Mustang Mk I
The Hobbycraft kit comes in a large and annoying end opening box with nice artwork on the front. Inside the box most of the main parts are in one large bag , one small bag has the nose sections and another the clear parts. The decals and instructions are left to rattle around in the box. On the back of the box are color marking and painting instructions. The plastic has a matte, almost pebbly appearance but feels smooth to the touch and should look OK under a coat of paint.The surface detail, panel lines and fastener detail is recessed except for a few fasteners and rivets that are raised where appropriate. All of the control surfaces are molded in the neutral position. Since the dies are used to produce several different versions of the Allison engined Mustangs the nose is molded separately. The tail wheel doors are molded with the fuselage halves.
Detail wise the cockpit is not terrible and it does properly represent the floor as being curved as it is actually the top of the wing. There are side frames with molded detail that is a bit soft a separate throttle quadrant and two level radio rack behind the pilot, The radios provided are pretty featureless blobs. a camera is supplied for this area as this is a photo recon version. The tires are molded as one piece with separate hubs, the tread detail on the tires is a bit light. Two propellers are provided, the non paddle bladed version is more correct. Two cockpit canopies are supplied, one being a Malcom hood style which is called out for one of the markings supplied but other references don't show this so some research may be necessary. The exhaust stacks appear to be the correct style but are not molded with open ends. The main gear bays have a good amount of molded in detail. Lets look at the parts.
The clear parts are a bit thick but reasonable clear with raised frame lines.
The decals appear thin are nice and opaque and are in register except for the center red spot in the six roundels that use them, these you must register yourself as they are separate decals. I really hate stacking decals. Markings are suppled for three aircraft, all British, two from one squadrom and one fraom another.
The instructions are pretty basic being one long sheet folded in thirds creating six panels. One has a color chart with Floquil/Polly Scale numbers (NO LONGER MADE) Humbrol numbers and Model Master numbers and an icon chart. The other five panels have assembly diagrams broken down into 12 steps. The painting and markings instructions are on the back of the box.
After Market Goodies
Due to the fact that this is a very basic kit I have acquired a fair amount of after market to dress it up. First of is a Vector interior set (VDS 32-008) It is intended for this kit but the 'A' model varient some a few changes may need to be made but it is way better than what the kit offers. I have divided the set into two photos instead of jamming it all into one. The first photo shows most of the cockpit structure, side walls, floor, rear structure, rudder pedals, seat frame and two seats, one with and one without molded harness and belts.
The second photo shows the balance of the parts, radios and battery for the radio rack and the two racks themselves, side console. instrument panel cowl and instrument panel. This is a sandwich affair with a film (not shown) for the instrument faces. Gun sight, control stick, throttle quadrant and all sorts of dials, handles,levers and the like to flesh out the cockpit. Molding on everything is up to Vector's high standards and best of all it's designed to fit. The instructions, while basic show where everything goes and what needs to be removed from the kit itself.
But I'm not stopping there, from Barracuda Cast comes a set of tires with better tread detail than the kit parts and hubs to with them
And from Master Model a set of brass 20mm cannons with recoil springs.
The hobbycraft kit is a very simple kit and almost crude by today's standards, however they did get the shapes right and with a few after market items or some scratch building one can create a very good replica of the early Mustangs that the other manufacturers have so far ignored. Unfortunately Hobbycraft seems to have closed their doors and these kits are getting hard to find without resorting to ebay. Having built the A-36A version which can be seen here, I can say that though the kit is not all that difficult or complex it does have a few fit issues. On the A-36A the lower air scoop fit was terrible and I expect it to be the same here. I would recommend gluing the nose sections to the left and right fuselage halves rather than gluing them together then to the fuselage otherwise you will end up with steps on the side. Doing it my way will leave any fit issue at the top and bottom seam where you will likely need filler anyway. For those who are not interested in a lot of detail this might be a good beginners kit to get you started in 1/32 scale, assuming you can find one for a reasonable price.
Links to kit build or reviews