Lifelike Decals 1/48 244th Sentai Pt3

This 1/48 decal sheet from Lifelike decals is a reprint of their early 48-005 set that is now hard to find. This set covers 8 Ki-61 (Hien) aircraft all from the 244th Sentai that defended Tokyo. The instructions say the set is designed for the Hasegawa Hien and also the new Tamiya I-Tei. The Tamiya I-Tei is a brand new kit while the Hasegawa, although a very good kit, is quite a few years old now. The release of this decal sheet is very nicely timed to give you more options for your new Tamiya kit.

The decal set arrived from Lifelike Decals in a cardboard envelope and made it from Japan to Canada in perfect condition. The decal set contains:

  • 2 A4 sheets of single-sided colour instructions
  • 2 sheets, one double sided, of background information about the references and the 8 decal options.
  • 1 decal sheet 20 cm x 14.5 cm
  • 1 decal sheet 14.5 cm x 5 cm
  • 1 decal sheet 14.5 cm x 2.5 cm

The subjects of this sheet are:

  1. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Tei ’87’, Capt Kobayashi?, Akeno AB, early May 1945.
  2. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Hei ’21’, Lt Hiranuma, Kobayashi,  Chofu AB, Feb 1945 onward.
  3. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Tei ’62’,  Lt Itakura, Seiichi Suzuki, Chofu AB, March 19 1945.
  4. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Tei, Shinbu-tal, Nakano, Ashiya AB, approx Oct 1945.
  5. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Tei ’24’, Capt kobayashi, Chofu AB, late Dec 1944 to early Jan 1945.
  6. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Otsu ’16’, Capt. Shono, Chofu AB, Jan 3 1945.
  7. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Hei ’88’, Capt. Shono, Chofu AB Feb 23-24 1945.
  8. Ki-61 Hien type 1- Tei ’71’, Soyokaze-tai, Chofu AB late Feb 1945.

The decal sheets look to contain enough hinomaru to make 1 aircraft from options 1, 3 or 5 and then one of the remaining options. There are enough stencils for one aircraft. If you use the stencils and hinomaru from the kits you’re building you can obviously make them all.

Starting with the double sided sheet of information about the 8 decal options, for each of the options there is a paragraph of background information. I’m always impressed with the research that Lifelike Decals do on their subjects. For each subject they explain which of the 13 reference documents were used and explain any parts of the paint scheme of each aircraft that are not completely known. Such as option 1 which has a question mark after Capt. Kobayashi’s name. This is because it seems to have the right number of kill markings for him at this time, but there is no record of him being at Akeno AB at this time. The aircraft certainly existed, but it’s not certain if he ever few it. Lifelike will often give you background information like this to explain why things are placed or coloured the way they are. They really know their subjects!  On this sheet they also give you some hints on how to replicate the faded white lines on some of the subjects. The second info sheet lists the 13 references used and also talks about a clover leaf marked Hien Tei, which despite being shown in a few books and portrayed as being added by Japanese ground-crew, probably wasn’t original and was most likely added by American personnel after the war.

The decal placement guides are in full colour.The main sheet shows port side views and the decals are clearly numbered. It’s on this sheet that it also says which kits are suitable for the decals. Lifelike Decals likes to hear from you and puts their fax number and email address on this sheet. Their website is also listed and if they discover updated information about any of their decal sheets they put the info on their website. The last sheet contains various part views of the aircraft showing where all the stencils are placed and well as propeller tip colours and any idiosyncrasies specific to each aircraft. There are also several notes about the colours and markings of the 244th Sentai aircraft. This sheet covers which colours are used where, both inside and outside the aircraft and also when to cover such things as the introduction of the new Sentai emblem in the summer of 1943. Again Lifelike show the amount of research they have done to get these decals correct. You get decals for the yellow identification marks on the leading edges of one Ki-61. You can also paint these on too of course.

The decal sheets, as you can see attached and  in the video, have minimal carrier film and the colours are clear and everything seems in register. The text is readable when viewed up close.

The decals are available form Lifelike’s website for around $13.40 depending on the exchange rate, as well as from other suppliers around the world.

This is a very well researched decal set that covers 8 aircraft. You have stencils for 1 aircraft and can make 2 of the subjects of this set using supplied hinomaru. The instructions are excellent and the decals are of a very high quality too. If you have either the Tamiya or Hsegawa Ki-61 then this decal sheet is a good investment for you to make your finished build different from the crowd.

Many thanks to Lifelike Decals for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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