Wednesday, May 23

BarracudaCast BR32016 1/32 P-51D Mustang Droptanks – Construction and Review.

Barracuda Studios from the USA have really gone to town in improving your new Tamiya Mustang. Decal sheets, internal decal placards and new colours for your new kit compliment internal cockpit details and some soon to come tyre sets you are really silly not to pick some up – one thing I noticed with the kit was some rather “adequate” drop tanks that aren’t as good as the rest of the kit – well Barracuda Studios have noticed this as well – we construct and review them here for you now..

BarracudaCast P-51D Mustang Droptanks (for the Tamiya kit)
Scales: 1/32
4 parts in cream resin
Product Link:  Barracuda Studios where you can buy directly

The 108 Gallon “paper” droptank was used mainly for the European USAAF fighters but was actually invented by the RAF (actually the Bowater Company in the UK) to save metal for other uses. Made from a pressed paper/plastic (almost in a papier Mache / fibre glass technique) these tanks would last for one mission and not really any longer. If the fuel remained in the tanks more than a few hours the glue used to bond the paper together would break down and the tank would collapse as the glue turned to mush. The aircraft would never risk landing with them and they would not risk using them for a second mission. It is said that if a mission was scrapped soon after the aircraft got airborne the tanks were jettisoned instead of returning to land with them on.
These external tanks were however part of the reason that the allies could use mustangs (and Thunderbolts) to escort the bombers further in to Germany. These tanks are really popular with modellers as they are different looking and have I would say some character in their unusual appearance.

Here are the tanks ready t be installed to the fighters - the silver dope paper tanks are easy to  pick out due to their silver dope finish

You can get a lot of ordnance for your 1/32 scale 8th,9th and 15th AAF fighter nowdays – several kit makers have released their own versions in kits with Trumpeter, Hasegawa and Tamiya all sporting them in their kits. Most kits show these tanks as a smooth cylinder with neat lines arcing around to the tip of the pointed zeppelin-like rounded edges. On the real paper tanks the nose is formed by several layers of glue/paper folded over and pressed flat while all tanks were over coated with silver “dope” as a finisher.  

This process left an uneven, wrinkled look on the nose – far from what has been made available from any of the large injection moulding companies. While the kit tanks are great to have – they do leave you a little cold if you spend lots of time (and maybe money) improving and detailing the kit you love and making it right to not have the best ordinance you can get on it to make the kit look as realistic as possible. Enter Barracuda Studios.
On looking at these parts supplied by Barracuda you can see they have tried as hard as they can to replicate this wrinkled look of the folded and pressed paper while keeping the sharp detail around the fuel filler cap, you can see lots of minute detail like the bolts around the caps as well. The resin is without any defects and is casted solid with no bubbles . The shape is exactly the same as the Tamiya tanks which are correct in shape – the devil is in the detail of the scalloping folds of the ends of these tanks.

Constructed four parts of cream resin, this kit contains the front and back sections of the droptanks and not the centre tube which is just fine on the kit – these four parts are meant to replace the parts of the droptank offered in the Tamiya Mustang’s kit. You will need to simply cut the end sections off the tanks to then secure these neatly into the hole left. It does pain me to cut away anything on such a good kit but believe me after you have seen the difference on the texture of the nose and tail of these resin replacements you will not have any doubt you have to do it.
I simply used my Xuron snips to cut close to the line – you can use a razor saw if you like but I didn’t need one – then cleaned the straight edge with a hobby knife and a flat sanding stick to square off the edge.
The cylindrical tube of the tank is the perfect fit for the Tamiya tank and these end parts you see fit in without any glue – although you will use some in the finished product my quick test fit showed them nicely plugging the ends of the tanks.

these fit snugly without glue - though mine will be!

When compared to the real thing these cream resin parts look much better a match than the kit supplied tanks. The scalloping texture made by resin is pretty hard to replicate in injection moulding – so I am glad we have the option of these – they are cheap – tank about a careful ten minutes each to cut, sand and install and look great.

Compared to the Tamiya tanks these from Barracuda are more textured and realistic looking

Compared to the real thing below I know what I'd prefer!

These tanks are a no brainer really – if you are into getting any aftermarket for your new Mustang – or even if you just like the improvement you see here in this review then these are a no brainer.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people at Barracuda Studios for this kit which will be going onto my Mustang ASAP!