Decal Review: Exito Decals’ “Pacific Warriors” Vol. 1 (ED48011 & ED72011)

Exito is a Polish company which was started in 2008 as an internet hobby shop, and expanded in 2010 by establishing a brick and mortar store in 2010 in Cracow, Poland. In November of 2018, they launched their own line of high quality decals in 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/32nd scales.

They recently released their 11th decal sheet entitled “Pacific Warriors” vol. 1, which includes decals for “501”, a 457th FS/506th FG P-51D-25-NA (44-72640) flown by Captain Evelyn Neff.

Exito Decals

Their decal sheets appear to very well researched. The decal sheet comes with a separate decal placement guide for each plane. On one side is the decal placement guide with photos, aircraft profiles showing decal placements, and color call-outs.

Exito Decals/Janusz Swaitlon

On the other side are larger aircraft profiles. All of the aircraft profiles are the work of Polish aircraft illustrator, Janusz Swaitlon. They are printed on thick glossy paper suitable for framing. Very nice touch on the part of Exito.

Exito Decals/Janusz Swaitlon

The decals are in register and printed by Cartograf in Italy.

Exito Decals – 1/48th Sheet
Exito Decals – 1/72nd Sheet

Exito gives you the option of two different markings for Captain Neff’s Mustang. The first option is the early 457th FS paint scheme with the green striped tail shortly after the 506th FG arrived on Iwo Jima as shown in the picture below. The nose art below the front of the canopy shows the half nude without a background.

506th Fighter Group Association via Dr. John Benbow

The 506th Fighter Group Mustangs went to solid tails beginning in June of 1945 after the 7th Fighter Command ordered the three Mustang groups on Iwo Jima to adopt more simplified markings. The second option is 501 with a solid tail and the half nude nose art with a dark background as shown in the photo below. Again, nice touch on Exito’s part.

506th Fighter Group Association via Brian Walter

Kudos to Exito for releasing this decal sheet. Because they have labeled this decal sheet “vol. 1”, we can assume the future release of at least another “Pacific Warriors” decal sheet. Hopefully, volume 2 will include decals for another Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

Brian Walter, one of the 506th Fighter Group’s historians, was a contributor on the decal sheet for Captain Neff’s VLR Mustang.

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; flown by Captain Evelyn Neff. Very nice nose art.

522 “Buzz Buddy”; 457th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72876. It is unknown who was assigned to fly “Buzz Buddy”. However, it is known that 1st Lt. Chauncey A. Newcomb scored two aerial victories while flying “Buzz Buddy”. 1st Lt. Newcomb was actually assigned to 514 “Erma Lou” along with 1st Lt. Francis “Frank” Albrecht. It was not uncommon for pilots to fly VLR missions in planes they were not assigned to.

550 “Madam Wham-Dam”; 458th FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72607; flown by Major Harrison E. Shipman; commander of the 458th FS. “Madam Wham-Dam” was lost on the June 1, 1945, Black Friday mission with Lt. Col. Harvey J. Scandrett at the controls.

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

616 “Shanghai Lil”; 462nd FS, 506th FG; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72588; flown by 1st Lt. Darrell Bash and 1st Lt. Edward J. Linfante. 1st Lt. Bash was credited with shooting down a Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony over Yokohama on June 10, 1945.

643 “Providence Permitting”; 462nd FS, 506th FG; P-51D-25-NA, 44-72855; flown by 1st Lt. Allen F. Colley and 1st Lt. Leonard A. Dietz.

“Darlin’ Ruthie”; unit unknown; P-51D-20-NA, 44-72570; flown by Lt. M. Lerret.

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; flown by Captain Evelyn Neff. 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!