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Forgotten War Mustang - F-51D in Korea

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I started by adding some dents to these tanks.  Again, some tanks were pristine, others were heavily banged up (as you can see above, no care was taken to protect these during the filling process).   I then sprayed each tank matt aluminum, added a bit of hairspray and then shot them with a thin, variable coat of Yellow Zinc Chromate.  I then used the good ole hairspray method to replicate a bit of wear and tear.  After that, I applied some black and brown pastels:





After that had set up, I went about trying to replicate the nasty crap that got spilled over these tanks during the filling process.  As best I can tell, they filled the tanks with a mix of dyed, jellied gasoline and a white powder.    I had some real issues trying to replicate the white powder.  I used white pastels and even flour.  Neither would adhere very well, even when used in conjunction with various mediums.  I then used my 8-year old daughter's water color paint for the red spillage (thanks Brooke!).  





I also added the front and rear igniters.  These will eventually be safety wired to the pylons.    


So at that point, I wasn't completely happy with the look.  I didn't think it was as close to the pics above as I wanted, plus the red "goo" was a bit too glossy.   I went back to the workbench and made a mix of orange / red water paint (thanks again Brooke) and flour to replicate the clumpyness of this liquid. Got this tip from a kind gent on ARC!  I also went heavier on the orange tint this time.  I added this new mix to some of the stained area.   I then applied some acrylic flat white to the fronts of the tanks.  I'm much happier with the results. The reddish stains are still too shiny but I'll be spraying these tanks with flat later to seal everything in.   Only issue is that I don't have time right now to take any pics.  I'll get something posted in a bit.  


That's it for now, tanks for looking!  :) 

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Napalm tanks are pretty much done, except for a flat coat, which should tie everything together a bit more.   Truly hideous looking but given the pics of the real things above, I'm pretty content.  Certainly not something you see on every model and that's the point!






Next up in my quest to avoid having to fix the canopy are the HVAR's.   These were powerful weapons.  As the name implies, they were very high velocity rockets (which made aiming pretty straightforward), each furnished with a 5" HE warhead.   Bottom line is that 6 of these would have the same effect as a full salvo from a destroyer's main guns.    Introduced late in WW2, these were pretty much standard on every Mustang mission in Korea and hung around in US service until early in the Vietnam war.  


A quick note before I proceed.  These HVAR's are not included in any current Tamiya kit (although will certainly be in the upcoming F-51D).   Fellow LSP'er Dennisd7423 graciously donated the HVAR's that came with his Tamiya F4U-1D kit.    I can't thank you enough Dennis, this project would be dead in the water without these. 


These require a bit of work.   In a very un-Tamiya like move, each rocket body has two ejector marks as does each tail fin.   You are going to spend some time sanding here.  



After cleaning them up and assembling, it was time for painting and decals.   These were only painted in one scheme, a metallic grey rocket motor and fins with a OD warheads and bare steel fuzes.  That being said, there seemed to be a bit of variation in the colors.  I added a bit more green to my OD mix for a couple of the warheads, not sure it really shows in the pics below but it's there.   After that, I shot the rockets with X-22 gloss and added the kit decals.  A last note on decals - Just about every model I've seen that has HVAR's shows the markings on each rocket's warhead and motor in perfect alignment.   This is not accurate.   The motors and warheads were screwed together in the field, prior to being loaded on the aircraft, the loading lugs were then also attached.  The bottom line is that each rocket's markings were positioned differently from the one next to it.





Still need to touch up some of the paintwork and flat coat the rockets.  I also need to add the PE rocket exhaust and the igniter lead that runs from the back of the motor to the rear pylon.  After that, a bit of weathering since they were assembled assembly line style in the dirt.   Once done, they will hopefully look like this:


Note the igniter leads hanging off the back of the rocket motors.  As a safety measure, these were connected to the aircraft just prior to take off.   I really like this picture, it sums up the F-51D in Korea. Horrible weather conditions and working so hard there is no time to keep the aircraft clean.  Look at all that grunge (and the underside black stripe that seemed to be much more commonly applied than previously thought).  I honestly have no idea how I'm going to replicate this.


Thanks for all the great feedback and as always, thanks for looking!

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Sweet job on the armament 11Bee.  I was surprised, like you, to see the Tamiya HVARs requiring so much cleanup.  It’s still better to have them in plastic though.  The Eduard HVARs I bought for my Corsair are all so warped (even after using heat, etc.) as to render about half the package unusable- no to mention the fiddly PE braces.   I’m glad you are sticking with it despite the new Tamiya release- I’m sure your F-51 will be much more detailed!  Keep up the great work!



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12 hours ago, Falconxlvi said:

Sweet job on the armament 11Bee.  I was surprised, like you, to see the Tamiya HVARs requiring so much cleanup.  It’s still better to have them in plastic though.  The Eduard HVARs I bought for my Corsair are all so warped (even after using heat, etc.) as to render about half the package unusable- no to mention the fiddly PE braces.   I’m glad you are sticking with it despite the new Tamiya release- I’m sure your F-51 will be much more detailed!  Keep up the great work!



Thanks Steve, appreciate the good thoughts.  Unfortunately, I'm at the point where things tend to go sideways.   After months of plugging away, the end is in sight and this is when I start rushing and making silly mistakes.  Rush to paint, miss some spots,  rush to correct, make another mess, repeat.....  I'll get her done but it's going to be a grind.  

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12 hours ago, 11bee said:

Thanks Steve, appreciate the good thoughts.  Unfortunately, I'm at the point where things tend to go sideways.   After months of plugging away, the end is in sight and this is when I start rushing and making silly mistakes.  Rush to paint, miss some spots,  rush to correct, make another mess, repeat.....  I'll get her done but it's going to be a grind.  

LOL, I feel the same way about my Corsair!

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Got a bit more progress to report this week.  First off is the canopy.   There were 5 different types of canopies used on the P/F-51D/K.   All very subtle differences between them.   Contrary to what some thought (including myself), the purpose of these changes wasn't to give the pilot more headroom, it was to simply provide improved optical clarity.    For those whole really get into minutia like this (such as myself), the best guide I've seen out there is here: 




Here is a really cool .gif from this website that shows the progressions these canopies went through over time. 



BTW, this site has some really cool, well researched profiles.  Worth grabbing a cup of coffee or your favorite evening beverage and checking them out. 


I'm opting for the "Dallas" type of canopy.   Although some pictures show my subject with a different type (a bit hard to be sure), canopies were changed out frequently due to battle damage and simple wear and tear.   These aircraft might look beaten to crap but one thing that the crew chiefs made sure of was the windscreen and canopies were crystal clear.   From the website linked above, here is my choice:



Due to the bulged nature of these canopies, Tamiya's parts (they offer the initial "Inglewood" type and the later bulged Inglewood plus the aforementioned Dallas type), all have a seam line down the centerline.   It's pretty prominent so it had to be removed.  I sanded with a few grades of progressively finer sanding film until the seam was removed (using some water for the finest grade).  At that point the seam was gone but the canopy still had an opaque cloud down the center.   I then used my favorite polishing set, Novus's two-step plastic polish.  This stuff rocks.   The first compound removes fine scratches, while the second imparts a fantastic shine to the plastic.   I also use #2 for all clear parts, it really does improve their clarity, does a much better job than Future.    I neglected to take any pictures to illustrate my work because I was in a rush to get to the painting stage (more on this in my next post).


That's it for now, thanks for looking. 

Edited by 11bee
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Next up is painting.    This is where my builds typically go off the rails.   I've been plugging away on this kit for months and am starting to see it all coming together, so I start rushing things.   Bad idea.  I've made multiple mistakes with masking, overspraying, etc.   End result is more masking, more touched-up paintwork, etc.   Very frustrating but I've got no one to blame but myself.  Model was primed with a light coat of model master aircraft grey.   No need for a shiny black primer, I'm not going for a high-gloss silvery finish.   Once dried, I sprayed the rest of the kit with my custom mix of AK extreme matt aluminium.  Very happy with this stuff, it sprays great and holds up well to tape, handling, etc. I then painted the remainder of the anti-glare black, aft of the canopy.   Unlike the forward section, this part wouldn't have seen any real weathering, so no hairspray method here. I'll probably add a few scratches once I start the general weathering process later on. 


I also added the landing gear, so she's finally standing on her own!   Sharp eyed readers may note a missing panel on the starboard leading edge.    I seem to have lost that during the painting process.   I've turned my basement upside down but I can't find it.   Thankfully Tamiya has amazing customer service and they are graciously shipping me a replacement (at no charge!).  Should have it by next week.   These panels are supposed to be removable to allow you to unscrew the landing gear so you can display it in the wheels up position. A very toy like feature if you ask me.  Once done with all of this, I added the yellow trim.








Looks kind of boring but since this aircraft was painted overall aluminum lacquer, there really is no variation in tone between panels like you see in many NMF subjects.  I did add an overspray of slightly lighter aluminum here and there to replicate a bit of fading of the original finish.   Doesn't really show in these pics but it's there.  Trust me!







Again, she looks a bit boring at this point (IMO) but once I add the markings, pick out all the small details and dirty her up, I'm hoping she'll come to life.   That's it for now, thanks for looking!

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So after staring at the model for quite a long time, I decided the yellow trim was off. It seemed to be a bit too "lemon yellow".   So another fun evening spent masking and painting and unmasking.   The color I used had just a tad more orange-ish tone to it.    May not even show up in pics but it's noticeable to me so I supposed it's all worth while.   That's it for tonight! 

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Making some progress.  In preparation for the decaling process, I sprayed a nice coat of Tamiya X-11 gloss.  For those that haven't used this, it's highly recommend.  Much better than Future.


After allowing it to dry, I jumped into the decals.   I typically start with the stencils and then work my way up to national insignia and the larger stuff. For the stencils, I used the Fundekals P-51D stencil set.   As with all of their products, it's very well researched and of high quality.  Decals are thin and settle nicely with a dab of Micro Sol & Set.  A few notes, most pics I've seen of painted F-51D's show that not all the servicing stencils were re-applied when they were painted. Another thing to note, which many modelers don't catch -  If an aircraft is painted in the field with squadron or personal markings, it's highly unlikely that the ground crews would replace any painted over maintenance markings.  


Anyway, I then moved to applying the national insignias and serial numbers.  These came from the Print Scale sheet.  I've never used these decals before.  First impressions - they have a lot of carrier film (unlike the Fundekals stuff) so you need to trim carefully.  Also, they are very thin and settle nicely BUT - they are extremely fragile.  For larger decals such as the USAF and serial numbers, I've had to cut the decals into smaller sections. To be honest, I'm pretty concerned about the large sharks-mouth decals.  Wish me luck!


A few pics of my progress:









I also did a bit of weathering on the upper USAF and national insignia by lightly sanding.  Much more work to be done in this dept, obviously.


That's it for now folks, thanks for looking! 

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Thanks Dekon, greatly appreciate the compliments.   I finished the decalling last night.  So she's now resplendent in her fierce sharkmouth (which was a standard marking for all 18th FBW Mustangs in Korea).  She also has two "command stripes" on the aft fuselage to show that she was the mount of a (I think) squadron commander.  


The large sharkmouths were a major pain.   I ended up cutting each in half to aid the application and also had to trim away part of the lower nose section that was supposed to cover the area directly in front of the air inlet.  There was no way it was going to fit. This area was subsequently painted.  Even after all this, I'm struggling with many spots that need to be carefully sliced with a very new X-acto blade and soaked with Micro-Sol to get them to settle over curves and fine details.  Still a work in progress but I'm getting there.  This isn't a reflection on Print Scale, I don't think it's possible to cover this area with a decal.  Will be interesting to see how Tamiya approaches this since they are also offering markings for an 18th FBW aircraft (the cutely named "Was that too fast?", which was at the top of the list for my subjects.


The yellow command stripes were much too long and didn't fit over the tail fillet and tail gear well.  I'm guessing that it was Print-Scale's intent that the modeler simply cut these up as needed to get full coverage. 


Anyway, here she is so far:







Next up are a bunch of small tasks.   I need to add that missing cover on the right wing leading edge (which just came in, thanks to Tamiya's amazing customer service).   I also have to complete the spinner (just received Quick Boost's non-cuffed Hamilton Standard propeller blades) and I have to install new rocket launcher stub mounts on the wing undersurface.  Sharp eyed readers may have noted that the launchers that came attached to the HVAR's were specific to F4U Corsairs.   The ones on the Mustang are completely different.   Thankfully, I found some online.   Never heard of Brian Fawcett before but he's got some interesting stuff http://www.fawcettmodelsandpatterns.co.uk/1-32-scale-resin-detail-correction-parts

and also - his customer service is amazing.   I ordered my prop blades from Sprue Brothers and the launchers from Brian at the same time.  He's shipping from the UK, SB is in the US.  Both arrived at the same time!    The stub launchers look to be perfectly cast.  Very impressed....


Once done with all that, I'm going to shoot some Dullcoate to seal in the decals and tone down their shinyness and then start weathering.   Wish me luck on the weathering, I honestly have never done anything like this before and this last step is really going to make or break this project. 

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Now onto the weathering.   I've done a bit on the top.  At this point mostly working on weathering the decals and added gun soot.   The upper wing markings got beat up pretty bad, as they were stepped on frequently during rearming.   See below, how the "U" in USAF is nearly worn off:


You can also see soot from the MG's aft of the gun compartment.  


I weathered these decals (and also the large serial numbers on the fuselage which would have been scratched while the pilot was climbing into the cockpit) with a mix of light sanding, scratching them with a new Xacto knife and pastels. I then used Micro Sol to get the cut edges to tighten up.   After all the decals were addressed, I lightly sprayed the model using a mix of dullcoate with a bit of gloss.  Once I was done with this process, I then shot the gun soot using diluted flat black with a few drops of dark brown added.   Here is a pic of the progress so far:


Still very much a work in progress here.


Now on to the bottom.   Any combat aircraft is typically filthy on the bottom, it's the spot where all the oil leaks occur plus, it's typically "out of sight, out of mind" so it really isn't cleaned that often.   Add to this that from videos I've seen of rearming in Korea, they simply opened up the .50's and swabbed them with a large brush dripping with solvent.   All that stuff eventually leaked out onto the lower wing. Factor in that, along with the mud that was kicked up and you have quite a mess.  My pics also show the markings close to the rocket mounts were also heavily scratched up and faded.  Speaking of rocket mounts, I added the resin Fawcett HVAR stub launchers.   Very nice stuff!


Weathering again is a mix of airbrushed soot, followed by brushed on diluted black for the leaked oil, topped with some tan for dried mud.  I then used pastels.  Here is where we are at.  




Also, I drilled out all the holes in the carburetor air intakes on the nose.  The sharkmouth decals stood up very nicely to this.  Still need to do a final cleanup but it looks much better than a decal over a solid plastic part.




That's it for now guys.  Keep in mind, this is still a work in progress, I've got a lot to do still, including going back and cleaning up a nasty black finger print near the right wing tip and tweaking some of the weathering (especially the mud splatters).  It looks rough now but it's gonna get better, trust me! 

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Thanks very much Dekon!


Weathering continues...  Here is a nice reference pic posted earlier that shows how grimy the aft fuselage could get.  Note the "U" in USAF heavily worn.  A bit of an extreme example but I think this would be appropriate for most Mustangs, even WW2 birds that didn't fly as often.  The problem is there aren't very many detailed pics out there that show the undersides of combat aircraft.  



Anyway, I've been tweaking the weathering on the bottom and am close to calling it done.   Last step will be to clean up some mistakes, add a bit of chipping to the weapons pylon and black stripe and then I'm on to adding some small bits and the napalm and rockets.    Here is where we are at:









I'm definitely outside of my comfort zone here.   I know this models looks grossly over-weathered but I've got the pics to back up that these birds were absolutely filthy in service.  Any suggestions or comments are welcome.   That's it for now, thanks for looking!

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Nape and rockets are hung.   I decided to go with just 4 rockets installed.  No idea why, probably cause it just looks a bit different.  Typical load was 6 but I've seen multiple shots with only 4 mounted, including this one which is my standard for weathering the undersides.



As far as why only 4 rockets were hung, maybe to increase range / loiter time or maybe they just had a shortage of HVARs?  


I also took this time to clean up a few weathering issues and installed the landing light in the starboard wheelwheel and the underwing pitot tube.   Still need to add arming wires for the napalm tanks.   Here is where we are at so far:







As always, thanks for the feedback and for looking! 

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Final update from this weekend.  I completed work on the underside, added some bits for the open MG bay (the door is just a press-fit, I've got to add some details in that area) and continued weathering the upper sides.   




Not entirely happy with the worn out USAF (particularly the U and the S).  More work to be done here.



Still have some cleanups to do in certain areas (like the flap for example) but we're getting there....

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For those that are interested, I've made a few tweaks to the weathering.   Painted over some streaks that were too heavy, further worked on the upper wing USAF (additional chipping and then faded the markings a bit), and added some mud / dirt to the wing roots and areas around the MG bays.  I also completed the bottom.   A bit of additional weathering, removed some too heavy mud splatters on the aft tailplanes and added the underwing ID lights and pitot tube.  I think I'm done on that portion of the model. 


Next up, I removed the masking.   This is always a "hold your breath and hope for the best" type of event.   More than once, I found some pretty bad paint spray that got onto the clear parts.  This time around, it wasn't too bad.  I had some light overspray, nothing that a very sharp toothpick couldn't remove.  I'll hit the clear parts one last time with some polish at the end of the build.  


So here is where we are at:









Still have some work to do on the upper surfaces.   Next tasks that are up will be adding the latching mechanism to the canopy interior (strangely enough, Tamiya left this completely bare), adding details to the MG access door and completing the propellers (I just received Quickboost's cuffless Hamilton Standard props).


As always, thanks for looking! 

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1 hour ago, Slartibartfast said:

One trick for sealing masking on clear parts is to shoot it with Future before shooting your color.

Thanks for that tip.


Geoff M

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