Saturday, January 21

Review - SMI Library 3 - North American P-51D/K Mustang and Cavalier F-51D Conversion from Kagero

PhotobucketFor the most hyped and then arguably the best loved aircraft kit of the year in 1/32 scale the Tamiya Mustang came a whole list of accessories and interest. Released late last year was this worthy edition from book and decal makers Kagero called “North American P-51D/K Mustang and Cavalier F-51D Conversion” which – as the title says covered the P-51D right through to the K and Cavalier F-51D Mustang. Packed with great pictures and drawings and in depth info what could top it all off? Well how about decals in 1/72, 1/48th and 1/32 scales? Let’s see if the result is as good as the premise…

Kagero - SMI Library North American P-51D/K Mustang and Cavalier F-51D Conversion
Written by: Pawel Matysiak
English and Polish text.
Pages: 74 with 122 pictures (12 in colour)
Format: Soft cover A4
Decal schemes: 4
Decal scales: 1/72, 1/48 & 1/32 printed by Cartograph
ISBN: 9788361220985
RRP: US$ 29.40 from The Kagero Bookshop online


 Kagero  bring us the third in this series of the SMI library – These are a little more in-depth fare that attempts to go a little bit deeper into the subject than Kagero’s usual series of books. This to a modeller is great news. This book weighs in at 74 pages and is filled with 122 pictures of which twelve are colour pics towards the end of the book. There are also six four-way coloured drawings of featured machines that are in the book – four of these are subjects of decals in all three major aircraft scales – 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scales.

Now the vital statistics are over I can say that the additional parts are just a small part of this book. The best part to me is the plethora of pictures packed into the A4 pages. Printed on good quality paper these pictures are pretty uncommon to my eye and there aren’t that many that I KNEW I had seen before. So many Mustang books seem to troll out the same fare it’s good to see some different American types.

This book concentrated on the “D” and “K” models   for the bulk of the photographed images. While there are only a few images of the F-51D Cavalier and only a few pages of Air National Guard machines I think most people’s interest is usually of western European machines so smart thinking by Kagero. If you are wanting a book on the rarer mustang this is a taster and not a feast. But if it is period pics of Mustangs you want this is the book for you.

The nature of this publication is of many pictures – usually two to a page with attached to them usually a paragraph of text explaining each aircrafts particulars – there is dual English and Polish text which is great if you are a native speaker of both of those countries – not so if not. This book’s strength however as I had said earlier is in the great pictures. All of them taken during the Mustang’s period of service and several in “lots” of the same aircraft or event. These are good for any potential modeller who wants to get all of the details of a particular plane. 

There are some really good pictures in here – “Desert Rat”, close ups of “Super Wabbit” on the airfield and “Romaine” crashed in Europe show in detail the internals which were once part of the aircraft skin make for good diorama scenes. Checker-tailed and lightning adorned and whole fighter group snaps are placed on consecutive pages for easy reference. It is smart thinking of Kagero to group them together like this.

The colour pictures are of varying focus but are nevertheless a great addition to this title – it is there that the pictures of the Cavalier Mustangs reside – along with some interesting south American examples along with some WWII ships

There are eleven pages of nicely illustrated drawings by Janusz Światłoń depicting six Mustangs with port and starboard side profiles. The upper side view & undersides of the wings are included in each aircraft’s illustration to give you some useful info in each ship. If there is a blue star in the top left corner then the aircraft you are looking at is included in the decal sheet which is also included in the book – this in my eyes would be the second best reason to buy this book after the picture galleries.  

The decal sheet is on an 18cm x 23.5cm decal sheet printed by those industry standard bearers Cartograf. Though the decal sheet isn’t a full A4 page there is still plenty of room to include four of the aircraft heavily shown within the book both in pictures and in the profiles. The only thing missing on these is the full stencil set and the national markings. These can be sourced usually from the box you are building but it is wise to check your references thoroughly for the exact dimensions as they sometimes differed on these aircraft depending on times, theatres and sometimes within units.

It is a shame there is no lightning bolt decal for the ship “Cheese Cake Chassie” as it would be my choice hands down if I was to apply these to my favourite Mustang kit. I would have liked all of the six profiles within the book maybe on a sheet like Kagero do with their red series but I am just being greedy here now!
The aircraft in this book portrayed in decal form are…

·         P-51D-15-NA (s/n 44-14955) ‘”Dopey Okie” - “HO-I”, flown by Lt. Karl K. Dittmer of 487th FS / 352nd FG, Belgium, 1945;

P-51D-20-NA (s/n 44-63497) ‘”Angels Playmate” - ”FT-I”, flown by Capt. Bruce W. Carr of 353rd FS / 354th FG, Paris, 1945;

·      Photobucket
   P-51D-5-NA (s/n 44-13712) ‘”Reluctant Rebel” - “B6-V”, flown by Maj. Robert W. Foy of 363rd FS / 357th FG, July 1944;

  P-51D-15-NA (s/n 44-15392) ‘”Cheese Cake Chassie”- 20”, flown by: Lt. B.J. Mayer of 2nd FS / 2nd Air Commando Group, Coxs Bazzar, January 1945.

The colours on these decals are strong and the white isn’t see-through so no chance of the base colour bleeding through. The carrier film is used sparingly which is the best thing especially on a natural metal bird where it all shows up! All of the artwork on the decals which is true to the photographs of the actual aircraft in the book is in register and there are no errors to be seen to my eye. Crew names and serial data plates are easy to read even in 1/48th scale (I am too old to be able to sight test in 1/72)

The decals held to the light so you can see the thinness of the carrier film

This set of combining a good pictorial research on the Mustang and the decal combination are great – a few more decal schemes would have been ace but you can’t build them all can you! I liked it a lot and it is a great book even without the decals but their addition puts icing on the cake.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Kagero for supplying us with this decal and book combo