Kit Review: Arma Hobby 1/72 Grumman/General Motors FM-2 Wildcat (70033)

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.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

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.

Arma Hobby

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).

Arma Hobby
Arma Hobby

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.

Arma Hobby

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.

Paint Review: AK Interactive Real Colors Acrylic Lacquers

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.

Decal Review: DKdecals P-51D Mustang Very Long Range P-51 Units Iwo Jima 1945 (72087)

DKdecals

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.

DKdecals

The painting and decal placement guide is nicely done. The nineteen VLR Mustangs represented on this sheet are as follows:

60 “Miss Lillian”; 45th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-63428; pilot(s) unknown.

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; pilot(s) unknown. 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.

DKdecals
DKdecals

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!

Decal Review: DKdecals P-51D Mustang VLR Units Iwo Jima 1945 (48029)

DKdecals

DKdecals recently released a new 1/48 scale decal sheet specifically covering the three Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups. There are decals for 9 VLR Mustangs; one plane from each squadron, 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 . Again, nice to see lesser known planes covered by an after market decal manufacturer.

DKdecals

The painting and decal placement guide is nicely done. The nine VLR Mustangs represented on this sheet are as follows:

77 “San Antonia Rose”; 45th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20NA, 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.

124 “Button – II”; 78th FS, 15th FG; P-51D-20NA, 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-20NA, 44-63395; flown by Flight Officer John W. Googe.

200 “Miss Gene V”; 46th FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20NA, 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.

264 “Marsha Ann”; 72nd FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20NA, 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.

302 “Joy’s Boy”; 531st FS, 21st FG; P-51D-20NA, 44-63910; flown by Captain Robert Mallin.

501; 457th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25NA, 44-72640; pilot(s) unknown. Very nice nose art.

550 “Madam Wham-Dam”; 458th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25NA, 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.

616 “Shanghai Lil”; 462nd FS, 506th FG; P-51D-20NA, 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.

DKdecals
DKdecals
DKdecals

The decals are in register and the artwork is very well done. My only comment is on the decals for 616 “Shanghai Lil”. DKdecals has done the name in black and have decals for both sides of the nose. Over the years, there has been two other decal sheets with different colors for the name. SuperScale Decals issued a sheet with “Shanghai Lil” (48-1203) that has the name in yellow and outlined in black, which is clearly not supported by the photograph below. The decals that are included with the book, “506th Fighter Group: The History of the 506th Fighter Group, Iwo Jima 1945”, has the name in red. Is the name in red or black? Very hard to tell from a black and white photo so your guess is as good as mine.

616 “Shanghai Lil” (506th Fighter Group Association)

The photo below would support that the name only appeared on the left side of the nose. However, was the photo below taken before nose art was applied to the plane? Is there a photo showing the name appearing on the right side of the nose? Good questions that I do not have answers to.

616 “Shanghai Lil” (506th Fighter Group Association)

DKdecals is putting out some really nice decal sheets. If you are interested in building a lesser known Iwo Jima VLR Mustang with some really nice markings, this decal sheet is highly recommended. Kudos to DKdecals!

Decal Review: Lifelike Decals Kawasaki Ki-100 Part 1; 48-030

I have been very impressed with Lifelike Decals and the decal sheets they have released over the years for Japanese Army fighter aircraft. Their decals appear to be extensively researched and based on written and photographic documentation from various sources.

First up for review is their 1/48th decal sheet for Kawasaki Ki-100 Goshikisen, both Ko and Otsu versions.

Lifelike Decals

The painting and decal placement guide is very nicely done with extensive commentary for each aircraft and references to support their choice of markings.

Lifelike Decals
Lifelike Decals

The markings for the five Ki-100s are as follows:

Kawasaki Ki-100 Ib Otsu Goshikisen flown by Captain Totara Ito, 5th Sentai, 1st Chutai, Kiyosu AB, early summer 1945.

Kawasaki Ki-100 Ib Otsu Goshikisen flown by Major Yohei Hinoki, Commander of 2nd Datai, Akeno Flying School/111th Sentai, Akeno AB, July 1945. Major Hinoki dueled in the skies over the Nagoya/Bay of Ise area on July 16, 1945 with 21st and 506th FG Mustangs.

Kawasaki Ki-100 Ia Ko Goshikisen of the 59th Sentai, 3rd Chutai, Ashiya AB, October 1945.

Kawasaki Ki-100 Ia Ko Goshikisen possibly flown by the Commander of the 1st Datai, Akeno Flying School/111th Sentai, Akeno AB, July 1945. It is assumed that this was the aircraft of Major Toyoki Eto, and this Ki-100 may have been flown by Major Eto on the July 16, 1945 air combat against 21st and 506th FG Mustangs.

Kawasaki Ki-100 Ib Otsu Goshikisen flown by Major Teruhiko Kobayashi, Commander of the 244th Sentai, Chofu AB, May 17, 1945.

Lifelike Decals

This decal sheet was released in 2009 and recommended for the Hasegawa kit, but can also be used for the older Otaki/Arii kit. It still can be purchased from Lifelike Decals or many on-line hobby retailers. The decals are in register, and the markings are well done. If you are interested in building a 1/48 Kawasaki Ki-100 Goshikisen with some really nice markings, this decal sheet is highly recommended.

When you label a decal sheet “Part 1”, it is necessarily implied that there will be a “Part 2”. Will Lifelike decals follow up with an additional sheet of Ki-100 decals? I definitely hope so.

If you have either the 1/72 Aoshima, Fine Molds, RS Models Ki-100 kits, Lifelike Decals has also issued this decal sheet in that scale (72-026).

Decal Review: SuperScale Decals P-51D Mustangs (48-1153)

The second SuperScale sheet with decals for an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang is 48-1153, which has decals for the 45th FS, 15th FG Mustang, 86 “Foxy” (Serial No. 44-63474).

SuperScale International, Inc.

The decals are very nicely done, in register, and come with some of the more common stencil markings.

SuperScale International, Inc.

The only shortcoming to the decal sheet is that they do not provide the diagonal bands for the undersides of the wings and the horizontal stabilizers. The prevailing wisdom is that the distinctive diagonal bands were also on the underside of the wings and horizontal stabilizers as shown on the aircraft profiles below. This shortcoming is easily overcome by just painting on the diagonal bands.

Janusz Swaitlon

86 “Foxy” – “Foxy” was a P-51D-20A (Serial No. 44-63474) assigned to the 45th FS, 15th FG. Her time on Iwo Jima was very short lived, and never was used in VLR mission. She arrived on Iwo Jima on March 7, 1945, with the rest of the 45th FS, and was involved in a landing accident on March 10, 1945, when another 15th FG Mustang came in for a landing, slide into “Foxy” setting her on fire, then nosed over and fell onto the wing of another Mustang. As can be seen from the photos below, “Foxy” was a complete loss and was written off.

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

Below are pictures of the 1/48 Tamiya North American P-51D Mustang using the decals which was built by Mark Beckwith. The decals look really nice on this excellent build.

Mark Beckwith
Mark Beckwith
Mark Beckwith
Mark Beckwith

First released in 2006, this is a very nice decal sheet that is still being produced, and it is the only decal sheet on the market for “Foxy” in any scale.

Special thanks to Mark Beckwith for permission to use the pictures of his build of “Foxy”. If you have not come across Mark’s blog, Making History: Scale Models, Real People, Extraordinary Stories, check it out here https://making-history.ca/. Excellent modeling/history blog!

Decal Review: SuperScale Decals 1/48 P-51D Mustangs 457th FS/506th FG, Iwo Jima (48-1152)

With an accurate 1/48 Iwo Jima VLR P-51D Mustang on the market, I am inclined to believe that we will see more completed builds of VLR Mustangs on modeling forums and at model contests. In addition to the decals included in the Eduard kits, and aftermarket decals recently released by DK Decals, there are a number of older decal sheets with VLR Mustangs that are still produced or available on the secondary market like eBay.

The first decal sheet with Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs released by SuperScale is sheet number 48-1152 which has two 457th FS, 506th FG Mustangs; 540 “Kwitcherbitchin” and 531 “Nip Nocker”.

SuperScale International, Inc.

The decals are very nicely done, in register, and come with some of the more common stencil markings.

SuperScale International, Inc.

540 “Kwitcherbitchin” – “Kwitcherbitchin” was a P-51D -25-NA (Serial No. 44-72854) assigned to Captain William B. Lawrence, Jr., and Captain Alan J. Kinvig. Captain Lawrence shot down a single engine Japanese fighter on the July 16, 1945 VLR strike mission to the Nagoya/Bay of Ise area. The photo below was most likely taken shortly after the 506th arrived on Iwo Jima in mid-May of 1945 because the plane still has the early green striped tail markings and no mission markings. From left to right: Captain John W.L. Benbow, unknown ground crew member, Crew Chief George Wagner, and Captain William B. Lawrence, Jr. This is a nice picture showing the installation of the 110 metal drop tanks with the sway braces.

540 “Kwitcherbitchin” (via 506th Fighter Group Association)

The two photos below show “Kwitcherbitchin” with a solid green tail, and were most likely taken after the July 16th Nagoya/Bay of Ise VLR strike mission as both photos show an aerial victory marking.

540 “Kwitcherbitchin” (via 506th Fighter Group Association)
540 “Kwitcherbitchin” (via 506th Fighter Group Association)

531 “Nip Nocker” – “Nip Nocker” was 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)

Please note that existing photos for both aircraft show that the 457th Squadron emblems (an angry hornet carrying a 50 caliber machine gun and wielding a hatchet and pistol) were never completed. This appears to have been a common occurrence of 457th FS aircraft. Many photos of 457th FS P-51Ds show the emblem background painted on without the hornet and it’s weapons.

457th Fighter Squadron Badge/Emblem

First released in 2006, this is a very nice decal sheet that is still being produced, and it is the only decal sheet on the market for “Nip Nocker” in any scale. 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. The only shortcoming is that it does not provide the 457th FS emblem with only the background.

Kit Review: Eduard’s 1/48 P-51D Mustang “Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima” Limited Edition Boxing

Eduard

I received my Eduard “Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima” Limited Edition boxing yesterday from Sprue Brothers. As previously disclosed by Eduard, this boxing includes twelve different decal options that cover all nine squadrons of the three Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups. For the profiles of the aircraft included in this boxing, see my previous post “Eduard’s Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Boxing – Very Long Range: Tales of Iwojima” under Kit/Product News. Below are the decals included in the kit, which are extremely well researched and are in register. Again, kudos to Eduard for covering all nine squadrons of the three Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups.

Eduard

As has been Eduard’s practice when issuing limited edition or dual combo kits, they normally include some resin parts as an extra bonus. Eduard does not disappoint with this boxing. Included in the kit are beautifully cast resin wheels, including a tail wheel, and rocket stubs in case you want to step-up the detail in building a rocket carrying VLR Mustang.

Eduard

The photo-etch parts include the customary interior parts to spruce up the cockpit, and an additional fret that includes the exterior stiffening plates that were added to the underside of the wings when VLR Mustangs were modified on Iwo Jima to carry HVAR rockets. A really nice touch on Eduard’s part.

Eduard

Finally, Eduard has included a lapel pin with the 78th FS Bushmaster emblem. Again, nice touch. While I doubt too many people will actually use it as a lapel pin, you may see some at airshows and model contests.

Eduard

A few comments about some of the aircraft included in this boxing. The 47th FS plane is 176 “Moonbeam McSwine” flown by Captain Eurich L. Bright. In the notes, Eduard comments that the dark parts of the unit markings (fuselage and wing bands, and tail wedge) were most probably very dark blue, and not black. This is news to me so I am curious as to where Eduard came across this information. If you are going to paint the unit markings with a dark blue instead of black, I would recommend using Dark Sea Blue (ANA 623/FS15042); the same color used on late war Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats.

Eduard

The kit also includes decals for Lt. Col. John W. Mitchell’s 11 “Annie Lee”, a P-51D-25NA Mustang (Serial No. 44-73382). Lt. Col. Mitchell was the Commander of the 15th FG from July 19, 1945 to the end of the war. Eduard’s notes indicate that this was a 78th FS plane, but that does not appear to be consistent with the standardized late war markings of a yellow spinner, unbordered yellow wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, and a yellow fin/rudder top. So my assumption is that this aircraft was a 47th FS aircraft. I looked back through my reference materials and photographs, and I only have one photo of 11 “Annie Lee” which just shows the cockpit area and not any of the squadron markings. Nor could I find a picture of a 47th FS Mustang with a black spinner, black wingtips and horizontal stabilizers, and a black fin/rudder top. Time to do a little more research on squadron markings.

Eduard

If you are interested in building an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, this kit is highly recommended. Not only are all of the necessary parts to build a VLR Mustang present, but you also get twelve decal options that cover all nine squadrons of the three VLR Mustang groups. In my mind, the decals alone justify the cost of the kit. I am not sure how many kits Eduard produced as part of this Limited Edition offering, but Sprue Brothers sold out of the kit in just four days.

For those of you that are interested in the history of the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Groups, check out the article/interview of 1st Lt. William G. “Bill” Ebersole in the August 2020 edition Eduard’s on-line magazine INFO Eduard. The article/interview is entitled “The Tales of Very Long Range Bill”. The interview was conducted by 506th Fighter Group Historian Brian Walter. To read the article, just go to Eduard’s website (https://www.eduard.com/info-eduard-august-2020/?cur=2) and download the August 2020 edition. 1st Lt. Ebersole’s Mustang, 619 “Hon. Mistake”, which he was assigned to with 1st Lt. James R. Bercaw, is one of the decal options in the kit.

Eduard

Decal Review: DKdecals P-51D/K Mustang over the Pacific and Australia (48028)

DKdecals recently released a new 1/48 decal sheet for Pacific based P-51D/K Mustangs. It contains decals for five Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs; one from the 15th FG, one from the 21st FG, and three from the 506th FG. This sheet is unique in that it provides decals for lesser known planes that have never been produced before. We tend to see the same decals for planes with great nose art ( i.e. 528 “The Enchantress”), or planes the aces flew (i.e. Major Todd W. Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII”, Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV”, and Major Harry C. Crim’s 300 “My Achin” Ass), so it is nice to have a variety of lesser known planes. Kudos to DKdecals.

The painting and decal placement guide is nicely done. The five decals for the Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs are as follows:

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.

1st Lt. Frederick A. Bauman in front of 114 “Dear Edna” (via Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association)

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. Below is the only photo I can find for “Slow Roll”. It does not appear that the nose art has been applied when the photo was taken.

235 “Slow Roll” (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

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. Because there only black and white photos of “Buzz Buddy”, and it is difficult to tell what the color of the name on of the nose is, DKdecals provided the name in both red and black. Nice touch.

522 “BuzzBuddy” (via Robert Newcomb/Dr. John Benbow)

575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer”; 458th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72602; flown by Captain G. Marcott.

575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” (via Dr. John Benbow)

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.

1st Lts. Allen F. Colley and Leonard A. Dietz and ground crew in front of 643 “Providence Permitting” (via Bill Ebersole/Dr. John Benbow)

The decals are in register, and the artwork is exceptional. If you are interested in building a lesser known Iwo Jima VLR or Pacific Mustang with some really nice markings, this decal sheet is highly recommended.

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.

Aftermarket Product Review: Eduard Brassin 1/48 110 Gallon Drop Tanks – 648531

Eduard has released resin drop tanks for both the 110 gallon and 165 gallon drop tanks used by the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups as part of their Brassin line. They are intended for modelers who want to step up the level of detail on their VLR Mustang builds.

Eduard

In addition to the drop tanks, the package contains resin sway braces, photo etch parts, and decals.

As you can see from the picture below, the pour stubs do not run down the bottom center of the tank, but slightly off center. However, the detail on the bottom of the tank is right up next to two of the pour stubs, and it is very difficult not to damage the detail when sanding down the pour stubs. It appears that Eduard anticipated this, and the photo-etch pieces are the replacements. Nice touch on Eduard’s part.

It did not take long to eliminate the pour stubs, and clean-up was easy with only a few pin holes to fill.

The photo-etch pieces are very small, and Eduard provides an extra of both pieces should you lose one to the carpet monster. Again, nice touch on Eduard’s part.

Comparison Between Kit and Resin Drop Tanks – While the resin drop tanks are beautifully cast, are they that much better that the kit drop tanks to justify spending the extra money to acquire them? I purchased this set from Sprue Brothers for $13.50. Let’s see what they look like with paint and decals.

I put down a primer coat of Alclad II Grey Primer/Microfiller (ALC 302), and then painted the tanks with Alclad II White Aluminum (ALC 106). After painting the filler caps with Vallejo Model Color Flat Red (70.957), the decals were applied. Eduard molded the flat metal pieces that kept the sway braces in place into the resin drop tanks. Nice touch on Eduard’s part. The picture below shows the actual front metal piece and how everything was held together. I painted this detail with Vallejo Model Color Natural Steel (70.864)

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Both the kit and resin drop tanks look really nice once painted and finished. It is nice to have the two metal pieces that run across the tops of the tanks molded into the resin tanks, but those can be replicated using styrene strip and rod on the kit tanks. The other nice feature of the resin tanks is that they have slots for the placement of the sway braces, which should make the sway braces easier to install.

Kit 110 Gallon Drop Tank
Brassin Resin 110 Gallon Drop Tank

Eduard sells the their P-51D VLR drop tanks sprue as a separate Overtrees (82109X) for $9.95. So for a little more money, you can get Brassin resin tanks. Well worth it in my opinion. But as you can see from above, you really cannot go wrong whether you upgrade to the resin tanks or stay with the kit’s tanks.