Revell's big P-51D Mustang is a fine kit, boasting some great detail at a very affordable price. But even the best kits usually have scope for improvement, and so Roy Sutherland and Barracuda Studios have released two sets of beautiful resin mainwheels to replace the Revell parts (and, of course, they will also work for other largescale Mustang kits).
At first glance the Revell wheels really aren't bad, certainly on the sprues (although one odd thing is that the instructions show block tread tyres, whereas diamond-pattern treads are included in the kit - I'm guessing this could be a sign of future versions to come). The wheels are moulded "unweighted", and the hubs are crisply detailed with open "spokes" as on the full sized items.
Without Revell block-tread tyres to examine, I'll concentrate on the diamond-pattern and, sadly, things don't look quite so rosy when you join the two halves of each wheel. Inevitably, there's a seam to clean up, but the real problem is the way the slightly softly engraved diamond treads don't meet up properly, leaving little "orphans" along the centre seam.
As you may expect given Barracuda Studios' reputation, the resin replacements are in a different league. The small details like the inflation points on the hubs are much better rendered, but it's really the treads on the new wheels that leave the plastic mouldings for dead.
Firstly, with the wheels moulded whole, there's no seam to worry about and the diamond pattern is consistent across the tyre, so there aren't any "orphans". Secondly, whereas the treads on Revell's wheels are engraved, those on the Barracuda Studios parts are raised just like on the real thing, as though you'd applied scores of tiny diamonds and blocks to the surface. And, lastly, the diamonds are rotated 90 degrees so that the long axis runs around the wheel instead of across it. The combination of improvements is superb - and once you've seen Barracuda Studios' wheels, the Revell's versions pale by comparison.
Each set contains a pair of wheels with separate outer hubs. The wheels are cast slightly "weighted", with the main pouring stub forming the flat spot. There's a thin bit of supporting resin to trim away before you're ready to use the resin wheels, and a wafer of flash across the holes in the hubs.
As usual, Roy Sutherland includes a straightforward and well written set of instructions, and these are backed up by clear colour photos. The instructions are generic for both styles of tyres.
Both sets are available now, priced $8.95 each: BR32380 1/32 P-51 Mustang Diamond Tread Mainwheels
BR32381 1/32 P-51 Mustang Block Tread Mainwheels
One of the beauties of Revell's Mustang is that it's cheap enough to allow you to splash out on some upgrades while keeping the finished model very affordable. I'd place Barracuda Studios' wheels very high on the list because they look so better than the kit parts. Simple to prepare and fit, they are ideal for anyone trying resin upgrades for the first time. Unreservedly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Superb detail and casting. Clear instructions.Lows: None noted.Verdict: Certainly for the diamond-tread (the only ones I can compare) Barracuda Stuios' wheels are a dramatic improvement over the Revell parts.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...