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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


MILSPEC Decals VF-143 Pukin' Dogs F-14B
1:48 Scale


Say what you wish about the TPS (Tactical Paint Scheme) that introduced the low-visibility gray paint schemes to US Navy aircraft beginning in the 1980s.  There were still many distinctive schemes that used the TPS as their canvass, and this era still continues today.  Many eye-catching schemes were seen during the last decade or so of the F-14 Tomcat’s service life, and VF-143 was no exception.  In fact, VF-143 provided among the very first Tomcats to try out the TPS colors in 1981.  While high-visibility colors were certainly prohibited, the World Famous Pukin’ Dogs still managed to carry on their distinctive squadron art and emblems in the “dark days” of the TPS.        

In this 2018 release, MILSPEC provides markings for one airplane: a VF-143 line jet (MODEX 103).  This was an F-14B (BuNo 161426) embarked on the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY as part of CVW-7 in 2001.

There were lots of unique elements to VF-143’s markings at this time – the unique font of the MODEX numbers, the nose and drop tank stripes, slightly non-standard color patterns, and multiple other subtleties.  For example, this jet (quite unusually) had only one ejection seat warning triangle on the nose instead of the standard two warning markings.  What great attention to detail!  MILSPEC did some great research on TAPROOM 103 and produced, to my eye, a decal sheet with outstanding accuracy.  These rank as some of my favorite Tomcat markings of all time, in fact.

The decals themselves come on one sheet which contains all the aircraft-specific marking for BuNo 161426.  There’s the prominent tail markings, and all the airframe stencils from the rescue markings on the nose to the NO Step/Push on the horizontal stabilizers.

The quality of the decal design is superlative, and the printing by Microscale is technically impeccable.  Most of the airframe stencils, except for the smallest of the fine print (which wouldn't be readable anyway in 1:48 scale, but they still look great and in-scale.)  Colors are vibrant, opaque, and in perfect register.  The carrier film is very thin and exceptionally restrained.  There’s really nothing that could be improved upon. 

About the only critique that I can think of is that the low-voltage formation lights (slime lights) might be a little to intensely yellow and would look a bit more realistic by being a shade more towards the yellow-green end of the spectrum, but now I AM splitting hairs.  They still look good on the sheet and will look good on the completed model.

In sum, this sheet is a winner, and it depicts a great looking F-14B during the era when the Tomcat really matured as a multi-role platform.  It was an dynamic time in the Tomcat community, and the markings for this jet place it squarely at the end of one era and the beginning of the global war on terror following the 9/11 attacks.  This F-14B would have likely been one of the jets flying Operation NOBLE EAGLE sorties between 11 and 14 September 2011 (with some KENNEDY VF-143 jets cross-decking on the WASHINGTON) providing CAP over the east coast and Washington, D.C., in particular.

NOTE: we looked at the 1:48 scale sheet here, but MILSPEC has also produced versions of this sheet in in 1:32 and 1:72 scales as well.  Pretty much everyone can go home happy.

Many thanks to Ray Beyers at MILSPEC Decals for the review sample. You can find them on the web and order their sheets (including some long-discontinued CAM Decals products) at http://camdecals.com/index.aspx.

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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