Aftermarket Product Review: Brengun’s 1/72nd 110 Gallon Drop Tanks – BRL 72270

The good folks at Brengun recently released a set of 1/72nd resin 110 gallon drop tanks with photo etched detail parts and decals. Brengun is a Czech model manufacturer known for its extensive line of photo etch and resin update sets for airplane models. Brengun also produces airplane kits in 1/144th, 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.

I was very excited to learn of Brengun’s release and purchased a set off of eBay for this review. To my knowledge, no kit or aftermarket manufacturer has produced an accurate set of 1/72nd scale 110 gallon drop tanks previously.

Brengun

The drop tanks are beautifully cast with the correct details. The photo etch fret include the sway braces, the flat metal pieces that sit across the tanks and hold the sway braces in place, and the fuel filler caps. For those small pieces, extras are provided in case of loss to the carpet monster. Nice touch on Brengun’s part. The decals are accurate for the markings on the tank, and again, extras are provided.

The set comes with a small instruction sheet that shows the correct placement of the decals and photo etch parts. More importantly, the instruction sheet shows the placement of the photo etch parts to achieve a correct installation of the sway braces. Test fit everything before installing the sway braces to determine the best placement for the model you are building.

Brengun

Below are two USAAF photos showing the correct placement of the sway braces and the front metal piece that holds the sway braces in place.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3
USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Brengun has some CAD drawings of the tanks with the sway braces on their website, but do not rely on these drawings as they fail to show the correct placement of the sway braces. Rely on the instruction sheet for the correct placement of the sway braces.

It did not take long to remove the casting blocks and clean up the area where the pour stubs are located. There are a few pin holes that will need to to filled around the area of the pour stubs as can be seen in the photos below, but nothing cannot be filled easily and sanded quickly.

As can be seen in the photos above, the detail that represents the rim that goes around the entire tank was missing at the front on one of the tanks where the pour stubs were located. The other tank was fine. This is a quick fix with stretched sprue, and to be truthful, it is hard not to damage that detail when removing the pour stubs and cleaning up the front end of the tank.

Below is a photo of one of the tanks with the pin holes filled and sanded, and the missing/damaged detail repaired with stretched sprue.

These tanks are accurate in shape and detail. With the addition of the photo etch sway braces, they look every bit the part. If you have an Academy, Airfix, Hasegawa, Hobby Boss, Revell, or Tamiya 1/72nd scale P-51D Mustang and want to build a Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, you no longer have to settle for a kit’s 75 gallon drop tanks which were not used by the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Groups. Highly recommended. Kudos to Brengun!

A superb follow-up on Brengun’s part would be an accurate set of 165 gallon drop tanks with sway braces in 1/72nd scale.

Next up: Squadron markings for the 47th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group.

Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Squadron Markings Part I ; 45th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group

45th Fighter Squadron Mustangs with 110 gallon drop tanks on their way from Saipan to Iwo Jima (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

This is the first part of a nine part series on the markings of the VLR Mustang squadrons. Six of the nine squadrons changed their markings during their time on Iwo Jima after the 7th Fighter Command ordered the VLR Fighter Groups to adopt more simplified markings.

I will be using the aircraft profiles from Eduard’s “Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima” limited edition kit for two reasons. First, they cover all nine VLR squadrons, and second, the profiles are very accurate.

The fuselage numbers for the 45th Fighter Squadron Mustangs were 50 through 99.

Early Squadron Markings. The early squadron markings were black bordered green diagonal bands on the wings and tail, and a green/black/green/natural metal spinner. These markings were applied on Hawaii after the 45th FS transitioned from Republic P-47D Thunderbolts to the North American P-51D Mustangs.

Eduard

The photo below shows the 45th FS Mustangs below deck on the USS Sitkoh Bay (CVE 86) during their transport from Hawaii to Saipan in January 1945. Note wing bands wrapping around the leading edge of the wing just before the wheel wells, and that the squadron emblem was applied on both sides of the cowl. Also of interest is the installation of the 110 gallon drop tanks along with the sway braces, and the single mast antenna. The dual Uncle Dog antennae were not installed on the 15th FG Mustangs until after they arrived on Iwo Jima.

45th FS Mustangs below deck of the USS Sitkoh Bay (CVE 86) (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)

If you are going to build a 45th FS Mustang with the early markings and the flaps dropped, please note the photo below. The diagonal wings bands on the flaps are slightly offset when the flaps are dropped. Whether you are using decals for the diagonal wing bands or painting them, it is best to do so with the flaps in the up position. After that application is completed, then the flaps can be dropped.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

The photo below shows some additional insights into the early markings of the 45th FS. First, the photo confirms that the black bordered green diagonal bands were also on the underside of the wing. Second is the 15th Fighter Group’s practice of painting the fuselage number on the outer landing gear doors. As the photo shows, this practice was not universal, and was later abandoned after plane maintenance requirements quickly overtook other activities on Iwo Jima. The Mustang burning in the background of this photo is 86 “Foxy” (Serial No. 44-63474). “Foxy” was involved in a landing accident on March 10, 1945. SuperScale produces a decal sheet that includes the markings for “Foxy” and my review of that decal sheet can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/10/11/decal-review-superscale-decals-p-51d-mustangs-48-1153/. DK Decals produces decals for 77 “San Antonio Rose” in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales, and my reviews of those decal sheets can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/12/08/decal-review-dkdecals-p-51d-mustang-very-long-range-p-51-units-iwo-jima-1945-72087/, and here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/12/05/decal-review-dkdecals-p-51d-mustang-vlr-units-iwo-jima-1945-48029/

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Late Squadron Markings. In May of 1945, the 7th Fighter Command issued orders requiring the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups to adopt more simplified markings. The black bordered green diagonal bands were replaced by green tail and wing tips and a solid green propeller spinner as shown in Eduard’s profile of “Stinger VII” and the photos below. These orders must have been seen in a positive light on behalf of ground crews as the majority of time was consumed by attempting to keep their planes combat worthy leaving little time for painting time consuming squadron markings.

Eduard
67 “Stinger VII” (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)
The tail of 67 “Stinger VII” (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)

Squadron Emblem. The early 45th FS emblem was an American Indian brave wielding a hatchet and riding a plane that was meant to look like a P-40 Warhawk on a yellow background. We start seeing these emblems applied to 45th FS P-40Ns during an earlier tour in the Central Pacific. The early squadron emblem looked something similar to the squadron patch below.

Early 45th Fighter Squadron Emblem

As the 45th FS transitioned to P-51D Mustangs in Hawaii before deploying to Iwo Jima, the squadron emblem changed slightly. The American Indian brave stayed the same in appearance, but now he is riding a plane that is meant to look like a P-51D Mustang. I could not find a good period photo of the new squadron emblem, but it is accurately represented by DK Decals as shown below.

DK Decals

Very few decal sheets, either kit or aftermarket, provide the diagonal wing and tail bands. So what color do you use for the green? Eduard recommends either Mr. Color Russian Green (135) or Mission Model Paints Resedagrun RAL 6011 (MMP-018). Below are color chips from the respective paint manufacturers. The Russian Green by Mr. Color looks very good to my eye.

Mr. Color 135 (Russian Green)
Mission Model Paints MMP-018 (Resedagrun RAL 6011)

Another option is Willow Green (FS14187/ANA 503). Willow Green was originally used by the U.S. Navy in some of their colorful pre-war paint schemes. Both Mr. Paint (MRP-385) and Hataka Hobby (HTK-C221) include Willow Green as part of their lines of hobby paints.

Mr. Paint Willow Green (MRP-385)

My comparison of these two paints can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/03/15/paint-comparison-hataka-hobby-orange-line-and-mrp-mr-paint-lacquers/. Both are excellent paints.

Hataka Hobby Willow Green (HTK-221)

As a condition of the use of materials from the 7th Fighter Command Association website, the following disclaimer is included: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this Worldwide Web server and related graphics is hereby granted, provided 1) That the use of the data will not be used for obtaining a profit of any kind, and 2) That the above disclaimer notice appear in all copies and that both that disclaimer notice and this permission notice appear. All other rights reserved. The name of “7th Fighter Command Association” may not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of this information without specific, written prior permission. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association makes no representations about the suitability of this information for any purpose. It is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty. Mark Stevens and the 7th Fighter Command Association disclaim all warranties with regard to this information, including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall Mark Stevens or the 7th Fighter Command Association be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this information.

Mark L. Rossmann’s 1/48 Tamiya and ICM P-51D Mustangs; 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group

Mark Rossmann is back with two 1/48 North American P-51D Mustangs from Tamiya and ICM. In this dual build, Mark covers both marking options for Mustangs of the 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group; the early striped tail and the later solid tail.

Mark L. Rossmann

Initially released in 1995, Tamiya’s 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang was a significant improvement over prior kits in the areas of accuracy, details, and engineering. Many of these kits have been built over the years and a lot show up on model forums. For beginners or novices with just basic skill sets, it can be built into a really nice kit worth sharing with the rest of the world. For those with advanced detailing or scratch building skills, the kit can be transformed into competition winning model. Even by today’s standards, it is still an excellent kit.

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark has used the Tamiya kit to build 531 “Nip Nocker”, a P-51D-20-NA (Serial No. 44-63291) assigned to 1st Lieutenant Wesley A. Murphey, Jr. 1st Lt. Murphey shot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon), and damaged a Mitsubishi A6M Zero on the July 16, 1945 VLR strike mission to the Nagoya/Bay of Ise area. It is not known if “Nip Nocker” was assigned to another pilot in addition to 1st Lt. Murphey. Unfortunately, official squadron and group records do not go into that level of detail.

1st Lt. Wesley A. Murphy, Jr. and 531 “Nip Nocker” (via 506th Fighter Group Association)

1st Lt. Murphey would continue his service to his country in the Air National Guard during which time he would attain the rank of Captain. He also served as a civilian instructor pilot for the United States Air Force, and ended his career at the Federal Aviation Administration. 1st Lt. Murphey passed away at the age of 89 on March 30, 2007 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Mark L. Rossmann
This photo shows that the name “Nip Nocker” was on both sides of the nose (506th Fighter Group Association via John Benbow)

Mark used SuperScale Decals 1/48 “P-51D Mustangs 457th FS/506th FG, Iwo Jima” (48-1152) decal sheet for the markings. My review of this decal sheet can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/08/22/decal-review-superscale-decals-1-48-p-51d-mustangs-457th-fs-506th-fg-iwo-jima-48-1152/ The tail stripes are on this decal sheet and were specifically designed for the Tamiya kit. If you are wanting to build an early striped tail 457th FS Mustang without having to do all of the tedious masking, this decal sheet is what you need.

Mark L. Rossmann

For his solid tail 457th FS Mustang, Mark used the ICM kit to build 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil-Toddie” (44-72557), a P-51D-20 NA. ICM’s 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang is basically the same kit as the Tamiya kit, and therefore, can be built into a very nice model.

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark used the decals from AeroMaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 2 (48-795) for this build. A nice decal sheet, and the only after market decals for 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil-Toddie”. No other kit, in any scale, contains decals for this Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

AeroMaster Decals

While this decal sheet has been long out of production, you can still find it on eBay from time to time.

Mark L. Rossmann

“Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie” was first assigned to 1st Lt. John W. Winnen and 1st Lt. Philip G. Alston. The plane name “Hel-Eter” was a combination of shortened names of the 1st Lt. Winnen’s wife Helen and son Peter.

1st Lt. John W. Winnen in the cockpit of 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie” with Crew Chief Staff Sgt. Jaynes Gandy on the wing (506th Fighter Group Association via John Benbow)

Two other pilots are known to have flown 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie”; 1st Lt. Warren Clayton and 1st Lt. Denny O’Hearn. I have not been able to find any records regarding if, and when 1st Lts. Clayton and O’Hearn were assigned to fly 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie”, but there is good evidence to suggest that was the case.

1st Lt. Warren Clayton and Crew Chief Sgt. Simon sitting on the wing of 527 “Hel-Eter/Lil Toddie” (506th Fighter Group Association via John Benbow)

Warren Clayton wrote on the back of the above photo: “Hel-Eter, crew chief Sgt. Simon, and me. Good combination, Warren”. This strongly suggests that 1st Lt. Clayton was assigned to fly this plane.

Mark L. Rossmann

However, as was common in other theaters of operation, a pilot might fly a plane was he was not assigned due to the availability of planes for a mission. A good example of this was 1st Lt. Chauncey Newcomb. 1st Lt. Newcomb was assigned to 514 “Erma Lou” with 1st Lt. Francis Albrecht, but scored his two aerial victories in 522 “BuzzBuddy”.

A 505th BG Boeing B-29 Superfortress escorted by 527 “Hel-Etr/Lil Toodie”, a 457th FS/506th FG North American P-51D-20NA Mustang, piloted by 1st Lt. Denny O’Hearn (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)
Mark L. Rossmann

Thanks again to Mark Rossmann for sharing his dual 457th FS builds with us!

Kit Review: Arma Hobby 1/72 Nakajima Ki-84 Ko/Otsu Hayate Expert Set (70051) and Basic Model Kit (70052)

In keeping with their initial business model of releasing 1/72 single engine fighters, the good folks at Arma Hobby have recently released a Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank).

Tamiya, Revell and Hasegawa have all released 1/72nd Ki-84s, but these kits are decades old. The Hasegawa kit is still being produced, and while it is a nice kit, it has raised panel lines, a very basic cockpit without a lot of detail, and a one piece canopy. Sword released a Ki-84 in 2008, and a pre-production version in 2010, but these are limited run kits that are no longer being produced. So it is nice to see a new tool Ki-84 in 1/72nd scale.

As of the date of this post, Arma Hobby has released two boxings of this kit; an Expert Set (with photo-etch parts and masks), and a basic model kit. It is customary for Arma Hobby to release at least two boxings of each kit, so it will be interesting to see if they release another boxing.

Arma Hobby

There are three sprues included in the basic model kit; one with the fuselage, wing, engine, cockpit, and undercarriage parts; one with the horizontal surfaces, drop tanks and bomb parts; and one with the clear parts.

The level of detail in the cockpit is exceptional, and the designers have done a great job keeping the cockpit components to scale. This makes for very delicate parts in which great care is needed when removing them from the sprues and cleaning the parts up. All of the great detail can be showcased since the canopy can be posed open.

The surface detail on the kit is also very nice.

The canopy parts are thin and crystal clear.

As indicated above, the Expert Set comes with a photo etched fret that includes the engine wiring harness, seat belts, and cockpit parts. The masks for the canopy and wheels are made of kabuki tape instead of vinyl.

Six decal options are included in the Expert Set, which allows the modeler to choose between Home Defense Hayates, a Philippine based Hayate, and CBI based Hayate, and a kamikaze (57th Shimbu-tai). The decals are printed by Techmod.

Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Decals in Expert Set (Arma Hobby)
Arma Hobby

The basic model kit provides two decal options; one Home Defense Hayate and a Philippine based Hayate

Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby
Decals in the basic Model Kit (Arma Hobby)

This looks to be another great kit from Arma Hobby. If you would like to see some built up models, please visit Arma Hobby’s website https://www.armahobby.com/. They have an excellent blog that not only shows built models, but also features articles focusing on the history of the planes included in their kits. Very cool.

If you would like to follow a build in progress, Jeff Groves over on Inch High Guy is doing a batch build of six kits. The first two installments of his batch build are here https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/15/arma-hobby-nakajima-ki-84-hayate-frank-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-i/ and here https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/22/arma-hobby-nakajima-ki-84-hayate-frank-batch-build-in-1-72-scale-part-ii/.

Kits News: Zoukei-Mura 1/32 Kawasaki Ki-100-1 Otsu “Goshikisen”

At the end of March, Zoukei-Mura presented a mock-up of a 1/32 Kawasaki Ki-100-1 Otsu “Goshikisen” along with some CAD drawings. The news quickly appeared on both Brit Modeller and Large Scale Planes’ forums and was enthusiastically received.

Zoukei-Mura

Part of the enthusiasm is due to the fact that no mainstream model manufacturer has released either the Ki-100 Otsu (fastback) or the Ki-100 Ko (razorback) in 1/32 scale. While kits have been produced in 1/48th scale (Hasegawa and Otaki/Arii) and 1/72nd scale (Aoshima, Fine Molds and RS Models), there have been absolutely no injection molded kits in 1/32nd scale.

Zoukei-Mura

If you wanted to build either plane in 1/32 scale, you had to buy the 1/32 Hasegawa Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Tony) kit, and one of the Alley Cat resin conversion sets. Those conversion sets are no longer in production, but once the Zoukei-Mura kits are released, I am assuming we will see some of the Alley Cat conversion sets for sale on eBay.

Zoukei-Mura

The Ki-100 was a Ki-61-II airframe mated with the reliable Mitsubishi Ha-112-II Kinsei radial engine. The result was an very agile and maneuverable fighter with a good rate of climb and excellent handling characteristics. It was considered superior in all respects to its predecessor, the Ki-61 Hien. The Ki-100 was also considered by some Japanese pilots who flew both types to be superior to the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate. It was first flown in February 1945, and the IJAAF began equipping units with the Ki-100 in March 1945, albeit in very limited numbers.

Kawasaki Ki-100-1 Ko “Goshikisen”

Due to its late entry into the war, the Ki-100 was not given a code name by the Allies, and its performance characteristics were unknown to the United States Army Air Force and the United States Navy. Anecdotal accounts suggest that the Ki-100s may have been misidentified as Ki-84s due the the fact that both had radial engines. There was no Ki-100 captured during the war for evaluation, and there were no evaluations after the cessation of hostilities to determine how it compared with the Navy’s Corsairs and Hellcats and the Army Air Force’s Lightnings, Mustangs and Thunderbolts.

Kawasaki Ki-100-1 Otsu “Goshikisen”

While the Ki-100 did not have a significant impact in the air war over Japan due to is late entry into combat, it provided the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force with a very capable dogfighter in the hands of an experienced fighter pilot. One wonders what impact it would have had if it had been supplied in sufficient numbers and flown by experienced fighter pilots. Unfortunately, from an historical perspective, it falls into the category of “too little, too late.”

Zoukei-Mura

Radu Brinzan has confirmed that Zoukei-Mura intends to release both the Ko (razorback) and Otsu (fastback) versions of the Ki-100 as supported by the above CAD drawings. That is great news!

When these kits will be released is unknown. Zoukei-Mura has previously announced a line of five Fw-190 kits, an Ar-234 kit, and a P-51B/C kit. It may be a while, but definitely worth the wait.