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

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

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

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

Arma Hobby

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

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

The surface detail on the kit is also very nice.

The canopy parts are thin and crystal clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nostalgic Kit Review: Koster Aero Enterprises 1/48 PB4Y-2 Privateer Vacu-formed Conversion Kit

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.

Koster Aero Enterprise

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises
Koster Aero Enterprises

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises

These parts will be fairly sturdy during the process of removing them from their respective sheets, and during the construction process.

Koster Aero Enterprises

While you cannot see them from the photos, Bill also incorporated some very nice recessed panel lines on the fuselage pieces.

Koster Aero Enterprises

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises

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.

Koster Aero Enterprises

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).

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.

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

Kit Preview: Eduard 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang Addendum

As advertised, Eduard recently released its Royal Class P-51D Mustang Dual Combo boxing. With this release, Eduard provides the 110 and 165 gallon drop tanks and two decal options for Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs. Consistent with Eduard’s practice of including extra “goodies” in with their Royal Class boxings, Eduard does not disappoint with this release. In addition to the two complete kits, Eduard has thrown in an unpainted PSP (Marsden mats) display base for those who enjoy dioramas, and some nice Brassin products: shrouded and unshrouded exhaust stacks, and two pairs of wheels randomly chosen between diamond, cross, block and oval treads.

Eduard

110 & 165 Gallon Drop Tanks: Eduard did an excellent job on reproducing in 1/48 scale the 110 and 165 gallon drop tanks used on VLR missions, and they included the sway braces. Finally, a model manufacturer gets it completely right!

Eduard

Not wanting to wait until I started a new build with Eduard’s kit, I removed the drop tank pieces from the sprue, cleaned them up, and put them together just to see how they look. Below is a photo of the Eduard 110 gallon tank, and a photo of the actual tank. Judge for yourself on how well Eduard did.

Loomis Dean/USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Eduard appears to have captured the contours, shape and size of the 110 gallon tanks really well. The flat portion on the top of the tank is represented well, as is the other adjacent detail. Please note the raised lines just below the flat portion of the tank. It appears that Eduard has incorporated them on both sides of the tanks to aid the modeler in positioning the sway braces on the tanks. This should make it much easier to install the sway braces when positioning between the tanks and the wings, and since the raised lines are fairly light, you should not notice them on the completed model. Extremely nice and well thought out with the modeler in mind. So do not sand off these raised lines!

The 165 gallon drop tanks look equally nice. However, instead of the raised lines as an alignment aid for the sway braces, Eduard has instead built in slots for the sway braces on each side of the tank. I test fit one of the sway braces, and they appear to fill the slots completely without the need of any putty to fill any gaps. We will see how well they work when we get into the build. Again, kudos to Eduard and their design team in having the modeler in mind when engineering the installation of the sway braces.

Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Decals: Eduard has included two decal options for Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs, both of the 506th Fighter Group. The first is 555 “The Ole Lady/Little Anne/My Darlin Betty Ann” (P-51D-25-NA, 44-72628), a 458th FS Mustang flown by 2nd Lts. James E. Coleman and Ralph R. Coltman, Jr.

Eduard

The second is 528 “The Enchantress” (P-51D-25-NA, 44-72671), a 457th FS Mustang flown by 2nd Lt. William E. Saks. 2nd Lt. Saks was one of the pilots lost on the June 1, 1945 “Black Friday” mission, but was not flying 528 on that day. “The Enchantress” is popular amongst modelers because the nose art and pin-up girl that adorns the fuselage.

Eduard

Along with the release of the Royal Class Dual Combo boxing, Eduard also released a separate Overtrees boxing with just the P-51D VLR Drop Tanks (Cat. No 82109X) should you want to build multiple Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs, or convert another manufacturer’s 1/48 P-51D Mustang to a VLR Mustang. In addition, Eduard announced the January 2020 release of both the 110 and 165 gallon VLR drop tanks as resin upgrades as part of their Brassin line. Lastly, Eduard announced the release of a Pacific Theater VLR Profipack boxing for August 2020. Sometimes I have to pinch myself just to make sure that I am not dreaming. Life is good!