Operating from three runways on the island of Iwo Jima, the VLR (Very Long Range) Mustangs of the United States Army Air Forces 7 Fighter Command were able to use the extended range of the P-51 to fly to and from the mainland of Japan for escort and ground attack missions. The 15, 21, and 506 Fighter Groups (FG) formed this force of P-51’s, often sending one hundred-plus aircraft to Japan. Fighting not only the enemy, but also enduring harsh weather issues, environmental hazards of the island, and lack of incoming intelligence and supplies, the FGs persevered and contributed a great deal to victory in the Pacific. In addition to the 51 VLR missions to Japan, their operations also included 171 strike missions to the Bonin Islands and over 10,000 hours of Combat Air Patrol around Iwo Jima.
Forward by Brian Walters on the Eduard instruction sheet
In the box
Packed in the standard top opening box, Eduard's
Very Long Range: Tales of Iwojima boxing of the P-51D Mustang features six grey sprues, one clear sprue, 2 photo etch frets, one is pre-coloured, Brassin wheels and a handy set of masks. A large decal sheet with a colour instruction booklet completes the contents.
As an added bonus Eduard
have included a pin badge with the emblem of 78th Fighter Squadron in a little presentation box.
Having already built the first release of the P-51D here,
Tim's great review of the ProfiPack boxing here
and Rowans excellent review of the Royal boxing here
, I wont go over the same points again.
So what's new in this boxing, well there is an extra sprue which holds the long range fuel tanks, a small brass fret for mounting the rocket tubes under the wings, and a nice set of resin wheels.
For the build, internally not that much has changed apart from a few holes need drilling out on the rear fuselage section and tail for some ariels, depending on which decal scheme you are building.
The cockpit is the same fantastic mix of plastic and photo etch that are found in the previous P-51 releases, and it does really add to the detail that you can see under the bubble canopy.
The main undercarriage bay is just sublime and was a very nice surprise when I first built this kit, as the detail is exceptional.
Brassin wheels replace the plastic parts, and the detail is a lot better then the styrene parts with crisp diamond tread pattern on the tyres, which also feature the manufacturers logos.
Separate outer hubs are also a lot more crisper than the plastic offering.
The tail wheel is also replaced with a resin wheel and tyre, and features a grooved tread which is missing on the kits plastic wheel.
For the exterior there is a couple of P.E templates for adding panel lines, one for the rear upper fuselage and another under the fuselage, where two access panels need to be filled as well.
The canopy is thin and clear, but as there are three on the clear sprue make sure you use the correct one for the build.
A set of masks covers the canopy edges, and there is also a mask set for the wheel hubs, although if you are using the resin wheels these are a little redundant as one side of the hubs are separate.
A pin badge with the logo of the 78th Fighter Squadron is a nice touch in the kit, and features the Bushmaster snake head that adorns the fuselage of marking option "E".
The badge is supplied in a clear top box, with the clasp sitting behind a small felt tray insert, so it can left and displayed in the box.
Instructions, decals and markings
The instructions are typical Eduard style, in a colour folded A4 size booklet.
The first two pages is a forward written by Brian Walters, which is a very interesting history of the Mustang in the Pacific campaign. The third page covers the parts trees with any parts not used highlighted in blue, of which there is quite a few.
The build takes place over 10 pages and is easy to follow with internal colours for the Aqueous and Mr Color paints. P.E and optional parts are clearly marked. Any surgery required is highlighted in red.
Any optional parts for the various marking options are highlighted, and you have to really decide which scheme you are building quite early in the build sequence.
All the paint and decal schemes are in colour with all four profiles of the aircraft shown.
As with the internal colours, paints are for the Aqueous and Mr Color range.
A handy guide to the areas of the exterior which were lacquered aluminium and areas that were left natural metal is on the second to last page.
A full page stencil guide can be found on the back page of the instructions.
The decals are on one large sheet and are printed inhouse by Eduard
, they are in register and having used Eduard
decals plenty of times I have never had any issues with them.
12 marking options are supplied for the Mustang in the metal finish scheme with some colourful markings found on them.
Most of the colourful tails are to be painted on by the modeller, but marking option "K", is supplied as a decal as it consists of several blue diagonal stripes.
P-51D-25, 44-73382, flown by Lt.Col. John W. Mitchell, CO of 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, Summer 1945
Lt.Col. John W. Mitchell assumed command of the 15th FG few days after when previous CO, Lt.Col. Jack Thomas was killed during attack of the Kagamigahara airfield on July 19th, 1944. John Mitchell achieved 8 kills while flying P-39 Airacobra and P-38 Lightning on Guadalcanal. As the CO of the 339th FS, John W. Mitchell led the ride of the P-38F Lightnings of the 339th FS to kill Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18th, 1943. He is credited by 3 kills during the VLR sorties. Annie Lee was a 78th FS aircraft, wore very simple marking with glossy black propeller spinner and black wing tips and tail tips. Note the non-standard two-digit fuselage number.
P-51D-20 s/n 44-63483, flown by Maj. Gilmer L. Snipes, CO of 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Saipan, February 1945
Gilmer L. Snipes got the first kill of the 45th FS on October 23rd, 1943, shooting down H8K Emily flying boat while flying P-40N on Gilbert Islands. He became the unit´s CO on April 4th, 1944. 45th FS arrived to Iwojima on March 7th, 1945, providing the ground attack support and also flying the ground attack sorties against Chichijima and Hahajima. Snipes is credited by Ki-44 Tojo from the first VLR Mission on April 7th, 1945. He left unit on April 16th, 1945, returning to the US. Tom-Cat shows the early unit marking with black bordered slanted green stripes on the wing and tail and green/black/green stripped spinner. Note the squadron badge, the Indian rides a P-51, not P-40, as it is often shown. Note the single antenna mast.
P-51D-20, 44-63483, flown by Maj. Robert W. Moore, CO of 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, August 1945
Major Robert W. Moore is the top scoring fighter ace of the VII Fighter Command with 12 confirmed kills. However, his first kill, a Mitsubishi Zero, was achieved already on Gilbert Island on January 26th, 1944, and most of his kills were credited while he has flown with 78th FS. He led the 45th FS since July 19th, 1944, and then he overtook also the Mustang s/n 44-63483, named then Stinger VII. Stinger VII wore the simplified late unit marking with green wing and tail tips and sole green propeller spinner. Note the green painted undercarriage door.
P-51D-20, 44-63420, flown by Capt. Eurich L. Bright, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, Summer 1945
As part of Hawaiian Air Force were 47th Pursuit Squadron´s pilots credited by 7 kills during Japanese ambush of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Three and half years later, on March 6th, 1945, 47th FS was the first unit of VII FC arrived to Iwojima. Eurich L. Bright achieved his three kills during the first VRL mission over Japan on April 7th, 1945, shooting down Ki-61, Ki-45 and A6M5 Zero. Later on May 25th, 1945, he shared a Zero together with George Petrouleas. Note the dark parts of the unit marking were most probably very dark blue, not black how is often suggested.
P-51D-20, 44-63984, flown by Maj. James B. Tapp, CO of 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, May 1945
During attacks on Tokyo vicinity airfields on May 25th, 1945, 7th AF Mustang pilots fired unguided HVAR rockets for the first time. A quartet of thusly armed Mustangs was part of a force that included initially some 128 fighters, but only a mere 67 aircraft found their mark. The flight of HVAR armed Mustangs was led by Maj. James Buckley Tapp, who hit a hangar with his rockets at Matsudo Air Base, and then shot down a Ki-44 Tojo in combat. This would be his 7th kill, while his first four came about during the first escort mission of Superfortresses over Japan on April 7th, 1945. Margaret IV shows the early unit marking, with yellow/black spinner, six-inch black band around the nose, yellow/black strips on the horizontal and vertical tails, and black outlined yellow wing tips, with “The Bushmasters” unit badge on both sides of the forward fuselage.
P-51D-25, 44-73407, flown by Maj. James B. Tapp, CO of 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, Summer 1945
Maj. Tapp became the first USAAF ace to gain all his kills during VLR flights, the fifth, a Ki-61, on April 12th, 1945. Unfortunately, he also damaged Mustang of his wingman, Lt. Fred W. Whitte, who bailed out but his parachute didn´t open and he died. With a total of eight confirmed kills and two damaged, Maj. Tapp is the second ranked Mustang pilot of the VII FC. The next Tapp´s aircraft, Margaret V which replaced Margaret IV, wore the late squadron marking with sole yellow wing and tail tips and yellow propeller spinner. Unit badge is not painted. Curiously part of the black vertical tail band remained painted on the vertical stabilizer.
P-51D-20, 44-63451, flown by Lt. Robert J. Louwers / Lt. John E. Montgomery III, 46th FS, 21th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, July 1945
As this aircraft was shared by two pilots, it is also double-named, Mary Alice on starboard, My Miss Moe on portside. Mary Alice was Robert Louwers wife´s name, the girl was painted upon an Esquire magazine picture. Such painting is quite rare among the 46th FS aircraft, most of them were quite simply marked with black outlined blue vertical tail strip, black outlined wing and horizontal tail tips and blue spinner with black outlined nose of aircraft, which was the same style like with the other 21st FG squadrons where the other squadron colour were white for 531st FS and yellow for 72nd FS. One interesting detail is that Louwers served also as photography officer for 46th FS except he flew nine VLR missions to Japan and one over Chichijima.
P-51D-20, 44-63733, flown by Maj. Paul W. Imig, CO of 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, March 1945
Major Imig, a veteran of VII FC, named his Mustang for his girlfriend and latter wife. Dede Lou completed all together 26 missions flown by various pilots from Airfield No.2. Paul Imig left the squadron in mid May returning back to US. He spent some three years overseas, having been a P-39 Airacobra pilot of the 333rd Squadron on Canton Island in late 1942. 72nd FS as well as whole 21st FG operated not too much colorful Mustang comparing the aircraft of the other units. The black bordered yellow strips on vertical tail, black bordered yellow wing and horizontal tail tips, yellow spinner, black outlined nose, a name of the plane on the nose side under the exhaust, that´s it.
P-51D-25, 44-73623, flown by Maj. Harry C. Crim (later flown by Flt.Off. Theo Gruici), CO of 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, July/August 1945
My Ach´in was delivered from Guam in late May 1945 as a replacement for destroyed aircraft. Flown by Major Harry Crim it was the second Crim´s aircraft by 531st FS. 531st FS CO Harry Crim was an old-timer who flew already P-38 over Tunisia in the MTO on 1943, and top scoring squadron and 21st FG fighter ace credited with 6 kills. He claimed his first kills, Ki-45 and Ki-61, on April 7th, 1945, during the historic VLR Mission to Tokyo. Later on August, My Ach´in was flown by Theo Gruici, who replaced the Mission symbols with the another pin-up girl on the starboard side of the aircraft. The number 300 was replaced while the aircraft was moved to Guam to no. 3623 after the end of the war.
P-51D-20, 44-72570, flown by Lt. Ralph S. Gardner / 2nd Lt. Chester Jatczak, 457th FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwojima, June/July 1945
This aircraft was shared by Ralph Gardner and Chet Jatczak, named FIGHTING LADY on port side was later renamed to BROADWAY GAL with inscription on the nose. For Chet Jatczak this was Broadway Gal plane No.2, as he flew the No.538 also named Broadway Gal previously in June and early July. The aircraft No.538 was shot down near Suzuka on July 16th, 1945, while was flown by Capt John Benbow during the strafing of airfields in Nagoya area. He became most probably a victim of Maj. Yohei Hinoki flying a Ki-100. The Broadway Gal printing style is not known. The original squadron color were green stripes on the tail, replaced by solid green paint after the squadron entered the operation for the better visibility.
P-51D-20, 44-72579, flown by Capt. J. B. Baker Jr., 458th FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwojima, July 1945
Captain J.B.Baker Jr shot down a Ki-44 during the escort sortie over Nagoya and Kobe area on June 23rd, 1945, and he is also credited by J2M Raiden probably destroyed during another raid to Tokyo area, strafing the airfields east and northeast of Tokyo. 506th Group struck Katori and strafed Yachimata and Miyakawa. Based on No.3 Airfield, the Mustangs of 458th FS squadron marking consisted of 4inch wide angled dark blue stripes, the replacement aircraft tails were painted in solid blue except vertical rudder. Note the Luftwaffe style spiral on the spinner and an attractive archer emblem on the right side of the aircraft.
P-51D-20, 44-72587, flown by 2nd Lt. William G. Ebersole / 2nd Lt. James R. Bercaw, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 20th AF, Iwojima, July 1945
This Mustang was shared with 2nd Lieutenants Bill Ebersole and James Bercaw. Bill Ebersole, the youngest pilot of the 462nd FS, arrived to Iwojima east side No.3 Airfield already on May 1945, in times of latest night attacks of the rest of Japanese soldiers. He flew his first combat sortie over Chichijima on May 15th, 1945. He flew the first VLR Mission among his total 10 on June 7th, 1945, which was a 8 hours long escort sortie over Osaka. He was credited by Zero destroyed on ground during attack of Hyakurigahara airfield on June 26th, 1945. He is also credited by destroyed small transport ship „Sugar Dog“ type on early August. His final strafing mission was flown against Tachikawa on August 5th, 1945, only day before dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Very Long Range: Tales of Iwojima boxing of the P-51D Mustang is an excellent kit, with loads of marking and build options.
Having built an earlier boxing of this kit, I can safely say, you wont have any trouble with the build, and even though I am not a fan of the P-51 Mustang I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the build.
This is one kit every modeller who has any interest in W.W.2 aircraft should have in there stash.
Build blog coming soon.
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