by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The Excalibur III, a P-51C, piloted by Capt. Charles F. Blair in 1951, flew non-stop from New York to London in 8 hours. Four months later he flew non-stop from Norway to Alaska in just over 10 hours. The aircraft that Capt Blair had flown was purchased from A. Paul Mantz in 1949. Mr. Mantz had converted the aircraft for long distance aircraft racing, winning the Bendix air race with the P-51C in 1946 and 1947, with the aircraft named Blaze of Noon.
Hasegawa has released a kit in 1/72 scale that covers both aircraft.
7 Plastic Sprues(two aircraft)
2 Clear Plastic Sprue
1 Small Resin Sprue
1 Decal Sheet
1 Instruction Sheets
Opening the box, you will find two bags of parts, each containing plastic parts for a P-51C, meaning the kit contains parts for two separate P-51C's. The parts are molded in light grey plastic, and an inspection of the sprues shows some nice moldings. The aircraft contain fine engraved panel lines and some nice looking surface details. On the plastic parts I found no real flash to be concerned with, nor sink marks. As for the clear plastic, they are well molded, clear with no visible discoloration in my sample, but the canopy frame while seen, is not raised, so some extra work will be required for masking.
The kit does include three resin parts for creating the modified transition between the fuselage and tail fin. Those parts do contain some flash, and will need some extra care to clean up.
Looking at the overall interior detail, the cockpit detail is pretty scant, with just a seat, stick, and instrument panel. But a decal is provided for the instrument panel. As for the wheel wells, there is some nice looking molded details, but in my opinion, they do not look deep enough, so if closing the wheels was a thought, some work would be required.
The instructions do look to be well laid out, with construction spread over eight steps. The steps look to be clear and should be easy to follow. One thing to know, is that the transition part from the fuselage to the tail fin, while cast in resin, is identified as a metal part. Also, provided is the option for either the Hamilton Standard or Aero Products propeller that should be noted on which aircraft you are building. There are paint call-outs throughout the instructions.
The painting and marking schemes for both aircrarft are included, stating both aircraft are painted red. The decals look to be very well printed, all in register and crisp.
Overall this looks like a great kit from Hasegawa, the bonus of two aircraft in the same kit. The story and history behind this P-51C is very interesting and is couple with some good looking moldings. While the cockpit does look a little bare, it is not bad for a 1/72 scale kit. Resin parts are included to complete the conversion to a racer, and they should should both build into two planes represent the single plane from history. I would recommend the kit.