Seven years. That’s how long it has taken me to start, build and finish a project that has been very close to my heart.
This then, is my very own build of the superb 1/32 Tamiya P-51D Mustang which my great friend Frank gave me on my 40th birthday seven years ago. A lot has happened in that time, many milestones reached and many models built.
This was never going to be an ordinary build. It was a model given to me by an remarkable man whom I am lucky to call my friend. Its a build of a fighter that made history, the name of a Mustang that until very recently still flew proudly above the English skies it used to defend.
This is the story of Ferocious Frankie, and my attempt to capture a moment in time of a P-51D that became a flying legend………..
So this story starts in October 2012, I was on vacation in the USA celebrating my 40th birthday and hanging out with my friend Frank. It was a incredible trip, from blasting around in Porches and Ferrari’s on the Blackhawk raceway to getting up close and personal with F-14 Tomcat’s, F4U Corsairs and even a SR-71 Blackbird! After a spectacular day of fun, the evening came around and Frank said “I have a present for you!” I was taken aback to discover he had given me the 1/32 Tamiya P-51D! I was so surprised and delighted all at once! What an incredible gift! Over drinks we ponded what scheme I might paint this Mustang in, a few idea’s sprang into my head instantly and I regarded them in my mind, one stood out most of all. Ferocious Frankie.
As an avid Warbird watcher I had spend many a happy hour at IWM Duxford watching the Spitfire’s and Mustang’s roar above the English countryside. I had already built Spitfire Mk.IX MH434, it seemed only right to build her famous flying partner Ferocious Frankie and as it was Frank who gave me the kit, it was also quite apt to build her in his honour too.
Here are the famous Duxford duo in action:
P-51D Mustang “Ferocious Frankie”
This P-51D was flown by Major Wallace E. Hopkins, and this Mustang was named in honour of his wife Frankie. Coded B7 H of the 374th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group. Wallace Hopkins was born in Washington, Georgia and flew a total of 76 combat missions with the 361st where he flew as Operations Officer. He was an ACE credited with 8 victories and 1.5 damaged. His decorations include the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross both with Oak Leaf Clusters and the French Croix de Guerre, one of four awarded to members of the 361st. During WWII the 374th Fighter Squadron was based in southern England and distinguished itself in the finest traditions of the USAAF.
After the war he transferred to the new U.S. Air Force, and flew 76 combat missions in the Korean War. While serving in Korea, he helped to establish an orphanage, and was later honored by the South Korean government for his humanitarian efforts. He retired in 1968 as a U.S. Air Force Colonel.
This is his citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross:
“The President of the United States of America, authorised by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major (Air Corps) Wallace Eugene Hopkins (ASN: 0-420598), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Operations Officer and a P-51 Fighter Pilot of the 361st Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in action against the enemy in aerial combat in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. The skillful and zealous manner in which he has sought out the enemy and destroyed him, his devotion to duty and courage under all conditions serve as an inspiration to his fellow flyers. His actions on all these occasions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.”
During WWII the name Ferocious Frankie was carried on more than one Mustang, she was photographed without her tail fillet as an early P-51D and without the full yellow nose cowlings too.
Here is how Ferocious Frankie looked with her full yellow nose towards the later end of the war, the D-day invasion stripes clearly visible.
And this is the restored P-51D that was owned by the Old Flying machine Company that was painted in the markings of Ferocious Frankie.
I wanted to build FF as she looks today, but put her in a a WWII setting. I wondered what this full yellow nosed 374th Sqn fighter might have looked like back in the day, so with the little references at hand that I had, I had to let my imagination do a little of the work.
Yes, I borrowed a little artistic licence on this work. Y’know what? I’m so glad I did!
Tamiya’s P-51D Mustang is now a legend in the scale modelling community. There is no other Mustang like it on the market. It is super detailed, it fits together well and is enjoyable to build. When finished it looks like a P-51D Mustang. In short, this kit rocks!
I have worked on and off with this build for years! I did write a few “Work In Progress articles” which you can find here on the website, but here is what happened along the way….
The only additions to the kit were a Barracuda resin seat, resin wheels from Eduard Brassin and aftermarket decals. After the airframe was assembled, everything fell into place, the fun came with the painting and weathering. I used Tamiya AS-20 Aluminium for the NMF and a faded Tamiya O/D green for the upper camouflage surfaces and a slightly hotter shade of yellow for the nose cowlings.
Here is how she turned out in the end, seven years later…..
Ferocious Frankie as she is today……
Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed this Mustang as much as I have! Take care and Happy Modelling!