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 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.

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.

Decal Review – DK decals Pacific Fighters Part One (48017)

If you are following this blog or check in occasionally, it is my hope and prayer that you remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now living under very different circumstances that most of us could not have imagined, and we are all wondering whether our lives will return to what we once knew as normal. If you are under a stay-at-home order to prevent or slow the virus, I hope that my blog fills some of that time.

My good friend, and one of the 506th Fighter Group historians, Brian Walter, recently brought to my attention the Czech decal manufacturer, DK decals. Even though it appears that DK decals has been in business since 2014, they have escaped my notice because their decals are not widely distributed in the United States.

DK decals produces decals for World War II aircraft in 1/144, 172, 1/48 and 1/32 scales, and to this point, it appears that some of their focus has been on aircraft used in the Pacific and China/India/Burma theaters. Any company that produces decals of aircraft used in either of those theaters of operation is very welcome. Their Pacific Fighters Part One (48017) includes decals for Major Harry C. Crim’s 300 “My Achin!” Ass (21st FG, 531st FS), so I purchased that decal sheet to review. More on Major Crim in an upcoming post.

As can be seen below, their aircraft profiles on their decal placement and painting guide are very nicely done, their decals are in register, and they look excellent.

The decals for Major Crim’s Mustang are very accurate when compared to the photo below. From what I have seen of their decal sheets, they are very well researched. Kudos to DK decals.

Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association

I real test is how the decals actually perform. I took a scrap piece of plastic sheet, scribed two vertical lines on it, sprayed on a primer coat of Alclad II Grey Primer & Microfiller (ALC 302), and then sprayed on Alclad II Aluminum (ALC 101). The result was smooth surface upon which a decal could be tested without having to put down a gloss coat.

I no longer use a decal setting solution or a decal solvent when applying decals. I have just had inconsistent results using decal solvents. Instead, I wet the area with water where the decal is to be placed, place the decal and move it to its proper position, and then roll out the water underneath the decal with a cotton swab. With a brush, I apply a thin coat of Future acrylic floor polish over the decal and let it dry. Because Future is self-leveling, when it dries, it pulls the decal down over minor raised details and into recessed panel lines. This method has been basically fool proof for me.

As you can see above, the decal performed wonderfully using this method. The decal snuggled down into the scribed panel lines and the decal film basically disappears. I would highly recommend DK decals. Great products.

DK decals products are widely distributed in Europe, but it is difficult to find a hobby store in the United States that carries their products. I purchased this decal sheet with two others from Hannants in Great Britain. I did find an on-line model web store in the Chicago area, but their prices were so high, I could not justify buying from them. I have also been finding them on eBay occasionally.

The good news is that DK decals has recently released a 1/48 decal sheet for P-51D/K Mustangs over the Pacific & Australia (48028) that contains decals for five Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. I have this decal sheet on order and will review it once received. In addition, they have announced the release of a 1/72 decal sheet dedicated solely to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs (P-51D Mustang – Very Long Range P-51 Units Iwo Jima 1945; 72087). Again, kudos to DK decals!

Decal Review – Aeromaster Pacific P-51D/K Mustangs (48-012)

As modelers, we certainly have been blessed by after market decal manufacturers who have provided us with many options to build models of planes with markings not included in a particular kit. For the better part of three decades, decal manufacturers have issued numerous decal sheets which have either been dedicated solely to the Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs or have included decals for Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. While many of them are no longer being printed, you can still acquire them on eBay or model web stores, so there are a lot of options for modelers to build an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

I have acquired almost all of the VLR Mustang decal sheets over the years. For the most part, the decal sheets are very accurate, but rarely do we find a decal sheet of World War II aircraft that do not contain an inaccuracy or two. Inaccuracies are due to either the lack quality photos of a plane showing all of the markings, or the inevitable guessing game of trying to determine what color was used from a black and white photo. Some of it is also due to inaccuracies that have been perpetuated over the years. The purpose of these decal reviews is not to criticize decal manufacturers, but to provide modelers with accurate information regarding the actual plane.

The first decal sheet that Aeromaster issued with VLR Mustangs was their Pacific P-51D/K Mustangs sheet (48-012).

The two Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs on this sheet are 150 “Lil Butch”, a P-51D-20NA (44-63822) of the 47th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group flown by CaptainWalter H. “Sam” Powell, commander of the 47th FS from June 11, 1945 to July 30, 1945; and 231 “Tiny Gay Baba”, a P-51D-20NA (44-63955) of the 46th Fighter Squadron, 21st Fighter Group, pilot or pilots unknown. The other two planes on the decal sheet are 5th Air Force Mustangs.

150 “Lil Butch” – As has can be seen from the photos below, the actual markings of 47th FS Mustangs are a yellow/black/yellow propeller spinner, a black band with yellow borders on the rear fuselage behind the national insignia, a black wedge with yellow borders on the upper fin/rudder, and black 18 inch bands with yellow borders on the wings and tail planes. I am not sure how Aeromaster arrived at light blue bands, but they corrected it on a subsequent decal release. The other errors on this decal sheet are that the 5 and the 0 in the fuselage plane number are broken when they should be solid, and the plane number that appears on the landing gear wheel well doors are missing on the decal sheet.

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

It is interesting that there was no uniformity within the 47th Fighter Squadron with respect to the application of the plane numbers. Apparently, there were no common stencils used to paint the plane numbers on the fuselage. Most likely, maintenance crews made due with what was available to them at the time. The four photos above reinforce that point. 150 has solid fuselage numbers and the plane number appears on the landing gear wheel well doors; 165 has solid fuselage numbers, but the plane number does not appear on the landing gear wheel well doors; 167 has broken fuselage numbers and the plane number appears on the landing gear wheel well doors, and 186 has broken fuselage numbers. This lack of uniformity was also evident in the other VLR Mustang squadrons, so it is nice to have good photo documentation when building a model of an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

Captain Walter H. “Sam” Powell was credited with 1 aerial victory, but was lost on July 30, 1945 while flying 188 “Adam Lazonga”. His plane was hit by ground fire while attacking airfields in the Kobe/Osaka area. Captain Powell was able to nurse his damaged Mustang out over the water, but was unable to bail out before it plummeted into the sea.

231 “Tiny Gay Baba” – Below is the only photograph I can find of 231 “Tiny Gay Baba”. I think this a great photograph; 21st FG Mustangs lined up on Central Field on an overcast day with the South Field airstrip and Mt. Suribachi in the background. I have been unable to determine the pilot or pilots whom were assigned to “Tiny Gay Baba”, and we do not have a photograph of the left side of the nose to determine if “Tiny Gay Baba” was also on the left side as well. The good news is that the decals on this sheet are accurate with the photo documentation below.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

While this decal sheet has long been out of production, it appears on eBay every so often, and the on-line Canadian webstore, Ultracast, has one in stock. Aeromaster also produced this decal sheet in 1/72 (72-004) with the same inaccuracies, and there is one currently up for sale on eBay.