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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


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


The Grumman F-14 Tomcat carried among of the most iconic and well-known paint schemes in the history of naval aviation.  Yet, some of the most unusual schemes carried by F-14s involved experimental applications of disruptive camouflage patterns from the late 1970s and into the mid-1980s.  These schemes were first developed by Keith Ferris – who many regard as the dean of American aviation art.  His patented designs made their way onto a few F-4s, F-14s, and F-15s as the concept was evaluated.

The idea was to use disruptive colorations in various shades of jagged gray splinter patterns to produce visual confusion and deceive an enemy pilot so as to trick him into making bad moves in the visual air combat arena.  Another Ferris concept, sometimes in combination with splinter patterns, involved painting a false canopy on the bottom of the nose.  The false canopy would make it look as though that the airplane’s nose was turning into their enemy when, in fact, they were turning away.  In general, these schemes eliminated all bright colors (including black) and the asymmetric patterns also deemphasized any and all kinds of insignias.

The Ferris schemes first showed up on F-14s assigned to VX-4 in 1977 as they participated in the AIMVAL/ACEVAL program at Nellis AFB.  At that time, the F-14 community was also conducting operational evaluation of the TCS chin pod.  If I recall correctly, I believe the late Joe “Hoser” Satrapa got his famous F-15 guns kill in one of these Ferris scheme-painted jets.  The overall effectiveness of these schemes has been debated and they were never adopted for operational use in the fleet.  Still, limited experiments carried on with Ferris-inspired schemes that included designs by CJ “Heater” Heatley in VF-1 into the 1980s.

Part VII of Furball’s F-14 Colors and Markings series is dedicated to these unusual and historic Ferris and Heater schemes.  This decal sheet was made possible with research materials provided by Detail & Scale.  It is designed to complement Detail & Scale’s digital reference books, Colors and Markings of U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats, Part 1: Atlantic Fleet Squadrons, and Part 2: Pacific Fleet Squadrons.  Both eBooks were written 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.

In this set, there are decals for seven different F-14As in various splinter schemes between 1977 and 1983.  Also included are stencil and data decals for two complete jets.

As is expected, these decals are typical Furball – it’s top-notch.  They are sized for the Tamiya kit.  Where that comes in makes a difference is that the vertical stabilizers aft-end shape and geometry is indeed a bit different than the Hasegawa or Hobby Boss kits.  That means that the decals for the tail markings for the VF-124, PMTC, and the last VF-1 option are best for the Tamiya F-14A.  The other markings can be adapted without any difficulty and used on any 1:48 scale Tomcat.

The choices in schemes are great.  If you’ve been holding out and looking for a unique F-14 scheme(s) to do, well, here you go.  Further, the quality of both decal design by Furball and printing by Cartograf is superlative.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  There are also invaluable airframe technical notes that the builder must consult.  Some of the F-14s painted in these schemes were early Block 70 jets and they still had the early-style boat tails, gun gas purge vents, wheel hubs, unreinforced vertical stabilizer caps, and no nose pitot tube.  Furball’s markings guide escorts you through these differences.  

I have only two minor critiques.  First: this set will be, by its nature, maintenance stencil-poor.  Yet, I don’t see any ejection seat stencils which are common in Furball sets.  I’ve got a few photos of VANDY 42 and 43 at AIMVAL/ACEVAL and it looks like the fairly high-viz ejection seat stencils were present.  The solution:  get yourself Furball 48-059 (F-14 Stencils). 

Second:  speaking of AIMVAL/ACEVAL, it’s too bad those jets are not included.  Of course, here’s what you could do:  the VX-4 scheme in this sheet depicts VANDY 42 (BuNo 159828, a Block 90 jet) in April 1978.  The scheme is a bit different with a big MODEX number on the nose and XF tailcode but the splinter pattern was unchanged from AIMVAL/ACEVAL.  Leave off the tailcode, keep the TCS pod, and steal the tiny MODEX numbers from the VF-124 scheme.  These were the same size as those on the VX-4 jets at AIMVAL/ACEVAL.  And, the VF-14 MODEX just happen to be “423.”  You can cut and splice them as “42” or “43.”  The names on the canopies, however appear different, and for that, you’re on your own to figure out a creative solution.  

Again, Furball Aero-Design does another great job with this set and it will allow scale modelers to model some of the most unusual F-14 schemes ever.  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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