Tuesday, November 13

Zotz 1/32 B-25J Mitchell at War Pt. II Decal Review

Zotz’ has released the second set of decals in 1/32nd scale “Gun Nose” decals to suit the HK B-25 kit – (The 32nd glass-nosed variants we reviewed here) There are some very well-known and much barracked for colour schemes as well as some less well known – let’s have a look at the sheet and see if Zotz are shooting straight with this set…..

Product #   ZTZ32/056
Scales: 1/32
Colour Schemes: Five in 1/32
Printed by: Zotz in Mexico
Price: US$30 + P&P
Available from:  Zotz’ Site where you can buy directly - also SquadronSprue BrothersMid-Ten Hobbies , Stevens International , Hannants   Scott’s Model Workshop  carry this set if they are closer to you.

HK models continue their way with getting the three differently - nosed B-25 models to the market – although the gun-nosed B-25 is on its way the decals could use some help – well Zotz have a sheet ready for you in this 1/32nd set – Called simply B-25J Mitchell at War Pt. 2 – this decal sheet should have something for us to slap on our new kits to make them look a bit more realistic – there are five different aircraft choices in this sheet –let’s look at the contents...

 This edition covers the later gun nosed Mitchells – some with some of the most colourful artwork seen in the war on any aircraft. Indeed there are some pretty scary schemes to see from the eyes of the enemy’s perspective – A wolf, a falcon, a bat and a … well a half-naked lady on “French Kiss” might have made things a little easier to bear.

My decals arrived in a hard card backed envelope from Mexico and on opening the zip-loc bag I found two sheets of decals and a glossy full colour instruction sheet bearing all of the “ships” here in profile and a top down view of  “Lady Lil” who needs some wingtip paint. The instructions go through the peculiarities of each aircraft and also some of their history as well. Again with the decal of “Lady Lil” you get the full low-down of the order of applying the masking sheet for painting. Masking sheet for decals???

Well to get the decals for this Bird and for “Betty’s Dream” which is also a wrap-around scheme the decals are just too problematic in this scale. 
Thoughtfully Zotz provide you with a large vinyl mask set for both of these aircraft so all you have to do is paint the colours on. Of course there are the decals for the finer nose art – but I much prefer this method of application. Zotz so far are pretty much the only manufacturer to tackle this method on the B-25 – well done to them. Let’s look at the decals now.

The Decals:
Zotz print their decals in México so they have not had any delays which others who use Cartograf have suffered lately (a few different makers have been effected by this) and I have always found their decals to be strong in colour and thick enough to resist a lot of handling (important whilst working on an aircraft nose) and the whites are not opaque. The artwork I have always found to be of top quality and in register – to date I haven’t seen a Zotz sheet with any problems in the printing so the quality control is right up there with the best of them.
When looking at the carrier film there is a minimal used here which modellers will no doubt appreciate – especially around the nose which gets lots of attention by the people who will want to gawk at such a big kit in the flesh
This sheet’s subjects have been researched thoroughly by Aleks Vasa and we will now show you the fruits of his labour by going through the decal choices on these birds one by one..

The Aircraft choices:

The first profile is of the bare metal finished bird from the 345th BG the “Air Apaches” called “Lady Lil”

These falcon nosed birds all carried the birds head on the nose and many were also adorned with lovely nose art – we are lucky enough to get “Lady Lil” -  the pilot's lady freind on the nose-art of this decal.
The masks are a large part of this kit and once you lay the yellow over the bare metal finish the instructions tell you to apply the anti-glare O/D panel and then apply the separate nose art decals and the mouth. All of the little lines in red and black are included to make this work relatively easy compared to any other method. Eli has put some thought into this process and I am sure modellers will be raising a glass to him once they get their sheet.

"Air Apache" heads for the tail are supplied here with O/D background on one side and just the roundel on the other side like the aircraft (nice work on the research) The two different  "9527" numbers in O/D and yellow are supplied as well.

Another bare metal finished aircraft “Black Panthers” from the 38th bomb group in Okinawa in 1945.

This aircraft – Flown by  Ramonis I Markwart  and had a colourful service life – the predominating feature of this aircraft is its massive panther nose art painted on the front to make her look more menacing (as if they needed help with all of those guns) the pictures below show the evil looking cat salivating out of its mouth –
 SN 430289 and the aircrafts “289” are supplied but you will have to paint the bottom tips of the vertical tails.

The next bare metal aircraft on offer is B-25J 44-29147 called “French Kiss” from the 41st Bomb group.

This aircraft would have been pretty scary to see in flight with its nose and turret guns and eight HVAR rockets underwing, it has the nose-art of “French Kiss” on the nose with a sassy mademoiselle to boot! Check out the great artwork done on the bikini clad lady - it is a great representation. 

 This aircraft only needs you to apply the two horizontal black bands tourself with masking and paint. The S/N 429147 is of course supplied in black lettering. 

“Betty’s Dream” was a famous pacific Olive Drab Mitchell with a massive black bat on the gun filled nose and the words “Pop Rice” denoting its pilot Capt. Charles E. “Pop” Rice, Jr. of the 499th Squadron.

 “Betty’s Dream” is still flying today – well sort of - there is an aircraft in her colours you may have seen – but below is a wartime picture of this aircraft and her impressive nose armament. “Pop’s” aircraft had 22 mission symbols and two Japanese silhouettes on the side of the aircraft by the time the war ended.

Betty’s Dream escorted two “Betty” bombers carrying the Japanese peace envoys to Le Shima on August 19, 1945, and again on the return mission from the conference in Manila with General MacArthur’s staff. 

This is the subject of the second mask and instructions are clearly given on the sheet. the mounth and nose are also included very realistically. The decals from Zotz for the nose of this ship are large - but they are pretty tough - after a lot of manouvering (like i had to do on my P-51 decal sheet) they still hold together so there arent worries about these. the "Air Apache" heads for the tail are supplied here with no background to suit the OD finish of the aircraft as well.

My favourite of this group is the very colourful OD ship “Emergency Strip” of the 71st BS the “Wolfpack” surprisingly or not these ships had a large wolf motif on the font covering the whole nose

This aircraft was based in the Philippines and almost to suit the wolf’s head the double meaning of a naked lady and “Emergency Strip” really suit each other – it makes me think of the old Disney cartoon with the rampant wolf going nuts!

The wolf's head is here in both a dark drey and a dark brown colour. I suppose because the eveidence is inconclusive - and i agree - even with a big picture like the one above it is hard to tell - so thanks to Zotz for giving us the option.

The Vargas style pyn-up matches the pictures of the aircraft we have very well -  what a good job it would be to look at beautiful pictures of lovely lady pin-ups - ohh thats what we are doing now... Great artwork anyways...

 We apply them to the HK Kit:

Well there you have the talk – now for some action - we have applied the Zotz Decal of the stars and bars to the BMF wing of the HK B-25 glass nose kit in a test in the last review to test the outcome and decal’s charachteristics - here are the Zotz decals on the HK kit 
The normal steps I take with decals apply here - tepid water and after applying the decal - positioning it and then lightly pushing the air bubbles (a BIG decal so lots of scope for that there) and then left to dry I wanted a while to make sure then  applied three consecutive coats of Micro-sol to the decal to make it sink into those tiny laser cut rivets - this would be a challenge!

The challenge passed - and passed easily - the decals settled down into the surface very well and these pictures tell it all - I got the decals to reflect light at every different angle I took the picture so you could see any imperfections - this is without even a sealing gloss coat! so the decals performed just how I thought they would - flawlessly!
I was a little worried we would only see smaller graphics and olive drab weatherbeaten schemes when we thought of any aftermarket decals for this aircraft in such a big scale - it seems that any of these worries have been pushed aside with this sheet of colourful aircraft. 

Five decal choices, all great in qualtiy, research and they fit on well - what are you waiting for - ohh the kit - if you dont have it already its a great build with the only real bummer on the original kit being the decals - With these now available again I'll ask - what are you waiting for??

Well done Zotz on another great sheet!

Adam Norenberg

You can order this decal sheet from the Zotz Decals website or from the other stores mentioned in the header of this review