P51 Mustang models

The P51 MUstang was a World War II American fighter aircraft. I have a couple of models, one balsa wood, and one diecast or some such.

The die-cast one was just a simple kit that didn't take very long to build, being just a fiew pieces, but it looks good. It was pre-painted so all I had to do was screw the fuselage, wings, horizontal stabilizers, and props on.

P51 Mustang

My father bought me this big balsa wood kit. Guillow's P51 Mustang flying model kit, with tissue paper, wood, everything:

P51 box

It has complete instructions and plans. I pinned the formers to the plans and built the basic skeleton. 1/16" stringers were used to complete the skeleton. Balsa is easy to work with but you have to be careful as it is very light and breaks easily.

P51 parts pinned on plans P51 Mustang complete fuselage skeleton P51 broken and shimmed former

The guy in the hobby shop told me that the bigger-scale kit is easier to work with as it has larger tolerances -- obvious if you think about it. He was right. The downside is that the wing-span is so large, I couldn't get a good flat surface to pin the wings to the plan, so I had to do it in parts. The Mustang's wing is one big piece from left to right.

P51 wing section P51 wing sections P51 wing center Joining the P51 wing sections P51 nearly complete wing

Here's a picture of the fuselage+wing. They need to be covered in a paint-like glue mixture to seal the wood. Sealing the wood helps the glue-paint (same stuff is used) make a good bond between the tissue covering and the wood. Wood is porous and will soak the glue unless it's sealed.

Fuselage and wing skeletons

A close-up of the wing, showing the formers, stringers, and the bits of wood that make up the leading edge. The leading edge was a 1/4" square-section length of balsa that had to be sanded to get the correct profile. I didn't sand it enough but the end result is acceptable.

P51 wing close-up

The flat tail sections didn't take long. They were easy to cover in tissue, too. Actually the whole tissue covering process was easy because the glue-paint mixture dries very fast. The picture here shows the tissue before trimming to shape.

Tail section skeletons Tail sections covered in tissue.

Although the instructions recommend covering each side of the wing (left and right, top and bottom) with one piece of tissue, I used several smaller pieces with no problem. I left a gap in the top middle because that part's going to be inside the fuselage.

P51 wing partailly covered P51 wing fully covered

The fuselage was the last thing I covered with tissue -- and found a problem with the instructions. You can't mount any kind of motor after covering. You have to do it before. So with just the tail uncovered, I went through a few contortions to get the rubber band in. A pair of nose-pliers (to pull on things between the stringers) and a paintbrush (to pass the rubber band through the middle) helped. The motor mount dowel holes didn't quite line up, so more BFI was applied.

The pliers held the rubber band while I finished applying the tissue. I used a long piece of thread to attach the paintbrush to the rubber band, and then as a handle on the rubber band to keep it stretched out. Being in a double loop (there are 4 lengths of rubber band inside the fuselage) made it want to make a circle.

The rubber band motor mount Rubber band in place

The nose cowl was the hardest part. It, and the air scoop and spinner, is made of some weird plastic. I ended up gluing it, taping it, and painting on some tissue. Then I painted the whole thing a ghastly combination of yellow and blue. I dind't paint the whole thing completely because I was too eager to fly it and haven't gotten around to it since.

P51 nose Painted fuselage

The tail sections were carefully glued on. The wing was easily attached, and the Mustang is ready to fly. Or not. I hadn't balanced it properly nor did I put enough turns in the propeller and it kept crashing until the wing broke loose. I still haven't fixed it.

P51 Mustang tail assembly Completed P51 Mustang In flight

More pictures