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Mustang Mk.III




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Catalogue Number: 48123
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 78 parts in pale grey styrene; 11 parts in clear styrene
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Tamiya quality surface features and detail; optional propellers, spinners, seats, wheels, hubs and ordnance; low price.
Disadvantages: Majority of parts are obviously based on Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-51B/C kits; some greasy mould release agent still on plastic parts; minor flash present; one-piece canopy/windscreen; incorrect cockpit floor configuration.
Recommendation: Recommendation withheld


Reviewed by Brett Green




Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-51B / Mustang III kits are considered to be a classic of the 1990s. An accurate outline, beautiful surface features and great detail straight from the box has endeared this kit to many modellers.

So what is Tamiya's 1/48 scale Mustang doing in an ICM box?

When ICM's Mustang III was delivered to my home early one morning last week I was excited and amazed. The quality was superb. My first impression was that this kit represented ICM's finest work. Indeed, it looked as good as a Tamiya kit.

Later that day I laid out the ICM Mustang III and Tamiya's "RAF Mustang III" to compare and contrast the respective kits. I was initially surprised to see the similarities and, within a few minutes, genuinely shocked to find that the major parts were interchangeable. I taped the ICM right fuselage half to the Tamiya left fuselage half - perfect match. The same can be said for the wings, the tailplanes and most of the remaining parts.

So, if both these kits are dimensionally accurate, would it not be reasonable to assume that they would be interchangeable? Perhaps, but the engineering of the major assemblies is also identical. Tamiya employed a peculiar method to ensure a stable fit for the top cowl part. ICM's kit shares this method to the millimetre. 


Snap! Even with no glue and minimal tape, the ICM right fuselage half fits perfectly with the left Tamiya fuselage half. Note the intricate engineering on the top of the forward cowl, also identical on both kits.


The main errors of the Tamiya kit are also faithfully reproduced. The curved metal cockpit floor, the broadly splayed cuffs on the propeller blades and the spacing of the wing machine guns are the same on both kits.

The only difference I can see on the fuselage exterior is the addition of two subtle rows of engraved rivets and the removal of the integrated tail wheel doors. These doors are now supplied as separate pieces.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The contours of the lower fuselage also match perfectly

The upper ICM wings have been taped to the lower Tamiya wing. Note the excellent join at the wing root.

The perfect match between the wheel well structural detail on the ICM upper wing with the Tamiya lower wing is obvious here.

No tape, no glue, no modification - the ICM horizontal stabilisor has been cut straight off the sprue and slotted into the Tamiya rear fuselage.

Despite the substantial common parts, ICM has added some non-Tamiya content. The tail wheel has been improved, and alternate parts are supplied for bulged main wheels, optional ordnance, seats, propellers and spinners. A Malcolm Hood is supplied in addition to the standard framed canopy. The pilot is different too - he looks fairly miserable.

Furthermore, the cockpit is broken down differently to the Tamiya kit. Sidewall structural details are separate parts, and the instrument panel is supplied in clear, a la Accurate Miniatures (although the pattern of the panel is the same as the Tamiya part). Indeed, a second clear instrument panel is supplied, but as far as I can tell this seems to be for an Allison Mustang. Curiously, no instrument decal is supplied to glue to the back of the clear panel, but if you have the Tamiya kit, the decal instruments supplied with that kit will fit.

Apart from the previously mentioned errors, there are a few more minor nitpicks specific to the ICM kit. The fuselage and wings feel slightly greasy. This is probably mould release agent. The kit parts should be thoroughly cleaned in warm (not hot!) soapy water before assembly. There is some flash present on the ICM parts, but this should only take a few minutes to remove. Finally, the framed hood and windscreen is moulded as one part. It will be quite tricky to separate the side and the top to display the canopy open. Interestingly, the Tamiya kit does provide the option of an open hood in their Mustang III.





The source of the ICM Mustang's main parts could not be more obvious if they had "Tamiya" stamped in relief on the plastic. The addition of two lines of rivets, an improved tailwheel, a new pilot, the rearrangement of cockpit sidewalls and the inclusion of options for wheels and ordnance does not alter the fact that this kit remains substantially Tamiya in origin and design.

However, we do live in an age where one company's kit turns up later in someone else's box. This is often a simple commercial arrangement between two consenting companies. We have seen many useful examples of an old mould getting a new lease of life - Dragon kits in Revell boxes for example. Perhaps ICM have paid Tamiya for the rights to use the Mustang tooling. I have requested ICM to advise if this is the situation via emails to their Head Office and ICM USA, but there has been no reply to date.

On the one hand, ICM have delivered a kit which, in some respects, is superior to the model on which it was so clearly based.

On the other hand, I feel that it would be inappropriate to recommend this kit until the important questions about the source of the tooling are answered. As soon as I hear from ICM, I will update this review. In the meantime, I will reserve my judgment and my recommendation.

Recommendation Withheld

Review and Images Copyright 2001 by Brett Green
Page Created 12 December, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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