North American P-51 Mustang Pt. 4
Likelike Decals from Japan just released a few new sheets, and this one covers the P-51 Mustang.
As soon as I opened the standard ziplock plastic bag, I realized the contents were well above ‘standard.’ Along with a full color placement guide, there are SEVERAL sheets of decals in this package. One full page of decals, printed by Microscale, contains most of the individual markings and a full set of stencils. Another ½ page, printed by Cartograf, has the unique “tiger stripe” pattern of camouflage bands unique to one of the subject aircraft (along with extra decal printed in the same color). Another ½ page, printed by Microscale, contains a few extra markings, as well as two sets of National Insignia. Finally, there is a small fourth sheet that has 3 variations of one of the personal insignia. If that wasn’t enough, there is also a small, self-adhesive sheet with a printed stencil that allows the modeler to paint the background of one of the personal insignia (instead of using the full decal).
The 4 markings options are:
- P-51B “Shangri-La” flown by Capt. Gentile, England, April, 1944
- P-51D “Shangri-La” flown by Capt. Gentile, 1946 War Bond Tour
- P-51D “Man O’War” flown by Lt. Col. Kinnard, England, Sep 1944
- P-51D “Dirty Dick” flown by Col Rowland, Philippines, 1945
Each aircraft has a nicely-done color side profile, as well as smaller top and bottom views (also in color) There is also a full-page generic 4-view showing stenciling placement. A full set of stencils is provided for 1 aircraft, as well as enough National Markings to cover 2 aircraft.
Each of the side profiles is accompanied by some quite in-depth text covering a bit of the history of the individual pilots, as well as that of the specific airframe There is also explanation, complete with reference citing, as to how Lifelike came to its conclusions regarding paint schemes and markings. Several paragraphs are devoted to each profile. Lifelike explains where they made educated guesses (and how they arrived there). All instructions I have seen from this company are written by someone that clearly has a love of the subject, and is most probably a modeler as well. I only wish all decal instructions were this comprehensive!
The decals themselves, as noted above, are printed by both Microscale and Cartograf (although I’m not really sure why 2 companies were used). My experience with the decals of both these printers has always been first-rate. These sheets look to be no exception. I am extremely impressed that such extra attention has been paid to details such as the specifics of the “Shangri-La” marking. You can use a decal for the entire marking, or use either of two stencils (positive and negative) to paint the background, and then apply a separately-provided decal for the character and writing. Lifelike provides and entire set of markings for the camouflage “tiger stripes” in decal form for “Man O’War” as well. Of course they can be painted, but this is an extremely nice option to have, and the first I have seen this.
This is the fourth set of Lifelike decals I have seen or used, and I continue to be very impressed. The research clearly shows this to be a labor of love. As I had several of the references they mention, I was able to follow the train of logic regarding the markings quite easily. The information in this sheet stands on its own, but it is nice to see how clearly Lifelike shows its sources. Opening up this packet made me feel that Lifelike is going above and beyond producing a quality product. I definitely look forward to more releases from this company! You will not regret getting ahold of this sheet. As a final note, a visit to the Lifelike website will show you they are constantly updating the modeler with any new info they may come across regarding markings on their sheets.
Thanks to Lifelike Decals for providing the sample, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it!