Exito is a Polish company which was started in 2008 as an internet hobby shop, and expanded in 2010 by establishing a brick and mortar store in 2010 in Cracow, Poland. In November of 2018, they launched their own line of high quality decals in 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/32nd scales.
They recently released their 11th decal sheet entitled “Pacific Warriors” vol. 1, which includes decals for “501”, a 457th FS/506th FG P-51D-25-NA (44-72640) flown by Captain Evelyn Neff.
Their decal sheets appear to very well researched, and the aircraft profiles in their decal placement guide are by Polish artist Janusz Swaitlon. One of the contributors to this decal sheet is 506th Fighter historian, Brian Walter.
The decals are in register and printed by Cartograf in Italy.
Exito gives you the option of two different markings for Captain Neff’s Mustang. The first option is the early 457th FS paint scheme with the green striped tail shortly after the 506th FG arrived on Iwo Jima as shown in the picture below. The nose art below the front of the canopy shows the half nude without a background.
The 506th Fighter Group Mustangs went to solid tails beginning in June of 1945 after the 7th Fighter Command ordered the three Mustang groups on Iwo Jima to adopt more simplified markings. The second option is 501 with a solid tail and the half nude nose art with a dark background as shown in the photo below. Nice touch on Exito’s part.
Kudos to Exito for releasing this decal sheet. Because they have labeled this decal sheet “vol. 1”, we can assume the future release of at least another “Pacific Warriors” decal sheet. Hopefully, volume 2 will include decals for another Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.
Mark Rossmann submits his 1/48 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki. Mark used AeroMaster’s “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170) decals to represent the Ki-44-II Otsu flown by Captain Hatano, leader of the 3rd Chutai of the 47th Sentai.
Mark also provided the following narrative with his build:
“B-29 Hunter – Ki-44-II Otsu -47th Sentai”
History: Nakajima Type 2 heavy fighter, the Ki-44 Shoki, was developed from the 1939 Air Headquarters (Koko Hombu) requirement for a different type of fighter. In all previous requirements, responsiveness, classic dog-fighting as in WWI, and agility were utmost; however, this requirement was for rate-of-climb, speed, and ability to withstand battle damage. Initial trials against the Zero saw it totally fail, and only equaled the performance of the Ki-27 and Ki-43.
Many changes were made, including a set of Ki-43 like “butterfly combat flaps fitted for improved maneuverability, and aerodynamic changes, especially to the engine housing. The aircraft was finally production ready with only 40 Ki-44-I’s built before the -II Otsu commenced production. The Otsu was the best of the series with a top speed of 376 mph at 17,060 feet with ascent to 16,000 feet in 4 minutes, 17 seconds, and armed with 4 machine guns. The -III Hei only had a few built before suspension in late 1944 in order to build the Ki-84.
With high wing loading, this created fast speeds for landing and tricky handling. It was thought fighter pilots withover 1,000 hours of flight time in their log books should only fly it. This caution was found to be unneeded and by late war it was decided relatively inexperienced pilots could handle it.
Pilot opinion was subjective. Those that flew the nimble Ki-27 and Ki-43 disliked it intensely,as it lacked maneuverability and for its high speed landing. However, it was respected for its outstanding dive characteristics, rapid roll rate, and being an excellent gun platform consisting of a pair of 7.7 mm (.303 in) and a pair of 12.7 mm (.50 cal.) machine guns. Later, the “IIc” had a single 20 mm cannon replacing the wing mounted machine gun. Limited numbers of aircraft had devastating 40 mm wing mounts. Those willing to accept the plane’s characteristics and to exploit them were few and far between.
Limited success was partly due to only 1227 variants of this type being produced, which was 9% of the single engine JAAF aircraft produced during the war. It was deployed mostly in China, also in Burma, East Indies, and the Philippines. The Ki-44 (Ki for “kitai”which is airframe type number) Shoki (“The Demon Queller”, a Taoist temple deity traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings), or named by the Allies as “Tojo”, is mostly known for its Homeland Defense deployment against the B-29.
The 47th Chutai: Nine aircraft were received by an experimental unit, the 47th Chutai “Kawasemi Buntai (“Kingfisher Flight, 47th Squadron”), commanded by Major Toshio Sakagawa at Saigon, Indochina in early September 1941. As a result of the “Doolittle Raid”, having laid bare the lack of a Home Defense lead by the 244th with its obsolete Ki-27s, the wake-up call ordered the 47th Chutai to return to Japan on April 25, 1942. The 47th was assigned to the 10th Air Division and rated as the “best” with many skilled pilots, even though the 244th gained most of the limelight.
In October1943, the 47th worked its way into “Sentai” status at Choufu Air base. Its tail emblem was a stylized version of the number 47 with each Chutai (squadron) displaying it in its own color; for this model, yellow for the 3rd Chutai. It disbanded at the end of the war at Ozuki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, then operating the Ki-84.
On November 1, 1944, the 47th saw its first B-29 homeland action when an F-13 photo-recon variant of the B-29 from the 3rd Photographic Group came in at 32,000 feet to map the Kanto plain. At 1300 hours, the 47th scrambled available Tojos and began their long climb toward the bomber. Leading was Captain Jun Shimizu, the 1st Chutai commander. As the formation reached 27,000 feet, the planes began wallowing and started stalling with some pilots dropping their noses to climb at a shallower angle. Captain Shimizu and his wingman, Lt. Matsuzaka, got within 3,000 feet of the F-13, struggling to keep their planes controlled, fired short bursts with no hits.
The IIc version was armed with heavy cannons, using caseless ammunition with low muzzle velocity, which was effective in close attacks against B-29s. Using the IIc, there was a special kamikaze unit (a company of four aircraft minimum) of the 47th Sentai, which specialized in bomber collision tactics, called the Shinten unit (Shinten Seiku Tai – Sky Shadow) which was based at Narimasu airfield during the defense of Tokyo.
On February 10, 1945, a B-29 mission to Ota, the 47th Sentai intercepted. 1st Lt. Heikichi Yoshizawa flew inverted straight at the formation, then rolled upright flashing barely 30 feet above the Superforts, he slammed into one of them killing him instantly. That morning, he had pinned a small doll to his flying suit for good luck, telling his wingman, 2nd Lt. Ryozo Ban, “Follow me today!” Ban replied, “Yes sir, yes sir, I will follow you to heaven or hell!” Ban was hit by defensive fire and had to make an emergency landing at Shimodate airfield. Lt. Yoshizawa is recorded as the leading B-29 ace of the 47th with four B-29s destroyed.
By April of 1945, the P-51 “Sunsetter” units on Iwo Jima were escorting the B-29s. Japanese Army Air Force units were ordered not to engage the U.S. escorts,but to go after the bombers and to save themselves for the final defense. At this time, the 47th was transitioning to the Ki-84.
The Ki-44, which was used on the eve of World War II in Indochina, evolved into a heavily armed fighter suited for attacking heavy bombers, something the Lufwaffe resurrected near the end of their “Defense of the Reich”. The “Tojo” was never destined to become a great fighter, or the mount of aces. Those who did make their mark in this aircraft did so by ramming B-29s at high altitudes or stalking them at low altitudes with the deadly 40mm canon. This was not what was envisioned in the original “Koko Hombu” requirement.
Kit: Hasegawa 1/48 Nakajima Ki-44 II ko Shoki (Tojo) “85th Flight Regiment” (JT37)
Decals: Aeromaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II” (48-170)
The only draw back to the kit was that it came with the scope site which protruded through the front windshield. Later built planes came with the optic site, which this has. I used “Formula 560” canopy glue to fill in the hole. It would have been nice if the optional site and windshield were available in the kit.
A. Tamiya TS-17 Aluminum for fuselage and wings.
B. Testors Flat White for Home Defense bands.
C. Tamiya TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black for anti-glare panel.
D. Tamiya TS-47 Chrome Yellow for wing leading edges.
E. Tamiya AS-29 Grey Green (IJA) for fabric areas.
F. Vallejo Model Color Mahogany Brown 70.846 for propeller.
Final Note: In reference #2, last page, shows a picture of a Ki-44 on display at Wright-Patterson AFB. This last surviving “Tojo” was scrapped and there are no intact examples of this aircraft type left in the world. Another source says a wing center section is preserved at the Northwestern Polytechnical University Aviation Museum at Xi’an China.
1. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF – Aviation Elite #5; Koji Takaki & Henry Sakaida; Osprey Publishing Limited (2001)
2. Ki-44 “Tojo” Aces of World War 2 – Aircraft of the Aces #100; Nicholas Millman; Osprey Publishing Limited (2011).
3. Japanese Army Air Force Aces of World War 2 1937-45 – Aircraft of the Aces #13; Henry Sakaida; Osprey Publishing Limited (1997).
4. World War II Airplanes Vol. 2; Enzo Angelucci & Pablo Matricard; Rand McNally (1978).
5. AeroMaster “Tojo Collection Pt. II. (1995)
6. Hasegawa Instruction Sheet (1995)
Thanks to Mark for submitting his build and article on the Nakajima Ki-44 II Otsu Shoki!
There are some extremely nice Iwo Jima aviation prints featuring both American and Japanese aircraft. My favorite is of a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero with Mount Surbachi in the background by digital artist Ron Cole. The print shows the elegant and graceful lines of the Zero so well.
The subject of the print is a 252nd Kokutai Zero flown by JNAF ace CPO Tomokazu Kasai. There appears to be tri-color F6F Hellcats in the far background, so I am assuming aerial combat depicted in the print is of one the U.S. Navy’s early bombing missions against Iwo Jima between June 14, 1944, and August 5, 1944. From my research, it appears that the 252nd and 301st Kokutai were assigned to Iwo Jima in June of 1944, but I have been unable to determine when the 252nd was withdrawn.
The print can be purchased in sizes beginning at 13” x 19” up to 40” x 60”. Already framed prints can be purchased in sizes 13” x 19” and 24” x 36”. For serious collectors, Mr. Cole produces authentic aircraft relic displays which are prints that also include a piece of the actual aircraft. Check out Mr. Cole’s work at Cole’s Aircraft https://roncole.net/.
Japanese Naval Ace CPO Tomokazu Kasai – Born on March 8, 1926, in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture, Tomokazu Kasai enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Navy and began flight training at the Tsushima Kokutai on April 1, 1942. Kasai was initially assigned to the 263rd Hyo (panther) Kokutai which transferred to Tinian in the Mariana Islands in February 1944. His first combat was with a 7th Air Force B-24 Liberator over Guam on April 25, 1944. Between June 18th and July 10th during the United States invasion of the Marianas, Kasai was credited with eight victories. The 263rd Kokutai was disbanded due to attrition, and Kasai was reassigned to the 306th Hikotai of the 201st Kokutai.
Kasai’s last assignment was with 301st Hikotai of the 343rd Kokutai (Japan’s Group of Experts) flying the Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden-Kai (Violet Lightning). He added two additional aerial victories, but on April 17, 1945, crashed and broke his leg which ended his continued participation in World War II.
Japanese naval ace Tomokazu Kasai recently passed away on January 9, 2021, in Amagaski City, Japan at the age of 94.
Hasegawa has re-boxed its new tool 1/32 A6M5c kit with decals for two 252nd Kokutai planes and air to air bombs. Japanese Naval Air Forces on Iwo Jima used phosphorus air to air bombs to counter 7th Air Force B-24 Liberators.
A6M5 Zeros above the B-24 formations would release their phosphorus bombs which would explode over the formations sending phosphorus bomblets in a 300 yard wide pattern down onto the path of the bombers. Each 32 kg bomb would hold 75 steel encased phosphorus bomblets.
While very unsettling for bomber crews, the phosphorus air to air bombs were largely ineffective. More 7th Air Force B-24s were lost to ordinary flak than to phosphorus bombs.
1. Genda’s Blade: Japan’s Squadron of Aces – 343 Kokutai; Henry Sakaida & Koji Takaki (Classic Publications 2003)
2. Japanese Ace Tomokazu Kasai Dies at 94; Jon Guttman (HistoryNet, January 15, 2021)
It is not often that a family gets to celebrate the 100th birthday of a loved one. Very few ever make it to that age, and that fact makes it all the more reason to celebrate that accomplishment. On February 1st, the Jones’ family and the 506th Fighter Group family get to celebrate the 100th birthday of Staff Sergeant Burton W. Jones (USAAF ret), who was a ground crew member in the 457th Fighter Squadron.
Burt was born on February 1, 1921, Whitesboro, New York, to Arthur and Mary (Briggs) Jones. He graduated from Whiteboro High School on June 26, 1939, was ordered to report on August 24, 1942, for his pre-induction physical, and then on September 8, 1942, to begin his basic training.
Because of a mechanical aptitude, and work experience in a garage and the Savage Arms Company, Burt was transferred to the United States Army Air Corps and began training as a armorer, and would later also be trained as an aircraft mechanic.
His first squadron assignment was the 24th Anti-Submarine Squadron working on North American B-25 Mitchells at Westover Army Air Field. From there, Burt was transferred to the 843rd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. With the 843rd, he spent time at the Kearney Army Air Base in Kearney, Nebraska, then at MacDill Army Air Field near Tampa, Florida.
In May, 1944, then Sergeant Jones was informed that he had been transferred to the 457th Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group which had recently been formed and was in the process of organizing at Lakeland Army Airfield. At Lakeland, he was trained on how to service and repair the North American P-51D Mustang, and its in-line, liquid cooled Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
Sergeant Jones, and the rest of the ground echelon of the 457th Fighter Squadron took a troop train from Lakeland to Seattle, Washington. They arrived on Iwo Jima onboard the H.M.S Bloemfontein, a converted Swedish hospital ship. The long overseas journey started in Seattle with stops at Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and finally Iwo Jima.
Burt began writing his memoirs at the age of 73. The following is what he wrote about his first night on Iwo Jima:
“Whether it was by providence or whatever, it was just our luck to hear some night fighters, Black Widow P-61 night fighting aircraft warming up on their strip. They were at the foot of Mount Suribachi on Motoyama air strip number one [South Field]. We soon got the word that the Japanese were coming in from Japan to bomb the island. You could hear the P-61s taking off. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes later when it looked like the 4th of July. Incendiary and tracer bullets were whizzing across the sky in every direction! I was going through our first of many bombing raids on Iwo Jima.”
After the war in the Pacific ended, Burt accumulated enough points to leave Iwo Jima by mid-October, 1945. He transitioned to Saipan, and during his short stint on the island, was assigned to the 882nd Bombardment Squadron (H) working on Boeing B-29s. Burt arrived back in the United States on December 3, 1945, returned home on December 13, 1945, and was honorably discharged from the United States Army Air Force on the same day.
Happy 100th Birthday Burton!
Special thanks to Burton’s daughter, Priscilla (Jones) Heburn, and his nephew, Evan Jones, for providing information and photos for this post.
One plane that has been neglected by the mainstream injection molded model manufacturers is the Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer. Patrol bombers tend not to get a lot of love. While I often see the PB4Y-2 on a lot of modelers’ informal “wish lists” of kits they would like to see manufactured, that interest has not translated in a new injection molded kit being released.
This is not to say that a kit of PB4Y-2 has never been released. Matchbox released a PB4Y-2 in 1/72 scale way back in 1980. Revell reissued the kit in 2009, but the kit is seriously lacking by today’s standards.
After market manufacturers have stepped into to fill that void. Since Monogram’s release of its 1/48 scale Consolidated B-24J Liberator in 1976, several after market vacuform and resin manufacturers (Attic Aircraft, Concise Models & Graphics, Cutting Edge Modelworks, Koster Aero Enterprises, Wilde Sau Resin) have produced conversion parts to convert the Monogram B-24 kit into a PB4Y-2 Privateer. I have seen some really nice PB4Y-2 builds converted from the Monogram B-24 kit.
Mike West of Lone Star Models recently announced the upcoming release of a 1/48 scale full resin kit of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, with white metal parts, metal main landing gear struts, vacuformed clear pieces, and a large decal sheet. The price of the kit is listed at $290.00 which does not appear to be out of line since it is an all resin 1/48 scale four engine bomber.
Below are pictures from Lone Star Models’ website showing some of the resin, white metal and vacuformed kit pieces.
I have purchased several resin products from Lone Star Models over the years and have been impressed with the level of detail and the quality of casting.
If you are contemplating purchasing this kit, there are few things you need to know. First, Lone Star Models is a one man operation. Mike West does all of the product development, casting, order processing, and shipping. Because of a high demand for his products, he has to periodically shut off ordering on his website so that he can catch up with casting, processing, and shipping orders. If you are expecting a quick turnaround after ordering this kit, you might be disappointed.
Second, from time to time, this kit will not be available to order on Lone Star Model’s website (https://lonestarmodels.com/). As I am drafting this post, the kit is listed as “Out of Stock”, which means that Mike has sold the stock he has on hand. Once he has built back up his stock, it will become available to purchase. This is just one of the ways Mike has had to resort to so he does not fall too far behind. If you want to order this kit, you just have to be patient.
Since the kit has not actually been released yet, there have not been any on-line reviews as of yet.
A Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer kit has been on the top of my “wish list” for the last decade, and I have not seen any indication that any of the mainstream model manufacturers (Eduard, Hasegawa, Revell, Tamiya etc . . .) are even contemplating producing a PB4Y-2 in the foreseeable future. This may be a modeler’s only option for a complete kit for quite some time.
On March 1, 1945, just 11 days after the United States Marines stormed Iwo Jima’s black sand beaches, Lt (jg). Noah P. Butt, Jr. of VC-76 landed his General Motors FM-2 Wildcat (White 4) on South Field after experiencing difficulties with a drop tank. White 4 was the first U.S. Navy plane to land on Iwo Jima.
Wanting to build an FM-2 Wildcat involved in the Battle for Iwo Jima, I was pleased to see Arma Hobby release a FM-2 Wildcat in 1/72 scale. I researched on-line build reviews for both the 1/48 Hobby Boss FM-2 and the 1/72 Arma Hobby FM-2, and decided to go with the Arma Hobby kit.
Founded in 2013, Arma Hobby is a Polish model manufacturer that has been releasing 1/72 airplane kits, and they are set to release their first 1/48 kit shortly. I have been following them for the last few years waiting for them to release a kit I wanted to build.
As is customary for Arma Hobby, they have released several boxings of this kit; an Expert Set (with photo-etch parts and masks), and two basic kits. There are three sprues included in the basic kit; one with fuselage, wings, and engine; one with cockpit, undercarriage, and horizontal surfaces; and one with the clear parts.
The casting is very well done with a minimal amount of flash, and the level of detail is very impressive for a 1/72 kit. The recessed panel lines and other surface detail are very nice and not overstated.
The level of detail in the cockpit parts is extremely nice and both types of wheels are included. Some of the undercarriage parts are quite delicate, but that is what you would expect for a 1/72 scale Wildcat.
The canopy comes in two parts so you can you can show off all that nice cockpit detail with an open canopy. The canopy parts are clear and thin.
The instructions are very well done with good illustrations. Decals are provided for White 29, flown by Lt (jg). Heatherly Foster, III, (VC-93/USS Petrof Bay); and White 35, flown by Lt. Ralph E. Elliot, Jr. (VC-27/USS Savo).
The decals, printed by Techmod, are in register and come with a lot of stencil details which will show up nicely on overall glossy Dark Sea Blue planes.
This looks like a really nice kit for 1/72 scale. I have red a few on-line builds, and it appears that it is well engineered without a lot of fit issues. Looking forward to building this kit.
William Glenn Ebersole was born on September 30, 1924, in Arcadia, Florida. Upon graduation from high school, he entered the University of Florida in Gainesville, as a freshman in September, 1942. Wanting to control his entry into active service in the armed forces, he enlisted in the Air Corps Reserve on October 31, 1942, shortly after turning 18. The thought that he might have two years of college before being called up was short lived as he was ordered to report for active duty on February 24, 1943, in Miami Beach, Florida. On his way to earning his wings, Bill flew in Stearman PT-17s, BT-13s, and AT-6s. He received his wings and a 2nd Lieutenant’s commission on April 15, 1944, at Craig Field in Selma, Alabama, as part of class 44-D. During his training as a fighter pilot, Bill flew the Curtiss P-40N Warhawk, and the A, B, C and D models of the North American P-51 Mustang.
Bill was assigned to the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group in early January of 1945. When deployed to Iwo Jima, half of the squadron’s fighter pilots ferried their brand new P-51D Mustangs to San Francisco, where they were loaded on the escort carrier Kalinin Bay and set out for Tinian. The other half of the pilots, which included 2nd Lieutenant Ebersole, took a troop train to Seattle, and then boarded the converted Swedish hospital ship, the Bloemfontein. They sailed from Seattle to Hawaii, Eniwetok Atoll, Tinian, and then finally to Iwo Jima.
Bill was the youngest pilot in the 462nd Squadron at the ripe old age of 20 years while on Iwo Jima, and flew a total of 10 VLR missions, the first being on June 7, 1945 to Osaka, and the last being on August 5, 1945, to Tachikawa. He was assigned to fly 619 “Hon. Mistake”, a North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang (Serial # 44-72587) with 2nd Lt. James Bercaw. While on Iwo Jima, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and was credited with destroying a twin engine bomber on the ground during a strafing mission. Bill took his last flight in a P-51D Mustang on December 4, 1945, when he led a flight of 4 planes from Guam to Isley Field on Saipan. From there, he took a ship for the long trip back to the United States.
Bill Ebersole re-enrolled at the University of Florida, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. At the pinnacle of his career, he was the publisher of The Gainesville Sun.
Bill was scheduled to take a return trip to Iwo Jima with his wife Anna in March of 2020 as part of veterans’ flight, but never took that trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill was a frequent attendee at 506th Fighter Group reunions. I first met Bill at the Iwo Jima VLR Symposium at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in 2012. Bill graciously spent several hours answering all of my questions, and I was fortunate to get to know Bill during several 506th Fighter Group reunions. His daughter, Glenda Ebersole Potts, said “I never met a man as good as my father . . . they don’t make’em like that anymore.” Anybody who knew Bill would heartily concur.
Happy New Year! Thank you to all who are following this blog, those who check in occasionally, and those who have stumbled here by mistake. I am not sure how to best describe 2020 globally, but here in the United States, it has been a strange and difficult year on so many different levels. For 2021, it is my prayers that you remain safe and healthy, and have a productive and fulfilling year.
A new feature of the blog will be to showcase the models built by you! If you have built a model related in anyway to Iwo Jima, please consider sharing that build with all of us. It does not matter if you are a beginner, novice or expert. Below are some categories:
Any VLR Mustang from either the 15th, 21st or 506th Fighter Groups;
Any Northrup P-61A/B Black Widows from the 548th Night Fighter Squadron;
Any United States Navy combat aircraft that participated either in the early raids from June 14, 1944 to August 5, 1944, or during the Battle for Iwo Jima (Curtiss SB2C Helldivers, General Motors FM-2 Wildcats, Grumman F6F Hellcats and TBF/TBM Avengers, and Chance Voight F4U Corsairs);
Any 7th Bomber Command Consolidated B-24J Liberator which bombed Iwo Jima from U.S. Army Air Force bases in the Marianas;
Any Marianas based Boeing B-29 Superfortress which bombed the Japanese Home Islands; and
Any IJAAF or IJNAF fighter that participated in the defense of Iwo Jima or the defense of the Japanese Home Islands.
If you would like to show your work here, please send me pictures of your build along with a narrative. The narrative can include information on the pilot/crew, squadron/group/unit, after market products used, if any, and any techniques used. Photos and narratives should be sent to: email@example.com.
I believe these are unprecedented times for modelers as far the the range of products that are available. We have seen the emergence of new kit manufacturers, and because of advances in design technology, the quality of kits (engineering) has improved to the point that more and more kits are easier to build without a lot of fit issues.
After market manufacturers have also taken advantage of advances in technology. In addition to traditional products such as photo-etch update sets, resin update sets, vacuformed canopies, white metal and brass landing gear sets, and brass machine gun and canon barrels, we are now seeing a proliferation of after market manufacturers producing 3-D decals for instrument panels and cockpit details. Because of advances in 3-D printer capability, some after market resin manufacturers are turning to 3-D printing of parts and away from the labor intensive and wasteful manual casting process.
Model paints have basically stayed the same as far as the types paints manufactured (acrylics, enamels and lacquers), but we have seen the emergence of new manufacturers, like Hataka Hobby and MRP, attempts improve on existing paints formulas, and the introduction of different lines of paints by certain manufacturers. We have at our disposal a variety of really good model paints with ever increasing ranges of colors.
One of the manufacturers introducing multiple lines of paint is AK Interactive. AK Interactive started with water based acrylic paints for armor, aircraft, and figures. Since that time, they have introduced a line of metallic paints (Extreme Metals), a line of acrylic lacquers for World War II and modern military vehicles and aircraft (Real Colors), and a new line of water based acrylics (3rd Generation Acrylics).
My initial attraction to their Real Colors line of acrylic lacquers was the range of their colors (114 colors for AFV and 133 colors for aircraft), and the fact that they have what appears to be a full line of paints for World War II Japanese Army and Navy aircraft. AK Interactive touts this line of paints as being developed in close consultation with experts who have spent years researching paints used by various combatants. The time spent by AK Interactive researching colors definitely shows. For instance, if you are a modeler that focuses on Luftwaffe aircraft, AK Interactive Real Colors Air series has 3 variations of RLM 76 (Lichtblau), and 3 variations of RLM 81 (Braunviolett) to take in account standard and late war variations.
Compatibility with other acrylic lacquer paint lines is a selling point pushed very hard by AK Interactive. The Real Colors line comes with its own thinner which AK Interactive labels as “High Compatibility Thinner” meaning that you can use it to thin other acrylic lacquer paints, such as Mr. Color and Hataka Hobby acrylic lacquers. Likewise, AK Interactive promotes that you can thin Real Colors with other acrylic lacquer thinners, like Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, and you can mix Real Colors with other acrylic lacquer paints.
The paints come in 10 ml glass bottles and can be purchased individually or in convenient sets of four. I purchased the WW2 US Interior Color set (Dull Dark Green, RC230; US Interior Yellow Green, RC262; Zinc Chromate Yellow, RC263; and Bronze Green, RC264) and a few individual paints. The 10 ml bottle is the same type of bottle used by Tamiya, and has the color and the product number on the lid for easy identification.
I am going to test Real Colors using their own thinner, Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, Hataka Hobby’s acrylic lacquer thinner, and 91% isopropyl alcohol. The paints do not have an overly strong odor and mix very easily by just shaking the bottle.
The first is a test on a plastic spoon using Dark Dull Green, FS34092 (RC230) with AK Interactive’s High Compatibility Thinner. While the paint is not as thick as Mr. Color lacquers, it does need to be thinned. I thinned the Dark Dull Green at a rate of 2 parts paint to 1 part thinner to see how it would spray at that ratio, and sprayed it at 16 psi. The paint laid down beautifully to a smooth matte to semi-matte sheen and covered well. I did have an issue of getting a little paint spit when resuming to paint. I am not sure why the paint did this, but it may have been because the paint was not thinned sufficiently, or I was not spraying at a high enough pressure.
Next was US Interior Yellow Green (RC262) on a plastic spoon using Mr. Color Leveling Thinner at a ratio of 1 part paint to 1 part thinner. I increased the pressure to 20 psi. The paint thinned really well using the Mr. Color Leveling Thinner and again laid down beautifully to a very smooth matte to semi-matte finish. I did not experience the problem with the paint spitting after thinning it more and increasing the pressure. The paint dries within a few minutes to a very tough finish.
Next was Zinc Chromate Yellow (RC263) on a plastic spoon using the Hataka Hobby acrylic lacquer thinner at a ratio of 1 part paint to 1 part thinner at 20 psi. The paint thinned well using Hataka Hobby’s acrylic lacquer thinner, and again laid down beautifully to a very smooth matte to semi-matte finish. I did not experience the problem with the paint spitting. Even with a lighter color, the paint covered well.
Last, I painted the tires and fuselage fuel tank from the Eduard P-51D Mustang kit with Rubber Black (RC022) using 91% isopropyl alcohol thinned to a 1 to 1 ratio. Again, as you can tell from the photos below, the paint laid down beautifully and covered very well.
So a few concluding remarks. First, cleanup was easy, and you do not have to break down and clean your airbrush between colors. Just flush out the prior color with a good airbrush cleaner (I use Alclad II Airbrush Cleaner), and load up the new color. Second, it appears that AK Interactive has lightened the paint to take into account the scale effect of color. Their water based acrylic paints are also lightened to take into account the scale effect of color.
I really like this line of paints. They thin nicely with any type of acrylic lacquer thinner, lay down beautifully to a smooth matte to semi-matte finish, dry quickly, and are very durable. The range of colors is very impressive. Highly recommended.
I did not attempt to thin Real Colors with anything other than thinners made for acrylic lacquers and isopropyl alcohol. AK Interactive markets Real Colors by claiming that they can be thinned with thinners used for water based acrylic paints. Flory Models did a comprehensive vlog of AK Interactive’s Real Colors on YouTube https://youtu.be/kvEwxVcY3TE using a lot of different thinners. Their vlog is worth watching.
Along with the release of their 1/48th decal sheet for Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs (48029), DKdecals also recently released a new 1/72 scale decal sheet covering the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups. There are decals for 19 VLR Mustangs. Each squadron is covered with decals for two planes, and the majority of the planes covered on this decal sheet have not been covered previously by either kit manufacturers or the after market decals manufacturers in 1/72nd scale. Again, nice to see lesser known planes covered by an after market decal manufacturer.
The painting and decal placement guide is nicely done. The nineteen VLR Mustangs represented on this sheet are as follows:
77 “San Antonia Rose”; 45th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63438; flown by 2d Lt. Douglas Reese. 2d Lt. Reese scored single confirmed victories on June 26th, a Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony, and July 8th.
114 “Dear Edna”; 78th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63967; flown by 1st Lt. Frederick A. Bauman. Lt. Bauman was credited with one aerial victory on the June 10, 1945 mission to Atsugi Airdrome near Tokyo.
124 “Button – II”; 78th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63353; flown by 1st Lt. Doyle T. Brooks, Jr. 1st Lt. Brooks was credited with shooting down two Mitsubishi A6M Zeros on the June 10, 1945, VLR mission to the Tokyo area.
157 “Daisey Mae”; 47th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63395; flown by Flight Officer John W. Googe.
176 “Moonbeam McSwine”; 47th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63420; flown by Captain Eurich L. Bright. Captain Bright scored his first three victories on the April 7, 1945, VLR mission to Tokyo; a Kawasaki Ki-45 Nick, a Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony, and a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero. Captain Bright scored again on the May 25, 1945 VLR mission.
200 “Miss Gene V”; 46th FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63775; flown by Major Fred A. Shirley, commander of the 46th FS. Major Shirley scored his first two victories on the April 12, 1945, VLR mission to Tokyo shooting down a Kawasaki Ki-45 Nick and a Mitsubishi J2M Jack, followed by two more Mitsubishi J2M Jacks on the April 22, 1945, VLR mission to Nagoya.
235 “Slow Roll”; 46th FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63891; flown by 2nd Lt. John W. Brock. Lt. Brock was credited with three aerial victories, his first on April 12, 1945, and the second and third on July 9, 1945.
250 “Dede Lou”; 72nd FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63733; flown by Major Paul W. Imig, commander of the 72nd FS.
264 “Marsha Ann”; 72nd FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63981; flown by 1st Lt. Jacob W. Gotwals. 1st Lt. Gotwals sole aerial victory (a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki) was achieved on the first ever VLR mission on April 7, 1945, to Tokyo.
300 “My Achin!Ass”; 531st FS, 21st FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-73623; flown by Major Harry C. Crim. Major Crim was the commander of the 531st FS, and the only ace of the 21st FG.
302 “Joy’s Boy”; 531st FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63910; flown by Captain Robert Mallin.
501; 457th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72640; flown by Captain Evelyn Neff. Very nice nose art.
522 “Buzz Buddy”; 457th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72876. It is unknown who was assigned to fly “Buzz Buddy”. However, it is known that 1st Lt. Chauncey A. Newcomb scored two aerial victories while flying “Buzz Buddy”. 1st Lt. Newcomb was actually assigned to 514 “Erma Lou” along with 1st Lt. Francis “Frank” Albrecht. It was not uncommon for pilots to fly VLR missions in planes they were not assigned to.
550 “Madam Wham-Dam”; 458th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72607; flown by Major Harrison E. Shipman; commander of the 458th FS. “Madam Wham-Dam” was lost on the June 1, 1945, Black Friday mission with Lt. Col. Harvey J. Scandrett at the controls.
575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer”; 458th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72602; flown by Captain G. Marcott.
616 “Shanghai Lil”; 462nd FS, 506th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72588; flown by 1st Lt. Darrell Bash and 1st Lt. Edward J. Linfante. 1st Lt. Bash was credited with shooting down a Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony over Yokohama on June 10, 1945.
643 “Providence Permitting”; 462nd FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72855; flown by 1st Lt. Allen F. Colley and 1st Lt. Leonard A. Dietz.
“Darlin’ Ruthie”; unit unknown; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72570; flown by Lt. M. Lerret.
The decals are in register and the artwork is very well done. The decals are recommended for all 1/72 North American P-51D Mustangs kits (Academy, Airifx, Hasegawa, and Tamiya). If you are going to use the decals for 550 “Madam Wham-Dam”, the tail stripes are designed for the Tamiya kit.
Since there are not a lot of decals for VLR Mustangs in 1/72nd scale, this decal sheet is highly recommended. Kudos to DKdecals!