-defined frames. Both are designed to be build closed, with the windscreen and main section moulded as one, and separate rear quarterlights.
Instructions & decals
The instructions are printed as a 10-page A4 pamphlet and, while the drawings are quite good, I find the layout very cluttered and confused-looking. It doesn't help that the sequence jumps about in an illogical manner – for instance, building one main undercarriage sub-assembly in the middle of the stages devoted to the cockpit! Despite the two styles of canopies needed for the chosen colour schemes, only one is shown in the instructions.
Numerous “info views” pepper the illustrations, but one could lead to disaster as it shows the horizontal tail set with a small amount of dihedral! Ignore it – the Mustang's tail was totally flat.
Decals are provided for two aircraft:
1. Mustang Mk.III PK-E, s/n FB145, No. 315 Sqn., Coolham, England, June 1944
2. Mustang Mk.III AK-A, s/n FB337, No. 213 Sqn., Laverano, Italy, July 1944
The decals are very nicely printed in Italy with a flat finish and in perfect register. There are a few stencil markings included and these are crisp and legible under a magnifier, but the real fly in the ointment is the colours. While the Dull Red and Blue for the national markings are pretty good, the colour chosen to represent Sky is a vivid pastel green. Perhaps it's suitable for one of the many Battle of Britain-era variations noted before the colour became more standardised, but not for 1944. It's far too bright to match any of my references. Luckily, accurately coloured squadron code letters can be found as aftermarket decals – or, of course, you could always paint them.
The ICM Mustang certainly isn't a bad isn't a bad kit – there are plenty of excellent builds around to prove it – but it's not really one for beginners, on account of the extra clean-up and building skills it needs to make a nice job of it. It's real advantage is its low price compared with its Tamiya rival.
With that in mind, I can't help thinking that Revell's re-boxing of it sits rather awkwardly in the market. It's more expensive than the ICM original and hence that much nearer to the Tamiya kit, but is still partly let down by its decals. So, experienced modellers just looking for a cheap kit as a platform for scratchbuilding and aftermarket extras will probably still go for the ICM version, while anyone wanting an easy build will be drawn to the Tamiya kit.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE