Lifelike Decals 1/48 48-053 A5M Pt1

This 1/48 decal sheet from Lifelike Decals is designed for A5M kits by Fine Molds or Wingsy Kits. It is the first of 3 sets for this aircraft and fills a void in the marketplace for decals of this aircraft in 1/48. The set consists of:

  • 1 A4 sheets of single-sided colour instructions
  • 1  A4 sheet showing titles and black & white stencil placement.
  • 1 double-sided A4 sheet showing lots of background information for each decal option
  • 1 decal sheet 13cm x 13 cm
  • 1 decal sheet 13 cm x 18 cm

The decals arrived in a padded envelope from the manufacturer. Your supplier may package differently. The set is inside a zip-lock style bag and the bag has plenty of space so it is easy to get the sheets in and out.

The sheet covers 12 aircraft:

  • A5M2b, 3-154, 12th Kokutai, KongDa AB, China, 1938
  • A5M4, Japan 1939/40, as flown by Commander, Soryu Fighter Group
  • A5M4, W-107, 1940/41, Soryu Fighter Group
  • A5M4, 9-151, 14th Kokutai, Nanning AB, China, 1939/40
  • A5M4, K-112, Kaga Fighter Group, South China Sea, late 1938
  • A5M4, Akagi Fighter Group, Yokosuka AB, 1939
  • A5M4, T-153, Tsuiki Kokutai, Tsuiki AB, Autumn 1942
  • A5M4, CII-102, Hosho Fighter Group, 1941/42
  • A5M4, CI-106, Zuiho Fighter Group, Sasebo, March 27, 1941
  • A5M4, 3-186, Yokosuka Kokutai, Yokosuka AB, Dec 1939
  • A5M4, 2 -103, Tainan Kokutai, Formosa, 1944/5
  • A5M4,  -130, Kasumigaura Kokutai, Matsushima AB, Jan 1944

There are two complete sets of stencils, so you can do 2 complete aircraft form this sheet. You have enough Hinomaru for 2 complete aircraft too and you will still have several Hinomaru left over to do most of several other options.  If you use some stencils and possibly some decals from the kit you’re building you could do a lot of the options in this set.

The A4 sheets are all folded in half to make a small booklet. The cover shows a port side view of 4 of the aircraft and the other half of this sheet shows common markings for all of the aircraft. These views are an adequate size for the that would be positioned using these views. This page also lists the 21 references that were used in producing the sheets. This is a very good idea and points you in the right direction if you want to find out more for yourself. The second A4 sheet gives you port side views of the 12 aircraft and for 5 of them, there is also a partial wing view to indicate decal placement on the wing upper surfaces.  There is a short description of each aircraft as well describing the paint schemes, special instructions and which of the 21 references are used for a particular aircraft. The extra information will come in really handy in getting your aircraft right and goes into a lot of detail about the aircraft and pilot and also the peculiarities of a particular aircraft at a point in time and even mentions such things as when the references disagree on colours and clarify which one of them is probably correct.

Another thing I like is that Lifelike Decals have updates to sheets on their website. If they find out that a correction is needed to one of their decals the publish the information on their website and they invite you to contact them if you want the update.

The decal sheets are printed by Microscale. The carrier film is minimal and the colours are clear and everything seems in register. The decals with text are all readable apart from the smallest ones, which is to be expected in this scale. Overall, the decals seem to be everything you would want.

This sheet will cost roughly $16.75, depending on where you live, and is available from Lifelike Decals.

A highly recommended set of decals for the A5M that fills a gap for alternative choices for the 2 1/48 kits available. Lifelike Decals back up their products and conduct extensive research to make sure their decals are accurate. Their notes on each aircraft provide plenty of background to each aircraft and pilot.

Many thanks to Lifelike Decals for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
HobbyLink 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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