Once again, aircraft from “My era”, the early 1980’s, are starting to appear on decal sheets. RAF Alconbury was a busy place; Not only for the RF-4C’s that were stationed there, but the U-2R (TR-1 at the time) was a common sight. And in between all that activity, the dart-shaped F-5E’s of the 527th Aggressor squadron claimed AR as home. They were frequently deployed to other locations such as Deccimommano, Italy, and USAFE bases in Germany and Spain to practice their trade on our local USAFE fighter pilots.
These sheets from Twobobs are excellent historical references. If you are independently wealthy enough to own several of the new F-5’s from AFV, you could easily make an entire squadron of Warsaw-pact look-alikes. I’m certain these decals will work with the Monogram and Italieri 1/48 F-5E’s if you have them in your stash.
The decals are printed by Microscale Industries; registration is spot on, and the colors appear accurate. Twobobs’ marking diagrams cover BOTH sides of each aircraft; this is most appreciated, as sometimes the plan (upper) view provided does not give full depth to what the camoflage does on other company’s sheets. Twobob’s instructions handle this little important point quite nicely. All versions are covered; Old Ghost (Gray), Snake (greens and tans), Vietnam (Grays, greens and tans) ADC Gray (overall monotone ADC gray), Grape (Blues and Grays), and New Blue (Overall wraparound grape scheme)
The majority of the markings are of the “stencil” variety; with the exception of the Bort Numbers, which are full-color like the actual period Soviet markings.
There are a few aircraft which have the full-fill USAF and colored U.S. insignia, but the 1980’s were a period of breaking into experimentation for better concealment, particularly with findings being noted by pilots in dissimilar air combat (DACT). One observation was white or bright helmets stood out and could actually compromise an aircraft’s location from a far distance in the air; sometimes a couple of seconds in not being noticed visually makes a difference in a making a kill or getting away. This is also true of insignia and markings. At over aseveral of miles, an aircraft becomes a gray dot; but given the right lighting, you can be spotted further out with bright markings… hence the emphasis on toning down grays. It’s survival of the pilots and aircraft that comes first, not the cool factor of the markings. There is a school of thought that says new sensors make the eyeball obsolete. To that I say, “Yeah, and we didn’t have guns on F-4’s because missiles made them obsolete”. Always someone trying to sell you something better… let the users decide!
Anyway, I used one of these sheets on my single AFV kit. This review took a while because I had to work at it! This F-5E kit, if you have not built one, is excellent out of the box. Fit of parts is perfect, although you have to take your time in construction. It’s complicated in breakout, but patience will reward! (There are also a ton of little bitty bits)
I also had to acquire the correct paints; in the past I’ve mixed my own colors against the FS fan deck. This time I tried following the instructions. Using Modelmaster paints, I was able to generate one of the “Grape” jets. It’s blue… and the FS colors matched my photos except for the dark camouflage blue; the MM 35109 was too blue and too dark for my liking after it cured. So I mixed up my own using the MM color with white and a bit of gray to warm it out, and it came out much closer to the actual item in the end.
Decal time! These are pretty simple markings; I had a couple of them fold over on themselves and had a dickens of a time getting them to flatten out; be forewarned, these are not the older MS decals; these basically blend into the paint! Use plenty of wetting solution and water and be careful; the decals are strong. Once you put them in place over the Glosscote, they snuggle down without silvering. Wa-hoo!
Not much more to say: Glosscote over them; Flatcoat the final finish; remove masking; attach small breakable bits, stand back and admire!
I give these decals a 10 of 10 for subject matter and performance. Well done Twobobs!