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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The basic model kit provides two decal options; one Home Defense Hayate and a Philippine based Hayate
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.
Our good friends in the Czech Republic at DK Decals have been busy producing new decal sheets, and one of the recent 1/32 releases focuses on P-51D/K Mustangs over the Pacific and Australia.
This decal sheet provides markings for a 458th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group P-51D-20-NA Mustang (44-72602) 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” flown by Captain Goldie Marcott.
Below is a very nice color photo of Captain Marcott kneeling on the wing of “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer”. The photo shows the twin wooden Uncle Dog antenna on the rear fuselage.
The fact that there are 20 mission markings and another name (“Julia’ll Fool Yer”) on the right side of the nose, suggests that another pilot was assigned to fly 575, but there are no records that I can find to either confirm or dispel this thought.
Below is a wonderful photo of the left side of the nose of 575. It not only shows the beautiful and graceful lines of the Mustang, but shows the small pin-up art in front of the name “My Madge” which is very nicely reproduced on this decal sheet.
Captain Marcott was the flight leader of “C” Flight of the 458th Fighter Squadron. His Crew Chief was Staff Sergeant Francis R. Sundbergh, and his Armourer was Master Sergeant Amil V. Wittenberger. He was not credited with any aerial victories or ground victories.
There is not a tremendous amount of information on Captain Marcott that can be gleaned from the internet. In looking through the 458th FS records, I was able to determine that Captain Marcott’s hometown was Crete, Nebraska, which is less than an hours drive from the author’s residence in Beatrice, Nebraska. The next step in my research will be to determine if there are any of Captain Marcott’s relatives in the Crete area.
I have also reached out to Master Sergeant Amil Wittenberger’s son, Robert, to gather additional information and photos on Captain Marcott, Staff Sergeant Sundbergh, and Master Sergeant Wittenberger. I really enjoy researching the pilots and their ground crew.
This is an very nice decal sheet and kudos to DK Decals for including the markings for Captain Marcott’s 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” on the sheet. If you are not interested in the markings for Captain Marcott’s Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, the sheet provides markings for several other Pacific Theater Mustangs such as Major William Shomo’s The Flying Undertaker/Snooks 6th”, and Lieutenant L. E. Curdes’ “Bad Angel”. This decal sheet is highly recommended for anyone interested in Pacific Theater Mustangs.
All of DK Decals’ sheets are very well researched, and they are quality decals that are easy to use. My hope is that they release a 1/32 decal sheet that is solely devoted to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs, just as they did in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.
This is AeroMaster’s first decal sheet dedicated solely to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. Four additional sheets on Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs would be subsequently issued by AeroMaster.
This sheet provides markings for the planes of the three top VLR aces: Major Robert W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” (12 aerial victories), Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret – IV” (8 aerial victories), and Major Harry C. Crim, Jr.’s 300 “My Achin! [Ass]” (6 aerial victories).
In addition, it provides markings for a 458th FS, 506th FG Mustang, 551 “Delta Queen”, flown by Captain J.B. Baker, Jr.
Originally issued in 1995, the decals are pretty accurate, but more accurate photo documentation has emerged to show there are omissions and errors on this sheet. Onto the planes, pilots and the decals.
Major Harry C. Crim, Jr. (531st FS/21st FG) – Major Crim was the 3rd highest scoring VLR ace with six confirmed victories, and the only fighter ace of the 21st FG. He joined the 21st FG in August, 1944, after serving with the 14th Fighter Group in Tunisia flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Unable to score any aerials victories with 14th FG, he scored his first two victories, a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony” and a Kawasaki Ki-45 “Nick” on April 7, 1945, the first VLR mission flown by the 7th Fighter Command Mustangs. His last victory, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, came on July 6, 1945 during a strike mission against Atsugi airfield. Major Crim was also credited with six ground victories.
44-73623 was a P-51D-25NA, and Major Crim’s second VLR Mustang. The kill markings, mission markings, and ground crews’ names appear to be very good on the decal sheet except for Asst. Crew Chief Stanley McCarro’s name being misspelled. The only other deficiency in these decals is the artwork for the donkey/ass.
The photo above shows a portion of the canvas wheel well covers which were a standard production feature that were discarded by European Theater Mustang groups, but were maintained in place by the Iwo Jima Mustang groups as a means of keeping sand and volcanic grit out of the wheel wells.
After Major Crim rotated home, “My Achin! [Ass]” was assigned to Flight Officer Theo Gruici, who had Major Crim’s kill and mission markings and the names of the ground crew removed, and had a reclining nude painted on the fuselage. Most decal manufacturers have a nude on the left landing gear cover for Major Crim’s markings, but I have yet to see a photo confirming this. The nude on the left landing gear cover is mostly obscured by the 110 gallon drop tank in the photo below, and it raises the question whether there was a nude also on the right landing gear cover. After inquiring of others who have more extensive photo collections than I do, there does not appear to be any photos of the right side of the plane. Some questions will never be answered.
Major James B. Tapp (78thFS/15th FG) – Major Tapp was the second highest scoring VLR Mustang ace with 8 aerial victories. All eight victories were scored in 101 “Margaret – IV” (44-63984), a P-51D-20NA. Major Tapp scored 4 aerial victories on the first VLR mission on April 7, 1945. He scored another victory on April 12, 1945, which represents the 5 victories on the decal sheet.
As can be seen from the photo above and the photo below, the name “Margaret – IV” and the Bushmaster squadron emblem are on both sides of the nose. The photo below shows that there are additional markings on the right side of the fuselage below the canopy.
This last photo shows the markings on the right side of the fuselage which includes kill and mission markings. In addition to the name of the Crew Chief Sergeant Blanco, there is the name of another ground crew member which is undiscernable from the photo. This photo also shows that the 0 in the fuselage number is broken rather than solid.
Unfortunately, the kill and mission markings on the right side of Major Tapp’s Mustang are not contained on this decal sheet.
Major Robert W. “Todd” Moore (45th FS/15th FG) – Major Moore was the highest scoring VLR ace with 11 VLR aerial victories. He had one aerial victory with the 15th FG prior to arriving on Iwo Jima. 44-63483, a P-51D-20NA, was first assigned to Major Gilmore L. “Buck” Snipes and was named “Tom Kat”.
The three photos below provide some different marking variations for 67 “Stinger VII” during the time it was assigned to Major Moore. From these photos it appears that Major Moore was assigned to 67 during the time the squadron was transitioning from their original markings to the more simplified markings.
Below is a Loomis Dean photograph which show 67 “Stinger VII” with an unpainted spinner and the diagonal wing bands still in place as evidenced by the bands wrapping over the leading edge of the wing. It also appears that rails for HVAR rockets have been installed under the wings which can be seen just above the drop tanks on the left wing. These were field modifications as rocket rails were not installed at the factory during Block 20 production.
The photograph below, while not the best in quality, appears to show that the diagonal bands have been removed from the wings, but still are present on the tail surfaces. It does not appear that the spinner has been painted solid green yet. Please also note that the number 67 also appears on the main landing gear covers. This was common practice for 45th FS Mustangs. Unfortunately, the this decal sheet does not provide the decals for the landing gear covers.
The last photo shows 67 “Stinger VII” with the simplified markings of a solid green spinner, green wing tips, green horizontal stablizer/elevator tips, and (assuming) green tail tip.
Captain J.B. Baker, Jr. (458th FS/506th FG) – Captain Baker was the Flight Leader of “A” Flight of the 458th FS, and was assigned to a P-51D-20NA (44-72579) which was numbered 551, and he named “Delta Queen”.
Captain Baker was credited with one aerial victory, a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki which he shot down on a June 23, 1945 escort mission to the Nagoya and Kobe areas. He was also credited with a probable, a Mitsubishi JM2 Raiden during an strike mission against airfields in the Tokyo area, and two ground victories.
Missing from this decal sheet are the dive angle markings on the wings which were applied to all 506th Mustangs. This sheet also provides two markings for the plane name “Delta Queen”, one is red and one in yellow. While the general consensus is that the plane name is yellow, it is nice to have both options.
This decal sheet was designed and sized for the Tamiya kit. I am not aware if the decals for the dark blue stripes on the tail of “Delta Queen” will fit properly on the Airfix, Hasegawa, HobbyBoss, ICM, Meng, and Revell/Monogram kits.
This is a very nice decal sheet, but it is no longer in production and is difficult to find. It shows up on eBay every so often, and Ultracast has one in stock at an inflated price of $34.95. If you are wanting to build a 1/48 Iwo Jima VLR Mustang with one of these markings, I would recommend buying the Eduard’s Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima Limited Edition Kit (#11142). The decals in this kit include accurate markings for all of these planes (plus markings for 8 other planes).
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.
For a long time, if you wanted to build a 1/48 Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bill Koster’s vacu-formed conversion kit for the Monogram B-24 kit was the only game in town.
Bill passed away on September 13, 2020, after a battle with cancer at the age of 91. Bill worked for several decades as a kit designer for Revell-Monogram. After his retirement, he founded Koster Aero Enterprises through which he produced and sold vacu-formed kits and conversion sets for aircraft that the mainline model manufacturers ignored. Bill was a great ambassador for our hobby and was liked by all who met him.
I have purchased a couple of Bill’s B-24 turret sets over the years, and I was fortunate to purchase the PB4Y-2 Privateer conversion kit at an estate sale recently.
As you can see from the instructions below, the conversion kit uses the fuselage center section (bomb bay area), wings, landing gear, propellers, and cockpit pieces from the Revell-Monogram kit. Either the B-24D or the B-24J version of the Revell-Monogram kit will work for this conversion.
It appears that the main conversion pieces were formed using .050 to .060 mm thick plastic sheets. An inspection of these parts reveals a very good uniform thickness was maintained during the vacu-forming process.
These parts will be fairly sturdy during the process of removing them from their respective sheets, and during the construction process.
While you cannot see them from the photos, Bill also incorporated some very nice recessed panel lines on the fuselage pieces.
While the photo below does not do the vacu-formed clear parts justice, the parts are without distortion; pretty much crystal clear. For the most part, they are thick enough, and therefore sturdy, to withstand the process of removing them from the sheet. The exception is the two main parts for the A-6 gun turrets. Because of their height, the plastic on top gets fairly thin and are prone to being damaged easily. Care is needed when removing them.
The front of the cowls, engines, and gun turret parts are cast in resin. They are beautifully cast with a minimal amount of clean-up. Because the interiors of the gun turrets will visible due to the quality of the vacu-formed clear parts, the resin parts provide a base for super detailed turrets.
The conversion kit also comes with white metal parts as shown below. As you can tell, the 50 caliber machine gun barrels are very malleable and hard to get perfectly straight. The solution to this problem is to replace the barrels with the really nice brass barrels from Master Models, or to replace the entire machine guns with Eduard’s resin Browning M-2 machine guns.
Last, but not least, Bill included decals for four aircraft. They are very nice, in register, and provide three nose art options. The PB4Y-2 provided a large canvas for great nose art. National insignia are not included, so you will have to get them from other sheets or use masks.
Since this conversion kit is no longer in production, they are hard to come by. They do show up on eBay periodically, but not very often. I was fortunate to pick this one up at an estate sale. I have never attempted a vacu-formed conversion kit, so this should be an interesting project.
Stayed tuned as I will be reviewing a full resin 1/48 PB4Y-2 kit from Wilde Sau Resin, and 1/48 PB4Y-2 decal sheets from Cutting Edge/Pyn-Up Decals (now the Fine Art of Decals).