North American P-51D Mustang
Can $13.99 (US $10.49)
Number of Parts
Time to completion
The aim of this article is to help the reader assemble the Halinski P-51D. It was written primarily for those interested in getting into card board airplane model building, but could just as easily be used by anyone who is building this wonderful kit. It serves as a guide and walkthrough of the build process and I have made every attempt to shed light on some of the more obscure pieces and build sections that are not detailed in the instructional material that comes with the kit. Good luck and have fun.
ABOUT PAPER/CARD BOARD MODELS
About a month ago I ran into a post on Fine Scale Modeler (www.finescale.com) in which someone posted a picture of a complete tank model made of cardboard. I was thoroughly impressed at the high level of detail. I subsequently did some research and found www.cardmodelers.org – imagine my surprise … I had no idea there were these wonderful paper/cardboard, highly detailed models, available. I then found my way onto www.cardmodels.net where I discovered a whole community of card modeling fanatics.
I have been a plastic model builder for over fifteen
years. When I saw the level of detail
available from these cardboard models – I just had to try one. I did some more digging and found my way to www.lighthousemodelart.com a
local distributor of fine cardboard models.
After numerous conversations with the owner of
I decided to write this article primarily for those who have never built one of these cardboard models. There are numerous articles out there about general techniques and supplies you need so I won’t dwell on that aspect of the building process but if you are interested in a brief synopsis you can check the article at http://www.lighthousemodelart.com/Academy.htm
The Halinski P-51D Mustang comes in booklet form. The book contains one page of written instruction, 5 pages of computer 3D instructional images in black and white (more detail would have been nice), 2 pages of regular stock paper templates (which must be glued onto to specific thicknesses of cardboard before they are cut out – in black and white), and 4 pages of extremely detailed color pieces in heavier card stock. The color printed pages are of extremely high quality, but without weathering. If you want a weathered aircraft, you’ll have to apply some weathering techniques to the product as you build it. All in all a very well produced package of high quality and detail.
When you open the booklet you will notice that the
instructions are in Polish. Some of the
best cardboard model makers are in
Instructions in hand I began to read, re-read and read some more – the project did not seem as easy as I thought it would be. At first you get a bit anxious about the fact that the instructions are very sketchy and that you will need to follow the 3D computer generated pictures more then you will the written instructions. I have been told that cardboard models are more like puzzles then models and I have to agree with the author of that statement. Coming from a plastic model background, mostly Tamiya models, this was a bit of a strange surprise. I am used to precise and exact step by step instructions such as those provided in Tamiya models – this is not what you will get in this kit. With that said, it is important to realize that there is sufficient instructional material, for the most part, to allow anyone with some modeling experience and some common sense to build a wonderful, highly detailed, product. Although more detailed instructions would have been nice and would have prevented some of the errors I made during construction. There is actually one key moment in building this model that if neglected will mean lots of aggravation on the part of the modeler. The key section of the build to be extremely mindful of is the cockpit tub covering. I will discuss this section in much detail during the course of this article. If you follow the directions I am writing in this article you will finish the model with very little trouble and avoid the mistake I made.
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
At minimum you will need the following tools and supplies to complete this model:
Additional considerations include:
COCKPIT & COCKPIT TUB
The first part of the build process calls for the gluing of various sections of the internal cockpit skeletal structure onto various thicknesses of cardstock (see pictures below). As you can see many of the cuts that need to be made are very fine (ie. 4mm by 2mm etc) and many are circular in nature. Very fine and exact control of both a straight edge and knife are needed to ensure precise cuts – definitely not a project for younger children.
Next the various components of the cockpit and surrounding surfaces were assembled. I must warn you that there are many very small pieces that need lots of gluing and even more patience but the end result is quite nice. The level of detail in this model rivals many plastic models I have worked on over the years. I have found that some of the pieces you cut out are not as straight forward to piece together as one would think. A little bit of intuition and just going by what the picture looks like, and not what the paper seems to want to get configured into, is key.
Also note that edge touch ups should be done as you go. When paper is cut it leaves a white border, this border should be painted to match the piece as elements are cut and built. Leaving touch ups to the end of the building process is not a good idea. There will be many areas that will be visible to the observer but “un-touch-up-able” when complete due to the awkward placement of certain pieces.
The cockpit sections provided some challenges that were met with creativity and ingenuity. There were a few very small pieces of paper that were supposed to be rolled up tight into cylinders that I just could not manage. In these cases I just cut the right sized “cylinder” from my round toothpicks and painted them to match. The silver canopy surround (bottom left of photo) is also sanded at the tail end to gradually slope off (this will be the key to finishing this model with little trouble – stay tuned). I used Tamiya Extra Fine Sandpaper for this. Once sanded it was painted silver to match. Notice the small 1cm by .7cm HUD gun sight at the bottom left of the photo above… this particular piece had 13 elements that needed to be put together - just to give you and idea of the detail level.
The inside cockpit components were then assembled in the skeletal tub and I took this opportunity to also assemble the canopy components since the plastic pre-formed canopy had arrived from Light House Model Art.
The nose section of the plane meant my first foray into actually covering a skeletal structure on this plane. Each covering piece has a thinner piece, of the same length, that is to be cut out. These “supporting” pieces are found behind the wrap pieces they are to be supporting on the parts sheet. These thinner pieces are meant to be glued around skeletal parts and act as points of adhesion. The idea being that the straight edge of a skeletal piece is just not enough surface area to adequately glue the covering pieces onto the skeleton. See photos below.
WRAPPING SKELETON PIECES
I quickly realized that wrapping the long pieces, as they are intended, around the skeletal pieces was not the ideal way to put the covering pieces onto the skeleton. Each covering piece has the exact dimension to fit between “ribs” of the skeletal structure. I then decided not to cut out the small v-shapes from the long wrap around pieces, but rather keep it whole and wrap it around the skeletal pieces to form a “T”, rather then an “L.” See illustration below. I found that adhesion was much better and I did less fumbling about trying to find an adequate adhesion point for each piece.
The most difficult part of the nose section was the very tip of the nose that slopes into a 3mm point. The three most fore front pieces are actually too large and when glued together - they stick out a bit. It is also impossible to pre-fit these sections since they are so small and at an awkward circular angle. I therefore recommend trimming .5mm to1mm from each piece – again I will leave this up to the reader’s judgment. But it is important to note this finding.
The propeller blades were then assembled and I also took the opportunity to glue together the 12 exhaust outlets from the engine. The diameter is very small so the gluing is a bit tricky. I used the point on my compass to first round the pieces, and then used instant super glue to glue the edges together. Many touch ups were needed to cover up the white edges and the inside of each exhaust tips should be painted black to simulate stuck on black exhaust carbon (see below).
COVERING THE COCPIT TUB – FUSELAGE PART 1
Next, I began the covering process for the cockpit tub. You can see from the photo below the use of the “T” method. Also note that if you want the cockpit canopy closed in the finished product, do not allow the cockpit surround to angle up in the rear as pictured below. This is pictured in the instructions, but the cockpit itself is perfectly straight at the bottom so ensure to have no upward sloping angle, but rather a perfect straight line. Should you want the canopy open, then you may leave it as is pictured in the instructions since the back end of the canopy will cover that rear-end slope.
Again, this section did not seem to be very difficult but it became the crucial point of the whole project. When working on this model is it CRITICALLY important to ensure that the cockpit side wrapping joins the cockpit opening piece. In the picture below you will see my mistake. The gaps (see red indicators) should not be there. Do whatever it takes to ensure that the two sections join - even if it means a slight misalignment in other areas. I was paying too much attention to lining up the panel lines and originally thought that perhaps this gap was meant to be there since the canopy would cover it. Leaving this gap meant that the next two back end fuselage sections would be miss-matched since the panel lines and USAF insignia depend on proper alignment of the cockpit covering. I will explain how I dealt with this error later on in the article. I think the Halinski Company should have made this step of the build process expressly clear since I believe it is the pivotal part of building this warplane. The computer generated instructional diagrams that come with the kit, although good for the most part, are just not good enough, or detailed enough to see all the pieces and how they join together. A color building guide such as this one would have been tremendously welcome. Reference pictures of the actual build would have been great.
I then completed the first of two underneath openings. It is at this point that I began to realize my mistake with the cockpit pieces not joining. The bottom wrap around was about 3mm too long (the wrap around piece pictured under the “Z” below). So at that point I knew I made a mistake but since everything was already glued in place, there was nothing I could do but trim the covering to fit and continue with the build process. See photos below.
So at this point the project looks like…
FUSELAGE PART 2
It was now time to begin the build of the next adjoining piece of the fuselage that included another underside, larger, opening. Here are the skeletal pieces that were used.
The instruction, at this point, indicate to begin covering the next section of the fuselage. This is the point that I realized what a major mistake I had made by not joining the cockpit covering pieces to the cockpit surround piece. As you can see from the below photos the new covering pieces now cannot be aligned with the USAF insignia and the panel lines.
So I had to take some drastic steps to fix the problem. I decided to cut the piece in half and glue each side on separately and then attach the next section of the fuselage.
This leaves a large space behind the cockpit tub that I would need to fill somehow. When I put the canopy on, as a test fit, I was excited to find that it covered my mistake. I figured “Great, easy fix,” but that solved only part of the problem.
When I proceeded to cover the next section of the rear fuselage I found the same problem as before. Since the first cockpit cover was not properly aligned the trouble now migrated to another section. So once again I had to cut the piece in half, leaving a large hole. I then decided to use one of the fuel tank pieces to cut an appropriate sized piece to fit into the opening… see picture below. So I had to make the best of it from a very bad mistake. My inexperience in building paper model airplanes and the general instructions that come with the kit have led me to get very creative in attempting to solve my problem. A perfect solution it is not, but it’s the best that I could do given the situation I had put myself into.
There are many other pieces that I did not glue onto the aircraft at this point since the fuselage needed to be handled extensively during the build process. This includes covers that stick out from both the underside openings, the antenna mount behind the cockpit, the canopy, the pilot seat, the instrument boxes behind the pilot seat, the exhaust sections, and of course the nose cone with propeller blades. Attaching any of these at this point would only add to the complexity of assembly and so should be left to the very end of the build process.
The next two fuselage sections were then added…
Notice the cut out area in the above right picture. The horizontal stabilizers will fit snuggly into this crevice with the front leading edge just tucking under the covering material at the front of the cut out area. I was very surprised at the snugness and accuracy of the fit.
REAR VERTICAL & HORIZONTAL STABLIZERS
Building the rear vertical and horizontal stabilizers was a very straight forward process. Some fine trimming of the skeletal pieces were needed. Ensure to pre-fit all pieces before gluing.
Once the vertical fin was covered there are additional pieces that wrap around the horizontal stabilizers and are glued to both the vertical fin and horizontal stabilizers. The fit and finish is actually excellent and required very little trimming or adjusting. As you can see the final section looks very accurate and clean.
WHEELS & UNDERCARRIAGE ASSEMBLY
To make the wheels I used a method I had read about on the web several months ago. Basically the process entails first cutting out the appropriate circular pieces and gluing them together. Then using a screw or a specially made attachment (I used one that came with my Dremel roto tool) affix the wheels to your drill or in my case my Dremel tool. The two pictures below show the wheels prepared for sanding. I have tried to do a close up shot to give you an idea of how rough the wheels look before sanding. The sanding part is quite fun. Turn on your drill or Dremel tool and lightly apply the sandpaper to smooth out the edges till you get a nice round wheel.
And here is the finished product… nice smooth wheels. Once painted black you can’t tell that they are made of paper. Or an easier alternative is just to buy pre cut and sanded wooden wheels from Gomix at www.gomixmodel.pl if you are so inclined.
At the same time I started on the undercarriage assembly. These components were necessary for the building of the main wings of the aircraft. There were additional covering pieces provided for the assembled areas marked by the red circles (see below). These pieces were constructed from a number of layers of card board (see picture below left) and were then to be covered by “clean” covering pieces. I decided not to go through the trouble of covering them since once the wing sheeting goes onto the wing this part is barely visible. Just file down all the sides quickly once the card board slices are glued together to smooth out the edges and paint to match – a lot quicker and less troublesome since you won’t even see the pieces when assembly is complete (see below right).
WINGS PART 1
The instructions actually say that the wing assembly is the most difficult part of the build. I disagree. Assembling the wings was easy and actually a lot of fun. The fit was almost perfect with very little trimming of skeletal pieces required. The assembly therefore, was relatively trouble free once pieces were adequately trimmed.
There were 4 pieces that were left over without instruction as to placement. The first two pieces (below left) were easy to place because they were slotted and there was really only one place that they could be slotted into. The other two pieces I just left out of the construction because I had no idea where they belonged (below right).
The undercarriage recesses were then glued in place and the covering process began. It is important that the “T” method of underlying supports be used at the wing tips (see below right). Once the supports are glued in place they need to be trimmed at the edges to ensure a proper fit of the covering pieces. I also had to trim some of the internal skeleton structure to ensure a perfect covering fit. Make sure to test fit each covering piece before gluing. Test fitting will ensure that the appropriate amounts of supporting elements are trimmed for a perfect fit.
The instructions called for the wrapping of the wing skeleton first before affixing to the main aircraft frame. I would not advise this course of action. First glue the wing skeleton onto the plane, and then cover the wings. You are less likely to misjudge appropriate placement of the covering material and you will also ensure a perfect fit where the wing covering pieces meet below the fuselage at the undercarriage recesses.
There is one additional covering piece that needed to be added to the fuselage in between the checkered patterns and the wheel wells. Once in place a slight trim to even out the wheel well lines was required.
In my opinion the most difficult part of this build is the under fuselage air intake. This is a very tricky bit that requires a lot of test fitting. Because it is one of the defining characteristics of the P-51, as it is on the modern F-16, you want to be sure to get it right. If you follow the photos below you will get an excellent idea of the step by step for this section. Take your time and ensure the look is right.
During the process make sure to test fit (see pictures below) the unit to the plane - do not glue the unit onto the plane until it is completely assembled! Ensure that there is a nice linear fit and that the underside fuselage will flow nicely once covered.
Once a good fit is established, it was time to complete the build of the underside air intake unit.
Notice the particularly glaring gap in the below left picture. Don’t worry too much about this if your plane comes out similar to mine since there is still a covering piece that will wrap around the wing that must be put on. You must remember that every build will yield slightly different results so you just need to cope with deviations as best you can.
WINGS PART 2
Now it was time to add the surrounding pieces that support the wings and fuselage. Not only does this strengthen the plane in terms of rigidity, but it also serves to smooth out the lines of the plane. Notice in the below right picture the wrap around piece that covers that glaring gap from the above left picture. As you can see the end result is superb and looks just like the real plane – smooth and shiny!
The Mustang is a very “sexy” aircraft in “bare-bones” flight configuration… sleek and shiny, and I considered finishing the model with retracted gear. Finishing the model is this way is not a problem at all because the fit of the components is exact - if you cut out all pieces right along the lines. The wheel well covers fit precisely into the recesses for a perfect retracted landing gear look. However, in order to showcase the fact that paper model airplanes are as detailed as plastic models I wanted to do the plane the full justice Mr. Halinski intended when he designed this kit.
The main landing gear struts are a little tricky in that you need to wrap the element tightly around two wire pieces. What makes this all the more tricky is that the paper the model is printed on is rather thick in nature and does not want to roll that easily at first. First I super glued the two wire elements onto each of the paper pieces that were to be rolled into the main struts (see below left). Once done I carefully rolled the covering elements onto the wire pieces.
I also took the opportunity to assemble the landing gear doors and finish off the wheels…
As you can see parts 52 are a little strange so I decided to take a photo of what they should look like rolled up (below left). There were six paper elements that were to be rolled up tightly around metal wire (below right) and inserted into the front of the six pieces (parts 52). Unfortunately the rolled up paper was not wide enough for the opening in the gun surround so I decided to use a plastic tube that I sanded slightly to have a perfect fit into the opening (below right).
I first glued elements 52 onto the wings and then inserted the “cannon” bits to ensure a perfect length of protrusion for the gun barrels (below left). I then painted the gun barrels and touched up the edges. I then decided to finish off the exhaust nozzles which needed severe touching up, externally and internally (below right). Please note that the landing gear was actually put on after the exhaust nozzles were installed for ease of handling of the craft.
Now that the guns were in place and exhaust elements glued on and touched up I decided to finish off all bottom components before finishing the top. First, the landing gears were glued onto the fuselage. I then glued on the protruding pieces that half cover the underside rear openings (below right). And finally I glued on the landing gear doors and landing light.
The cockpit and all associated surrounding elements were then glued on…
All that was left to do now was to glue on the nose with propellers, various pieces onto the wings and fuselage and voila, finished project. Please note that the kit comes with two bombs or two fuel tanks that can be assembled and attached onto the plane. I decided not to put them on, but the option is there. The kit also calls for an antenna to be mounted from the rear vertical stabilizer to the cockpit via a hole in the canopy. I decided not to do this. But those of you fanatical about every exact detail may want to consider this option.
And, just for fun, here is a picture of all the clippings from the project just to give you a sense of where the 55 work hours went into along with a picture of my work space.
It should be pointed out that although I have rated this kit at a medium difficulty level, anyone with some modeling experience (plastic or paper) should be able to complete this build, especially if you have this guide handy. As I mentioned earlier, paper models are very much like puzzles and so require a lot of forethought, pre-fitting, other reference materials, and some trial and error. In most cases you can scan a paper model and print out pieces when they go wrong and start over. Unfortunately with this particular aircraft, and it being printed on glossy metallic paper for the majority of the build, this is not an option. The good news is that if you do make an error the kit is relatively inexpensive so getting another one for parts is always an easy inexpensive option.
Overall a satisfying build with an incredibly accurate and detailed end result. The Halinski Company has done an incredible job in the fit and finish of this kit. Although the instructional material provided could use a little more detail, I highly recommend this kit to anyone interested in paper modeling or WWII war birds.