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.

Building 607 ‘Dolly’ – Build Installment #4

Here is the assembled and painted Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin engine. I painted the engine with Mr. Color Flat Black (33) because I wanted the durable finish that only a lacquer based paint can provide. It will be handled some while adding detail (ignition harnesses, spark plug wires, plumbing, etc . . .), and water based acrylics are just not that durable. I used a flat paint because I colored the numerous bolt heads and nuts with a Sanford Prismacolor Metallic Silver pencil, and these pencils just do not work well on gloss paints.

I purchased some round lead wires ranging from .2 mm to .6 mm for some of the additional detail to be added to the engine from UMM-USA. The lead wires should make it easier as far as forming the ignition harnesses and spark plug wires.

Owned by master modeler, John Vojtech, UMM-USA is an on-line store specializing in tools and supplies for adding fine detail to models. Worth a look if you are getting into adding fine detail to your models.

Memorial Day 2020 Tributes

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Ronald W. Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America

Today, we remember and honor the men and women who have fallen while serving in the United States Armed Forces to preserve the freedoms we exercise and enjoy on a daily basis. Let us never take these freedoms for granted, for they were paid for with an extremely high price.

Joe Rosenthal

The Battle of Iwo Jima was costly for both the United States and Japan. American military planners believed that Iwo Jima would be securely in the United States’ hands within one week due to the intense aerial and naval bombardment leading up to the invasion. Instead, the battle lasted five weeks (February 19th to March 26th), and consisted of some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War. The United States suffered a total of 26,040 casualties. Of that number, a total of 6,821 United States servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice. It is estimated that approximately 21,000 Japanese troops were on the island when the landings began on February 19th. Of that number, only 216 were captured or surrendered. The rest perished on Iwo Jima.

But the 6,821 United States servicemen who perished during the invasion of Iwo Jima were not the first, nor the last, to fall in service to their country due to the strategic importance of Iwo Jima to both Japan and the Untied States.

One of the First Casualties at Iwo Jima – Lt. Harold G. Payne, Jr., VT-32 (USN) Lieutenant Harold G. Payne, Jr. was the Air Combat Intelligence (ACI) officer for VT-32 aboard the USS Langley. His main duties were debriefing pilots and air crews after strike missions, and preparing Aircraft Action Reports. Because of his duties, he was familiar with all the air crews of VT-32, and became a close friend of one of the TBF Avenger pilots, Lt. David A. Marks.

Lt. Harold G. Payne, Jr. (left) and Lt. David A. Marks on the deck of the USS Langley

Lt. Payne did not just to debrief air crews after strike missions, but would also frequently go on missions as an observer, or to take reconnaissance photos. The June 15, 1944, strike mission against Iwo Jima was no exception. The USS Langley was part of a task force that was given the responsibility of reducing the ability of the Japanese to send aircraft from Iwo Jima to the Marianas while the United States Marines were establishing their beachheads on Saipan. This mission was the United States Navy’s first strike against Iwo Jima.

Lt. Payne flew on Lt. Marks’ Grumman TBF-1C Avenger. The June 15th mission did not start well due to deteriorating weather conditions, and four the the USS Langley’s Avengers were delayed attempting to navigate through a weather front. Time was of the essence. By the time Lt. Marks began his attack on Motoyama No. 2 (Central Field), some of the other Avengers had already dropped their bombs, and the anti-aircraft fire had become intense.

Lt. Marks’ Avenger took several 40 mm hits, and one went through the trailing edge of the right wing and exploded. One of the shell fragments tore through Lt. Payne’s right chest and exited the left side of his back. Lt. Payne succumbed to his injuries within minutes. Lt. Marks was able to land his battered Avenger back on the deck of the Langley, but Lt. Payne had already passed. One other aircrewman, Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Arnold “Blackie” Marsh, also was killed in action on the June 15th strike mission. Both Payne and Marsh were buried at sea on June 16, 1944.

Funeral Service for Lt. Harold G. Payne, Jr. aboard the USS Langley

There is an excellent article written by Christopher Marks, the son of Lt. David A. Marks, on the June 15th strike mission and the loss of Lt. Payne on Warfare History Network at

Black Friday Casualty – Captain Lawrence S. Smith, 462nd FS, 506th FG, (USAAF) Lawrence S. Smith enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on January 29, 1942, at the age of 24. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and awarded his pilot wings at Brooks Field, Texas, on October 9, 1942, as part of Class 42-I. Like many of the older pilots in the 506th Fighter Group, he served as an instructor pilot until he was assigned to the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group at Lakeland Army Air Field, Florida, in October 1944 shortly after its activation.

Captain Lawrence S. Smith (via Richard Smith/Dr. John Benbow)

Prior to the 506th FG’s deployment, Captain Smith became the 462nd FS’s supply officer. Not content to sit behind a desk on Iwo Jima, Captain Smith volunteered to fly in the 506th’s second VLR mission, a maximum effort escorting a force of 400 B-29s to Osaka, on Friday, June 1, 1945. One hundred forty-eight P-51D Mustangs of the 15th, 21st, and 506th FGs took off from Iwo Jima at 7:57 a.m. and proceeded to Japan with the assistance of B-29 navigation aircraft.

Some 250 miles out, the force began to encounter scattered cumulus clouds in layers. By the time the force was 375 miles out, the fighters encountered a massive weather front that appeared to begin at sea level and continue well above 30,000 feet. While the B-29 weather ship ahead of the formation was able to successfully penetrate the front, it was a different situation for the much smaller P-51D Mustangs.

Not able to climb above the front, the fighters attempted to penetrate the front. Absolute chaos ensued. Fighter pilots attempting to tighten formation while flying through the front collided with each other. Heavy rain pelted the Mustangs, and they were severely buffeted by updrafts and downdrafts. Radio communications became difficult due to the electrically charged storm. Many pilots lost horizons and spun out of control to a watery grave below.

Twenty-seven Mustang pilots were able to successfully penetrate the front. Only when the last Mustang landed on Iwo Jima, did the magnitude of the losses hit home. Twenty-seven Mustangs failed to return with a loss of 24 pilots. The 506th FG bore the brunt of those losses, losing 12 pilots; Captain Lawrence S. Smith being one of them. The June 1, 1945 VLR mission will be forever remembered as “Black Friday” to the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups.

Both Lieutenant Harold G. Payne, Jr. and Captain Lawrence S. Smith could have played it safe, but chose not to out of a sense of duty to their country. This post is dedicated to them and all of the other American servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Pacific Theater of operations.

The names of United States servicemen who are missing in action, or lost or buried at sea in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are inscribed on marble slabs in the ten Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in the National Cemetery of the Pacific. The names of Harold G. Payne, Jr. and Lawrence S. Smith can be found there along with 28,786 other names.

Honolulu Memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

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.


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.

Iwo Jima Art: 7th Fighter Command “Sun Setters” Trench Art

“Trench art” is a term used to describe objects made from battle field debris and by-products of modern warfare. The term “trench art” was coined during World War I, although similar items have been produced in other conflicts too, and World War II was no exception.

The material used in trench art usually depended on what was available, and the ingenuity of those individuals making the trench art. The most common materials used for trench art are shell casings and bullets, although other battlefield debris was used as well. While a lot of trench art is decorative, some trench art has utility, such as shell casings made into to candle stick holders, ash trays, vases, tea pots, pitchers, cups or beer steins.

While trench art suggests that it was made by front line soldiers to pass the time between battles, it would appear that most of it was made behind the lines by servicemen who had access tools and were experienced in the craft of metal working. Prisoners of war also manufactured trench art from available materials as way of passing the time.

Trench art was also made by local civilians for sale to soldiers (i.e. cigarette lighters, matchbook covers, etc . . .), and other individuals. This cottage industry arose during war, continued after the war, with trench art-type objects being created for sale as souvenirs to the visitors to battlefields and cemeteries. This cottage industry continues to this day.

A good friend of mine was attending an air show, and saw the above 50 caliber bullet being sold as a souvenir, and picked one up for me. It is a spent shell casing with a milled bullet that serves as a bottle opener. Great conversation piece when having friends over for a beer. Trench art? Absolutely. Trench art does not need to decorative.

7th Fighter Command officers, pilots, ground crews, and support staff had their own special trench art as shown below. It is a casting of Iwo Jima with Mt. Suribachi, the words “Iwo Jima” and a P-51D Mustang. Inscribed across the wings of the P-51D are the words “Sun Setters” and the 7th Fighter Command insignia.

Initially, these castings were made from aluminum from wrecked Japanese planes on Iwo Jima. The aircraft aluminum was melted down and poured into a mold. After that supply was exhausted, aircraft aluminum from wrecked American aircraft was used. It is not known how many of these castings were made, but it is safe to assume that if you were stationed on Iwo Jima, and wanted one, you were provided with one.

The 7th Fighter Command named themselves the “Sun Setters” because they saw their VLR missions as an integral part of bringing an end to World War II.

7th Fighter Command Insignia

These castings appear periodically on eBay and normally sell for some where between $100.00 to $200.00, although bidding can sometimes exceed $200.00. They are a nice piece of trench art, and a unique piece of World War II history for the historian, collector, or aviation enthusiast.

Book Review: “Fighters Over Japan, Part 2” by Tomasz Szlagor and Leszek A. Wieliczko

Like Part I, Part II of Kagero’s “Fighters over Japan” is a softbound book with 34 pages. However, instead of covering Japanese Army Air Force and United States Army Air Force fighters as Part I did, Part II focuses mostly on Japanese Navy and United States Navy fighters. In addition, there are only 15 aircraft profiles, but each profile shows both sides of the aircraft, a top view, and at least the undersides of the wings.

There are four aircraft profiles of USAAF fighters in Part II, but the only Iwo Jima VLR Mustang included is 300 “My Achin!” Ass, flown by the CO of the 531st FS, Major Harry C. Crim.

Again, like Part I, what this book lacks in meaningful text describing the air war over Japan in the last few months of the Pacific War, is made up in the fantastic color aircraft profiles by Polish artist Janusz Swaitlon.

Janusz Swaitlon
Janusz Swaitlon

The 15 color profiles in the book cover the following aircraft:

Mitsubishi A6M5c Model 52 Hei Zero, No. 03-09, Serial Number 32374, flown by Joto Hiko Heiso Takeo Tanimizu of 203rd Sento Hitokai.

Mitsubishi A6M5a Model 52 Ko Zero, No. YoD-126, Serial Number unknown, flown by Shoi Sadaaki Akamatsu of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-152, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Susumu Ito of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. 352-20, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Yoshihiro Aoki of the 1st Hikotai, 352nd Kokutai.

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21, No. YoD-1183, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Ei Fukuda of the 1st Hikotai, 302nd Kokutai (decals included).

Kawanishi N1K2-Ja Shiden Kai Model 21 Ko, 343-B-30, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Yoshishige Hayashi, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included).

Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-A-15, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Naoshi Kanno, 301st Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai.

Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai Model 21, No. 343-B-03, Serial Number unknown, flown by Hiko Heisocho Hiroshi Ohara, 407th Hikotai, 343rd Kokutai (decals included)

Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair, No. 167, BuNo. 57803, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Roger Hedrick, VF-84, USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) (decals included).

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, No. 9, BuNo unknown, flown by Lt. Hamilton McWhorter, III, VF-12, USS Randolph (CV-15) (decals included).

Chance Vought Corsair IV, 115-X, KD 658, flown by Lt. Robert H. Gray DSC, No. 1841 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Formidable (decals included).

Republic P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt, 42 “Passionate Patsy”, Serial No. 42-29091, flown by Lt. Ralph Barns, 310th FS, 58th FG, 5th AF.

North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, 300 “My Achin!” Ass, Serial No. 44-73623, flown Major Harry C. Crim, CO of the 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, 10 “Little Girl”, Serial No. 44-64124, flown by Captain Leroy Grosshuesch, 39th FS, 35th FG, 5th AF (decals included).

Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, 08 “Cheek Baby”, Serial No. 44-87996, flown by Lt. Durwood B. Williams, 333rd FS, 318th FG, 5th AF (decals included).

A very nice decal sheet is included which provides decals in 1/32nd, 1/48th, and 1/72nd scales. While decals for Major Crim’s 300 “My Achin!” Ass are not included, the decals include several JNAF fighters that participated in the defense of the Japanese Home Islands. One of those is the decals for Chui Ei Fukuda’s Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden, who is believed to have been shot down by Major James B. Tapp, CO of the 78th FS, on April 19, 1945.

Major Harry C. Crim – Major Crim was the 3rd highest scoring VLR ace with six confirmed victories, and the only fighter ace of the 21st FG. He joined the 21st FG in August, 1944, after serving with the 14th Fighter Group in Tunisia flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Unable to score any aerials victories with 14th FG, he scored his first two victories, a Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony” and a Kawasaki Ki-45 “Nick” on April 7, 1945, the first VLR mission flown by the 7th Fighter Command Mustangs. His last victory, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, came on July 6, 1945 during a strike mission against Atsugi airfield.

In an obvious publicity photo, then Captain Crim (left) discusses fighter tactics with Brig. General Ernest M. “Mickey” Moore, while Major DeWitt Spain listens in front of a 531st FS Mustang parked under the wing of a B-29.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3
Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association

Janusz Swaitlon – Janusz Swaitlon is a professional military history book illustrator specializing in aircraft profiles. You can purchase aircraft profiles from Mr. Swaitlon. I have purchased two aircraft profiles from him in the past; Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” (78th FS, 15th FG), and 1st Lt. William Sak’s 528 “Enchantress” (457th FS, 506th FG). He emailed me the digital files of the aircraft profiles, and I took them to a commercial printer and had them professionally printed. His aircraft profiles are top-notch. Check out his website at He can be contacted by email at

Like Part I, this book is no longer in print, but you can still find it on Amazon at inflated prices.

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!

Paint Comparison: Hataka Hobby Orange Line and MRP Mr. Paint Lacquers

I have been looking for a hobby paint that is a close match for the green used on the tails of 457th FS Mustangs. From my research, it appears that the 457th used Willow Green (FS14187/ANA 503), or something very close to Willow Green. Willow Green was originally used by the U.S. Navy in some of their colorful pre-war paint schemes. I was pleased to find out that both Hataka Hobby and MRP Mr. Paint manufacture a Willow Green lacquer based paint.


I enjoy using lacquers because of their quick drying times and durability. When laid down with an airbrush, they “bite” into the plastic, and therefore, tend to adhere well. The downside to lacquers is that their composition uses chemicals that are dangerous to humans. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health problems, so painting in a well ventilated area is recommended. Those who take the label warnings seriously usually attempt to mitigate these effects by using a paint booth with an exhaust fan that vents the paint fumes to the outside, or a ventilation mask. In addition to the chemicals and the associated strong smell, airbrush clean-up is a little more difficult and time consuming as compared to water based acrylics, and the range of paints in the past have been limited as far as colors.

Both Hataka Hobby and MRP have been around for several years, but their paints have not been readily available in the United States until the last few years. Fortunately now, several U.S. on-line retailers carry both brands, and their wide range of colors are welcomed by modelers who enjoy using lacquer based paints. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to use either paint.

Hataka Hobby Orange Line – Based in Poland, Hataka Hobby produces both water based acrylic paints (Blue Line optimized for brushing, and Red Line optimized for airbrushing) and lacquer paints (Orange Line). Their Orange Line of lacquer paints has a total of 282 colors for both aircraft and military vehicles, and you can purchase them individually or in convenient sets of 4 to 8 colors. Hataka Hobby also provides a proprietary lacquer thinner to thin their paints.

Their paints come in 17 ml plastic bottles with dropper tips and include a stainless steel ball bearing to aid mixing the pigments into suspension. These are similar to the type of bottles used by AK Interactive, Ammo of Mig Jimenez, and Vallejo use for their water based acrylic paints, and the dropper tips make dispensing paint from the bottle incredibly easy. Kudos to Hataka Hobby for using these bottles for their lacquer paints. These paints are not airbrush ready out the bottle, and Hataka Hobby recommends thinning with a 40/60 to 60/40 thinner to paint ratio. Hataka Hobby also recommends spraying them between 10 and 20 psi.

Using my Badger 100GF dual action airbrush, I thinned the paint to a 50/50 paint to thinner ratio, and sprayed it at 15 psi. The paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice matte to semi-matte sheen. There is not a overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.

Hataka Hobby Orange Line Willow Green (HTK-C221)

MRP Mr. Paint – MRP Mr. Paint is based in Slovakia, and first introduced their line of acrylic lacquer paints (86 colors at last count) for both aircraft and military vehicles. It has now released two lines of water based acrylic paints; one for figure painting and one for airbrushing.

Their acrylic lacquer paints come in either 30ml glass bottles or 30ml plastic bottles with a flip top dropper cap. It appears that MRP is going away from the glass bottles to the plastic bottles (more on the plastic bottles below). They are airbrush ready out of the bottle; no thinning necessary. Because they are pre-thinned, no agitator is necessary as they mix quickly with very little effort. I really like the convenience of not having to thin the paint. Kudos to MRP.

The on-line reviews I have read and listened to, modelers have raved about how good these paints are and their ease of application. I would have to concur wholeheartedly. I sprayed it at 15 psi, and the paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice satin sheen. Again, there is not an overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.

MRP Mr. Paint Willow Green (MRP-385)

My only complaint about MRP’s acrylic lacquers is not about the paint itself, but about the 30 ml plastic bottles with the flip top dropper cap. Do not hold the bottle at an angle when attempting to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to a paint cup as it will just run onto the cap and not into the airbrush’s paint cup. The best way to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to an airbrush paint cup is to turn the plastic bottle completely upside down and apply pressure to the sides of the bottle. The plastic bottle is fairly stiff, so it really does not lend itself to squeezing. I found it awkward, and like the bottle used by Hataka Hobby much better.

MRP Mr. Paint’s Willow Green is almost an exact match to the color chip for ANA 503 found in The Official Monogram U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Volume 2: 1940-1949. Hataka Hobby’s Willow Green is slightly lighter, and looks as if it has been lightened to take into account the scale effect of color. I am not sure if that is intentional on Hataka Hobby’s part as I could not find anything on their website to suggest that they formulated their paint colors in this way. Either paint will work nicely for a 457th FS Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

I would highly recommend either paint to modelers. The colors appear to be accurate, and both lay down beautifully, cover well, dry quickly, and are very durable. Kudos to both companies.

Kit News: Eduard’s Next Release of Its 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang

Eduard has not disappointed with respect to the number of different boxings of its new 1/48 North American P-51D Mustang that have been released so far, nor has it been shy about announcing future boxings of the kit.

So far Eduard has released a Limited Edition “Chattanooga Choo Choo” P-51D-5 (with the swayback fillet) boxing; a P-51D-5 ProfiPACK boxing, an Eday 2019 Special Edition P-51D “Excalibur” boxing, and a Royal Class boxing with two decal options for an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang. In addition, Eduard has released numerous Brassin upgrade sets so a modeler can really take detailing their kit to the next level. Quite impressive.

Eduard has announced another ProfiPACK boxing to be released next month, and the August 2020 release of their Pacific Theater boxing with further decal options to build an Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

In this month’s edition of INFO Eduard, they gave us a sneak peak of the March ProfiPACK boxing decal options, and again, there is no disappointment. In addition to decals for the planes flown by five very recognizable European Theater aces, it will also include decals for Major James B. Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” (78th FS/15th FG). Major Tapp was the commander of the 78th Fighter Squadron, and the second highest scoring VLR Mustang ace with eight aerial victories.


Kudos to Eduard for including decals for Major Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” in the upcoming ProfiPACK boxing. Nice to see Pacific Theater Mustangs getting some more love.

Book Review: “Fighters Over Japan, Part 1” by Tomasz Szlagor and Leszek A. Wieliczko

Published in 2007 by Kagero as part of its Topcolors series, this softcover book has 34 pages and 24 color profiles. With decals and vinyl masks included, this book was clearly written with the modeler in mind. The three pages of text provides a brief overview of the markings used by the Mustangs of the Iwo Jima VLR Fighter Groups and the 5th Air Force’s 348th Fighter Group, the P-47N Thunderbolts of the 314th, 318th, 413th, 414th, and 507th Fighter Groups, and fighters of the Japanese Army Air Force’s Homeland Defense forces (Ki-44s, Ki-46, Ki-61s, and Ki-84s).

What the book lacks in meaningful text describing the air war over Japan in the last few months of the Pacific War, is made up in the fantastic color aircraft profiles by artist Janusz Swaitlon.

Janusz Swaitlon
Janusz Swaitlon

The 24 color profiles in the book cover the following aircraft:

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien (Tony), “24”, Serial Number 4424, flown by Taii Teruhiko Kobayashi of the 244th Sentai.

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien (Tony), “24”, Serial Number 4424, flown by Taii Teruhiko Kobayashi of the 244th Sentai.

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hei Hien (Tony), “88”, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Fumisuke Shono of the 244th Sentai. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided.

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hei Hien (Tony), “83”, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Mitsuo Oyake of the 2nd Chutai, 18th Sentai. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided (decals included).

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien (Tony), “732”, Serial Number probably 4732, flown by Shosa Haruyoshi Furukawa of the 56th Sentai.

Mitsubishi Ki-46-III Otsu Hei (Dinah), “24”, of the 16th Dokuritsu Chutai.

Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki (Tojo), “35”, Serial Number 1435, flown by Taii Yasuro Masaki of the 47th Sentai. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided.

Nakajima Ki-44-II Ko Shoki (Tojo), “19”, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Teiichi Hatano of the 3rd Chutai, 47th Sentai.

Nakajima Ki-44-II Hei Shoki (Tojo), “321”, Serial Number unknown, flown by Chui Kiyonori Sano of the 3rd Chutai, 246th Sentai (decals included).

Nakajima Ki-84 Ko Hayate (Frank), “69”, Serial Number unknown, flown by Taii Teichi Hatano of the 3rd Chutai, 47th Sentai. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided.

Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank), “63”, Serial Number 84063, flown by Taii Yasuro Masaki of the 47th Sentai.

Nakajima Ki-84 Ko Hayate (Frank), “715”, Serial Number 1715, flown by Taii Tadao Ikeda of the 51st Sentai.

Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, 02 “Icky and Me”, flown by Lt. Jack Payne of 333rd FS, 318th FG, 7th AF (decals included).

Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, Serial Number 44-88020, 32 “Red-E Ruth” of the 19th FS, 318th FG, 7th AF.

Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, 93 “Sack Happy”, flown by Robert Redfield of the 73rd FS, 318 FG, 7th AF.

Republic P-47N-1-RE Thunderbolt, Serial Number 44-88707, 713 “Lady Leota” of the 437th FS, 414th FG, 7th AF.

Republic P-47N-2-RE Thunderbolt, 119 “Chautauqua”, flown by Lt. Victor Schmidt of the 463rd FS, 507th FG, 20th AF. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 44-63483, 67 “Stinger VII”, flown by Maj. Robert W. Moore of the 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF. Upper and lower surface views of the aircraft are also provided (decals included).

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 4463984, 101 “Margaret IV”, flown by Maj. James B. Tapp of the 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF (decals included).

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 44-72607, 550 “Madam Wham-Dam”, flown by Maj. Harrison E. Shipman of the 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 44-72620, 640 “The Shawnee Princess/Empire Commuter”, flown by Cap. Stanley C. Zagorsky and 1st Lt. Charles F. Seale of the 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF (decals included).

North American P-51K-10-NT Mustang, Serial Number 44-12017, “Mrs. Bonnie”, flown by Lt. Col. William D. Dunham of the 348th FG, 5th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 44-63532, 210 “Little “Angel” The 104” of the 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF (decals included).

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial Number 44-63423, 15 “Squirt”, flown by Col. James O. Beckwith, CO of the 15th FG, 7th AF (decals included).

As indicated above, a very nice decal sheet is included which provides decals in 1/32nd, 1/48th, and 1/72nd scales. As an added bonus, it includes numbers in 1/32nd and 1/48th scale for the serial numbers on the American planes. Nice touch on Kagero’s part.

The decal sheet is not without its errors and omissions. First, Major Moore’s 67 “Stinger VII” had the name on both sides of the nose, and decals are only provided for one side. The same omission is made for Major Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV”. In addition, there is not an outer blue ring around 78th FS Bushmaster squadron emblem, and Kagero provides smaller 101 decals for the landing gear doors, but none of the photos that I have of Major Tapp’s 101 “Margaret IV” show that the number was applied to the landing gear doors.

The other errors are on the decals for Captain Zagorsky and Lieutenant Seale’s 640 “The Shawnee Princess/Empire Commuter”. Below is most recognizable photo of the plane that has appeared in several books over the years.

Loomis Dean/USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Captain Zagorsky named the plane “The Shawnee Princess” which appeared on the left side of the nose. 1st Lieutenant Seale named the plane “Empire Commuter” which appeared on the right side of the nose. Kagero left out the name “Empire Commuter” on their decal sheet.

Cpl. Sheetz (armorer), Cpl. Riley (radioman), 1st Lt. Seale (pilot), Capt. Zagorsky (pilot), and Sgt. Jackson (crew chief) (506th Fighter Group)
1st Lt. Seale and Sgt. Jackson (506th Fighter Group)

The other errors in the decals are in the kill and mission markings. The decals provide kill markings for eight Japanese aircraft, yet neither Capt. Zagorsky or 1st Lt. Seale were given credit for any aerial victories. The error in the mission markings is in the second row. Kagero’s decals show those as locomotives indicating that either Capt. Zagorsky and/or 1st Lt. Seale destroyed two locomotives. However, the actual mission symbols are a bomb above a machine gun as shown in the photo below. These are symbols for strike missions, most likely for strike missions against the Japanese held island of Chichi Jima as the 506th FG participated in several of those missions. “The Shawnee Princess/Empire Commuter” was lost on July 13, 1945, during an attack on Japanese ground installations on Chichi Jima. 1st Lt. Seale successfully bailed out over the sea and was rescued.

1st Lt. Charles F. Seale (506th Fighter Group)

This book is no longer in print, but copies can still be purchased on Amazon at inflated prices. The lack of any text on the air war over the Japanese Home Islands does not make this a very desirable book for the historian. Are the stunning color aircraft profiles by Janusz Swaitlon enough to make up for this deficiency at an inflated price? If you are interested in purchasing the book, that is the question you will be asking yourself.