The final test version of the SWS P-51D has been completed.
We have recreated the supercharged Merlin engine so that it has the same suspension structure as the actual aircraft! You will be able to study the P-51D's frame and body construction.
The details and mechanics of the cockpit have also been reproduced! We will show you a personal construction experience unlike any other you've ever had before.
Good afternoon to all of our SWS fans!
Here in Japan, as well as in much of the Northern Hemisphere, a severe winter climate continues to last; are all of you out there doing OK?
Once again, there has been much heated discussion in the world of 1/32-scale airplane kits, caused mainly by this year's Nürnberg Toy Fair, which opened at the beginning of the month, then concluded last week *to great success.
I will be covering our own much-anticipated Zoukei-mura booth, as well as the general state of the event hall, in great detail in my next entry. Please do look forward to it!
Now, this entry in the Old Man Blog is about the newest in the SWS line! Yes, it's about the P-51D.
Well, yet one more of my aircraft dreams from the past 50 years is finally about to be realized in its ultimate form, succeeding the Skyraider as SWS No. 4.
If I can't be happy about this, what can there possibly be to be happy about!!
Even as I sit and write this blog, the joy warms my heart, so much so that I spontaneously begin to smile.
Eh? You too, you say! Well, yes!! That's how it should be!!
It shouldn't be any surprise, because up until now, and after this as well, both as a modeler with 50 years of airplane model building experience and as a kit collector, the very existence of the P-51 series has truly been the subject of much of my longing.
Thinking back, even if I restrict it just to plastic kits that have been released up until now, beginning with non-scale models and continuing through 1/144, 1/72, 1/48, 1/32 scale, etc., there have been so many P-51s made into plastic models that I couldn't begin to count them all.
It makes me happy just to imagine it.
And out of all that, how many kits have been made for full-blown scale models? And out of those, how many have been called the real thing, the ideal P-51!?
Just a rough glance over my kit collection will show you a substantial number of P-51 kits. Moreover, they were all designed and sold by plastic model manufacturers from around nearly the entire world, over an astonishingly long period of time.
P-51A, B, C, D, K, H, etc. – I even have a fine pair of P-51 siblings built in 1/72 scale as unique twin Mustangs.
The P-51, the most excellent and beautiful plane in the world, is also the plane that has been made into the most model kits.
A time period of nearly 65 years has gone by since the P-51 last flew the skies in active service.
The same 65 years have gone by for me and my Mustang kits.
At the same time, it's been an exceedingly interesting 50 years, in which I have watched many P-51 kits come and go, each passing the position of being "the best" on to the next new kit in an endless baton race.
The memories cause such nostalgia.
When speaking of P-51 kits from 50 years ago, they were produced in the good old days when, as long as the final product looked sort of like the actual plane, they were good enough.
There was also the reality that the research materials that form the foundation of development were almost impossible to obtain, and what could be obtained were mostly fragments of photographs, or illustrations drawn to look similar to the real thing.
All details aside, I feel that it was an era such that just knowing that the plane was supposed to represent the US Army's excellent Mustang fighter was enough.
It was in the midst of this era that the new hobby known as plastic modeling made its appearance in the world of models.
In a modeling world where model airplanes had long been built out of wood, metal, and paper, the method of using metal molds to cast parts out of plastic, which were then used to assemble the plane piece by piece, was an entirely new practice that transformed the commonly accepted knowledge of the hobby at the time.
All at once, the method of making models which had been used up until then, in which material was built around a central axis and then repeatedly molded and refined, became old-fashioned.
And then came the era when the passage of time had, at last, clearly revealed the true shape of the P-51. At the same time, the plastic model kit hobby truly made its start, blooming in popularity around the world.
As could well be expected, here in Japan, it was unavoidable that the kits of Japanese planes would lead the way in popularity, but even so, as the the pages of WWII aviation history were turned, the true form of the P-51, as well as the roots of its popularity, became clear.
The world's finest fighter aircraft.
Now! The SWS team's detailed research begins! There can't be any work more fun than this, even when it's so hot out!?? The time passed as if we were living in a dream.
Wow, we received commentary on the P-51D from Steve Hinton himself! He's one of the most famous pilots in the world, having won successive victories at the renowned Reno Air Races. We are much obliged to him.
Collecting measurements in order to properly scale every part of the fuselage. We confirmed the measurements to be consistent with our diagrams. Of course, we also checked the nature of every hatch and panel in every part. All of this will have an impact on the final kit.
Hey! Hey! You're even going to do that?! Or so we were asked. We were confirming the streaming silhouette of the airfoils. Even so, the angle of the main wings is so sharp, it took a lot of strength just to stand up.
Now, it's finally time to remove the exterior panel hiding the engine, so that the heart of the matter becomes clear. This panel actually turned out to be pretty light. The curve of the sculpt turned out to be very subtle, but no worries, it'll be perfectly recreated via the SWS.
At any rate, the P-51D has a conventional landing gear arrangement. With some difficulty, we thoroughly researched the underside of the body. Moreover, both the ground and the air were scorching hot!
Beneath the California sun, the Mustang appeared to us as though it were howling. We had no end of admiration for its magnificent propeller. There were surely many thoughts swirling in SWS Developer N's heart.
It was from such a point that Super Wing Series No. 4, the P-51D, began development.
As usual, we have gathered all the research material that we were able to find. Some of the older parts of my collection also came in handy.
As for the thorough investigation that would become the foundation of the design for the metal molds, in a stroke of luck, the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California, offered us complete cooperation.
In our research, we removed every panel that it was possible to remove, until it seemed that the P-51D had been stripped naked.
Every team member took the research very seriously. And because of this, we found clarification on many parts or design particulars that are usually considered common knowledge, which can perhaps be blamed on the fact that it's such a famous plane. Of course, we also made some great discoveries while confirming all of the plane's additional equipment and how they were mounted, as well as the structure and design of each component.
And so we were able to rediscover and reaffirm all over again just how amazing the P-51 is.
Among other things, there were the surprisingly roomy engine room and cockpit, as well as all kinds of removable panels and inspection hatches. Many things that were difficult to understand from photographs, such as how things were operated and how things felt, became clear in our harvest of information.
Also, when it came to shape and angle of the dorsal fin, which we badly wanted to reproduce as accurately as possible, we came to understand that none of the scale models released up until this point could accurately be called definitive.
We were able to draw closer to the answers to several old mysteries, such as how the twist in the blades is expressed in the shape and pitch of the propeller, as well as exactly what the P-51's airfoils are like, including their structure and form, and how they integrate with the fuselage.
Anyway, the most important thing for me is that the internal structure, mechanisms, and components of the plane finally became clear and I could see the hope that we could truly create its scale model.
The shape of this beautiful aircraft, which has the fine Packard Merlin engine, is mysterious and streamlined, from the tip of the propeller spinner to the end of the fuselage.
Recreating the mysterious shape of the P-51D accurately will be the most attractive point of this kit.
In what manner was the engine mounted to the aircraft? How was the recoil from the rotating propeller absorbed to pull the fuselage into the sky? How did each part work to control the aircraft in the air with three-dimensional motion? What were their structures? What were the well-designed points of the exterior?
Moreover, how can we fully enjoy the best point of the SWS development, assembling the kit in the same way as the actual P-51D?
Truly, the new world of scale model building is moving toward the day when dreams of the next dimension of airplane recreation will become possible.
SWS No. 4 P-51D is looking to be a kit amazingly packed with such dreamed-of features.
The exterior design is accurate and beautiful to the utmost, and as you build, you will come to comprehend the aircraft's internal structure and organization, as well as its peripheral equipment and their mechanisms. And goodness, soon I – or rather, you will be able to build the P-51D using your own hands.
If that cannot be called happiness, then I don't know what else it can be called.
It truly makes my heart dance.
We harvested something unexpected as well.
We were also allowed to research the Raiden (Mitsubishi J2M, Thunderbolt) at Chino. That was truly unexpected. We were lucky enough to get a chance to see inside as they generously opened the panels, which had never been opened since the aircraft was moved from Japan.
I will show you more details of the SWS P-51D kit along with photos which we have all long awaited in my next blog post here.
Of course, let me also introduce to you the aircraft which we announced at the Nuremburg Toy Fair with photos to vividly recreate the atmosphere of the event site.
I think that's good for today. Be careful not to catch a cold! Take care!
Please look forward to my next post!!
We are researching the heart of the Raiden, the Mitsubishi Kasei 23 engine. Developer T can't find any words because he feels the more he learns, the more truths are unveiled about how difficult the situation of the Japanese Navy aircrafts at that time was. How could they dare fly such an aircraft against the B-29? We feel a sense of awe towards the Navy pilots.
Both taking measurements, it's a benefit of researching the actual aircraft. The exterior panels are so thin! Several decades have passed since this aircraft was moved into this museum, but the Zoukei-Mura development team's research was the first time that these panels were opened.
If you have any opinions, questions, or requests regarding the SWS, please don't hesitate to let us know.