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P-51 Mustang (Tamiya 1/32) Merlin V12 Engine Replacement Diorama

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  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
P-51 Mustang (Tamiya 1/32) Merlin V12 Engine Replacement Diorama
Posted by Kiwi on Friday, August 14, 2020 3:01 PM

Hello, 

This week I started working on a project I've wanted to do for years. I had a beautiful 1/32 Tamiya P-51D sitting in the collection and, as expected, the Tamiya kit is wonderfully detailed. I've always wanted to build a diorama with all the engine panels removed and a chain/crain setup ready to remove the engine, with a bunch of tools and spare parts and panels laying around - somewhere in Europe in late '44 or early '45. I'm intentionally using a lot of German tools from the Tamiya accessory set thinking that captured and salvaged parts would have been taken advantage of. 

Starting with a large 12x8 base I'm going to use PSP runway panels for one corner, a small cobblestone sidewalk and then grass and timbers for the area below and around the Mustang. Off to one side will be the workbend, gas tools and cylinders, fuel tanks, drums, crates and of course the brand new Merlin V12 engine on a pallet waiting to be dropped into the aircraft. If there is space I have a few left over trees from other projects to line the sides. 

The aircraft is coming together slowly with the cockpit walls built, painted and weathered with Mig washes and probably too much wear-and-tear raw metal drybrushing. 

The installed Merlin engine. The kit calls for this to be mostly black and I've tried to brush it up to see the metalic finish like the ones I've seen in museums. Most of the lower part of the engine will still be covered by the panel-less frame of the Mustang nose and various piping and exhaust cowlings. I will focus more on the detail and weathering on the top once the fuselage halves are joined together. The second Merlin is yet to be assembled...

The cockpit has been fun. Most of it won't be visible but I still used the fabric belts and a resin dingy as the kit part was fairly ordinary. Textile belts are really neat but tough to work with. I think the finished result is better than the PE ones in the kit though. My only real critisism of the Tamiya cockpit is the way the dial decals sit so far back behind the clear plastic lenses. They look good if you're looking directly at them, otherwise they're basically invisble. In hindsight I should have cut them all out and glued them to the front of the clear lens piece. 

More of the belts, fuel tanks and radiators. I had some wooden floor decals but they were very thick and I decided to go for scuffed and dirty interior metal floor instead. 

More to come soon!!

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Saturday, August 15, 2020 8:23 AM

That's some nice work! Love the P-51 and looking forward to seeing how the base works out. 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, August 16, 2020 10:11 AM

Hmmmm;

      Your comment about to much wear and tear on the components puzzles me. Have you ever seen photos of some of those planes after the amount of missions necessary to require an engine change? To the average eye they, Plain and Simple, would look WORN OUT !

     I would definitely put MORE weathering in the Cockpit, Especially where human hands and feet wore the newness off in quick order

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Monday, August 17, 2020 8:05 AM

That does make sense, and especially given for this scenario/diorama it's one needing an engine replacement it would imply that it's been flown hard and seen some action. I'll continue with the internal weathering then! Smile

I should also do some more image research... I have a ton of photos but they are mostly from restored examples and have been pretty well cleaned up inside. I have some older reference photos but mostly external. Thank you for the tip!!

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Monday, August 17, 2020 12:59 PM

 

Well, thamks for the confidence.

         When I rebuilt my Warbird there were No traces of paint in the cockpit floor areas except the corners. Of course it sat for a while too. Now that said, when you do this the next time, leave an instrument hole empty.They would've serviced them at that time too!

         You have a darned good start for a high mission bird. Don't forget to cary it through to moving panels and equipment as well. Leaks and grease are in the cards.

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 7:27 PM

UPDATE:

 

The fuselage halves are going together! I put them together to test fit and never had to undo them again - a few drops of superglue and a day or two with some tape to pull tight and it should be good. I've always found Tamiya's to be super clean and crisp with these connections and this kit is no exception. It's always stressful hoping everything just clips together but this was one of the best ever, flush and no overlaps and easy to glue down with nothing trying to split or spread apart. 

Ready to sit for a few days to bond together before the wings go on...

I've started assembling some of the base details as well - the workbench with a pile of parts from a Merlin V12 and some tools, air compressor and hose, oil barrel and pump and the O2 gas cutter/welding cart with some solder wire for the hoses. I want the scene to be really busy so this is the first round of many for the extras that will be laying around and/or in use. I have five or six figures as well and have assembled a few but not painted them yet. 

Also assembled and painted but not detailed or weathered is the crane for lifting out the engine, the replacement Merlin engine, some more barrels and a dozen or so jerry cans. Given this is an outdoor setting I've started scratch-building a crude structure to shelter the workbench and tools. It will have a cover and canvas walls, rolled back to reveal the accessories inside. 

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 12:50 PM

Well !

 What can I say. Keep going !

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 2:41 PM

I should have added pictures of the floor too, doh! I did scuff up the floor a lot more before sealing it all together. Also the places that would have seen a lot of action from boots and hands. There is going to be so much oil and grime all over this bird! :D


 

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 3:33 PM

    The most likely reason for an engine change would be for battle damage or a prop strike. I do not know the hour interval for a Merlin V-12, however that is also a logical scenario.

     Looking foreard to seeing this one completed for whatever the circumstance.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Thursday, August 20, 2020 8:04 AM

Update:

I received the plaque for my diorama base yesterday from Etsy. It's a little ironic, I guess, that the quote is from the Red Baron from The Great War a few decades prior but I thought it summed up well the desperation of the air war in Europe and the scavanging for parts and tools and frantically trying to keep the planes in the air. 

Also did a bit more work on the surrounding accessories with the crane. I am worried that the crane is not going to be high enough to clear the nose of the Mustang. I wonder if in reality they may have put it on blocks to hoist an engine out, or if they would have used something of proper height! :) Either way I like the crane and if it's not going to work for the engine I'll use it over a wing or for another part of the model. Otherwise I am continuing to work on the engine bay as almost all of the panels will be removed and laying near the aircraft. I also recieved the custom resin tires yesterday which are much better than the rubber ones in the kit. 

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, August 20, 2020 9:31 AM

Hi;

    Many times, I was told they used a Boom Truck for removing and installing an engine! It was definitely a matter of heighth. We used a Travel-Lift specially modified for Radial Engine jobs on my plane!

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Thursday, August 20, 2020 6:37 PM

This thread has really piqued my interest in what the maintenance interval was for Merlins.

Hour counts on equipment flying regular sorties are going to pile up pretty quickly.

And pulling an engine is better than wearing a critical part out halfway through a  mission.

And this is not a simple thing.  During Battle of Britain, wit ha/c flying upwards of three soties a day, they were run until they threw a rod of the like.  And, if a part broke, the pilot--the expensive part to replace was over of near Blighty.

Mind, I also have this wondering about PSP use in ETO.

Questions, questions, O how the vex me Smile

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Thursday, August 20, 2020 7:55 PM

Indeed! I have also been trying to find more info on just how many hours they would get out of a Merlin before replacing it. This page is interesting but doesn't really answer the question: https://www.456fis.org/INSIDE_THE_MERLIN_ENGINE.htm

I was wondering about the PSP as well but apparently it was used quite a bit in France, in particular, in the very early days of the Allied invasion. Given how horrible the PE plates are to work with however I may well resort to a grass airfield instead! A lot of the research pictures I have found also show that it was overlapped like bricks or pavers when used for taxiways or maintenance areas but was usually connected in linear lines. I'll tinker with it a bit but it's very frustrating so it might get put back in the box for a future Pacific project!

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Thursday, August 20, 2020 7:58 PM

   I agree Capt82, hours surely would build up quickly. I should google what hour interval the AAF used in WWII. I do not want to derail the OPs idea cause I think it sounds great but.... Germany used metric tools, American fighters built in America were SAE.  That being said ANY plane captian will make ANYTHING work to keep his charge in the fight.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Northern California
Posted by jeaton01 on Thursday, August 20, 2020 11:56 PM

I have a P-51B and C manual dated November 10, 1943.  It says "engine will be changed and overhauled after approximately 300 hours of running time unless malfunction or failure of an engine part occurs prior to this time".

 

John

To see build logs for my models:  http://goldeneramodel.com/mymodels/mymodels.htm

 

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Friday, August 21, 2020 9:07 AM

   Thanks jeaton, I couldn't find anything on google...maybe I was asking the wrong question.

     This will be a neat dio under any scenario.Big Smile

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    January 2015
Posted by TheMongoose on Saturday, August 22, 2020 5:06 PM

I really like the concept. Going to enjoy reading more as you pull it together.

In the pattern: a dual build of my KittyHawk F-5's.

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Monday, August 24, 2020 2:20 PM

Update:

Have been chipping away on things like undercarriage and tires. Got some sweet Jerry Rutman resin tires from the UK which are way better than the rubber ones from the kit. Dropped the guns into the wings and connected it all up. 

The feuselage is now conncted to the wings. The fit wasn't great, took some delicate maneuvers and ultimately some brute force to get it all together and to line up. I noticed that the cockpit tub had slipped about 1 or 2mm when that was glued in so it pushed the halves just enough apart to be problematic getting them into the wing root. My fault for not paying enough attention there. Everything else is fitting perfectly as you'd expect with the Tamiya 1:32 kits. 

Starting to play around with the diorama base and see how things might fit together. Per the above I'm doing away with the PSP surface and just going for full grass. I have some cool new grass in multiple colors to put down and some small trees for the rear of the diorama. As soon as my new can of spray adhesive shows up I'll get the base and grass down. 

Putting together a little trash pile for under the trees of old jerry cans and welding bottles, some oil drums and a rusted up old Fokker inline six engine from a Wingnut Wings kit that went horribly sideways. It will be surrounded by dirt and moss under the trees as well having been there since the Great War. I'm definitely taking creative liberties on this one but it's a lot of fun so far. :)

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Monday, August 24, 2020 7:07 PM

   SAAAWWWEEETSmile

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, August 27, 2020 12:53 PM

Well:

 Hot Diggety Dog! That's looking Awesome!!!

  • Member since
    January 2015
Posted by TheMongoose on Sunday, August 30, 2020 11:55 AM

Ohhh yeah! This is gonna be great to look at. There will be so many things to catch your eye and it won't be from just 1 generation.

In the pattern: a dual build of my KittyHawk F-5's.

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Monday, August 31, 2020 8:35 PM

Update:

Made some great progress in the last week or so on the actual bird. I hate painting silver but was relatively patient with this one and managed to not get dust and fingerprints all through it. I painted the top of the nose blue for this one although with most of the panels removed you'll hardly notice it except for a bit of the canopy framing and the nose cone and prop collar. 

I've started chipping and weathering with oils, washes and pastels. I really enjoy weather although I'm not very good at it, still learning different techniques and experimenting with the various washes. I've been using a lot of the MIG cold washes, tamiya pastels and vallejo petrol and rust washes. This P51 must be pretty tired having accumlated the number of kills that it has and also needing to have a new Merlin dropped in so it's going to look in pretty rough shape with oil and fuel leaks, streaking, chipping and dirt and grime. I'm having some fun with it anyway, :)

These phone pictures really aren't doing it justice. I'll try and get the big camera out at the weekend and get some quality photos...

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Monday, August 31, 2020 8:41 PM

    Looking good Kiwi, nice to see your visuon come to fruition, loving it dude!

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 1:25 PM

And a few more pics of the Mustang. The panels are blu-tack'ed on for weathering and then will be removed again when I start on the diorama base. I've left the exhuast on the one side and not on the port side. Noticing a small gap that opened up where the ring joins the body of the plane which is really really annoying but could be a good opportunity to make some tarps and leave some tools and panels around to cover it up. :)

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • From: Seattle, WA
Posted by Kiwi on Thursday, September 3, 2020 2:42 PM

Another quick update:

Did a lot of work on the base, took a few pics along the way but couldn't seem to upload them. I applied a fairly thin layer of instant paper-mache to the wooden base. This stuff is great with a bit of water and can be turned into a lot of shapes. this was easy though, just a thin layer, airbrushed with some "earth" acrylic and then sprayed with some 3M adhesive. The adhesive I used was a new one and it almost ruined everything as it set quite white, instead of the clear that I am used to. In the end I used a thin layer of Tamiya ultra-thin cement over the "dirt" to stick the grass down. I used three different colors of 2mm grass from WarWorldScenics on Etsy. Some winter, autumn and dead to get the different color contrast. I will put some oil spills and other details into the grass as soon as I can get near it without being overcome by cement fumes. 

Started playing around with the placement. The trash pile is cool but I also have a beautiful cherry tree that might be nice in the corner too. I had a lot of things prepared to put on there but don't want it to get too carried away. I have six maintence crew-men who I still need to paint but will hopefully add some life to the scene. Overall I think it's coming together well. Probably a little rushed but it's been fun. :)

  • Member since
    January 2015
Posted by TheMongoose on Friday, September 4, 2020 8:25 AM

Hmmmm, I kinda like the cherry tree best. the height it brings to the overall diorama seems to be what's driving that impression. 

In the pattern: a dual build of my KittyHawk F-5's.

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Friday, September 4, 2020 8:47 AM

    I agree, the cherry tree give your dio scale, elevation and a nice comtrast to the dirty job of a field engine swap.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Friday, September 4, 2020 1:33 PM

Ho Wait Kiwi:

 let's lean over the wing tip and pick some cherries when we break!

 Very Nice addition to lock in the scale!

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: East Stroudsburg, PA
Posted by TigerII on Friday, September 11, 2020 1:37 PM

This is a well done diorama. Although I do have critique. I liked your original concept of the Merlin V-12 engine on the pallet because in your dio you have it on the crane but the Allison engine is still in the Mustang. Unless there is another crane to remove it that is out of the dio...? Still very nicely done.

Achtung Panzer! Colonel General Heinz Guderian
  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, September 12, 2020 6:23 PM

TigerII
Allison engine is still in the Mustang. Unless there is another crane to remove it that is out of the dio...?

That's a very pratical critique.  The airfield types are likely going to use a tow-behind crane pulled by a suitable vehicle.

There's a very common practice relating to lifting heavy objects--you do that as little (fewest times) as possible.

A bomb service truck could probably deliver the new engine on a pallet, as it only needs to go from tailgate height to the ground.  But, you will want a taller bit of business to lift the old engine out, drop it on a pallet, then pick up the new one and place it.

Which would require something precious in a dio--empty space.

Mind, now that I think about it, the new engine probably would arrive in a crate, if only to save shipping space.

That, and I'm pretty sure you have to dismount the propeller to make the switch, so, you could have an A frame hoist to that purpose (it might make sense, though, if it had wheels or rollers under the feet).

This sort oservice interval probably has a bunch of things getting replaced.  So, the dio probably "wants" for having spare batteries, perhaps an O2 tank, and random boxes with filters and filter elements.

However, it's still a good dio, and the Cherry tree is a real winner.

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