Speed Graphics is that sub-part of Reid Air products which have focused (initially) on Modern Fighters, particularly USAF and some export birds. Their line-up to date is small but impressive. Thanks to Reid Air for sending IPMS USA this review item, to Dave for the nod to move out on them, and Dick for bringing the sheet to the Nationals for me.
This release is a complex, well-researched product. Designed for Tamiya’s venerable, accurate, F-15C and E kits in the huge 1/32 scale, this is a great place to start your aerie for Eagles. Better have a new addition to the house as well. For the record, this kit was built up to the point of decal use and application/finishing, due to this being a Decal review and not a total kit review.
For the record, here is the content description from the website on the sheet:
“Sized for the relatively-ignored Tamiya F-15, this 1/32 sheet includes options for one of eight Eagles. Stencils are included for one F-15C and one F-15E, so two jets can be built from this single sheet.
- F-15C 78-0494, 65th Aggressor Squadron, Nellis AFB, May 2013 *splinter Camo flagship!!!*
- F-15C 84-0014, 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno, California, November 2013 *144th Fighter Wing flagship/MiG killer*
- F-15C 78-0504, 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno, California, January 2016 *former 65th AGRS jet in blue camo/144th Ops Group flagship*
- F-15C 78-0480, 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno, California, January 2016 *former 65th AGRS jet in brown camo*
- F-15C 85-0102, 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida, October 2004 *33rd Fighter Wing flagship/3 MiG kills*
- F-15C 85-0114, 44th Fighter Squadron, 18th Wing, Kadena AB, Japan, June 2013 *44th Fighter Squadron flagship/2 MiG kills*
- F-15E 89-0487, 335th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Bagram AB, Afghanistan, January 2012 *335th Fighter Squadron flagship/1 Helo kill/10,000 hours special
- F-15E 86-0188, 40th Flight Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida, October 2014 *40th FLTS flagship
Other markings include decals for ejection seats and targeting pods”
The instructions deserve copious praise here. Each subject is researched and described well, to include facts and details on each jet, including removal of the aft right cockpit vent on birds which had them covered over, and MSIP (Midlife System Improvement Program). I found a MSIP set AFTER I built the kit, which was not helpful, but will be for future builds. This is a VITAL part of the story and the decals are sized accordingly. Also, if you are building an ANG bird, you may or may not have full load on board. Aggressors have different equipment and, as a rule, do not carry live munitions on their missions. Sensors and tracking pods, and Sidewinder seeker heads with inert bodies, which are munition-shaped with different purpose, yes.
The decals behaved in a manner becoming the industry norm. Dense, accurate color, thin, flexible, but easily manipulated on the model prior to settling down, the majority of the decal elements performed flawlessly with the usual care being applied. On some schemes (such as the one I did from the now-deactivated F-15 Aggressor squadron at Nellis AFB) the paint scheme will keep you busy. Make sure you overlap the previous color, though, or you may be re-spraying a difficult area.
Following the instructions, I used Model Master Navy Aggressor Gray (36251) and Light Vietnam underside gray (FS 36622) from rattle cans to simplify my life, and mixed my own FS35102 Blue using the Mk 1 eyeball from Vallejo paints. I don’t care for enamels anymore if I can do it by acrylic. Seems to look close enough for my eye.
The kit is going to have the gear half up, mounted over a runway in a climbout after takeoff without AB because, well, I have yet to find a way to do that little gem of dioramics: Augmentor flame plumes.
The decals went on splendidly, snuggling down and settling with no curling edges. Once again the pictures tell the story; this is a cool sheet!!! Almost a shame to cut it up, buy two!
I was very pleased with this decal, and almost want to buy another Eagle to do the Eglin bird. It was a great time!
Extreme thanks to Reid Air for sending the set to IPMS USA, and to the IPMS stash keepers Dave and Dick, for providing them to me.