Step 6 - Final Assembly!
Now begins the joining of the major subsections.
To join the tail to the fuselage, a 3 layer rib is laminated together so that all the different slots and pins will line up perfectly.
There is plenty of good gluing surface, so the joint is nice and strong. No wobbling or twisting between the sections.
I was afraid this might be a weak area where the model might sag. But considering the rib that was already at the rear of the fuselage and the one that was at the beginning of the tail section, the “rib” where these sections join is actually 5 layers of PE thick! It will NOT be a problem!
Joining the wing to the fuselage is actually a bit simpler.
There are 4 “tenons” (sorry to use a woodworking term on a metal model!) on the top of the wing.
These simply go into the 4 “mortises” in the cockpit floor. You can see here that I need to adjust the location of a couple of my radiator hoses to make sure the slots are unobstructed.
To hold the pieces in place, a “L” shaped piece of PE is slid into the notches at the top of the “tenons” and securely glued into place. Here’s a zoomed in picture with everything in place. Thank goodness the CA debonder will easily clean up all that excess CA!
Surprising, the alignment was a bit off after making this join. The two wing tips were actually about 2mm off and the elevator tips were about the same. After checking the model over thoroughly, I the found the right gear had come a bit loose and had some wobble in it. Added a bit more CA to that joint and that fixed my wing alignment. The tail section had a few ribs that were not firmly glued and would wiggle back and forth when I twisted the tail. I reset the tail alignment and added some CA to those joints and everything was back into proper alignment.
Next, the props and spinner were polished up in preparation for painting. I will be painting them to match the 352d Fighter Squadron.
The kit comes with a vacuform canopy. Normally, I would fill it with putty, use dymo tape to mark where to cut and take a brand new xacto blade and use about 20 very light passes to cut it all out.
But the plastic used on this canopy was much more flexible. It is even more flexible than a lot of the “blister packs” that many items come packaged in.
So I actually was just able to use my Fiskar scissors to cut it out with no problem.
I then polished and dipped it in Future. Allowed it to dry and then masked and painted the canopy with interior green.
Then it was time to break out the thick “metal tape.” The same that was designed for use with the machine guns.
I thought about just painting the canopy with Alclads, but since the tape had rivet detail on it, I figured I would try to use if first.
The adhesive is VERY sticky. Forget trying to peel it back off and realign. When trying to do so, it would not only pull off the interior green paint, it also wrinkled the mirrored finished.
So where I was forced to do this, I ended up having to use CA to reattach and try and smooth out the wrinkles as best I could.
Also, the bottom of the main canopy rail is one large single piece that turned out to be larger than the canopy. The best way to apply it is to start with centering the tape at the rear of the canopy and then cut off the excess when you get to the front.
Since I start at the front and tried to work my way around the canopy, I ended up with the center of tape not aligning at the rear of the canopy
Rather than try and peel it all back off (along with all the paint it would peel off) and then have to use CA to try and glue the entire piece into place, I simply chose to cut the tape and end up with a small overlap at the rear. Oh well!
A few of the joints on the front windscreen also needed to be retacked with CA to make everything lay flat.
A bit disappointing to botch the last piece of the puzzle.
I glued the canopies in place with some Gator glue, attached the prop and spinner and …
One finished P-51D!
But this is the picture I was after when I decided to buy this kit!
I’ll post more photos in a separate update, but I wanted to summarize the build here in this post.
Overall, a truly fantastic kit! The engineering and layout of the parts and construction is second to none. The quality and strength of the PE and the precision of the built-in alignment points make the building process a joy! The quality and detail of all the white metal parts is absolutely top notch and was on par with the plastic parts included in Tamiya’s P-51 kit.
I am definitely happy with my decision to paint certain parts of the kit. It really helped bring out all that great detail that the white metal parts have.
My only critique of the kit would be the quality of the machine guns. The aluminum tube and the metal tape don’t match up with the rest of the quality of the kit. Not that they should swap them out for Master brass barrels, but they probably should have tried to go with white metal parts if that were possible.
I learned a lot about working with the different types of CA. I definitely learned the value of using CA debonder to undo parts as well as to clean up excess.
But the rest of the normal basic modeling skills of cleaning up parts, test fitting, sanding (or filing) as needed and test fitting again, are all that are needed to take on this kit.
Don’t let the fear of building it deter you. Now the fear of paying the cost is another matter - I wonder how I can convince my wife that I also need to build their Zero kit!
Thanks for watching and for your comments, they were greatly appreciated.
Update 7 - The Final Reveal!
The ICMTH Fine Structure Model 1/32 P-51D. (the “before”)
Accompanied in some photos with the Tamiya 1/32 P-51D (the “after”)
Thanks for watching!