Being a Naval Aviation fan, I am always on the lookout for new markings and schemes. One of the more interesting schemes to come out in the last few years is the digital camouflage scheme work by the CAG of VFA-137, “The Kestrels”. I have always liked VFA-137 schemes (maybe it is the groups nickname, the Flying Buttcheeks) and some of their markings have been produced in 1/48th scale by several different manufacturers. The Kestrels are based at NAS Lemoore in California and started flying F-18A’s and have transitioned all the way to the new F-18E’s.
DXM Decals has produced one of the ultimate set of decals for the F-18E in that it replicates the digital camouflage scheme perfectly with decals.
For those that have never heard of DXM decals, they are based in Taiwan and DXM stands for Double Excellent Decal, and they are excellent. They have a range of decals from 1/144 to 1/32 scale and the subjects are anything but the drab gray schemes. In this case, they duplicated the digital scheme with decals and in fantastic 1/32nd scale for the excellent Trumpeter F-18E. They can be ordered direct from their site or, if you like, Sprue Brothers carries them here in the US.
Let’s look at what you get in the package. First are three pages (one is double sided) of color directions showing the placement of the decals, the order to put them on, and painting call outs in Humbrol, Mr. Color, and FS numbers. There are also instructions for an early and late plane when the pilots changed. Directions are very clear in that the red-lined decals go on first and in order. Green lined decals go next as they sit on the camouflage (these include national markings, tail codes, etc.). The instructions are excellent and look very well thought-out as far as the process to get done. The real stars of the package are the five sheets of decals, including all the camouflage markings. No masking necessary, just decal and done. Cartograf printed the decals, so they are of excellent register and opacity. The last decals sheet is the colorful tail markings for the Kestrels and all the numbers, slime lights, and miscellaneous codes.
For those not wanting 1/32nd scale, the same sheets also are available in 1/48th and 1/72nd. Trumpeter’s large Super Hornet has received minimal decal love until now. These sheets are fantastic and I have moved my F-18E to the top of the list for building and so look forward to a digital camouflage one soon. DXM Decals has made a great entry into 1/32nd scale with this set and has a winning combination of great subject, great instructions, and great decals. Highly recommended! My thanks to DXM Decals for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.