IAF P-51D #19 in the 1956 Sinai Campaign
P-51 Mustangs, like Spitfires and Avia-199 (Messerschmitts) had been in IAF service since the Israeli independence war of 1948. In 1956 together with the British and French armies, Israel again used the P-51 in combat against the Egyptian army in the "Sinai campaign". This model replicates one particular aircraft of 105 "Scorpions" squadron that during a strafing attack on October 31st was shot down by Egyptian anti-aircraft fire. The pilot, Lt. Eldad Paz crash landed the plane and escaped.
I was glad to see another P-51D Mustang kit released in my favorite 1/32 scale by Revell which historically has moderately priced their large scale kits. That being said, this is not a high priced "Tamiya" kit with all the usual outstanding details and flawless fit, but you get what you didn't pay for. Not a bad kit at all but patience will be a virtue to success. Unfortunately (for me anyway) it was an earlier version of the P-51D that lacked the vertical tail fillet of later Mustang aircraft. That became a minor dilemma and the solution was to convert this model with either an aftermarket conversion tail or kit-bash from another kit. I opted to kit-bash on the tail from a "Dragon" P-51D. I used the Dragon kit mainly because I already had it and wasn't intending to build it. Here are some photos of that build.
I opted to use the instrument panel from the Dragon because it was better detailed and clear. I applied individual instruments from behind the dial glasses. After painting the front black, I used a wooden toothpick to scrape the paint away from the clear dials.
The cockpit tub and framing is nice but will give a headache later on to close the fuselage halves.......Revell.
The pilot figure is from Zoukei-Mura. A nice rendition and easy to paint as the details are sharp and clear.
Here I've attached the Dragon kit tail section, and you can see it's a perfect fit with only minor putty to fair it in. The profile being nearly identical to the Revell fuselage. I did take the time to fill and sand a few hundred rivet holes that are covering the surfaces of the tail section empennage. That is the huge detriment to the Dragon kit and the reason why I didn't just build that kit.
In this photo you can see the fuselage has been closed but not without some effort to fit the internal framing into place. It required that I sand off the exterior until I had paper thickness in places. Finally after countless dry fits, it closed up without any gaps. The less putty you need when building a model, the better.
Painting and finish
I used The "Hataka" orange line Israeli Air Force "Early period" lacquer camouflage colors, and they were relatively easy to use. This was really my first experiment with the brand and I was surprised that I didn't have much trouble. They spray nicely, didn't clog the tip and the colors were very close to my references.
After I tightened up the pattern to get it as close to my reference as possible I painted on the yellow and black campaign stripes with Testors Modelmaster enamel paint. The stripes are applied per my reference for #105 "Scorpions" squadron which were a variation of the usual. I then gloss coated with Future floor finish and prepared for the decals. The IsraDecal set in 1/32 scale, #IAF-92 is specifically for the P-51D and has all the markings necessary to replicate every single Mustang that ever served in the IAF.
THE FINISH LINE