Air Wing All Stars – Phantom Decals, Part One

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/48
MSRP
$19.99
Product / Stock #
48-0006
Base Kit
Hasegawa 1/48 F-4J/N Phantom II
Company: Furball Aero-Design - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Furball Aero-Design - Website: Visit Site
Decal Package

Introduction

Let's start with a little word equation: U. S. Navy + the mid-70's + F-4 Phantoms = Colorful Aircraft, and that's what this decal package is all about. Every option provided reflects a Phantom in hi-vis markings from the 1970's, a time of colorful U. S. Navy aircraft.

What's In The Bag

Initial impression is "WOW!" On one side of the baggie, you're presented with a color profile of all included aircraft, and on the other side a Cartograf-printed, 8 1/2 x 11 decal sheet full of colorful markings for 7 aircraft – 6 U.S. Navy F-4Js and 1 Marine F-4N. Everything is sharp, in register, and with excellent color. Digging into the bag, you also find a standard size decal sheet with all the black markings: buzz numbers, carrier names, "NAVY", "MARINES", etc. There are two pages of color that include left and top and bottom drawings of all aircraft, and finally there is a sheet of paper in black and white that shows stencil placement on one side and stores loading on the other. The only need for kit or other aftermarket decals will be for any stores you mount on your model.

You get 8 stars and bars; 6 stars of one size and 2 of a larger size; 3 sets of intake warnings, and 2 sets of walkways, one black and one gray. With those combinations, if you choose aircraft options carefully, you can do two complete aircraft, including stencils. They're designed to fit the Hasegawa kit, so if you try the VMFA-531 option on your Academy F-4B, you're on your own getting those stripes to fit the rudder.

Included Aircraft

There are markings for 7 aircraft: 6 Navy F-4Js in light gull grey over white and a Marine F-4N in overall light gull gray.

  1. F-4J 153777 VF-74 Be-Devilers 1974
  2. F-4J..153882 VF-92 Silver Kings 1974
  3. F-4J 155854 VF-103 Sluggers 1977
  4. F-4J 157270 VF-114 Aardvarks 1973
  5. F-4J 155731 VF-142 Ghost Riders 1974
  6. F-4J 155882 VF-213 Black Lions 1974
  7. F-4N 152323 VMFA-531 Grey Ghosts 1980

Accuracy

This was tough. Aircraft markings change, so to judge the accuracy of these decals, I needed pictures from the time referenced for each aircraft. I went through all my personal reference material, did numerous internet searches, and only found pictures of one of the subject aircraft in the referenced year. That was the VF-114 bird, and comparing those pictures to the decals, all looked right. I found pics of three of the other aircraft but from different years, so they can't be used to judge the accuracy of the decals. While I'm confident that the rest of the markings are accurate, those who are more particular than I am about accuracy may want to do more homework.

How Do They Work?

I chose the VF-213 for a different reason, for a second chance at matching red paint to the decals, a problem I had in an earlier review. Details on that later. So, painting is complete and the model gets 3 airbrushed coats of Future to ensure a good gloss coat. With several cautions, everything went well and quickly. The decals release easily from the paper; with the below caution, they give you plenty of time to move them to the proper position; they set up quickly once in place; and they needed nothing stronger than MicroSet to settle into and over surface detail, though in several places a new #11 blade helped getting them more deeply into recessed detail. I normally take four nights to apply decals – one night each for bottom, top, left side, right side. These set up so well and quickly that I did it all, including all the stencils, over a Saturday evening and a Sunday morning. The only reason I didn't get it all done on Saturday was I just ran out of time.

Several cautions, though. First, when I used MicroSet as a wetting agent before putting down the larger decals, they tended to stick immediately, requiring a dab of water and sliding a fresh #11 underneath the decal to lift it off the surface enough to move it – an activity with obvious danger to the health of your decal. I recommend putting water on the surface of the model instead of a setting solution before putting down the larger decals. This wasn't a problem with the small stencils.

Second, the markings from the sheet of black decals wrinkled very badly if I put MicroSet on them too soon. I know some wrinkling can be expected before they flatten out, but these looked like the kind of wrinkles that don't flatten and believe me, in 36+ years of doing this, I've seen plenty of those. What worked for me on those black decals was to put water on the model, apply the decal, get it in place, roll a wet Q-tip over it to force the water from underneath, letting it set for several minutes, and then applying MicroSet. If it wrinkled, I rolled the wet Q-tip over the wrinkles, flattening them out.

The final caution is color matching. Some of the marking selections require you to match detail painting to a color on the decal sheet. The instructions give you FS numbers, but I'd recommend them only as a starting point. The last time I did a decal review, I needed paint to match red decals. Those instructions called for FS 31136 Insignia Red, so, trustingly and without further thought, I used Model Master Insignia Red, which turned out to be an entirely different shade of red. I wanted another chance to get it right, so for this review, I chose the VF-213 option, since I'd have match red again. The instructions for these decals called for FS 31136 insignia red, but having learned my lesson, I compared every red in my paint stash and found that Model Master #28001 Gloss Red, from their Custom Lacquer System, was a nearly perfect match. Once again, Model Master FS 31136 was not even close. So, heed the voice of experience whispering in your ear – “Match the paint to the decals before you do detail painting…”

Recommendation

I love 'em and highly recommend them. In my opinion, my F-4J came out looking great. This is the best looking and most complete Phantom sheet I've seen. While the $19.99 retail may seem a bit pricey, you get markings, stencils, and stars 'n’ bars for two aircraft. The only other decals I needed were for the weapons. In fact, I was so impressed, I bought Furball’s F-16 and F3H decal sheets.

I’d like to thank Furball Aero-Design for supplying these exciting decals for review, and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review them.

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