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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


Fightertown Decals Tomcats at War Part 2:
Bravo Delta Showboats -- 1:48 Scale



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Even though in the twilight of its career, the F-14 Tomcat was at the tip of the spear and at its deadliest over the course of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.  In the 1990s, the famous fleet defense interceptor had evolved into a true multirole fighter.  After 11 September, 2001, F-14s provided for all manner of air superiority, TARPS reconnaissance, and ground attack roles including FAC-A, strike, kill-box patrols, buddy lazing, SCAR, strafing runs, and close air support often in support of special operations troops.  The F-14 was a true workhorse to the very last Tomcat cruise in early 2006.

Fightertown Decals is a well-known manufacturer of aftermarket decal sheets specializing in modern U.S. naval aviation.  We here at Detail & Scale are delighted to have received our first review sheets from Fightertown: Tomcats at War Pt.  2: Bravo Delta Showboats that feature markings for eight F-14Ds and one F-14B from the late 1990s until the final combat deployment.  These decals are sized to fit the Tamiya and forthcoming AMK 1:48 scale F-14D:

Fightertown Decals has gained a sterling reputation for their work, and a sheet like this demonstrates why.  First, the quality of the decal design is beyond superlative.  It is masterful.  Each individual sheet will impress, from the giant Felix on the tail of the Tomcatters jets to the smallest of airframe stencils.  I could say something positive about virtually every decal on the sheet.

Second, the decal printing by Cartograf is technically impeccable.  Colors are gorgeous - vibrant, opaque, and in perfect register.  The carrier film is very thin and exceptionally restrained.  There’s really nothing that could be improved upon regarding the technical attributes of this sheet.

Third, this decal sheet demonstrates an outstanding degree of accuracy, itself built upon a depth and high competence of research.  As a Tomcat guy, I am seriously impressed.  The markings guides capture the deployment-by-deployment and airframe-by-airframe minutia that varied quite widely between these late life F-14Bs and Ds, from the multiple variations on the TPS and higher-viz schemes, fonts of BuNos, era-appropriate weapons loadouts, LANTIRN pod color schemes, No Step/Lift markings, the CNAL Phoenix, various slightly asymmetrical markings such as names on the canopy rails, and so forth.  I like the optional Santa hat applied to Felix on Bandwagon 101 during the Christmas season of 2005.  There’s also a lot of other little details on the sheet including helmet decals for VF-31, 102, and 213 along with what look like a several flight suit patches (which I’m not sure I see in the instructions but that seem to be on the decal sheet, nonetheless).

On the Sunset CO bird from VF-31, there’s all kinds of commemorative “graffiti” represented – people signing their beloved jet in commemoration, and that can be read as “Tomcats Forever!” along with various names on the insides and tops of gear wells.  These are drawn from photos taken during the opening days of OEF and beyond.  There’s also bomb graffiti applied to GBU-12s, -16s, and Mk. 83s that include an “I Love NY” bumper sticker and slogans such as “Death From Above,” a pictographic extended middle-finger followed by the letter U and the words “Bin Laden,” FDNY and NYPD markings, and remembrances of the USS COLE and the Pentagon.  Fightertown just does NOT miss even the slightest of details.    

The subject matter is particularly poignant.  Starting with the very popular high-viz 25th Anniversary scheme “The Cat is Back,” the sheet also contains OEF-era markings for VF-102 Diamondbacks who helped kick off the counterattack on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  Between October 2001 and March 2002, the Diamondbacks recorded the highest time (5,000+ combat hours) and greatest amount of ordnance delivered (450,000 pounds) of all the F-14 squadrons that participated in OEF.  The VF-213 CAG jet represents its markings during the last combat cruise as well as taking note of some of the slight but important color differences that were seen on its some of its panels and even LANTIRN pods when the squadron had its final fly-in to Oceana in early 2006.  The remaining markings cover VF-31 from 1997 to their final OIF cruise and the Tomcat Sunset in September 2006 with both the squadron CAG and CO jets appointed with special markings for that event at NAS Oceana.

In sum, this sheet is fantastic.  It should inspire many scale modelers to start their Tomcat project.  You cannot go wrong with anything here.  Tomcats forever, baby!  

Many thanks to Brian Plescia at Fightertown Decals for the review sample. You can find them on the web and order their sheets at http://www.fightertowndecals.com.  

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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