Eduard’s 1:48 scale Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima Limited Edition contains one P-51D-20/25 kit on six injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 232 parts (about 80 parts are not used in this version of the kit). Seventeen clear parts come on one clear sprue. This Limited Edition set also has 63 photoetched metal detail parts on one fret (most of them are pre-painted) along with four additional unpainted PE parts on a second fret. Seventeen cast resin detail parts are also provided along with a pre-cut self-adhesive masking set and one decal sheet. This limited edition set also comes with a very nice pin featuring the emblem of 78th Fighter Squadron. The full color instruction booklet, which also includes a historical narrative of the VLR Mustangs written by Brian Walters, organizes the build over 14 pages. Markings for a 12 schemes include:
- P-51D-25 44-73382, “Annie Lee,” flown by Lt. Col. John W. Mitchell, CO of the 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, Summer 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63483, “Tom-Kat,” flown by Maj. Gilmer L. Snipes, CO of the 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, Saipan, February 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63483, “Stinger VII,” flown by Maj. Robert W. Moore, CO of the 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, August 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63420, “Moonbeam McSwine,” flown by Capt. Eurich L. Bright, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, Summer 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63984, “Margaret-IV,” flown by Maj. James B. Tapp, CO of the 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, May 1945
- P-51D-25 44-73407, “Margaret-V,” flown by Maj. James B. Tapp, CO of the 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, May 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63451, “Mary Alyce/My Miss Moe,” flown by Lt. Robert Louwers/ Lt. John E. Mongomery III, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, July 1945
- P-51D-20 44-63733, “Dede Lou,” flown by Maj. Paul W. Imig, CO of 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, March 1945
- P-51D-25 44-73623, “My Achin’ Ass!” flown by Maj. Harry Crim (later by Flt. Off. Theo Gruici), CO of 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF, Iwo Jima, July/August 1945
- P-51D-20 44-72570, “Fighting Lady,” flown by Lt. Ralph S. Gadener / 2nd Lt. Chester Jatczak, 457th FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwo Jima, June/July 1945
- P-51D-20 44-72579, “Delta Queen,” flown by Capt. J.B. Baker, Jr., , 457th FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwo Jima, June/July 1945
- P-51D-20 44-72587, “Hon. Mistake,” flown by 2nd Lt. William G. Ebersole/ 2nd Lt. James Bercaw, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwo Jima, July 1945
Strengths: Over the last decade, Eduard has produced some truly superlative 1:48 scale injection-molded model kits, starting with their family of Spitfires, Bf 109s, Fw 190s, and P-51Ds. All the good things I’ve described about the basic Eduard 1:48 scale Mustang in previous reviews (which you can find HERE) apply to this kit as well. As noted in earlier reviews, I think that Eduard can indeed claim “best 1:48 scale P-51D” with this kit, though it is not without a few imperfections.
To recap previous reviews, however, surface details are very accurate. Eduard has nailed the relatively featureless wing surfaces while rivet/fastener details on the fuselage and tail surfaces are as exquisite as they are sublime. Test fitting of the fuselage halves and wings appears airtight. The only fit that seems not virtually seamless involves the upper wing roots. It looks a little fiddly, but I suspect that when all the assemblies come together, the fit should be far more stable.
Eduard’s P-51D has a number of building options, including an open or closed canopy, separate landing flaps, ailerons, rudders, elevators, and radiator exhaust, two canopy styles, the single rear-view mirror, and shrouded or unshrouded exhaust stacks. Optional paper or metal-style external fuel tanks are also provided. Other building options found on the sprues which aren’t used in this issue of the kit include the uncuffed propeller, bombs, and rockets. In this kit, the details of the VLR Mustangs look to be perfectly represented, from the dual antenna masts, relocated radio antenna, two styles of gunsight, and the IFF set in the rear cockpit. The really large 110- and 165-gallon drop tanks come on Sprue J. Those big tanks are distinctive. A scribing template is also provided for the Uncle Dog antenna assembly panel. Other features are present, such as the rocket pylon mounting posts and underwing mounting plates. The cast resin main wheels and tail wheels look fabulous with a gorgeous tread pattern on the main wheels.
The cockpit features separate frames for the sidewalls, a multi-part seat, and excellent representations of the radio, battery, and fuel tank, down to the separate parts for the wiring and fuel line. The really impressive elements here are the photoetched parts which add a great deal of detail and visually interesting features to the cockpit, such as the pre-painted instrument dial faces, the gorgeous pre-painted harnesses (complete with simulated stitching details), various placards, and the photoetched throttles, trim wheel, and other parts. In sum, the cockpit is a knockout when these detail parts are added.
The main gear well builds up from about 16 parts, and it is very rich with detail, from the textures of the parts and ribs to the fuel lines and pump details. All that’s missing are the smaller hydraulic and electrical lines, and the builder can add those relatively easily if they wish. There’s also a fully enclosed tail wheel well that looks excellent. Another nice feature is a single-piece gun port section on each wing. Unlike the Tamiya kit, for example, the gun barrels do not assemble out of upper and lower halves resulting in some tricky/ugly seam work. Eduard’s engineering approach here is excellent. Also note that on the interior of the wings, there’s a blanking plate on the inside of each wing so that shell ejection ports do not open up into the deep, hollow inside of the wing for all to see.
The masking set will save a lot of time with masking the wheel hubs and a few airframe access panels. The exhaust stacks are great, and even though they are injection-molded, the ends are nicely hollowed-out. Here, there’s no need for a cast resin replacement set. The clear parts look fantastic, and the windscreen has a great extended fairing around it so gluing, masking, and painting will be a very low-risk affair.
The markings options are awesome. Eduard really knows how to capture some colorful, eye-catching schemes. I’ve always been fascinated by Pacific theater Mustangs, and the schemes here are among some of the most beautiful and visually distinctive P-51s ever seen during World War II, and the stories that accompanied them are equally moving. The kit also has a comprehensive stencil set for the airframe, gear, wheels, prop blades, and drop tanks. The decals were printed in-house by Eduard, and they all look great. I can see no technical errors in printing. There’s also a very valuable painting guide highlighting where natural metal versus aluminum lacquer-painted surfaces are found on silver P-51s. Also, the 78th Fighter Squadron pin is a nice touch.
Weaknesses: I cannot offer any major or substantive critiques of this kit. One minor issue for some folks is that if PE parts aren’t your cup of tea, the detail on the pilot’s instrument panel is really minimal. The idea is to either use the PE parts or kit supplied instrument panel decals. Note that if you want to position the ailerons, rudder, and elevators in anything but the neutral position, you’ll need to remove their mounting tabs. Also, be really careful with the thin plastic strip that separates the left and right wheel wells on the lower wing half (Part B-15). It is pretty fragile, and in some kits, it is warped/bent inward because it is so fine. My sample is unaffected by this issue, but if that’s a problem in the kit you have, just note it will go back to its proper shape when the gear well assembly is fitted. The completed landing gear are a bit weak, so watch out when handling.