Thursday, October 6

Review - Zotz 78th FG Mustangs - The Duxford Eagles




The P-51 Mustang really is in the modellers minds right now – with many being built I thought I would show you to brand spanking new sets from Decal makers ZOTZ today.



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To fit the New Tamiya kit these are meant to wrap around the fuselage snugly and fit onto the super-thin panels – with these intricate patterns on the cowlings the decals can be made or broken in that one part - let’s actually apply them to the kit to see if the checkerboards fit the beast!
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Zotz  “The Duxford Eagles” P-51D's
Scales: 1/32 Reviewed here
Colour Schemes: Two x P-51D-20NA’s
Printed by: ZOTZ
Product Link:  Zotz Site where you can buy directly

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To suit the panels of the new wunderkit from Tamiya in 1/32 the P-51 Mustang, Zotz has released a special set designed to fit exactly those very thin cowlings. Let’s have a look at the newest sheet from Zotz – the sheet showing off two of the beautiful aircraft from the 78th FG called “The Duxford Eagles” set – but first some back story on Zotz and Mustangs...

A glance at some of the other Zotz P-51D sheets we have already looked at and a link here to the review
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Zotz have predominantly made decals for American aircraft. There have been five previous decal sheets of mustangs (not to mention the A-36 apache sheet) including the two sheets for the P-51B and three recently released for the P-51D model – these last three I have reviewed on the Modelling news here already. Now quite unexpectedly Zotz have added this new release to make four sheets suitable to match the new Tamiya kit in 32nd scale.


Zotz have slightly changed their layout of this instruction sheet that comes in an A4 glossy cardboard sheet made into four A5 pages. It seems less “busy” and although there seems to be less “colour and movement” it suits the Checkerboard P-51 subjects with the black and white motif running through it. I am impressed with the layout that shows both of the aircraft depicted on the decals in plan view both sides and the upper and lower profiles of the planes as well.
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Colours and precise instructions are easy to follow and the aircraft particulars are noted as well as a short little story about Major Dick Hewitt on the back of the instructions which is an interesting footnote to the decals themselves – a bit of history ties you into the project. The only thing missing would be perhaps pictures of the aircraft themselves – but that is what the internet and I suppose sites like this are for. We will have many pictures of the aircraft in this review – searching the internet for “Big Dick” and ”Little Chicks” was an interesting task let me tell you! (Safe search ON is recommended)
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The decals themselves come on one A5 sheet with the decals being thin in form and of a satin or slightly shiny matte finish. The reds, yellows blacks are all strong and the white especially doesn’t look opaque which is really important on a decal with a lot of white on it. The last thing you want is bleed through from the surface of the aircraft – and these look thick enough to prevent that.
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The red lines which border and tidy up the chequers are present and look to be the right length to cover the whole area needed. As well as this the main data plates are supplied here and look clear enough to be read with the naked eye while still in scale. The smaller data plates of course will have to come from the kit. The stars and bars as well are in the right size for this aircraft.
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The carrier film is minimal and I have attached a picture here with the decal held to the light to show off the surface texture and the thinness of the decal
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Let’s have a look though and see if they stack up on the kit themselves!
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I chose the top cowling of the Mustang kit to try these on – I thought that this prominent area of the aircraft was a good place to check the fit of the decals – the checks being so important it’s a make or break part of the decal on these two particular choices – I thought I’d take the consternation out of the equation for you.
A nice white – we are “ready to rock”
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First a quick undercoat of Halfords grey auto spray paint and then some silver metalizer aluminium spray made the cowling nice and shiny, the decal was ready to be applied but first the top cowling decal calls for the very tip of the cowling to be painted in white so the zig-zags of the front of the checks can be applied to the rounded cowling better. To minimise any possible ”step” with paint on such a fine surface I just painted the whole decal part white minus a few millimetres from the end where the red piping would wrap around the chequers.
The decals next to their new home
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I apply the decal – I was a little worried to see a saggy corner or two before the Micro Sol - here are the pictures in sequence as the decal settled...
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Looking a little ropey here
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A little Micro Sol..
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And the decal settling down even more
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I added some more sol and waited a while – the decal worked flawlessly
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The end result - a perfect fit and you can still see the surface detail
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And the end result - a decal that fits into the cowling perfectly – I had some misgivings at first but it’s a great fit and not too much bother – just don’t stress about it and it fits pretty well on this part – I can only assume the rest are ok – but I wanted to check so both I and you could see if the decals “measured up” to previous efforts.

The all-important fit around the nose section - perfect
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 Like I said if these did not fit the cowling you would really not be worth the bother – what we have here is a decal that sits inside the fine surface detail nearly as well as the paint. While we are onto it the white is strong and even where it switches to the silver of the cowling you cannot see it in colour or in the height of the decal. Brilliant work! Now we can get onto the decals accuracy.

The aircraft in featured by Zotz in this release are both from the 78th Fighter Group – based during the Second World War in Duxford in Cambridge just a little north of London. This base was one of the most famous bases for the English during the battle of Britain and then the Americans during the bombing offensive of Nazi occupied Europe. The airfield still exists and now houses the American air force museum – truly worth a visit – up till this year with the crash of the famous “Big Beautiful Doll” P-51D you could still see checker-nosed birds flying from this base in airshows. The reference material here included the book “Eagles of Duxford: The 78th fighter group in World War II” by Garry L. Fry. Credit here is given in the form of special thanks to Mark Proulx who has researched many mustang decal sheets and sure knows his subjects – I'll go through both of the aircraft's schemes now and compare them to the decal sheet I have in detail

My Research…
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"Little Chic" WZ-X - P-51D-20NA s/n 44-72099 from the 84th FS 78th FG
 This aircraft was assigned to 1st Lieutenant Warren Blodgett who scored five kills in the war.  This Mustang was overall natural metal with a black rudder and a segmented black and white spinner. The antenna mast, windshield and canopy framing, wing elevator tips and vertical fairings were all black. Fitted with perforated breather plate and with a olive drab anti-glare panel this is a lovely example of a Duxford bird
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The eye catching “little chick” motif on the aircraft is rendered very well here  with the chicken duplicated right down to the difference in the yellow and white colours and the sweat coming from it. While we are on this part of the aircraft you can clearly see the pilot and ground crew’s names on the decal as you can on this picture.
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A note on this aircraft is that I have pictures with Zero – four and five kills on the canopy frame – Zotz have provided five so I suppose you can put on as many or as little as you like here on this aircraft. Nice!
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 Next aircraft on this sheet is named  "Big Dick" (Big Dick  I am sure all of those gamblers out there will know is the craps call for double five)  MX-U - It was a P-51D-20NA  with serial number  44-64147 from the 82nd Fighter Squadron of the  78th Fighter Group
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Aircraft assigned to Maj. Dick Hewitt. Officially credited with 4 air plus 4.3 ground victories. Hewitt became the CO of the 82nd FS. He survived the war having flown over 100 combat missions.
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The aircraft was an overall natural metal finish. With a red rudder and black Spinner segmented with white. Anti-glare panel was again Olive drab while the antenna mast was black.
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Well I am satisfied! A well-researched decal – accurate in its reproduction of the aircraft depicted. A very hard to fit large decal which took a lot of handling and still held together, settled down and fitted the aircraft perfectly – could you ask for much more? Well maybe some politically naughty names – check! It’s all there with this release – I have changed from Jasper Joker to this for my first mustang build this year – it’s still a case of which one I want to do out of the two ?

At least I have the top cowling done already

Thanks to Zotz for these excellent decals which are all to be residing on my mustang very soon.
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