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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


Furball Aero-Design/Detail & Scale Colors & Markings of U.S. Navy Tomcats - Part IV -- 1:48 Scale


The Grumman F-14 Tomcat carried some of the most colorful, eye-catching, and memorable paint schemes over its service lifetime – even during the “drab days” of the low-visibility TPS (Tactical Paint Scheme).  Into the 1990s, Pacific Fleet squadrons sported some great schemes, from the Sundowners to the Checkmates.  However, one of my favorite and most distinctive lineages of F-14 paint schemes was seen on the F-14As of VF-21 Freelancers whose history goes back to WWII.  In this August 2018 release by Furball Aero-Design, scale modelers will find 10 different markings options for Freelancer Tomcats as they appeared between 1984 to 1995.  

This decal sheet was made possible with research materials provided by Detail & Scale.  It is designed to compliment Detail & Scale’s digital reference, Colors and Markings of U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats, Part 2: Pacific Fleet Squadrons by Bert Kinzey with art by Rock Roszak.  In the interest of transparency and impartiality, I wish to disclose that your reviewer had nothing to do with the development of this sheet.  Further, I’m a hardcore Tomcat guy since I was a kid growing up next to Grumman – so if I see any errors, you’re going to hear about it.

This sheet features markings for 10 VF-21 jets:

First, decals don’t really get any better than this.  The quality of the decal design and printing is superlative.  VF-21 jets have never been treated so well in 1:48 scale.  You get CAG jets and line jets.  It’s also great to see the historical evolution of the Freelancers from their earliest incarnations which carried over the black nose and radome from their F-4 days to the transition to the TPS and the very colorful TPS-based black tailed CAG schemes including the one that was done up for their 1995 disestablishment at NAS Atsugi, Japan.

As a personal aside:  I think my favorite among the markings options on this sheet is the humorous and satirical “Oop, Ack Baby!” badge worn by NK 205 in 1987 (I also understand that one of VF-154’s jets [the Black Knights who were the Freelancer’s sister squadron] also wore this marking for a time).  It was a combination of Grumman’s classic "Anytime, Baby!" logo and the Bloom County comic strip character “Bill the Cat,” who was an exasperated, mangy, mind-blown, and hairball-hacking feline. There's a few stories out there as to its satirical origins possibly as early as 1985. I remember as an 11 year-old working the whole summer to save up for the just-released new tool 1:48 scale Hasegawa F-14A “Pacific Fleet Squadrons” kit.  In the mornings, I’d hang out with my dad by the runways at Calverton watching the F-14A(Plus) and F-14D full-scale development jets go on test sorties, and during the afternoons, I was mowing lawns.  When I earned $40.00 to buy the kit, it was “Oop Ack, Baby” all the way.  Great memories!  Further, Koike Shiego’s box art for that kit depicting the same VF-21 jet is, to me, one of the finest examples of his art that I think he’s ever produced.     

Enough reminiscing - back to the Furball decals!  The printing (including the incredibly restrained and thin carrier film) by Cartograf is impeccable.  The set also includes Furball’s F-14 stencil set (#48-059) on a second, smaller sheet. Beyond the awesome printing, it’s the attention to little details that impresses me just as much, including the fidelity of the airframe stencils which include markings for the GRU-7A ejection seats, helmet decals for the pilot and RIO, the various and correct styles of “No Step” and “No Step/Lift” stencils, and other airframe markings.

These decals are sized for the Tamiya 1:48 scale Tomcat, but these VF-21 decals are “generic” enough in their sizing so as to fit on any 1:48 scale F-14.  They are also FAR superior in design and printing quality to the markings in the old Hasegawa kit.

I can offer no substantive critiques of this decal set.  Bottom line:  gorgeous, baby!

Overall, Furball Aero-Design does another consistently great job with this offering and it will allow scale modelers to model the Freelancers Tomcats from their early days to the end of the squadron’s service.  The high standard of research also shines through on the accuracy of these decals.

Many thanks to Furball Aero-Design for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.furballaero-design.com/default.asp and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FurballAeroDesign

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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