Tracing its lineage back to 1925, VMFA-232 Phantoms began sorties over Vietnam from Da Nang Air Base in late 1967. Flying close air support for the Marines on the ground, the Red Devils flew nearly 6,000 sorties and delivered some 6,00 tons of ordinance during their time in the ‘Nam, being one of the few units capable of delivering 2,000 lb. bombs at the time. They redeployed during Operation Linebacker and lost three Phantoms during that time (one to enemy air action), becoming the last Marine Phantom unit to leave Vietnam in 1973. They finally surrendered their final remaining Phantom in 1988.
AOA Decals is making a name for themselves with some of the very best decals found on the market. Whisper-thin, spot-on register, easy to apply and with excellent opacity, they really make for an extremely pleasant modeling experience.
This set of colorful markings features two aircraft from this squadron – number 3833 from their stay at Da Nang in 1972, and 5795 for when they were stationed in Chu Lai in 1969. These two aircraft are quite distinctive from each other, and the set includes the extremely complete stencil decals created by AOA decals specifically for their Marine F-4s. What you get is actually three decal sheets – one for the specific markings for these aircraft, one for the national markings and a VERY large and complete sheet of stencils. This latter sheet alone features literally hundreds of individual stencils covering the entire airframe including weapons pylons. Registration is perfect and the film is extraordinarily thin. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they lay down with no obvious silvering. Frankly, I couldn’t find a thing to complain about, except perhaps for the time it’s going to take to apply them all.
I was particularly impressed with the superb instructions which are printed on high-quality paper and features pages of full color views of every single decal location. I’m afraid that any modelers who fudge this process will only have themselves to blame. Things couldn’t be more crystal clear.
Honestly, it’s not often I find decals designed so beautifully and professionally. They vastly outstrip anything you’re likely to find in any model kit at any price, and raise the level of your work to museum quality with no frustrations built in. I cannot recommend this series enough – if you’re a Phantom Phreak, these decals are an absolute must.
As always, my thanks to IPMS/USA for a chance to review (and have) these splendid decals and to AOA Decals for providing a truly top-notch product. Fun!