Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Mustang III

by Randy Lutz

North American Mustang III
Captain Eugeniusz Horbaczewski,  315 "Deblinski" Squadron, August, 1944


Tonight Randy describes the Tamiya 1/48 North American Mustang Mk III. Randy's model represents the personal mount of, Polish Captain Eugeniusz Horbaczewski, Squadron Leader of No. 315 "Deblinski" Squadron during August, 1944.





At the close of hostilities in Europe the Polish Air Force fighter squadrons had accounted 922 confirmed and 188 probable victories. In addition they claimed 258 damaged enemy aircraft and produced forty-one aces, six of which had shot down ten or more aircraft. Perhaps the most legendary of all Polish aces was Squadron Leader Eugeniusz Horbaczewski. Polish pilots were noted for their bravery and Horbaczewski was no exception. On June 22, 1944, while No. 315 Deblinski Squadron was on a strafing mission, W.O. T. Tarnowiez was shot down by flak and crashed in a marsh.

Horbaczewski landed on an uncompleted Normandy landing strip and rescued his comrade and flew back to base sitting on his lap.

On August 18, twelve Mustangs from 315 Squadron engaged 60 FW-190s. During the ensuing battle which lasted 15 minutes they claimed 16 enemy aircraft shot down for loss of only one Mustang. This single loss was that of Squadron Leader Eugeniusz Horbaczewski, but not before he downed 3 Focke-Wulfs. Horbaczewski's final tally was 16 aircraft and 4 V-1 Flying bombs destroyed.



Tamiya's 1/48 Scale Mustang III


The Oxford Dictionary defines a masterpiece as "the consummate piece of workmanship, or one's best work."

This definition best describes the quality of Tamiya's R.A.F. Mustang Mk III. In all my 30 years of model building, this is the first model I have encountered that did not require contour putty of any kind. Mind you I have built many models without putty, which in retrospect, could have benefitted from the filler. But, this model is the exception.



Tamiya's Mustang is moulded in medium grey plastic with a good assortment of canopy options: closed Malcolm hood; closed clam-shell canopy or; open clam-shell. The canopies are a touch on the thick side, but have amazing clarity. 



Everyone has been complaining about the curved cockpit floor, and how it should be the flat wood variety. I admit that Tamiya got it wrong, but it is something I can live with, if it comes with a kit that assembles so well. Once the closed Malcolm hood is installed, the floor is really not that visible. The model has its fair share of small inaccuracies, but none of them relate to fit or construction problems. Specifically, they are the American style control stick and American style bombs, both of which should be replaced by British equivalents. One major plus is the option of building the model with the flaps down. This is the only 1/48 Mustang kit on the market that has this feature.

As this kit was to be built out-of-the-box, using the supplied decals, any modifications were limited to what would pass at an IPMS Competition.

Construction started with the interior. This was airbrushed with Model Master Interior Green (FS34151). The seat was finished in Model Master Chromate Green, while the radio gear and instrument panel were painted with Black Chrome. A dark wash was applied to all the green components, and once dry, was followed by three applications of green dry-brushing. Each subsequent dry-brushing was slightly lighter than the previous until I had created a nice contrast between the dark areas and the high-lights. A multi-step, grey dry-brushing process was also used for the black chrome areas to break up the mono-chromatic look. Afterwards, small traces of red were applied to select areas of the instrument panel, side consoles, and control stick. Micro Scale Kristal Kleer was applied to the instrument faces, and the kit supplied seat belt decal was finally added to the seat. Tamiya supplies a decal for the instrument panel, but I find these are a little to vibrant in comparison with the rest of the interior.

Part numbers A13 and B15 are the radiator and oil cooler. These two parts were airbrushed with Metalizer Aluminium, and then given a black wash to pick out the details. The tail wheel opening was airbrushed with Testors Pla Zinc Chromate Yellow, and then the fuselage halves were assembled, trapping all the previously finished interior components.

Step three of the instruction relates to the installation of the exhaust pipes. Tamiya suggests installing them at this stage, but this would lead to unnecessary masking. I found it best to leave them off until after painting. You should however, verify with photographs of the subject being modelled, as both shrouded and unshrouded exhausts are included with the kit. Horbaczewski's Mustang had the unshrouded style. These two parts were airbrushed with Metalizer Burnt Iron, after the pipes were drilled out.



The upper and lower halves of the wing were assembled and the wheel wells were finished in three different colours. The main spar at the back of the wheel well was painted Chromate Yellow, Interior Green was applied to the main spar that separates the two wells, and the remainder of the wells was finished in Metalizer Aluminium. Tamiya's instructions indicate a wheel well colour of Interior Green overall, but based on two of my references (Camouflage and Markings, N. A. Mustang, RAF Northern Europe 1936-45, and P-51 Mustang in Color) this is incorrect. A dark wash was next applied to the details and then the gear doors were tacked in place, in the closed position using Kristal Kleer. This prevents any underside colour over?spray from getting in the wells.

The main wing and both stabilizers were installed at this time. The fit of these parts is superb. No filler of any kind is necessary. At this point, the engine cowl breather vents, gun barrels and any other miscellaneous openings were drilled out.





Next, the canopy was installed, the framing masked off, and then given a light coat of Interior Green. The instruction show an external rear view mirror on Horbaczewski's aircraft, but this is incorrect. He did have a mirror, but it was the internal type, so leave off part A3. I was now ready to start painting the model, and it was at this point some of the major errors in the instruction sheet came to my attention.

Tamiya's painting guide does not indicate the white band on the nose, immediately behind the spinner. This was a standard identification feature on RAF Mustangs, and is quite evident in all photos of Horbaczewski's Mustang. It should be a scale 12" in depth, starting from the front of the cowl and terminating at the forward edge of the exhaust opening. The second major painting error relates to the white wing I.D. bands. Tamiya does not indicate any bands on Horbaczewski's aircraft, yet page 5 of the Aircam Aviation Series No.3, Mustang in Foreign Service has two excellent photos which clearly show the bands.



So, with this new evidence in hand, the Tamiya painting guide was set aside. Testors Model Master Insignia White (FS17875) was used for the spinner and wing bands. Xtracolor X7 Sky was applied to the fuselage for the rear band, and Xtracolor X106 Insignia Yellow (FS13538) was airbrushed along the leading edge of the wings, instead of using the decals supplied in the kit. All of these areas were masked off and then the remainder of the model was finished in Xtracolor X3 Medium Sea Grey, X1 Dark Green and X6 Ocean Grey. A hard edge demarcation line is used to separate the upper and lower camouflage colours. A soft, but tight demarcation is used between the two upper colours which is best accomplished freehand, as opposed to trying raised edged masks. I find the masks tend to produce uneven results, with some areas featuring soft over-spray while other areas are almost hard edged.





Decals were next. Tamiya's decals are produced by Scalemaster using the Invisa-Clear process. Their adhesion is excellent, but registration is terrible. The focal point of any Aces' aircraft is the scoreboard, and on mine the victory crosses were printed out of register. In fact they are so far off, I prefer to look at the side without the scoreboard. Another problem with the decals is the size of the personal markings. Based on photographs, the row of bombing mission markers and the victory crosses are printed slightly oversize. Also, I tend to think the row of bombs on the nose should be yellow instead of the white as given. I base this assessment on the detail photo found in the Aircam book. By comparing the tonal values of the Polish chessboard which is known to be white, and the bombs, you can see a difference in shades. When applying the fuselage national insignia and squadron codes, make sure the "G" is slightly overlapping the C1 type roundel. It is not shown this way in the instructions, but is clearly shown on pages 122 and 123 of the Mustang at War book. Solvaset was used as a setting solution and, if applied sparingly, will not damage the decals.



On the underside of the starboard wing are three identification lights. In the past I have tried painting these freehand and have never been happy with the results, but I have since come up with a new method. I airbrush 3 pieces of clear decal film with Gunze-Sangyo Transparent Red, Transparent Green and Testors Turn Signal Amber. Using a Waldron punch, I am able to produce small disks of coloured decal film which are applied like regular decals. Once the model is finished, they are covered with Future Floor Wax to give them a high gloss appearance.





Prior to painting the wheels and undercarriage, both halves of the wheel hubs were drilled out, as well as the landing gear oleo scissors and tie down rings. Then the struts and hubs were airbrushed in Metalizer Steel, given a dark wash, and small strips of aluminium foil, shiny side out, were glued to the shock portion of the gear leg. Testors Pla Rubber was sprayed on the tires, and then they were dry brushed with dark, medium, and then light grey to add depth and define the tread detail.





All the all panel lines were treated to a dark grey wash, and a black wash was flowed into all the control surfaces. Minor chipping and scuffing was accomplished with a mixture of silver enamel and Windsor and Newton Raw Umber oil paint, which was thinned slightly with turpentine and applied with 000 brush. The model was then airbrushed with Testors Dullcoat. At this time, the gear doors (tacked in place earlier) were removed and the inside surfaces were sprayed with Testors Metalizer Buffing Aluminium. On the inboard gear cover, there is a reinforcing plate that was polished to a higher shine than the remainder of the door using SnJ polishing powder. With the undercarriage glued in place, the model was ready for the application of chalk pastels.

Starting on the underside, the wheel wells were given a dusting of dark grey pastels in the corners, and immediately behind the oil cooler and radiator outlet. A medium grey was applied along all the panel lines and then gently streaked back using a large sable brush. Various shades of green and grey were applied to the topsides. To accentuate the ribbed framework on the fabric control surfaces, dark grey pastels were brushed into all the low areas between the actual ribs. Then, lighter shades of green and grey were applied to the high points of the ribs. The undercarriage was dusted with a light tan, while the propeller blades were streaked with light grey.

The last details included the addition of the whip radio antenna which was made from fine surgical wire, and the painting of the navigation lights.

Overall, this model was a breeze to assemble. Tamiya has engineered the fit of components as if it were a Swiss watch. To date, it ranks as the finest aircraft model I have ever built. Sometimes model building can be a frustrating pastime, but this model was nothing but pleasure. I give it two thumbs up!





  • Aircam Aviation Series No.3, Mustang in Foreign Service. Osprey Publishing. Page 5. (This publication has some of the best photos of Horbaczewski's personal markings.) 
  • Camouflage and Markings, N. A. Mustang, RAF Northern Europe 1936-45, Ducimus Books Limited. 
  • P-51 Mustang in Color, Squadron Publications 
  • Mustang at War, Roger A. Freeman. Ian Allen Ltd., Surrey England. Pages 122 and 123. (Provided the only photos in my collection that showed the correct placement of the squadron codes in relation to the fuselage roundel.) 
  • P-51 Mustang Detail and Scale by Bert Kinzey. Squadron Publications, Carrollton Texas.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnail to view the image full-size. 
Click on your browser's back-arrow to return to this page.


Article, Model and Images Copyright 1999 by Randy Lutz
Page Created 26 October, 1999
Last updated 26 July, 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Features Page