Thursday, April 25

Kagero's miniTopcolors 33: P-38 Lightning at War Part II reviewed

Kagero’s new “MiniTopcolors” book on the sleek Lockheed P-38 Lightning is with us for review today – not only is it just a small book but a decal package in all three major scales as well – covering eight different schemes there is a lot to cram into a small book – let’s have a more detailed look.

Maciej Góralczyk, Andrew Bard
Softcover landscape format - 20 pages
English /Polish text
Decals in 1/72 + 1/48th & 1/32nd of 8 different schemes of 7 aircraft
Decals printed by Cartograf.
ISBN 978-83-62878-48-2
Available from Kagero Directly at this link

Kagero Publications from Poland is on the up - they have redesigned their website, corrected a lot of their older books in new and expanded editions and strived to upgrade their products, their customer’s expectations and therefore their reputation in the publishing world.

The addition to the upgrading of content they have secured Cartograf as their supplier of their decals which has further increased the quality of their book/decal combos and their newest “miniTopcolors” book “miniTopcolors 33 P-38 Lightning at War Part II” is the subject of today’s review.

This book is a landscape format publication with a lovely shiny cover and glossy coloured illustrations inside its scant 20 pages. The information isn’t what you would say all encasing, indeed there is one or two paragraphs for each of the schemes featured. This then is a brief look at each of these birds with text to match and profiles of each aircraft.
There are some excellent pictures on the first page of the book that show some of the aircraft tin this book and credit Dino Cerutti for his help with the schemes – I would like some more pictures – maybe one for each scheme would have been nice – but they are, as I prove later easy enough to find with the “ol’ internets”

The profiles of the aircraft themselves are excellent - I have to say we have come a long way in the last twenty or so years in the field of replicating what an aircraft actually looked like at the time it was captured in print. Now days there is mottling, aircraft wear and riveting effects just like what most modellers would like to capture in their kits – credit where it is due these profiles are excellent. A smart move by Kagero that will no doubt enthuse kit makers to try and emulate the art renders in the book.
 Coming with the book are individual markings in the scales of 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32  scale for the eight schemes of the seven different aircraft captured in the book – “44-26176, 'Vagrant Virgin'” is captured in two slightly different schemes flown by different pilots here.

The two sheets of decals are printed by market leader Cartograf of Italy – so there is no doubt to the quality of the decals provided. But you should know that the decals are sharp in detail and nothing is printed out of place. The whites are strong and look thick enough to withstand some manipulation especially around the nose.

 1/72 & 1/48th
What impressed me particularly was some of the detail in the research. Some decals are already weathered here as can be seen in the pictures earlier on in the book. Numbers around the nose are worn looking on the “107 Jewboy” scheme although that is the only scheme which shows that it would have been excellent to see that aircraft in a picture. I quickly found this picture on the internets to prove the weathering on the nose. This is an example on how the quality of the research and thought behind the artwork on the decals. 

The aircraft profiled and captured in decal form are…  

- P-38G-13-LO, probable n / s 42-2197, 'Nulli Secundus' / 'X-Virgin', flown by Lt.. Kenneth G. Ladd of the 80th FS / 8th FG Dobodura, New Guinea, Winter 1943-1944 year

- P-38J-15-LO, n / s 42-104107, 'Jewboy' side code '47 ', flown by Lt.. Philip M. Goldstein of the 49th FS / 14th FG, Triolo, Italy, May 1944

- P-38J-10-LO, n / s 42-67916, 'California Cutie' side code (KI) - 'S', flown by Lt.. Richard O. Loehnert the 55th FS / 20th FG, RAF Kings Cliffe, England, June 1944

- P-38J-15-LO, n / s 43-28444, 'Vivacious Virgin II', the code side 'E6-T', flown by Lt.. Ian B. Mackenzie from the 402nd FS / 370th FG, Florennes / Juxaine, Belgium, winter 1944/1945 year

- P-38L-1-LO, n / s 44-23852, 'Beautiful Bitch', the code side 'B7', flown by Lt.. John J. Kane of the 96th FS / 82nd FG, Vincenzo, Italy, March 1945

- P-38L-5-LO, n / s 44-26176, 'Vagrant Virgin' side code 'A', flown by Lt.. LV Bellusci of the 36th FS / 8th FG, San Jose, Mindoro, turnover 1944/1945 year

- P-38L-5-LO, n / s 44-26176, 'Vagrant Virgin' side code 'A', flown by Lt.. Peter Macgowan of the 36th FS / 8th FG, Ie Shima, September 1945

- P-38L-5-LO, probable n / s 44-26568, 'Wicked Woman', side code 'W', flown by Lt.. Richard C. Livingston of 36th FS / 8th FG, Ie Shima, August-September 1945.

 The thing I would have included somehow - maybe with the use of a mask - is the black decals for the nose on the 36th FS Lightnings which is complicated to make yourself.
These MiniTopcolors books are in effect some of the poshest decal sheets available - providing you with four views of each scheme, top quality decals and a few pics and supporting text. This is what I really look at these little books as.

The mixture of excellent profiles – the Cartograf decals and the additional pictures make this a great publication/decal package for anyone who is interested in the lightning and a must have for anyone considering modelling the kit in the three major aircraft scales.

Keep them coming like this Kagero!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Kagero for sending this to review.