Bolt Action! Flyers Part 2: the P-51 Mustang

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Today we go over one of the most enduring classics of aviation in Bolt Action: The North American P-51 Mustang. Strap on in pilot!

One of my favorite things about Bolt Action, besides the modeling, is learning about history. I have learned so much about WW2 history, all because of the models and units built. I make an effort to do some research whenever I build a model and find great historical images. And it’s the same with the most understated unit in Bolt Action, the airplane.

In the game the airplane doesn’t really have a ‘model’ space, its more comparable to an orbital bombardment, it’s just there, it happens. But having the airplanes actually there makes it much more cinematic and real, I really recommend it.

I bought this set for about 30 bucks, it has three planes in it, all in the 1/72 scale, which is perfect for Bolt Action, as long as you use a nice long basing stick. Here’s the first one I did, the spitfire for the British Eighth Desert Army  and it was time to set my sights on the P51 Mustang. The kit comes with a version from the Battle of Britain, early war, but my US army is based on the late war North Italian campaign, so I had to choose a different unit. While browsing I spotted this picture:

and I quickly found out that these crazily painted planes were from the illustrious 31st Fighter Group. You can read more about this illustrious fighter regiment right here, but for now I can tell you they were among the most decorated fighter units in WW2 AND they were instrumental in the late war in Northern Italy! I found a great image of one of the few still active birds….

…and chose that as my guide. Here’s the finished model. Note that the plane above DOES NOT have customary camo green anti reflecting coat, instead it’s black. In all other, authentic images, it’s green and I am not sure why they painted it black when they restored it.

Here’s a quick play-by-play of the build:

lot’s of masking tape


mistakes…i painted the red lines reversed….

after I redid that, I gave the plane a salt bath

then washed it with black and let it dry, then weathered the decals

The salt ate away at the paint a bit which gave it a nice weathered look

I was not able to find out why the numbers on the back fin were painted over, but that is really how it was

Here’s my model, with the weathered decals

and here it is on it’s stand. There is a little guy on the bottom to show the length. The stand is a bamboo skewer, about 12 inches tall.

the breakfast table

Closing out I will leave you with a few little tidbits

the logo of the 31st fighter group….

Official paint scheme if you want to do it yourself

and this awesome action shot of the other version of the mustang, within the same regiment

Hope this inspires!

SC Mike


  • BEAR812

    I’m no authority, but the I believe the striping had to do with recognition amongst the allies. It was done for both ground forces and other pilots/air crews (bombers) so they wouldn’t get “itchy” trigger fingers.

    • James Kachman

      Close! That’s a different striping though. What you’re thinking of are black and white invasion stripes, which were just used for D-Day, the Allied landings at Normandy, and then dropped shortly thereafter.
      The reason why they made a big deal of the stripes (they put them on every single aircraft) is that, during the invasion of Sicily, Allied airborne troops had been shot down en-mass by panicky Allied naval AA during a night drop.

      My guess is that the smaller tailnumber, which is usually the aircraft’s serial number, wasn’t needed in combat, so they decided to just put a squadron marking over it.
      (The large number in the middle of the airframe was the tactical number.)

      • scwarhammer

        thanks James, great stuff! Another reason to love Bolt Action, since you learn interesting history along the way.

      • BEAR812

        I wasn’t thinking of the invasion stripes. I dug out an Osprey book I have “Mustang Aces of the 9th & 15th Air Forces and the RAF”. Couldn’t find anything specific other than a photo claiming they were just squadron recognition markings., But interesting to me is the colored plates in the book. The 31st, the 325th (the black and yellow checker tails) and the 332nd (Tuskegee red tails) were the only FG’s (at least in the 9th and 15th AF) to partially or completely obscure the number on the dorsal fin. Other FG’s either painted around it or stopped the stripe at the number and continued on below the number. In other cases the number appeared on the tail below the dorsal fin. Some planes from the 31st in the plates show the numbers painted back over the stripes.
        So, long story short, Squadron recognition markings.

  • RexScarlet

    Nice Build!
    I would have done one in 1/48, which is much closer to 1/56 (28mm) just to display with my army, but yes, the 1/72 gives a nice forced prospective!

    P-47 Thunderbolt is my WWII favorite.

    • Haighus

      I’m a big fan of the Allied fighter-bombers from WWII- the P-47 and British Typhoon and Tempest are some of my favourite planes from the era. Something about the raw power and firepower of them 😀
      Still, my all-time WWII favourite is the Mosquito. Who would have thought a plywood plane would be so effective…

      • scwarhammer

        It would actually be very cool to model a lancaster or liberator for the european theatre. For my German army in Russia, I am going to build a Stuka. I recently gave my buddy a BF109 in desert colors, which I will post about next week!

        • RexScarlet

          @Haigus as well; WWII has great and cool looking vehicles, air, land, and sea, I have built a ton of WWII models over the years.
          USMC had crap, lol…

          • CMAngelos

            In the Pacific the USMC had the F4U, considered one of the best fighters in the Pacific.. so they didn’t exactly have ‘crap’.

          • Haighus

            Wasn’t exactly intended for them though, although doesn’t change the fact they were a major user.

    • scwarhammer

      The forced perspective was excactly why I went with that scale. My buddy plays with a 1/48

  • markdawg

    Well lets hope in version 2 of Bolt Action they polish up the war plane rules. I love the build great work man!