P51D Mustang Project Diary Part 2

by Trevor Hewson


(Click here to return to Part 1)

April 2021
By way of an interlude from the balsa bashing, I decided to investigate the cockpit fittings bought with the kit. This is a collection of 3D printed pars which assemble to form the seat back. I opted to give the pilot a bit of extra comfort by way of a 1/16in balsa backrest, upholstered in 'Funky Foam'.

Once painted up, the seat looks pretty smart however my attempts to pick out the main instruments with a yellow line quickly reminded me why I don't generally enjoy painting, so it was back to the balsa and glue.

Once I had an idea how the various bits of cockpit furniture were going to fit, it was time to sheet in the forward upper fuselage then, with the hatch framework in place, the job of aligning the cowl could be tackled.

I'm still unsure what size batteries will be used in this model so opted to make the battery box removable to make any late modifications a bit easier. A ply 'collar' was fitted to the box, reinforced with triangular balsa strip. This collar is then screwed to the firewall and, just for luck, another small screw holds down the rear end of the box.

With the bottom block fitted and the hatch skinned, a major sanding session ensued, blending all the woodwork into the cowl. There were a few adjustments needed along the way but I'm quite pleased with the end result.

The wing was fitted for the final sanding of the bottom block and the leading edge of the wing tidied up to blend in. Magnets were fitted to retain the radiator. If you're getting the impression at this point that I was scratching around for little jobs in order to put off something else, you're probably right!

I don't think I know anyone who actively looks forward to the job of making wing fairings. The ones on the Mustang aren't as conspicuous as some but they are significant enough that leaving them off wasn't really an option. I used the 0.8mm ply fairing bases supplied in the kit but then went my own way when building up the fairings. The rear section is from 1/32in balsa, supported on a few balsa formers.

This method does tend to leave the trailing edge of the fairing gaping open but, as long as you've not glued the rearmost inch or so of the base plate to the fuselage, it is easily pinched shut.

The front portion of the fairing is built up from a few laminations of 1/16in balsa. Once this is sanded back, a smear of filler is all that's needed to finish the job.

So, there's a bit more to do yet but with luck I'll be ready to move on to the covering sometime in the next month.