F-14A, A+, B of VF-103 Sluggers 1986-1995

Published on
July 20, 2011
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Provided by: Afterburner Decals
Packaging cover

Nothing symbolizes US Naval Aviation during the latter half of the Cold War more than an F-14 Tomcat, at least among fighters. Birthed from the abortive US Navy’s involvement in the F-111B it was kept from its full potential during most of its service with finicky engines and being limited to the interceptor/fighter role. It wasn’t until the last decade of its carrier that it had a chance to show all it could do with the Air-Ground role restored and GE engines. The last of the Grumman “cat” lineage to leave the flight deck, it was the pinnacle of brute force, performance, and power projection all wrapped up in a sexy package that could do over Mach 2.

Afterburner decals have been gracing Tomcat fans with a host of new decals. Covering an operational period of a particular squadron, the sets give the modeler an excuse to purchase even more 1/48 Tomcat models, and inspiration to build them! Set 48-071 covers VF-103 in their “pre jolly roger” days between 1986 and 1995. A couple of infamous Slugger Tomcats on the sheet include the quickly recognized “FLIR CAT” and “Cloverleaf 212” BuNo 161430 which was shot down over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. The pilot was rescued, however the RIO suffered brutal treatment as an Iraqi POW and was released at the end of the war. With twelve aircraft covered, there are a lot of options, as follows:

  • F-14A, 162706, 201, USS Independence, 1988
  • F-14A, 160896, 202, USS Saratoga, 1986
  • F-14A, 161156, 211, USS Saratoga, 1986
  • F-14A+, 162921, 200, USS Saratoga, ODS
  • F-14A+, 163219, 201, USS Saratoga, ODS
  • F-14A+, 161430, 212, USS Saratoga, ODS** Shot down in ODS
  • F-14B, 162921, 200, USS Saratoga, 1992
  • F-14B, 163219, 201, USS Saratoga, 1993
  • F-14B, 161601, 214, USS Saratoga, 1993
  • F-14B, 162921, 200, CVW-17, 1995
  • F-14B, 161873, 202, CVW-17, 1995
  • F-14B, 161608, 213, CVW-17, 1995, 'FLIR CAT'


Instructions are in multiple pages, full color, 8x11 inch format that are very easy to read and follow. Full stencil data is given for two aircraft and placement of these are shown on a separate black and white line drawing for clarity.


Printed by Cartograf, expect nothing but quality of printing on these. Everything is super sharp and in perfect register. No short-cuts were taken in the colors either. Even though it is listed as providing enough data for two complete aircraft, if there was any variation in colors of the data those variations are included on the sheet. So for instance the intake warnings and national insignia are provided in four different grays, plus full color for BuNo option 162706. Speaking of BuNo’s, markings are provided for several of the aircraft covering different periods, so there is a chance to start on a timeline series with a particular BuNo being modeled throughout its service life. The Nose art for “FLIR Cat” is right on when compared to photos, and they even picked up that the art is different on both sides.


These decals are a must for any F-14 fan or for those that would like to model one of the longest serving fighter squadrons in the US Navy. Before this sheet, VF-103 Tomcat decals were few and far between, and either incomplete or inaccurate. With Afterburner Decals on the job, none of us have any excuse now to not add a Sierra Hotel Slugger to our F-14 collection!

Highly recommended and thanks to Scott Brown and Afterburner and IPMS/USA for the sample.


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