P-51C "Bendix Racer"

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Accurate Miniatures P-51C has been re-boxed many times. This is the “Bendix Racer” boxing of it. You get the standard sprues, which is a full military P-51C (i.e. machine guns are included in the kit).

Probably the main, and really the only problem about this kit, is the instructions. To begin with, they are very confusing regarding the left and right parts for the rear fuselage. You just have to use your common sense. Besides, it is very obvious which part is the left (or right) part of the fuselage; just look at the drawings and ignore the part number.

I assembled and detailed the cockpit as per instructions. Then I departed from the instructions by first gluing the forward and rear parts of each fuselage together, then assembling both full fuselages sides together. Simple enough to do, and it ensured a better alignment of the whole fuselage.

I glued the bottom wing to the fuselage assembly, then the top wings at the wing root first, assuring that there would be no gap at the wing root. At that point the kit looked like an “X-Wing” from Star wars, as the top and bottom of the wingtips where at least half an inch apart. I just gently clamped the wingtips and ran liquid cement along the joints. By doing this, the wings are symmetrical, but maybe not 100% straight. It is very hard to tell but the wings aren’t completely straight. Next time I might add some brass tube to the inside of the wings to make sure they are straight.

The other departure from the instructions is that this model is an airplane racer with the machine gun ports and ejector chutes closed up. The instructions do not say anything about this; they actually call for installing the machine guns in place. I filled up the machine gun ports with stretched sprue, put in some Bondo filler, sanded everything flush, and finished with Mr. Surfacer 500 for a nice, smooth finish.

Another correction to the instructions relates to the radio antenna behind the cockpit. Cochran’s airplane had its antenna tilted backwards. The instructions tell you to install it perpendicular to the fuselage (as was the case for the military P-51). And the real airplane most likely had the wing panels filled and sanded flush for a smoother airfoil, but I couldn’t confirm that. I did not fill the panel lines on my model, but probably should have.

The horizontal tailplanes fitted very loosely into the fuselage, so much that they drooped down about 45 degrees when dry-fitted. It was easy to insert a brass connector rod between them to get them straight and perpendicular to the tail fin.

Painting and decaling was fun, as the finish is an eye-catcher in my opinion. Decals are printed by Cartograf and behaved very well over a coat of Future. I did not even need MicroSol/MicroSet, the decals just settled down over the panel lines by themselves. I did not weather the model as I thought that an airplane racer was kept fairly clean and, most likely, highly waxed for speed.

Landing gear is both simple to assemble and sturdy. The tires are molded independently from the hubs, making painting a breeze. Wheel wells are nicely detailed and you can assemble the landing doors open as per instructions, but they should be attached in the closed position. The P-51’s main landing gear doors were closed at all times, except during rotation, to maximize air flow into the radiator. If the P-51 was parked and the hydraulics were to lose pressure, then both the flaps and the landing gear doors would drop. However, the kit is molded with the flaps up, making the only correct choice to assemble the main landing gear closed (as I assembled mine).

Overall, this kit is a lot of fun; it has great fit and it looks great out of the box. I recommend this kit to the average experienced modeler. Anyone who has built a few kits and feels comfortable filling and sanding – converting the military wing to a racing one – should have no problem finishing the kit and turning it into a real eye-catcher.

Finally I want to share why I choose to model the plane flown by Jacqueline Cochran in the Bendix Race. She was an outstanding pilot – she still holds more altitude and speed records than any pilot, male or female – and she was one of the many women who served their country during WWII as part of the WASP program. The nose of her plane had the slogan “Wanted: A Strong Coequal Air Force,” indicating that she both served her country and fought for her rights. This model is my small homage to the entire WASP personnel, who never really received the recognition they earned.

I would like to thank IPMS/USA and MRC Academy for providing the review sample.


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