Friday, April 7

Build guide Pt.III: Gary seals and shines his 48th scale Meng P-51D

Gary Wickham has already given us his first impressions in a review,  a first part and then the second part in his build guide. Today we see the construction completed and the first layers of paint and metallics laid down before the colours start.  Let's see what Gary did with his kit in Part III "how-to" build.

Build Guide Pt. III:
North American P-51D Mustang
From MENG Models
Product No# LS-006
Scale: 1/48th
Product Link
Price: ¥3,840/ USD $34.06/ €32.19 from Hobbylink Japan
Started: November 2016

In Box Review
Build Guide Pt. I
Build Guide Pt. II 

Finishing guide Pt. IV

Today - Build Guide Pt. III Sealing it all up...

With the major construction out of the way, it's now time to start on everyone's favourite modelling task. masking. I'm not a fan of pre-cut masks and so usually use loads of small Tamiya tape shapes to mask off my models. I've had a packet of Mr Hobby pre-cut strips for a while and for some reason I dug them out when it came time to mask off the Mustangs canopy. This particular sheet had precision cut 1mm and 2mm strips which work very nicely for the canopy frames here.
During this whole build, I have been arguing with myself over rivet detail on the wing. I've talked about the laminar flow wing on the P-51 before and up until now had pretty much decided to leave the rivets alone on this model. Well for some reason or another I changed my mind and decided the rivets (or the majority of them) had to go. I used a combination of thinned Tamiya Basic Grey and White putty.
The putty was sanded flush using some 1200 wet n dry and then any surplus removed from the panel lines. I was ok with some of the rivets not being perfectly removed as I assume over time even the real aircraft had putty flake off due to wear. I really just wanted to tone them down a lot.
More masking was now required. As the laminar flow wing surfaces were painted silver on the real aircraft (ie not natural metal) I wanted to use a neutral grey primer under these sections. This means the NMF panels needed to be masked so they could be primed in another colour (semi-gloss black) later on. Using different primer colours like this can impact the final result with metallics way more than you might think.
The wings have now been sprayed with Alclad Grey Primer and Microfiller. I like this primer as it offers a very smooth finish in a perfect neutral grey. Spraying any of the Alclad metallic shades over this primer will result in a subdued finish, compared to a bright finish with a black primer.
Under closer inspection, you can see that most of the rivet detail has gone now. I intentionally left the gun bay and ammunition access panels with rivets. The white tape on the wing root is the new Tamiya Vinyl flexible tape. It seems to work ok when you need to twist the tape around tricky curves.
The bottom with the masking now removed. The next masking step will be to now cover the grey and spray the black primer on the rest of the model.
Meng provides some very nice surface detail but as I really like washes I almost always go over the rivets and panel lines to sharpen then up. Here I have sprayed some primer over the rear fuselage to ensure the detail is adequate for panel washes later on. Now is the time check this sort of thing as often it is too late once you stay applying colour coats.
Yes, that tailwheel final broke off after one too many knocks with my fat fingers. I decided to leave it off until the very end. The blue liquid mask fluid I have used here is by Vallejo and has now become my favourite liquid mask.
More masking now as I need to protect the grey primer for the wings from the next primer coat. This is fairly simple masking with lots of straight edges so it goes very quickly.
One trick I picked up while reviewing J.M.Villalba's USF DVD recently was to use heavily thinned PVA glue to lightly coat any masking that will be on the model for the whole painting process (like the canopy and wheel wells). This helps protect this masking and stops it from lifting half way thru the build. I can report this worked a treat and I'll be adding to my toolbox for future builds.
A coat of Tamiya X-18 Semi Gloss Black was applied to the model now. This a base primer coat for any sections that will be NMF in the end. I did notice at this point that the paint was drying quite flat (more so than usual) but did not think too much of it (something I would regret later on).
I like the X-18 paint as it dries very reliably to a consistent, smooth finish. I can only assume it dried with such a flat finish this time due to the thinning. Perhaps I over thinned it.
With the primer base coat dry I loaded up my Iwata Revolution with Alclad Airframe Aluminium ALC-119. This shade of Alclad is part of the 'high shine' range and is a little bit trickier to work with than their standard range. I really like both Airframe Aluminium and Stainless Steel because they give the most realistic NMF of all the Alclad shades I find. When I say trickier what I mean is they are more fragile and need to be treated carefully when masked etc than the other more robust Alclad shades.
After applying several coats of Airframe Aluminium I was completely underwhelmed by the finish. It was very dull and lifeless, not what was after at all. I put this down to the overly flat black primer. I debated whether I could like with the finish and in the end decided ...
... that it needed to dealt with. Out came my micro mesh polishing clothes and off came the top coats of Alclad. I used very high grades of micro mesh (6000 and above) as my main objective here was to polish the surface to a much smoother sheen. Some of the Airframe Aluminium came off of course but I was not worried about that.
The whole fuselage was buffed with the micro mesh to ensure that no areas were left with the dull finish. Whilst this seems drastic it was not that big a deal and only took 10 mins from start to finish. The micro mesh was used wet, very wet.
On the lower fuselage, I noticed some nastier blemishes (only visible once the NMF paint went on). These were sanded out and then buffed with micro mesh.
With all the buffing complete I re-applied the ALC-119 Airframe Aluminium and this time was much happier with the result. To protect the delicate NMF finish I applied a super thin layer of gloss clear (Future thinned with Tamiya X-20A). I have learnt that this is needed with Alclad High Shine series especially when you have lots of subsequent masking to be done.
The effort spent on extra sanding and buffing of the undersides was rewarded by a much better overall finish. Now onto the wings.
This photo shows exactly why I chose to protect the ALC-119 with a clear coat. Applying tape over Alclad like this can be a bit of a risk unless you have protected it properly with a clear coat. As mentioned earlier the wings are to be painted with a shade that best simulates the look of silver paint, not Natural Metal.
For such a small model I seemed to be endlessly masking it off. It was all for a good cause, painting NMF's is time-consuming because you can never get away with applying only one shade of metal paint.
My weapon of choice for the silver painted wings was one of Alclads latest shades, ALC-125 RAF High-Speed Silver. Now High-Speed Silver was actually a silver paint finish applied to late war aircraft (Meteor etc) and is not meant to represent a NM finish. I chose it for the P-51's wings as I figured that whatever silver paint they really used it probably looked very much like High-Speed Silver. I think that Alclad has nailed the sheen and was very happy with the result.
Notice how the wings are not shiny like actual metal, they have not reflection etc. Also, notice that now we have the silver on you can see some of the previously filled and sanded rivet detail. I was happy enough with how these turned out as I imagine that over time the putty would chip away and rivets become visible again.
I was asked on Facebook several times what specific shades of Alclad I used when painting the Mustang. Whilst it was still fresh in my mind I made this guide so others can try the same shades (and also for me for next time I build a P-51 :)

At this point, I had finished the base painting which would apply to any USAAF P-51D. The time had come to decide on a specific aircraft and I settled on Richard E Turners mount 'Short Fuse Sallee". Turner was one of the leading ETO Aces with 20 kills by the end of the war. Short Fuse Sallee is not the most colourful bird around but it did get a workout which meant I could go to town with the weathering.
Gary Wickham
Thanks to Meng Models for sending this kit to Gary to review and then build. It is available no thru Meng's Distributors Worldwide.
The final part of this kit's construction is coming in the next week in the last article. See as Gary finishes construction and then paints, weathers and applies a base to this kit.

Check out Gary's own website - for more of his wonderful builds...