Combat 1/24 P-51B in progress

by Gil Hodges

This is a project that I've been working on for a little over a year now. I have to take long breaks, because the challenges are too many to try to hurdle all at once. However, now that Trumpeter has released a new 1/24 P-51D, and CAM is releasing 1/24 P-51B decals; I have the uneasy feeling that I better get back to work on this puppy. An injection molded 1/24 P-51B can't be too far down the road!

Actually, calling this kit a puppy makes it sound cute. It's not! The Combat 1/24 P-51B Mustang is a dog! But, it's the only dog in town right now, and like most all of Combat's stuff, it IS buildable.

This article will concentrate on the cockpit, with a few other details thrown in. My main reference for building and detailing the cockpit was the Squadron Signal "Fighting Colors" series book on the P-51 Mustang. There is a very nice color drawing of a -B cockpit in it; and I liberally copied it as closely as I could. I also used the book "Persue and Destroy" by Leonard "Kit" Carson. It's a great book on WWII, flying fighters over Europe, and on the Mustang!

Once the fuselage halves had been cut out, the side walls in the cockpit area were built up using Evergreen strip stock and sheet plastic. Various boxes were fabricated from scrap plastic to fit the placards for the Waldron P-51 set. The left side floor console was carved from laminated sheet plastic A Waldron punch was used to make the disks for the trim wheels and various knobs. Note the writing on various plastic boxes. That was to identify which placard to apply, and where to position it on the side wall. The components with placards had to be "finished" before gluing into place. The O2 hose is a length of guitar string. It's already coiled, and flexible! Just paint it olive drab! The flap for the map case was made by cutting a piece of tape to shape and then sticking it over a rectangular piece of plastic. A "disk" fastener finished it off. You can see the throttle quadrant in the b/w pic of the cockpit components. It's the light colored piece at the top center. It's not yet mounted in the left side color photo.

The control stick and the rudder pedals are from and old Bandai 1/24 P-51D. I guess there is a limit to my masochism after all! The cover at the base of the stick was made with clay, coated with superglue to form a hard shell, and then painted. The seat was made from 7 pieces of sheet plastic. The support for the seat consists of hypo tubing, coiled fine wire to make the shock springs, and sheet plastic.

The main instrument panel face is made from 2 layers of sheet plastic, with an auxillary panel from the Bandai P-51D glued to the bottom. The back layer had instrument holes punched into it. Waldron 1/24 instruments were glued to another sheet of plastic in positions to line up with the holes, and then covered with the clear cellophane from a cigarette pack to simulate the glass faces. Various sized photoetched bezels were positioned around the intrument holes. The rest is just knobs and sprue.

The battery and the radio are blocks of plastic detailed with bits of scrap and a few left over placards. The rear radiator facing is a spare photoetch piece glued into a sheet plastic duct housing. The exhaust shrouds were vacuformed over the Bandai shrouds and then drilled out. The pipes are plastic tubing, heated and bent to shape.

The main gear wells were built up by starting with the Bandai P-51D wing spar and center support. Sheet plastic walls and ribbing were then added to create the base structure. More spare photo etched pieces were glued to the main floor to provide more intricate detailing. Holes have been drilled in various spots so that plumbing can be added later.

That about covers the work so far. As you can see from the final pics, the fuselage is together and the cockpit is 90% complete. The next hurdle (and the BIGGEST) is replacing the Combat windscreen with a usable clear piece. Once that's tackled, the rest of the glass can be done using clear sheet plastic! I'm sure there will be plenty more hurdles when it comes to the wings, empanage, and the landing gear. But, those are things I've actually done before, so there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be sure to send an update to, if only to insure that a good 1/24 P-51B is released as soon as I finish mine!

© Gil Hodges 2003