Casper and his Bandit Ghosts
For those who love modern US Navy and Marine Corps jets, and like camouflage and color, nothing satisfies more than the schemes of an adversary and training squadrons.
VFA-125 also known as the "Rough Raiders" is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The "Rough Raiders" are a Fleet Replacement Squadron flying the F/A-18 Hornet. From the units own home page, their mission “is the indoctrination and training of Navy and Marine Corps personnel for carrier-borne strike fighter squadrons in all phases of F/A-18 employment and, on order, to be prepared to supply replacement aircraft and pilots to the fleet.” They are also the home to the west coast F/A-18C demo team.
Twobobs released this set covering several VFA-125 aircraft providing markings for three “Raiders”:
- Raider 401 F/A-18B BuNo 162885 Sept. 2009 overall white
- Raider 400 F/A-18B BuNo 162402 Aug. 2009 dual green and white camo
- Raider 402 F/A-18B BuNo 162864 Mar. 2008 three tone grey camo
Out of the bag you get two full color instruction sheets with color reference photos sprinkled along the edges in traditional TwoBob style. On the instruction sheet, the color used on Raider 400 seem way off showing the two greens to be more drab, and almost the same shade. Don’t use the instructions as a color guide, but the color photos on the edge. Also watch the color call outs on the sheet, as the instructions call for the same paint stock numbers (flat black) for all three colors on Raider 400! For the Model Master enamel range colors should be:
- FS34095 #1786 “Medium Green”
- FS34097 #1712 “Field Green”
- FS37875 #1768 “Flat White”
Decals are on one sheet with a small insert covering a single set of black walkways and centerline tank markings. A correction is also included for a couple of items, so be sure to use it vs. the markings on the main sheet. Looking at the decals themselves, we see that TwoBobs dealt with the multi-color decals needed for Raider 400 by dividing the decal into separate parts along the color changes, thus making items like the “MARINES” into multi-part affairs. I’m not sure what the advantage is of the multi-part decals, but it may have something to do with color registry in the manufacturing process as having them separated eliminates the chance the two colors don’t line up. Decals are printed by Microscale, so should be of fine quality and settle with the usual setting solution.
Painting these aircraft will range from the simple to quite challenging, so there is something for all skill levels on this sheet. Overall white on Raider 401 may be a bit of challenge just getting good coverage, though I have had great results with Krylon rattle can white decanted in an airbrush. It goes on smooth and glossy, and also covers extremely well. Fellow modelers at my local club swear on Taymia white in the rattle can also, and I’ve seen outstanding results. The grey camouflage of Raider 402 should be a good exercise in classic use of masks, or for those with a steady hand and quality airbrush may want to go at it freehand.
The real challenge comes with Raider 400, as this requires the camouflage to precisely line up so that the multi-color decals will also line up on the airframe. I had a similar challenge when painting a TA-4J, and found success through a series of blu-tack and paper masks cut and applied exactly where the camouflage was needed. Also before painting, match your paint to the decals themselves, mixing if needed. Be sure to compare dried paint with the decal color. When ready, start with a base color, and in the case of Raider 400 would be the flat white. Next, cut out the multipart decals and align them on the model marking where the color change should occur across the decal. This is where you want to place your mask so that the camouflage will allow for proper alignment of the decals later. Start with the next lightest color, repeating the process if needed for each subsequent color, adding or removing masks as needed. Though time consuming the end result is worth it. Use some of the saved camouflage colors to touch up the decals with a fine brush if there is any slight mis-alignment. Once clear coated and weathered it should all blend in perfectly.
Once construction of my F/A-18B is complete, Raider 400 will be the first on this sheet to be used, and I’m already eyeing another F/A-18B to do Raider 402. I’ll give an update on this review once one of the models is complete. I recommend this sheet to anybody interested in a challenge, and thanks to TwoBobs and IPMS/USA for the sample.