Mitsubishi A5M Decals - Part 1 and Part 3

Published on
April 22, 2018
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
48-053 and 48-055
Base Kit
Fine Molds or Wingsy Kits
Company: Lifelike Decals - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Lifelike Decals - Website: Visit Site
Product Picture

Last year we modelers were pleasantly surprised (at least I was) to get not one, but two companies offering new-mold 1/48 scale A5M Claudes (in multiple variants no less). With the models from Fine Molds and Wingsy Kits both receiving admirable reviews, it is great to see that Lifelike Decals has issued 3 decal sheets that work with either kit. This is a review of 2 of the three, #48-053 (Part 1) and #48-055 (Part 3).

Links to Specific Decals

Once again, Lifelike has come up with an extremely high-quality product. Each package has full-color placement guides, and multiple sheets of decals (2 in Part 1, and 3 in Part 3). All are printed by Microscale and are to their typically high standard. Glossy finish, minimal carrier, and thin. Between these two sheets, the modeler has no less than 25 schemes to choose from! And Part 2 offers another 13 schemes!

These breakdown as follows:

Part 1

  1. A5M2b (early) 12th Kokutai, Kong Da AB/China 1938
  2. A5M4 from Commander of Soryu Fighter Group, Dec 1939-1940
  3. A5M4 Soryu Fighter Group, Fall 1940-Spring 1941
  4. A5M4 of Lt. Suho, 14th Kokutai, Nanning AB/China Dec 1939-1940
  5. A5M4 Kaga Fighter Group, South China Sea, Late 1938
  6. A5M4 of Flight Commander of Akagi Fighter Group, Yokosuka AB Nov 1939
  7. A5M4 of Tsuiki Kokutai, Tsuiki AB, Autumn 1942
  8. A5M4 of Hosho Fighter Group, April 1941-March 1942
  9. A5M4 of Zuiho Fighter Group, Sasebo port, March 27 1941
  10. A5M4 flown by NAP Oishi of Yokosuka Kokutai, Yokosuka AB, Dec 1939
  11. A5M4 of Tainan Kokutai, Formosa Feb 1944-Feb 1945
  12. A5M4 of Kasumigaura Kokutai, Matsushima AB Jan 1944

Part 3

  1. A5M2b (early) 12th Kokutai, Kong Da Ab/China 1938 (different a/c than on Part 1)
  2. A5M2b (late) flown by NAP Also, 15th Kokutai, Jiujiang AB/China, Sep-Dec 1938
  3. A5M4 flown by Lt. Yokoyama, Soryu Fighter Group, Japanese mainland 1939
  4. A5M4 flown by NAP Hagiri, Soryu Fighter Group, Japanese mainland 1939
  5. A5M4 flown by NAP Oishi, Soryu Fighter Group, Japanese mainland 1939
  6. A5M4 of Soryu Fighter Group, East China Sea, Nov 1938
  7. A5M4 of Soryu Fighter Group, Kasanohara AB, early 1941
  8. A5M4 of Soryu Fighter Group, Kasanohara AB, early 1941 (different a/c)
  9. A5M4 of 14th Kokutai, Sanzao Dao or Haikou AB/China, summer 1939
  10. A5M4 of 14th Kokutai, Haikou AB/China, summer 1939
  11. A5M4 of Soryu Fighter Group, Sanya AB/Hainan Tao, Sep 1940
  12. A5M4 of Miho Kokutai, Miho AB, Oct 1943-Jun 1945
  13. A5M4 of Kasumigaura Kokutai, Kasumigaura AB, autumn 1943.

As you can see, both sheets offer an excellent selection of markings. Each sheet offers one choice for the ‘early’ model Claude with an enclosed cockpit. Although many of the markings are for natural metal finishes (or ones with the anti-corrosive clearcoat over natural metal), there are one or two camouflaged a/c on each sheet. Part 1 has one overall orange-yellow a/c from a training unit as well. Most of the subjects of Part 3 are presentation a/c, and 1 of the 3 included decal sheets with this packet is devoted primarily to the writing associated with these ‘donations’ that appeared on the airframes. Lifelike provides the majority of stripes and other markings in decal form, with only a few left to be painted by the modeler (mostly very large areas of coverage). The instructions are very clear as to where and how any painted-on markings should be applied. In some areas where the shapes of the Wingsy and Fine Molds kits differ, separate sets of decals are provided for each manufacturer.

Having reviewed and used Lifelike decals in the past, I was not surprised (but always impressed) by the amount of research that goes into each scheme presented. At least one, but often more, paragraph of text describes each markings choice. History of the aircraft, history of the pilot (in some cases), and many references to photos are written up. One thing I always appreciate about Lifelike is their detailed rationale for colors and markings. They discuss how they interpret photos to arrive at certain color choices, as well as the logic behind some of the code markings on some aircraft (where a photo may have partially obscured views). They even provide 2 styles of Kanji lettering in instances where either style might have been used.

Virtually every scheme has a full-color, left side-view illustrated. As necessary there are some scrap-views of wing tops or bottoms. Everything is very clearly spelled out, so there should be no question where decals go or what colors go where. Each sheet also has a full-color 4-view plan (left/right, top/bottom) for all ‘common markings’ (stencils and such). Finally, each sheet has an exhaustive list of numbered references (these numbers are indeed referred to in the text for each scheme). I enjoyed taking the time to read through the placement guide, then pulling out some of the references I am lucky enough to have and comparing notes. It made me feel I as along for the ride a bit more!

In case it doesn’t show, I am an enthusiastic fan of Lifelike decals, and these sheets have furthered that opinion. Opening these packets made me feel that Lifelike is going above and beyond producing a quality product. I look forward to more releases from this company! You will not regret getting ahold of either of these sheets. As a final note, a visit to the Lifelike website will show you they are constantly updating the modeler with any additional info they may come across regarding markings on any of their sheets.

Thanks to Lifelike Decals for providing the samples, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review them!


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