Tuesday, April 24

Haynes Publishing’s North American P-51 Mustang Manual Review

 Usually pushed aside to the collector’s or historian’s niche – the newly revamped enthusiast’s guides by Haynes on popular modelling subjects like the Mustang, Tiger tank and Bf-109 have been a revelation for modellers.
  I have been using my Routemaster Manual to great effect on my build and find it the best “one stop” place for reference outside of course the internet. Is this book on the P-51 Mustang as good? Is it as useful as its shelf-mates to the modeller? Let’s have a look…

 North American P-51 Mustang Manual - An insight into owning, restoring, servicing and flying the American, classic World War II fighter - By: Jarrod Cotter & Maurice Hammond

Author: Jarrod Cotter
Series: Owner's Workshop Manual
Publisher: Haynes Publishing
Language: English
Illustrations: 170 colour and 60 b/w ill
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781844258703
Binding: Hardcover
Available from: Haynes Webstore online.
I already have one book by the author in the Haynes “Enthusiasts” range – the Avro Lancaster Manual – which I enjoyed very much and found (if ever they get around to making one in my scale of 1/32) that that publication would be all I needed to build the kit. The second “Author” if you like of this book didn’t write any of the publication, but he made this book possible to write I suppose – his name is Maurice Hammond.

Maurice Hammond is the owner of two P-51 Mustangs named “Janie” and “Marine ll” his mustang “Marnie II” is a Second World War aircraft that saw combat with the USAAF's 339th Fighter Group while “Janie” was an RNZAF bird which was in service until 1955. In 1996 Maurice began restoration on this aircraft with 75% of its original parts restored to the aircraft.

The fact that these books and the countless photographs of their restoration done in house my Maurice’s restoration crew to near as original standard condition sold the book to me straight away. Right throughout this manual there are several photos of the bit –by –bit internal and external reconditioning of these aircraft that really you would find hard to source anywhere else.

 I was pleasantly surprised when I read about the job done on these birds which I thought at first were to “pretty” to be realistic. There are a lot of beautiful mustangs out there – but several of these are poorly researched – these ones are very historically accurate. These two aircraft make up the backbone of the book and are the stars of it in my view.

The book is broken up into several parts, with Authors notes and an interesting introduction at the start of the book which lead onto thirty odd pages of the mustang story.

Packed with period photographs and text to explain the happenings and machines in each shot, this part of the book goes right through the famed concept of this machine, then through the early variants – through to the “Malcolm” hood variants and then through to the breakthrough bubble topped Merlin engined Mustang which is the iconic variant in most people’s eyes.

 There is an excellent gallery of the first mustangs being made in factories and lots of text is included with an almost collage of period picture of the machines in various states which modellers will admire.

The history of the machine is chartered through the first underpowered versions through to the late war variants which served all around the war and then later to the F-51 variants and twin versions which saw service in action in the Korean War.

 Restore to flight:
The next part of the book covers some fifteen pages and explains what needs to be done to restore these surplus aircraft in various conditions to an airworthy status. Of the 150-odd mustang now in service the author explains what is meant by the different terminology of classes of restorations, the materials these airplanes are made up of and where to look for problems.

 In a boon for modellers there are several pictures of the bare bones Mustangs in Maurice’s care which were taken throughout the restorations of both craft. A meticulous record was kept of this process and we as modellers have never had it better than with these shots – detail freaks rejoice!
Anatomy of the Mustang:
In this next section of twenty-five picture we are given the details of the inside of the Mustang. Cutaway drawings and technical drawings abound here. This part of the book explains a lot of the Mustang for you and can really make you understand what you are banging on about next time you contribute to a thread on a mustang on-line or with a friend. Details like the fuel and oil systems are explained as are the hydraulics, coolant and oxygen systems. This is way better than any other reference I have because it’s all there – clearly and concisely in one place.

 Excellent pictures of the cockpit and armament are complimented with informative text which really makes you understand the aircraft and what you are modelling. This part is especially good for scratch builders of kit and those wanting to add details.
 The Owner’s View:
This section is for everyone who fantasies about owning one of these birds in real life. Just like a car manual would it goes through what you would need to take into account when thinking of acquiring a Mustang. There are some lovely pictures here of mustangs from all around in airworthy condition – if the text puts you off with all the hurdles the pictures of these aircraft in their glory hook you right back in again!
Details that you wouldn’t really think about – the 200 litres of fuel a Merlin uses an hour – or the requirements of getting a CAA licence and the hurdles in getting the aircraft into the Warbird scene are discussed here. Learning to fly the aircraft you restored is spoken of here – which kind of leads on to the last main chapter…

The Pilot’s View:
 Another interesting chapter for a different reason – this part of the book takes us through what you need to get the plane actually off the ground at speed and flying in the air. Ground checks through to pre-flight tick lists, then starting the engine and then flying the aircraft in display are talked about – really involving your thought into the machine’s workings.

 In this chapter is one of the best parts of the books for mine – the parts which tell from the WWII pilot’s mouths of their actions in the mustang, their opinions of the aircraft and their exploits in the air. Famous and not famous pilot’s talk of their opponents, escort and attack duties in a large section of this book at twenty five pages. Excellent pictures go along with accounts from Yeager, hoover, Anderson and many others.

The Engineers View:
Is the last real chapter proper and describes the mechanic’s view of these aircraft and what to watch out for in maintaining and improving these fighter aircraft of yesteryear. They can be quite fragile as their high performance dictates and the little things to watch out for are dictated here. Armourers get their say in a section of helpful information here as well. Another interesting part is the brief rundown of what is required by racing mustangs which are like a whole different hybrid.

 The last sections are also very helpful; they list checks and service lists, variant models and some very interesting comparisons with other aircraft.

This book is aimed at pretty much everyone isn’t it? Modellers, aircraft and Mustang enthusiasts and armchair historians can all get something from reading this. Having one of if not the most popular fighter ever helps and with the excellent text, pictures and information on these birds Haynes really have brought out a winner

Modellers – if you want to build your Tamiya Mustang – this should be either on yours or someone close to your shopping list!

Thanks to Haynes for this manual – it was a great read! Check out their site for nearly every different manual you could think of.