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1:32 Desktop Mustang

James H

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1:32 Desktop Mustang
Catalogue # IMCZ-002
Available from Hobby Link Japan for ¥30,000



The North American P-51 Mustang enjoys one of those places in aviation history, along with the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mitsubishi Zero, Fw 190 and Bf 109 etc. Without a doubt, it is one of the most recognisable aircraft in the history of warfare. Its appearance over Berlin in the latter stages of the war, was lamented by Reichsmarshall Göring, who pretty much admitted that he believed the war was lost to Germany.


Designed to a specification issued by the British Purchasing Commission, the P-51 Mustang, designed and built by North American Aviation, rolled from the drawing board and into the air in a little over 3 months. Originally powered by an Allison engine, the initial design had a relatively poor performance in relation to the Merlin powered variant that would eventually see mass production. The bubble-hood P-51D which was introduced in order to rectify the poor rear visibility of the earlier variants. A number of other main modifications were also present in the 'D', including a redesigned wing. This kit represents the P-51D




We are all used to seeing a little photo-etch added to a model. Some of us love the stuff, and some of us are a little ambivalent. I admit to having a preference for resin over PE, and that sometimes, I get a little frustrated with the finer details I'm trying to add. Perhaps I'm getting a little more ham-fisted as I get older. I recently tried to break a little of my PE 'deadlock' by building the rather amazing Jasmine Model Horten Ho 229. It looked daunting, but it built like a dream. So what could possibly challenge me further? Let me introduce Imcth to you.


Imcth is perhaps not a company you've heard of before, and that would be a shame. We hope to redress that a little here. These guys produce some of the single-most, amazing PE and cast metal kits you've ever seen. If you've often wondered why the hell Zoukei-mura add high detail into their models, only to close it all up, then perhaps the creations from Imcth would be more up your straße.

Unlike Zoukei-mura though, the internal constructional detail in the Imcth kits is far more representative of the actual aircraft, and because it is photo etch, is also more in scale than anything that could be achieved in injection plastic form.




Imcth currently have a Desktop Zero and Desktop Mustang available, with a Messerschmitt Bf 109F in development. Today, we'll look at the Mustang, and later in the year, we'll publish the Zero for you. The 109F will be next year.


When this kit landed here, I was rather surprised by how compact the box actually is, but then you have to remember that this kit isn't restricted by large moulded parts on sprues. The box is still quite heavy though. To say the appearance of the packaging is understated, would be an understatement in itself. Packaged into a glossy black box, with the kit name on the lid, we open this one from the side, with a huge flap which then peels back the lid. Peering in, there are two cardboard boxes, surrounded by a carefully folded bubble-wrap edging. Lift these out, and you'll find a third, large box. Underneath this are the numerous instruction sheets.




Opening the first, and lighter of the two boxes, we have a number of various lengths of metal, some coiled solder-style wire in two different diameters, and a vac form canopy. I know that some modellers can be put off by vac-form, but there really is nothing here to worry you. The mouldings for both windscreen and hood and on the same piece of plastic, and are crystal clear. Excellent definition of the parts will mean that it will be easy to accurately remove them from the sheet. What about the frames, I hear you say? Well, these are represented here, and in fine, well-defined lines.


The actual framing is supplied as die-cut parts, on a sheet of self-adhesive chrome tape. Instructions within the kit show how this is to be applied. Also on the chrome sheet are the Browning MG barrels. The idea is to wrap this around the pre-determined lengths of wire which are stipulated in the drawings. I'm not convinced I could get the wire absolutely straight, so perhaps you wrap these around piano wire, or even replace them with barrels from the MASTER series. Whilst on the subject of wire, Imcth have made the plumbing of this model very easy with supply and shiny lead-based solder/wire, which you cut to the various lengths shown within the constructional stages. No guesswork leading to any wastage here!




A set of rubber tyres are supplied, and these are far better than some I have seen with recent injection moulded kits. Instrument panel dials and gauges are included on a small sheet of colour printed paper, and another small sheet of material is here for you to make your seatbelts from. The parts are printed onto this and will need cutting out. For extra protection, this first box is also lined with bubble-wrap in order to protect these parts to the max.


The second small box is far heavier, and also lined in bubble-wrap. In here, we have seven bags of cast white metal parts, labelled F, G, H, I, J, K, and L. Imcth have, for ease of use, grouped specific areas of construction into these bags, and within these bags, the parts are grouped into yet smaller, more group-specific groups. The instructions clearly show these various parts in drawing format. Unlike some companies, the drawings do indeed look like the parts. Full marks! The parts are also numbered, so identification on the drawings will be very simple.




I do expect that you have seen some white metal aftermarket parts which look poor. Well, NOT in this release. All casting is done by Model Factory Hiro, and is about as good as you could ever expect to see, especially on such a high-end kit. Generally speaking, all castings are free of any pitting defect, and flash is extremely minimal, and almost non-existent. Across the parts, you might find the odd, hairline seam from where the mould was pared, in order to release the parts.


Detail is amazingly sharp, and about as good as some of the best injection kits available. The instructions do say that a limitation in casting means that you will need to drill a few locating points a little deeper. As this is white-metal, this will be very easy. Test fitting some parts, such as the engine cylinder bank halves, shows that the fit is astounding, with little to no gap to be seen anywhere. Any seams will be easily sanded away.




Some parts contain a small 'sprue' which you will need to remove and clean up the connection on the part. A number of pouring spout remnants also exist. You can cut these off with sprue cutters and use a small file to eradicate any trace from the parts. These spouts also tend to be on joint surfaces, and not on the actual face of the part. The design of this kit is superbly thought out. If any specific parts are 'handed', then the sprue will contains the letters L and R, in order that you get things right first time.


It is Imcth's expectation that you will probably leave this model in its unpainted form. In order to maximise this effect, it is advisable to polish the white metal parts with a rotary tool and polishing/buffing compound. You should be able to achieve a high sheen effect using this method. The company website shows something similar HERE. I would advise that polished parts are perhaps coated in a clear metal lacquer so that they don't tarnish easily. The stuff from DIY stores usually works well as they are made with chemicals with low levels of oxygen with them, stopping any future corrosion.




Even if you decide to paint the internals, consider polishing before you do any priming. This will remove any minimal mould release powder and oxidation that might be lurking on the surface. No matter how good the fit is of these parts, you will of course need glue. I would opt for medium viscosity CA and longer setting CA Gel for a number of parts. You might also be advised to buy some CA Activator too. I really don't see it being feasible to solder anything here due to the actual material used, and also because it would tarnish a great looking metallic finish. The instructions supply detailed information on how to prepare your metal parts for finish and fit. This information is accompanied by easy to understand English, as well as the writing also being in Japanese.




Now, it really would be rude not to take a look through the individual bags of white metal, so here goes:





This packet contains a further THREE bags, all concerned with the Packard-built Merlin engine. The Merlin is split down into crankcase and cylinders, supercharger air intake and glycol tank for one packet, supercharger and large ancillary equipment in another packet, whilst the last small bag contains magnetos, plumbing, and the smaller detail parts that go to build this rather amazing assembly. As previously mentioned, I test fit a number of parts, and the fit was pretty exacting. Very little overall clean-up will be needed, apart from the occasional seam to be sanded, and a buffing with a polishing disc.
















This contains only one wallet of parts, such as the engine bearers, engine bracket, front nose intake and exhausts etc. The exhausts are semi-hollowed, and would benefit from being carefully opened up a little. Casting really is excellent. The engine bearers are devoid of much detail because you will add internal and external PE detail laminations to this very cleverly engineered and thought-out area.





By any standard, the largest packet of white metal parts in this kit, consisting of a further FIVE bags of parts. Two of these bags are actually identical, in the sense that they carry one set of extended and retracted undercarriage struts and doors each. That's right, you can choose to model your mustang in a flying attitude, or grounded. The bay doors are single pieces for the flying version, and obviously two-part for grounded. The hinges on the smaller inner door are also in different positions too, to indicate whether the doors are dropped or raised.








Those rather large wing fuel tanks are supplied in upper and lower halves, with some beautifully sharp filler port detail. The fit on these is generally excellent, with just one lower half needed to be levelled on a sheet of abrasive paper. Locating pips align beautifully, and these will look rather good when polished/painted.


Whispering Death gained its name for the sound air made as it entered the Mustang's gun ports, was channelled inside the wing, and exited through the rear wing area. Imcth have packaged all the weapons bays and armament into a separate packet consisting of the bay frames, Browning MG's, and ammunition belts etc. Two of the six Brownings are 'handed', and they are easily recognised as such with the L and R sprue designation.








The last packet in the H bag contains inner and outer wheel hubs, wheel bay detail, undercarriage door clips, and actuated/non-actuated undercarriage deployment hydraulic pistons.





Two packets comprise this area, and they are both concerned with the cockpit and services area of the Mustang. Very well-represented in one packet are the large internal fuel tank, battery, radio, equipment tray, compressed gas cylinders, control column mount, oil tank, and the rear instrument panel face, which would look great with a little bit of wiring.






The second packet contains the meat of the cockpit; side walls, instrument panel, control column, seat and frame components, and the instrument anti-glare shroud etc. What isn't too apparent from my photos is just how sharp the detail is on these parts. The mould release talc somewhat obscures this in the macro photos, and with this removed using a polishing drum, this should shine out at you, literally. If you intend to build this with a painted cockpit, please consider the BarradcudaCals Mustang interior decal set.










One of the most obvious featured of the P-51 is the huge intake under the mid fuselage. This packet contains all the parts for that assembly, in the smallest of details. A couple of seams will need to be cleaned up, here and there, but in all, the quality again is quite superb. The use of locating pins will ensure that things fit together flawlessly.





As this model can be posed with the undercarriage raised or lowered, the packet supplies the tail wheel in both extended and retracted positions. Parts for the rudder post, trim tab, tail tips and inner elevator face are included. Where the model cannot be represented in PE, nicely cast parts are included to depict these sections.





This very last packet contains the propeller and spinner. The prop is broken down into two interlinking parts. A couple of seams will need to be removed from here, and the edges of the blades carefully finished off. The prop parts interlink beautifully at the hub, and then fit easily into the spinner rear part. As you can see, the main spinner part just drops into position. Perfect.






Now it's time to take a look at the Photo Etch parts in this rather remarkable kit.





As you will imagine, a skeletal fighter plane in 1:32 is going to need a large number of accurately presented wing ribs, and this is where you'll find them. The ribs are etched with face detail, neat slots for assembly, and the multitude of lightening holes which were stamped into the real thing. The PE sheets in this set appear to be made from stainless steel, which is not only very attractive in how shiny it is, but is also of a quite thick, scale gauge. Some parts, as on this fret are also assembled as laminates, making them even thicker and extremely rigid. Tags which hold parts to the fret are extremely narrow, which is great news when it comes to trying to cut through them. Consider a good pair of photo-etch scissors for this project.










Other parts on this fret are a small number of fuselage formers, the armoured plating for the pilot's seat....AND....a superbly PRE-SHAPED part for the engine cowl underside. If you were wondering how these curves were achieved, well, now you know. The shaping is seriously good, but I admit it frightens me to hold these frets and lie them down with these attached! Just be careful when handling them, although they do seem very robust.





Again, this one mostly consists of parts for the flying surfaces, but this time the ailerons, elevators and rudder. Spars are included here for the horizontal stabiliser, as are the various mini-ribs for the moving surfaces. A number of parts for the wing gun bays are also to be found on this fret. Flying surfaces have the mini-ribs cast in between the frames, and for these, a quick 90 degree twist of those ribs will automatically create an authentic 3D section.










This is where you will find the fuselage, in all its perfectly flat, etched beauty. The fuselage is built up from various formers and bulkheads as per the real thing, and some of these, such as the engine firewall, will need to be bent. Imcth has introduced two names to describe inner and outer folds. They have called these Valley and Mountain, and determine whether you fold inward to create a 'V' (Valley), or outwards to form a ridge (mountain). Get used to these, and the symbology Imcth uses on their instructions, and all will be crystal clear.










Cockpit and internal floors are included on this fret. Wood was used in the construction of some of these, so if you want to paint, consider Uschi's superb wood grain decal.

Those engine bearer external laminates are also here, and again, these will need a subtle bend or two to make them fit to the white metal parts.







These are almost identical except for one containing parts for a starboard wing and fuselage, and the other being for the port-side. A small number of specific parts apply onto to one fret too, such as spars etc. The upper and lower panels of each wing are represented in large, single pieces which are pre-curved to shape the rib profile of the wing, so again, no tricky bending to undertake. Detail on these panels is excellent, and the upper panels have the gun already cut out. A number of protective stiffeners will need to be snipped out first. As the gauge of the metal is relatively thick, using a file to clean up any tags should be very easy.












The fuselage side panels, spanning the fuselage from the firewall, though to the tail section joint, are also pre-bent. Imcth really have thought of everything to ensure that this is a very enjoyable build.





This foil film is self-adhesive, and the canopy frames and Browning barrel sleeves are sharply die cut into it. I have my reservations about the barrels, as previously mentioned, but the canopy framing looks very good, and despite the photo, this film is high chrome finish. I had to tilt the camera to avoid glare, as I did with the PE frets themselves.







A small acrylic stand has been included with my sample. I'm not sure if this is standard. It is recommended that the model should perhaps be sat on this stand in order to take any weight from the undercarriage parts. First, you must peel the protective paper from the face of the Mitsubishi-made plastic, and then plug them together. Nice and simple, and non-intrusive so it won't ruin the overall constructional effect of the model





This hasn't been produced in a typical manual-style format, with stapled pages and consecutive sequence numbers. The first two A3 pages are folded, and provide a pictorial view of the parts, with them being numbered for ease of identification in the build sequences. Instructions on how to best use PE and white metal are also included.


The actual sheets pertaining to construction, are supplied as individual A4 sheets. The engine's sequence of build starts at '1' and goes through to '31'! From there, the next sequence starts at '1' also. To help you keep track, the pages are numbered for you, so it's obvious what section of construction should come next.






Drawings for the various steps are easy to follow, with the images looking a lot like those that Eduard use. Imcth have also used coloured ink in order that you can recognise the various sub-assemblies and new-to-sequence parts. All parts are numbered along the way, and where you need to drill parts, this is also shown. Despite the overall apparent complexity, the actual breakdown looks very simple. In total, there are THIRTY-ONE pages of instructions! Enough to keep you occupied for a reasonable amount of time.


Also included are instructions for adding the frames to the canopy, and notation on the best way to assemble the wing with regards to slot sizes etc.


I've seen some kits in my time, and whilst this is very different to just about every one, it's by far one of the most incredible releases I've ever had the fortune to see. Granted, you can't compare it with a Tamiya or Wingnut Wings kit, as it falls into a category all of its own, but that doesn't stop you being simply overawed at both the complexity and engineering that has been employed here. Not only do you have a stainless-steel skeleton of the Mustang, but also a completely detailed engine bay, cockpit, undercarriage etc.


For those of you that have pondered a ZM kit, but the thought of sealing up all that work was simply too much, then consider a Desktop Mustang from Imcth. Not only will you have many enjoyable hours assembling it, but when complete, you'll really never tire of admiring it.


I believe that Imcth are developing a metal skin set for this, which provides you with endless opportunities when it comes to using the model for diorama purposes, such as a maintenance scene, or a damage scene as I recently saw for Imcth's Desktop Zero. AND, I can tell you that later in the year, we'll be bringing you a review for that too.


Simply outstanding and amazing


James H

Our sincere thanks to Imcth for this review sample. To purchase directly, head on over to Hobby Link Japan.



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Great review Oh great God of Reviewers !! :)  Seriously though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and also enjoyed seeing the component parts laid bare for a change so that comparisons to ZM's P-51D or other scale and brands can be made.   I know this is expensive but it's one of those once or twice in a lifetime acquisitions that you know you are going to have to make.


I was really looking forward to this having known about them for some time now so, thank you for your hard work getting IMCTH to work with us.  

I can't wait to see one in built form (by you or our very own LSM Member Paul Anderson who, I happen to know, has this in his stash).  


I'm absolutely beside myself in anticipation of a Bf109F which I believe is in the works too !!

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Awesome review Jim, simply one of the best you have done. I am building this kit right now and can attest to the beauty of this kit. Everything was thought out engineering wise and even though it is a very complex kit, it is easy to build if you are patient and take your time. New skills need to be learned on this kit but well worth the time and effort. The result will be a showpiece for anyone's collection. I do plan on doing Tamiya's 1/32 P-51 to display along side this kit and will paint the interiors alike. No wing skins on this baby.



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  • 5 weeks later...
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Fantastic, I registered just to follow along :D Looking forwad to see it progress. Glad you decided to paint at least some of the parts. :thumbsup2:


*EDIT* WOOOPS!!!!!!! I confused this thread with the on line build one...still a fantastic review.


...always a pleasure ;) I think I might roll this one out myself next year.

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  • 2 months later...

Great review! These things are simply amazing aren't they. It's good to know just how much has gone into producing these kits. So many cast parts to consider let alone all the pe stuff. And the quality! I know they're expensive in model terms but these are works of art and as such...they're positively cheap. You mentioned that they can't be compared to the likes of Wingnut and that is true though I do suspect that Wingnut's attention to detail is rubbing off onto other manufacturers. All very promising for the future of modelling and I kinda think we're in for plenty of exciting stuff from all of them in the future.

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