Aftermarket Product Review: Brengun’s 1/72nd 110 Gallon Drop Tanks – BRL 72270

The good folks at Brengun recently released a set of 1/72nd resin 110 gallon drop tanks with photo etched detail parts and decals. Brengun is a Czech model manufacturer known for its extensive line of photo etch and resin update sets for airplane models. Brengun also produces airplane kits in 1/144th, 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.

I was very excited to learn of Brengun’s release and purchased a set off of eBay for this review. To my knowledge, no kit or aftermarket manufacturer has produced an accurate set of 1/72nd scale 110 gallon drop tanks previously.

Brengun

The drop tanks are beautifully cast with the correct details. The photo etch fret include the sway braces, the flat metal pieces that sit across the tanks and hold the sway braces in place, and the fuel filler caps. For those small pieces, extras are provided in case of loss to the carpet monster. Nice touch on Brengun’s part. The decals are accurate for the markings on the tank, and again, extras are provided.

The set comes with a small instruction sheet that shows the correct placement of the decals and photo etch parts. More importantly, the instruction sheet shows the placement of the photo etch parts to achieve a correct installation of the sway braces. Test fit everything before installing the sway braces to determine the best placement for the model you are building.

Brengun

Below are two USAAF photos showing the correct placement of the sway braces and the front metal piece that holds the sway braces in place.

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

Brengun has some CAD drawings of the tanks with the sway braces on their website, but do not rely on these drawings as they fail to show the correct placement of the sway braces. Rely on the instruction sheet for the correct placement of the sway braces.

It did not take long to remove the casting blocks and clean up the area where the pour stubs are located. There are a few pin holes that will need to to filled around the area of the pour stubs as can be seen in the photos below, but nothing cannot be filled easily and sanded quickly.

As can be seen in the photos above, the detail that represents the rim that goes around the entire tank was missing at the front on one of the tanks where the pour stubs were located. The other tank was fine. This is a quick fix with stretched sprue, and to be truthful, it is hard not to damage that detail when removing the pour stubs and cleaning up the front end of the tank.

Below is a photo of one of the tanks with the pin holes filled and sanded, and the missing/damaged detail repaired with stretched sprue.

These tanks are accurate in shape and detail. With the addition of the photo etch sway braces, they look every bit the part. If you have an Academy, Airfix, Hasegawa, Hobby Boss, Revell, or Tamiya 1/72nd scale P-51D Mustang and want to build a Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, you no longer have to settle for a kit’s 75 gallon drop tanks which were not used by the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Groups. Highly recommended. Kudos to Brengun!

A superb follow-up on Brengun’s part would be an accurate set of 165 gallon drop tanks with sway braces in 1/72nd scale.

Next up: Squadron markings for the 47th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group.

Iwo Jima VLR Mustang Squadron Markings Part I ; 45th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group

45th Fighter Squadron Mustangs with 110 gallon drop tanks on their way from Saipan to Iwo Jima (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

This is the first part of a nine part series on the markings of the VLR Mustang squadrons. Six of the nine squadrons changed their markings during their time on Iwo Jima after the 7th Fighter Command ordered the VLR Fighter Groups to adopt more simplified markings.

I will be using the aircraft profiles from Eduard’s “Very Long Range: Tales of Iwo Jima” limited edition kit for two reasons. First, they cover all nine VLR squadrons, and second, the profiles are very accurate.

The fuselage numbers for the 45th Fighter Squadron Mustangs were 50 through 99.

Early Squadron Markings. The early squadron markings were black bordered green diagonal bands on the wings and tail, and a green/black/green/natural metal spinner. These markings were applied on Hawaii after the 45th FS transitioned from Republic P-47D Thunderbolts to the North American P-51D Mustangs.

Eduard

The photo below shows the 45th FS Mustangs below deck on the USS Sitkoh Bay (CVE 86) during their transport from Hawaii to Saipan in January 1945. Note wing bands wrapping around the leading edge of the wing just before the wheel wells, and that the squadron emblem was applied on both sides of the cowl. Also of interest is the installation of the 110 gallon drop tanks along with the sway braces, and the single mast antenna. The dual Uncle Dog antennae were not installed on the 15th FG Mustangs until after they arrived on Iwo Jima.

45th FS Mustangs below deck of the USS Sitkoh Bay (CVE 86) (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)

If you are going to build a 45th FS Mustang with the early markings and the flaps dropped, please note the photo below. The diagonal wings bands on the flaps are slightly offset when the flaps are dropped. Whether you are using decals for the diagonal wing bands or painting them, it is best to do so with the flaps in the up position. After that application is completed, then the flaps can be dropped.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

The photo below shows some additional insights into the early markings of the 45th FS. First, the photo confirms that the black bordered green diagonal bands were also on the underside of the wing. Second is the 15th Fighter Group’s practice of painting the fuselage number on the outer landing gear doors. As the photo shows, this practice was not universal, and was later abandoned after plane maintenance requirements quickly overtook other activities on Iwo Jima. The Mustang burning in the background of this photo is 86 “Foxy” (Serial No. 44-63474). “Foxy” was involved in a landing accident on March 10, 1945. SuperScale produces a decal sheet that includes the markings for “Foxy” and my review of that decal sheet can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/10/11/decal-review-superscale-decals-p-51d-mustangs-48-1153/. DK Decals produces decals for 77 “San Antonio Rose” in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales, and my reviews of those decal sheets can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/12/08/decal-review-dkdecals-p-51d-mustang-very-long-range-p-51-units-iwo-jima-1945-72087/, and here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/12/05/decal-review-dkdecals-p-51d-mustang-vlr-units-iwo-jima-1945-48029/

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

Late Squadron Markings. In May of 1945, the 7th Fighter Command issued orders requiring the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups to adopt more simplified markings. The black bordered green diagonal bands were replaced by green tail and wing tips and a solid green propeller spinner as shown in Eduard’s profile of “Stinger VII” and the photos below. These orders must have been seen in a positive light on behalf of ground crews as the majority of time was consumed by attempting to keep their planes combat worthy leaving little time for painting time consuming squadron markings.

Eduard
67 “Stinger VII” (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)
The tail of 67 “Stinger VII” (7th Fighter Command Association via Mark Stevens)

Squadron Emblem. The early 45th FS emblem was an American Indian brave wielding a hatchet and riding a plane that was meant to look like a P-40 Warhawk on a yellow background. We start seeing these emblems applied to 45th FS P-40Ns during an earlier tour in the Central Pacific. The early squadron emblem looked something similar to the squadron patch below.

Early 45th Fighter Squadron Emblem

As the 45th FS transitioned to P-51D Mustangs in Hawaii before deploying to Iwo Jima, the squadron emblem changed slightly. The American Indian brave stayed the same in appearance, but now he is riding a plane that is meant to look like a P-51D Mustang. I could not find a good period photo of the new squadron emblem, but it is accurately represented by DK Decals as shown below.

DK Decals

Very few decal sheets, either kit or aftermarket, provide the diagonal wing and tail bands. So what color do you use for the green? Eduard recommends either Mr. Color Russian Green (135) or Mission Model Paints Resedagrun RAL 6011 (MMP-018). Below are color chips from the respective paint manufacturers. The Russian Green by Mr. Color looks very good to my eye.

Mr. Color 135 (Russian Green)
Mission Model Paints MMP-018 (Resedagrun RAL 6011)

Another option is Willow Green (FS14187/ANA 503). Willow Green was originally used by the U.S. Navy in some of their colorful pre-war paint schemes. Both Mr. Paint (MRP-385) and Hataka Hobby (HTK-C221) include Willow Green as part of their lines of hobby paints.

Mr. Paint Willow Green (MRP-385)

My comparison of these two paints can be found here: https://iwojimamodels.com/2020/03/15/paint-comparison-hataka-hobby-orange-line-and-mrp-mr-paint-lacquers/. Both are excellent paints.

Hataka Hobby Willow Green (HTK-221)

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’ 1/32 P-51D/K Mustang over the Pacific and Australia (32022)

DK Decals

Our good friends in the Czech Republic at DK Decals have been busy producing new decal sheets, and one of the recent 1/32 releases focuses on P-51D/K Mustangs over the Pacific and Australia.

DK Decals

This decal sheet provides markings for a 458th Fighter Squadron, 506th Fighter Group P-51D-20-NA Mustang (44-72602) 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” flown by Captain Goldie Marcott.

DK Decals

Below is a very nice color photo of Captain Marcott kneeling on the wing of “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer”. The photo shows the twin wooden Uncle Dog antenna on the rear fuselage.

Captain Goldie Marcott (via Brian Walter)

The fact that there are 20 mission markings and another name (“Julia’ll Fool Yer”) on the right side of the nose, suggests that another pilot was assigned to fly 575, but there are no records that I can find to either confirm or dispel this thought.

DK Decals

Below is a wonderful photo of the left side of the nose of 575. It not only shows the beautiful and graceful lines of the Mustang, but shows the small pin-up art in front of the name “My Madge” which is very nicely reproduced on this decal sheet.

575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” (via Brian Walter)
DK Decals

Captain Marcott was the flight leader of “C” Flight of the 458th Fighter Squadron. His Crew Chief was Staff Sergeant Francis R. Sundbergh, and his Armourer was Master Sergeant Amil V. Wittenberger. He was not credited with any aerial victories or ground victories.

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

There is not a tremendous amount of information on Captain Marcott that can be gleaned from the internet. In looking through the 458th FS records, I was able to determine that Captain Marcott’s hometown was Crete, Nebraska, which is less than an hours drive from the author’s residence in Beatrice, Nebraska. The next step in my research will be to determine if there are any of Captain Marcott’s relatives in the Crete area.

DK Decals

I have also reached out to Master Sergeant Amil Wittenberger’s son, Robert, to gather additional information and photos on Captain Marcott, Staff Sergeant Sundbergh, and Master Sergeant Wittenberger. I really enjoy researching the pilots and their ground crew.

Captain Goldie Marcott with his Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Francis R. Sundbergh (via Brian Walter)

This is an very nice decal sheet and kudos to DK Decals for including the markings for Captain Marcott’s 575 “My Madge/Julia’ll Fool Yer” on the sheet. If you are not interested in the markings for Captain Marcott’s Iwo Jima VLR Mustang, the sheet provides markings for several other Pacific Theater Mustangs such as Major William Shomo’s The Flying Undertaker/Snooks 6th”, and Lieutenant L. E. Curdes’ “Bad Angel”. This decal sheet is highly recommended for anyone interested in Pacific Theater Mustangs.

DK Decals

All of DK Decals’ sheets are very well researched, and they are quality decals that are easy to use. My hope is that they release a 1/32 decal sheet that is solely devoted to Iwo Jima VLR Mustangs, just as they did in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales.

Book Review: “The Long Campaign: The History of the 15th Fighter Group in World War II” by John W. Lambert

Published in 2006 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., John W. Lambert chronicles the 15th Fighter Group starting with its activation in December of 1940 as part of the Hawaiian Air Force, to its baptism of fire in the defense of Pearl Harbor during the Japanese surprise attack on December 7, 1941, and ending with its sun setting VLR missions against the Japanese Home Islands from Iwo Jima in the last months of the war.

James O. Beckwith

One hundred fifty two pages of text tells the story of the truly “Long Campaign” of the 15th Fighter Group, which was activated on December 1, 1940, in Hawaii, and ended the war on Iwo Jima in August, 1945. While the 15th FG got an early taste of aerial combat defending against the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the next 15 months would be spent on Hawaii defending against an anticipated second attack that never materialized.

USAAF/National Archives via Fold3

The 15th FG’s opportunity to engage the enemy came again in March of 1943 when the group moved to Canton Island, and Lambert does a very nice job of describing the 15th’s moves across the Central Pacific (Baker, Makin, Milli, Jaluit, Abemama and Nanumea Atolls) , and their sporadic engagements with Japanese Naval Air Forces.

World War Photos

The book goes on to detail the Group’s return to Hawaii to transition into the Republic P-47D Thunderbolts in April of 1944. At this point in time, many of the pilots who had been in the Central Pacific forward areas had not got the opportunity of fire a single shot in combat. Lambert does a very nice job of capturing the frustrations of the pilots in not seeing any combat, and their eagerness to finally get in the fight.

78th FS Republic P-47D Thunderbolts (James M. Vande Hey)

That opportunity would come soon when the Group transitioned into the North American P-51D Mustang in November of 1944, and began training for VLR missions. The book really picks up during the Group’s transition to Iwo Jima, and finally their opportunity to engage Japanese Army and Navy fighters over the Japanese Home Islands.

Colonel James O. Beckwith in 15 “Squirt” (James O. Beckwith)

This is a very well researched book, and Lambert does an excellent job in the early to mid chapters of the book setting forth the Group’s history when not a lot of combat is occurring. The appendices at the end of the book are very nice and helpful for those wanting to dig deeper into the individual members of the Group and their accomplishments. The only criticism I have of the book is that it does not have any aircraft profiles, color or otherwise. It would have been a nice touch to include color profiles of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, Bell P-39 Airacobras, Republic P-47D Thunderbolts, and North American P-51D Mustangs flown by the 15th FG, and their markings.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the 15th Fighter Group and the 7th Air Force/7th Fighter Command’s contributions in ending the war in the Pacific.

Mark L. Rossmann’s 1/48 15th Fighter Group VLR Mustang Builds

Mark Rossmann is back with three 1/48 VLR Mustang builds. This is a blast from the past as Mark built these 15th Fighter Group Mustangs back in 2007.

Mark L. Rossmann

First up is the 45th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63483) 67 “Stinger VII”, flown by Major Robert W. “Todd” Moore. Major Moore was the highest scoring 7th Fighter Command ace with 12 aerial victories; 11 of those victories scored on VLR missions.

Mark L. Rossmann

Major Moore’s first victory came on an ambush mission over Arno Atoll on January 26, 1944, during which he shot down a Mitsubishi Zero. He did not score again until the 15th Fighter Group started flying VLR missions from Iwo Jima. His last victory came on a VLR escort mission to Tokyo on August 10, 1945, during which he shot down a Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki.

Major Robert W. Moore (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

In addition to the 12 aerial victories, Major Moore was credited with 3 ground victories. He ended the war as the commander of the 45th Fighter Squadron.

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark used the Tamiya kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 4 sheet (48-797).

Mark L. Rossmann

An excellent article written by Tom Ivie on Major Moore’s service with the 15th Fighter Group during World War II can be found here: https://www.7thfighter.com/78th/moore/todd.htm

Next up is the 47th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63972) 185 “Black Rufe” flown by 1st Lt. William Hayden Sparks.

Mark L. Rossmann

1st Lt. Sparks scored an aerial victory over Kakamigahara Airdrome on July 19, 1945, and was also credited with a ground victory on August 3, 1945.

1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks (via Mark W. Stevens/7th Fighter Command Association)
1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks (W. Hayden Sparks)

185 “Black Rufe” was actually lost on the infamous June 1, 1945, Black Friday mission, but 1st Lt. Sparks was not assigned to fly that mission.

Mark L. Rossmann

Again, Mark used the Tamiya kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 4 sheet (48-797).

Mark L. Rossmann

Mark’s third build is the 78th Fighter Squadron’s P-51D-20NA (44-63973) 100 “Jeanne VIII” flown by Major James M. Vande Hey. Major Vande Hey was a veteran 78th FS pilot who participated in all of the 78th FS campaigns in the Central Pacific, and was squadron commander when the 78th FS arrived on Iwo Jima.

Mark L. Rossmann

Major Vande Hey scored 4 aerial victories during his time with the 78th Fighter Squadron. His first two victories came on the January 26, 1944 ambush mission over Arno Atoll, during which he shot down two Mitsubishi Zeros.

Major James M. Vande Hey standing next to his Republic P-47D Thunderbolt “Jeanne VII” in Hawaii (James M. Vande Hey)

His third victory came on the first VLR escort mission to Tokyo on April 7, 1945, during which he shot down a Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah. Major Vande Hey’s last victory came on second VLR escort mission on April 12, 1945, again to Tokyo. Upon landing on Iwo Jima, his engine stopped for lack of fuel and had to be towed back to its hardstand. Major Vande Hey had been in the air for over 8 hours. This would be his last VLR mission. After spending 40 months in the Central Pacific, and after logging over 1,500 flight hours, Major Vande Hey rotated home and was reassigned to a Stateside position.

Major James M. Vande Hey (USAAF/National Archives via Fold3)

James Vande Hey would make a career out of serving his country in the United States Air Force obtaining the rank of Brigadier General. Brig. Gen. Vande Hey retired on July 1, 1971, and passed away on December 21, 2009.

Mark L. Rossmann

For this build, Mark used the Hasegawa kit along with decals from Aeromaster’s The Very Long Range Escorts “The Iwo Jima Mustangs” Fancy Art Part 2 sheet (48-795).

Mark L. Rossmann

Thanks again to Mark Rossmann for sharing his builds with us. More to come as Mark has done more VLR Mustang builds over the years. Very nice builds! Thanks also to Mark W. Stevens of the 7th Fighter Command Association for the photos of 1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks.

References:

1. The Long Campaign: This History of the 15th Fighter Group in World War II; John W. Lambert; Schaffer Publishing Ltd. (2006)

2. 7th Fighter Command Association website/Mark W. Stevens. https://www.7thfighter.com/

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.