- Published on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 11:01 James Hatch
Lifelike Decals Spitfire Extavaganza!
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIe Part 1, #32-010
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIe Part 2, #32-011
- Supermarine Spitfire Part 3, #32012
- Supermarine Spitfire Part 4, #32013
Available from Hannants for £14.40 per set
Lifelike Decals may or may not be a company that you’ve heard of before. They are based in Japan, and while they aren’t a new company, having previously released some wonderful sets in all scale, they have decided to pander to us Spitfire fans in a BIG way!
This year has seen the release of no less than FOUR new sets for the Spitfire, in all 3 main scale (1/72, 1/48 and 1/32). The subject of this review are the 1/32 sets, my particular favourite scale. There is a little break in continuity with regard to the actual sets, as the first two are exclusively for the Spitfire Mk.XVIe, in time for the fantastic Tamiya Spitfire Mk.XVIe kit release. The last two sets actually deal with a variety of different Spitfire variants, namely the Mk.Vb, Mk.Vb Trop, Mk.XVI, and Mk.Va.
You’ll notice that the latter two have the ‘16’ again, but notice that these aren’t the clipped-wing ‘e’ variant, so you will need to fit regular elliptical wingtips included in your kit, but not shown as for use.
Let’s take a look at the subject matter for the Mk.XVie sets first. Lifelike Decals have chosen some, in my opinion, exceptional subjects for these first two releases. Yes, we see some regular camouflaged machines, but we also see a PRU’ish blue machine, a gloss black and gold machine and a Belgian machine too.
Firstly, all these sets come presented in a clear zip-lock bag, and apart from the decals themselves, they include high quality colour-printed sheets depicting each colour scheme in profile and top-down elevation. Each scheme also includes a background to the particular machine in question with regard to the scheme presented. Colour notation is included, and in some cases, this is particularly important as the possibilities of variation from what LLD have supplied, is also noted. An example of this is the black and gold machine, which was the personal machine of an Air Officer Commander. LLD supply a gold decal for the exterior of the fuselage roundel, while saying in the text that they suspect this is not the case! Kudos to them for still supplying this high quality gold-printed alternative. I think unless you know it was yellow, the case for using the gold one is solid! This machine also has the red and blue elements of the roundels printed in a powder blue colour, and again, LLD’s explanation for this is given and seems to be justified.
A great amount of technical detail is given with each scheme with regards to marking usage and colour application, and mention is also given where the machine was modified. At least two of the 16e machines had their weapons bays converted to luggage storage compartments, and as a result, the barrel stubs are modified. This is shown on the scheme elevations, and you will need to modify such parts and check your references with regard to these modifications. A full stencil detail sheet is given, and all decals are identified by means of a number system. Stencil diagrams are line drawings, and are given with exceptional clarity.
Of these two sets, one has three decal sheets, and the other has four. As well as the obvious individual machine national markings and personal emblems, a sheet of stencil decals are also included in each set. Clarity of printing is second to none in each case, with printing both in perfect register, and also very thin. I note that earlier sets were printed by Microscale Industries, and I don’t know if these are from the same manufacturer, but looking at the earlier sets (reviews coming soon), I would say that they are. Japanese decals have a reputation for being thicker than modellers like, but these suffer from none of this issue.
The colour is solid and authentic in each case, and the gold printing is the best I have ever seen, and on a par with the gold representation on ALPS printed sets from other manufacturers. Of course, these aren’t ALPS, but regular water-slide decals.
The subject matter for these first two sets are given as follows:
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIe Part 1
- Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe, SL731, Air Marshal Sir James Robb, Fighter Command Communication Squadron, Northolt, 1948
- Spitfire LF Mk. XVI, TB900, Sq. Ldr. Raymond Lallemant, RAF No.349 (Belgium) Squadron, Fassburg, Germany, 1946
- Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe, TD231, 350 Squadron, Belgian AF, Fassburg, Germany, 1946
- Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe, TE199, Air Officer Commander RAF No.21 Group, Swinderby, 1948
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIe Part 2
- Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe, TD240, Sq. Ldr. Boleslaw Kaczmarek, RAF No. 302 (Polish) Squadron, Varrelbusch, Germany, 1945
- Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe, TB625, W.O. Murray J.C. Lind, RAF No.45 (NZ) Squadron, Fassburg, Germany, 1945
- Spitfire LF MK.XVIe, SL718, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, No.612 Squadron in 1949 Cooper Air Race, Elmdon Air Force Base, 1949
- Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe, RW396, Central Gunnery School, Leconfield, 1946 – 1947
Parts 3 & 4 of this Spitfire set are no less impressive, but gives the opportunity for modellers who don’t possess the new Tamiya 16 kit to try out some of these well-chosen schemes. Again, each set is presented in a zip-lock bag, with the same high quality printed material. Part 3 suggests the use of the Hasegawa Mk.Vb, and the HobbyBoss Mk.Vb also. Part 4 suggests the use of the Tamiya Spitfire Mk.XVIe kit for two of the four schemes, and the HobbyBoss Mk.Vb kit, and the Hasegawa Mk.Vb for the remaining two schemes.
Decal quality is commensurate with that of Parts 1 & 2 of this release, and again contains stencil decals. Part 3 contains four decals sheets, while Part 4 contains no less than FIVE decal sheets! Some decals, such as nose art, also come with a negative white decal so that the richness of the colours aren’t lost in a camouflaged background. Decal clarity is again of the highest quality with regard to the smallest of detail contained within the stencils, and colour is sold and authentic. Registration is perfect and the print quality matches this. Please remember that some of the Part 4 machines require the ‘16’ kit to have extended wingtips.
Sets three and four contain the following schemes.
Supermarine Spitfire Part 3
- Spitfire Mk.Vb, AD196, Sgt. Jack Evans, No.71 (Eagle) Squadron, Debden, 1942
- Spitfire Mk.Vb/c, unknown serial, F/O James Montgomery, 4FS 52FG, Palermo, Sicily, 1943
- Spitfire Mk.Vb, EN824, P/O John W. Yarra, No.43 (Australian) Squadron, Martlesham Heath, 1942
- Spitfire Mk.Vb, ER821, F/L Neville Duke, No.92 Squadron, Libya, 1943
Supermarine Spitfire Part 4
- Spitfire Mk.XVI, SL721, Air Chief Marshall Sir James Robb, Hendon, 1948 to 1951
- Spitfire Mk.Va, W3185, Wing Commander Douglas Bader, Tangmere Fighter Wing, 1941
- Spitifre Mk.Vb, unknown serial, F/O James Montgomery, 4FS/52FG
- Spitfire Mk.XVI, TD248, operated by BAC Aviation, East Colne, 1997
So what do we think?
If you are a fan of either the Mk.V or Mk.XVI(e), then these sets really are unmissable. The quality and depth of both research and detail, combined with the sheer number of included decals, make these sets excellent value for money. I can’t recommend these highly enough.
Our sincere thanks to Lifelike Decals for the review samples used here. To purchase these directly, click THIS link. Please look out for a review of some older LLD decals sets, coming very soon!