RCAF FR Spitfires - Canadians in Fighter Command #2 Decals
SkyGrid Studio / Aviaeology Publishing is located in Canada. The website is easy to navigate and intuitive, and products can be purchased through the website. Prices shown on the website are in Canadian dollars. SkyGrid Studio / Aviaeology accepts Pay Pal and a handful of credit cards. Aviaeology produces excellent decals, but SkyGrid Studio / Aviaeology Publishing does not limit its line of products to decals. Visit the website and you will note that there are some rather attractive book titles shown, as well as some prints.
The samples being reviewed arrived in a very sturdy cardboard container which protected the product nicely. There is more to the product that the customer receives than meets the eye. We will get to the bonus item in a minute, but first, let’s look at what is in the ziplock baggie that one receives.
Please reference the image, labeled “aod72009mdisplaycontent” below to view these items.
There are three sheets chock full of decals. In order to provide a reference, the sheet containing the roundels is approximately 3in x 3in. Sheet No.3, the stencil sheet, is loaded with the stenciling that one would find on a Spitfire. There isn’t much room to make a mistake while cutting a specific decal away from the sheet, so caution and care are the order of the day. However, you’re building a 72nd Spitfire and you’re already used to working with small items, right?
I held the sheet No.3 up to my magnifying lens and was surprised to see that I could clearly read the smallest of the stencils on the sheet. The quality of the printing is excellent! The roundels are centered nicely, and there are, simply put, no printing errors to be found anywhere on any of the three sheets.
There is no right/wrong to the following…it is merely an observation. Coincidentally, while reviewing this set of Aviaeology decals, I happened to be working on a 1/48th RAF Spitfire by Hasegawa. I took the opportunity to make a side-by-side comparison of the colors on the Hasegawa sheet and on the Aviaeology sheet. I found that the red in the Aviaeology roundels is a shade darker than that of the Hase markings. The yellow on the Aviaeology sheet is just a notch brighter than on the Hase sheet, as are the white markings. The intensity of the black and white markings between the two sheets is negligible. The bottom line is that the Aviaeology markings are believable and realistic in their coloring. I would suggest, however, that if the builder is planning to mix and match the Aviaeology markings with those from another manufacturer, that some careful observation of the desired non-Aviaelogy decals be undertaken.
An application test was set up with three slightly different variables. For the application test, a base surface was prepared upon which all three test items were applied. The base item was an undamaged and cleaned wing from an obliging model. The wing was prepped for painting, shot with coat of enamel Model Master Green, and then, after drying, a coat of Model Master gloss.
- Test 1: a decal was randomly selected and applied over the prepped surface with no additional setting solutions and no additional effort. View the image labeled Test 1. Initially, the decal did not adhere to the test surface as well as the decal in Test 2 (with Micro), but after setting up and drying the Test 1 decal looked almost as good as the Test 2 roundel. The only noticeable difference was that the Test 1 decal did not suck down into the engraved detail to the same level as the decal in Test 2.
- Test 2: a decal was randomly selected and applied over an application of Micro-Set, followed by a final coat of Micro Sol. The decal in question can be seen in accompanying image labeled Test2. As you can see in the image, the decal lay down without a problem and even sank into the engraved detail on the test item. There is no silvering and no clear carrier film visible beyond the yellow ring on the roundel.
- Test 3: No test with Solva-Set was conducted. The decals behaved very well with Micro in Test 2 and it was clear (based on experience) that using Solva-Set would most likely be a poor choice for these decals. Couple that conclusion with the admonition in the Aviaeology documentation against using anything more powerful than Micro Set and Sol, and Test 2 was sufficient.
Further, it should be noted that the clear carrier film does not extend into the open, center areas found in the letters O, P, and R.
The test reveals that, when applied to a semi gloss or gloss surface, and using Micro Set/Sol, the Aviaeology decals adhere to the surface without any difficulties, sucking down into the engraved detail on the surface, and have an outstanding appearance that visibly adds to the quality of the model.
That Extra Bit mentioned in the Intro
Each set of decals arrives with a small booklet enclosed. That small booklet is called a “monotone hardcopy” by Aviaeology, and south of the border we call it a black & white pamphlet. In the case of this product, the pamphlet consists of four standard-sized pieces of paper, printed front and back. The contents presented are outstanding! It is a combination of historical data on the aircraft, 3-view drawings for paint and decal application, and a history of the various markings on featured aircraft. A separate insert contains a 12-step how-to on decal application. The last bit of information on this insert states that Solva-Set should be used with caution.
Here is the really good news. A home/office printable color PDF of the pamphlet is an integral part of each Aviaeology decal set. It is a greatly enhanced version of the monotone hardcopy supplied with the decals, as shipped to shops and end-use customers. All end-user customers who have shared their email address with Aviaeology are entitled to a copy of the PDF as part of their purchase. Aviaeology states:
Customers purchasing directly receive the PDF via email when their order status is changed from “picked” to “shipped” in our database and a current email address is associated with the order in our system.
Customers purchasing from shops can request the PDF via email. A chit prompting them to do so is included in the poly bag. This chit is in the form of a small “ticket”, about 1 ½ inches by 3 inches, which invites the customer to contact Aviaeology with the information required to redeem the printable color PDF version of the pamphlet
You may wish to include an informational note on the above in your review / preview.
Beside having the option of printing it out in full color, buyers may be interested in knowing that the rendered illustrations in many of the Aviaeology decal set PDFs are originated as vector graphics. These are infinitely scalable on-screen, limited only by the capabilities of the viewing software. Using one of Adobe’s Acrobat products (including the free PDF Reader software) or other PDF-capable programs (such as Apple’s Mac OS X Preview or “PDF-aware” Safari web browser), the buyer can zoom in to see small details like stencil data decal orientation and technical feature positioning. This is especially useful if a laptop, tablet (such as the iPad), or other device capable of viewing PDFs is kept handy at the workbench.
Aviaeology produces an excellent decal. Simply by using basic application skills, a modeler will easily see that the decals display every expected quality and none of the problems and we all strive to avoid.
Beyond the decals themselves, the historical documentation that accompanies the decals is outstanding in coverage, clarity, and quality.
This Aviaeology decal set is highly recommended.
Thanks to Aviaeology and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this excellent product.