Advanced techniques: Building the P-51D Mustang "Lt Col John Myers" Petie 3rd Dragon 1/32 scale

by Gary Wickham © Modeler Site

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The infamous Dragon P-51D in 1/32. This model was started before Tamiya announced their kit, and I have to admit that during this build I did consider scrapping it more than once. In the end, I am very glad I did not. Despite the challenges and limitations of this kit, I am very happy (and proud) of the end result.


The Mustang is one of those iconic machines with whom everyone who has a love of aviation has some familiarity. Instantly recognisable, many Mustangs, both original and restored, can be found today in museums and in the hands of private collectors. This is a somewhat unique situation for any WWII aircraft and offers the modeler access to invaluable reference material and photos on which to base a model project.
I don't pretend to be a Mustang expert but I want to build one in 1/32 scale and once I decide to do something (set my self a challenge if you will), I like to do my best. "Do it once, do it well" (as my Mum always says).

Having therefore decided it was time to add a Mustang to my collection, I had to settle on which kit to build. Speaking with several fellow modelers who had "been there and done that" and searching the internet for peoples thoughts and valuable comments on the merits of the various offerings in 1/32, with some reservations, I settled on the Dragon kit.

Why ? Well from most things I have seen and read, the other offerings (Hasegawa and Trumpeter) have major shape issues. These sorts of core problems are typically very time consuming and difficult to fix. The main issue it seemed with the Dragon kit was with the surface detail, being grossly excessive in both panel line and rivet detail. Despite (or perhaps in spite of) some scathing reviews, I choose the Dragon kit to set myself a challenge.


As of the time of writing, there is not much in the way of aftermarket sets available specifically for the Dragon kit. Aires has released quite a bit of stuff for the Trumpeter kit and I will endeavour to make it fit as best I can, where appropriate.

So, what now follows is the journey this kit and I took in an effort to build the best Mustang I could. You'll notice from the photo sequencing that I won't follow the normal (logical ?) build order (at least not at the start) because to be honest, I was not at all convinced that this kit could be saved. I will therefore look at all the significant flaws I want to fix and will tackle them first, figuring that if I run into an unsolvable problem early, I'll cut my losses and move onto something else.

The most obvious issue upon first inspection of the kit main parts is the rough surface finish and over stated detail. As this photo shows, there are 3 problems that I need to attend to.


1) Over scale panel lines

2) Excessive and over sized rivet detail

3) Rough surface finish (like an orange skin)


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