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F3H Demon in
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SBD Dauntless in
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F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
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F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
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F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale

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AFTERMARKET REVIEW


Starfighter Decals F4D-1 Satellite Launch Program and ASAT Project & NOTS EV-1 Project Pilot Conversion Kit 1:72 Scale

 

U.S. air-launched anti-satellite (ASAT) vehicles reached its pinnacle in September 1985 when an F-15A christened “Celestial Eagle" launched an ASM-135 ASAT missile at the top of a supersonic zoom climb at 38,000 feet.  The missile’s kill vehicle successfully guided to the Solwind satellite orbiting at 345 miles above the Earth.  These and other flight tests demonstrated the weapon system worked and worked well, but the ASM-135 and other ASAT programs were soon cancelled.  There was an intense policy debate regarding anti-satellite weapons technology and arms control, and the U.S. Congress eventually banned the ASM-135 to engage any target in space, even in a flight test program.

However, ASAT missiles did not just appear in the 1980s.  The ASM-135 itself was the product of many years of previous developments.  The first such attempts were made in the late 1950s by a project headed by the U.S. Navy:  the NOTS-EV-1 Pilot, or NOTSNIK program.  This work, classified until 1994, involved an air-launched expendable rocket that was envisioned as either placing a small satellite in orbit or that would function as a satellite-killer.  The EV-1 and its companion, the EV-2, were developed by the United States Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS).  The vehicle itself was 14 feet long and had five stages.

Between July and August 1958, ten EV-1 and-2 vehicles were launched from an F4D-1 (BuNo 130747) assigned to NAS China Lake, but the test sorties were flown from NAS Point Mugu.  All attempts ended in failure and none of the EV-1s reached orbit.  The first and third launches got the closest to nearing possible low-orbit, but the EV-1s either suffered structural failures almost immediately after launch (to the significant peril of the Skyray “booster” aircraft) or they had trouble with igniting subsequent upper stages further on in flight.  Given these multiple failures and pressure from the Air Force, SECDEF Robert McNamara cancelled the Navy's space program and assign all air-launched space vehicle programs to the US Air Force.

Starfighter Decals by Mark’s Models and Toys has released a decal sheet set and resin conversion kit, packaged and sold separately, which provide the scale modeler the markings for Bu No 130747 and the parts to make the EV-1 pilot launch vehicle itself.

The decals come on two small sheets.  This F4D-1 was painted overall gloss sea blue, but during the EV-1 flight tests, the undersides of the wings were painted dayglo orange.  The decals themselves are very nicely printed, though the red in the stars-and-bars seem to be just a tad out of register and a little higher than they should be.  Of course, against a blue paint scheme, one always worries about the opacity of white decals.  Here, all the white markings appear to be sufficiently thick and opaque.

The resin set for the EV-1 features 16 light gray cast resin parts.  Casting is impeccable and no flaws can be seen.  Panel lines are recessed.  These include the launch vehicle and the special adaptor pylon that attached it to the F4D on the #2 station, where the port side drop tank would have normally been carried.  The body of the rocket is split into two parts – the nose cones and the first stage rocket cluster.  The stabilizing fins are all separate parts, as are the rocket engine nozzles and the left and right sway braces (described as “stabilizing pads” in the instructions).  Assembly instructions are clear and straightforward.  The painting and markings guide includes two schemes for the EV-1: the medium/olive green of the mockup EV-1 vehicle (with markings found on the decal sheet in 72-156), and a far more interesting and attractive dayglo orange, white, black, and steel scheme.  

Overall, this is a great combination of decals and a simple but very nicely executed resin kit of the EV-1.  While the instructions for both sets are printed with a bit of a faded look, it nothing you can’t work with.  If you’re a fan of unusual or unique subject matter and especially of naval aviation’s attempt to contribute to the space race, you’ve got some great material and inspiration for a future project here. I’ve had the 1:72 scale Tamiya F4D sitting the stash for probably a decade now.  This decal and resin set is now why that kit is finally going to be built. 
 
Many thanks to Starfighter Decals by Mark’s Models and Toys for the review samples. You can find them on the web and purchase these products at http://www.starfighter-decals.com/index.html

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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