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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


AoA Decals # 32-001
Intruders from the Beach:
USMC A-6A Intruders in the Vietnam War
1:32 Scale



vol_2_imageThe Grumman A-6 Intruder was the U.S. Navy’s primary carrier-based strike aircraft until 1997 - flying for 37 years.  The Intruder’s heyday spanned the Vietnam conflict to the first Gulf War.  The United States Marine Corps also extensively employed the Intruder as it participated in many historic events over its service lifetime.  The A-6 is a favorite subject among scale modelers of modern U.S. naval aviation, and the release some years ago of the long-delayed Intruder kits by Trumpeter in 1:32 scale finally delivered the big “Iron Tadpole” that we had been waiting for.  Unsurprisingly, there are only two paint schemes covered on the decal sheet that comes in the Trumpeter A-6A kit.  Those early Intruders carried a far greater range of eye-catching and colorful paint schemes, particularly in the first half of the jet’s career.  AoA Decals opens up a huge set of opportunities for modeling a big Intruder with their sheet 32-001.

AoA Decals is a relatively new decal manufacturer from the United States, and here we’ll take a look at their first release in their product line, which is rapidly increasing in terms of subject matter and scope.

AoA Decals 32-001 contains three decal sheets.  Two cover the various squadron marking options, and the third sheet is AoA 32-002: High-Viz A-6 Intruder airframe stencils.  Markings for fourteen different airplanes are on these decal sheets:

-   A-6A, 155616, VMA(AW)-225, Da Nang AB, 1969
-   A-6A, 155683, VMA(AW)-225, Da Nang AB, 1969-70
-   A-6A, 152612, VMA(AW)-242, Da Nang AB, 1966-67
-   A-6A, 151578, VMA(AW)-242, Da Nang AB, 1968
-   A-6A, 152593, VMA(AW)-242, Da Nang AB, 1968-69
-   A-6A, 155685, VMA(AW)-242, Da Nang AB, 1970
-   A-6A, 155689, VMA(AW)-242, Da Nang AB, 1969-70
-   A-6A, 152643, VMA(AW)-533, Chu Lai AB, 1967-68
-   A-6A, 154158, VMA(AW)-533, Chu Lai AB, 1969
-   A-6A, 154165, VMA(AW)-533, Chu Lai AB, 1969
-   A-6A, 155679, VMA(AW)-533, Nam Phong AB, 1972-73
-   A-6A, 155687, VMA(AW)-533, Nam Phong AB, 1972-73
-   A-6A, 154126, VMA(AW)-533, Nam Phong AB, 1972-3
-   A-6A, 155680, VMA(AW)-533, Nam Phong AB, 1972-73

There are multiple different schemes for these airframes such that 24 different marking options are included, such that various decal options can represent the same airplane during different tours and at different points in each tour.  The depth of careful research by AoA Decals shines through: very impressive indeed!

The decals were printed by Cartograf, and they are the best in the business, with their outstanding print quality, sharpness, vibrant colors, and highly restrained printing of carrier film.  The airframe stencil sheet is likewise excellent and covers everything – and I mean every stencil on the gull grey over white Intruder scheme from the GRU-5 and-7 ejection seats to wingfold cylinder access panel stencils, MER/TERs, crew helmets, and drop tanks.  I know the A-6 fairly well, and the stencils are just about as true to life as scale decals can achieve.  The stencils are also available separately (AOA 32-002).  I also love the cover art for 32-001: an original in-flight photo out the windscreen of one of the Intruders on the decal sheet, probably taken by the bombardier/navigator from the A-6 in trail.  It’s not retouched and makes me think it’s off of a 35mm slide – the look conveys that the image came out of the archives, and it brings the viewer back to this era quite effectively.  It’s smart graphic design.

Some 45 pages of exhaustive instructions for airframe markings, technical notes, loadout variations, and historical notes are included, but they are located on a mini-CD-ROM as a PDF file.  Understandably, this approach would help keep the cost down, but I prefer paper instructions.  Further, you can’t insert a mini-CD into any standard slot loading CD or DVD-ROM drive without it getting sucked in and lost inside.  Perhaps in the future, AoA can provide a direct download link for the PDF file at their website for customers.  All later releases by AoA Decals fortunately did away with the mini-CD approach and indeed included printed instructions.

AoA Decals’ inaugural release is exceptionally impressive.  The only critique that can be considered is the aforementioned mini-CD issue that could make getting the instructions a little hard for many people.  These are top-rate decals and should be an absolute joy to work with in representing a Vietnam era 1:32 scale USMC A-6A Intruder.

Many thanks to AoA Decals for the review sample. You can find them on the web at http://www.aoadecals.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AOAdecals

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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