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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


Starfighter Decals # 72-153
Operation TORCH - November 1942 -- 1:72 Scale


By 1942, the momentum of the Second World War was beginning to change in favor of the Allies.  With the devastating loss at the Battle of Midway in May 1942 for the Japanese in the Pacific theater, the invasion of North Africa in November 1942 began to set into motion the fall of Italy and Germany itself.

Operation TORCH was the first joint British-American invasion effort of the war, taking place in French North Africa and began on 8 November 1942. It consisted of three amphibious task forces that simultaneously seized the key ports and airports in Morocco and Algeria to specifically focus on Casablanca, Oran and Algiers held by the Vichy French.  Operation TORCH was broadly successful for the Allies.  While the French put up varying levels of resistance, they were generally poorly equipped and could not mount a successful resistance.  In response, Hitler ordered the very ill-conceived invasion of Tunisia. Six months of fighting led to inevitable German failure as their tenuous supply lines to North African faltered and collapsed with their final defeat occurring in May 1943.  While Operation TORCH opened the door to the invasion of Sicily and Italy itself, it also pushed D-Day into 1944 and thus allowed the United States to complete mobilization of its forces and resources for the main invasion of Europe.

The USS RANGER was the first American carrier built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier. RANGER was relatively small and slow and spent most of the war in the Atlantic theater where it would be less vulnerable.  RANGER, along with escort carriers SANTEE, SUWANEE, SAGAMON, and CHENANGO famously provided air support for Operation TORCH.  As part of the western task force her airplanes attacked the headquarters of the French air forces in Morocco.  Throughout the area, they destroyed some 70 aircraft on the ground and shot down 15 aircraft in air-to-air combat.  Others dropped mines, and destroyed vehicles, bombed and strafed shore batteries, and sank French warships including the battleship JEAN BART still moored at the pier in Casablanca Harbor – all at a cost of 16 of the air wing’s aircraft and ten airmen.  When Casablanca fell to American forces on 11 November, the carriers departed Moroccan waters for resupply back at their home ports in the United States.

This decal sheet by Starfighter Decals provides markings in 1:72 scale for several of the notable airplanes embarked on the USS RANGER, SANTEE, SUWANNEE, SAGAMON, and AUGUSTA that participated in Operation TORCH.

The choices here cover the diversity of the airplanes involved in Operation TORCH, from the hard-hitting SBDs to a selection of F4Fs credited with Hawk and D.520 kills, the Avengers (including the VGS-27 airplane credited with the first U.S. sub kill in the Atlantic with the sinking of the Vichy French submarine SIDI FERRUCH on 11 November 1942), and the SOC-3 Seagull scout plane that operated from the AUGUSTA. Even the diminutive L-4 Piper Cub were included.      
 
The decals themselves look fantastic.  They are printed in perfect register.  Of course, Operation TORCH airplanes were marked with a distinctive yellow ring around the national insignias on the fuselage.  The colors for the yellow surround and other markings are vibrant and opaque.  Decals for airframe stencils and prop tip warning markings are also included.  Carrier film is very tightly restrained, too.  There are also notes to the builder regarding specific airplane-by-airplane configurations and marking variations that really reveal the depth of Starfighter’s research on these airplanes.    

In all, this is a comprehensive set representing the diverse airplanes that projected U.S. naval airpower over North Africa during Operation TORCH.  This makes me now want to think about building a collection…

      Many thanks to Mark’s Models and Toys for the review sample.  You can find see more and purchase this sheet at http://www.starfighter-decals.com/index.html.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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