VMFA-323 Death Rattlers / USMC F4-B Phantoms in the Vietnam War

Published on
August 10, 2020
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Base Kit
Company: AOA Decals - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: AOA Decals - Website: Visit Site

Commissioned in 1943, this particular squadron got its nickname from some pilots who killed a rattlesnake at their first deployment at Cherry Point and then hung the skin in the ready room. VMFA-323 was first deployed to Da Nang Air Base in 1965, losing the only Phantom ever to a surface-to-air missile shortly thereafter. The squadron remained in Viet Nam until 1969, flying from both Da Nang and Chu Lai during that time.

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 no less than three aircraft from their stay at Da Nang during 1967 and 1968– 2258, 0476 and 1422. Every detail difference in markings is clearly shown in the instructions, 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!


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