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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


Furball Aero-Design #32-002
Topgun Tigers and Talons -- 1:32 Scale



vol_2_imageThe poor American air combat kill-to-loss ratio in first years of the Vietnam War began to improve with both technological improvements and changes in tactics for both the Air Force and Navy.  The Navy’s famous Ault Report particularly underscored the need for new approaches to aircrew training. Previously, air combat training would pit Phantom v. Phantom or Crusader v. Crusader, but this was inadequate to prepare aircrews to defeat airplanes such as the MiG-17 or MiG-21 that performed very differently than their own.  Changes began to be implemented on an institutional level, including the establishment of the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, better known as Topgun.  A major portion of the Topgun syllabus featured dissimilar air combat training (DACT) where seasoned instructors flew more nimble aircraft such as the T-38, F-5, and A-4 that were good simulators of Soviet hardware.  These Topgun jets also sported some of the most distinctive paint schemes in the history of naval aviation.    

Furball Aero-Design recently released a trio of decal sheets in 1:32, 1;48, and 1:72 scales covering Topgun F-5s and T-38s. These sheets are not all identical, and the 1:32 scale sheet provides markings for 13 Topgun F-5E Tiger II schemes: 

The quality of the decal design is outstanding, and the printing by Cartograf is technically impeccable.  Colors are vibrant, in perfect register, and carrier film is very thin and restrained.  Of particular note, the printing of the gold background on the painted name plate decals looks amazing.  The decal sheet includes full stencils for each jet, but these are pretty much limited to rescue markings, BuNos, a few warning stripes, tailhook stripes, and not much else as these airplanes did not carry much in the way of stenciling.  Furball always does excellent markings guides, and the technical notes on specific airframe configurations are a priceless resource for the scale modeler to get their jet correct.

While I must admit that I am quite partial to aggressor and adversary paint schemes, the schemes chosen to be covered on this decal sheet are just awesome.  They capture some of the diversity and genuinely unique colors worn by Topgun instructors’ F-5Es over the years, from disruptive ghost gray over blues, gray over grays, desert camouflage schemes, and a Keith Ferris splinter scheme.  Much to my interest, the decal sheet also provides markings for the feared “MiG-28” that appeared in the 1986 motion picture “Top Gun.”  A Topgun F-5E and F-5F were famously painted black, and these fictitious enemy aircraft were flown by instructors in front of the cameras.  The scheme was a hit, and even as late as 1987, at least one operational F-5E carried a scheme similar to the bad guy jets in the movie.  Along those lines, Furball’s instructions points the reader to the book “Topgun Days” by former Topgun instructor and F-14 squadron commander Dave Baranek.  Indeed, it’s a great read and should provide inspiration or companion reading to anyone working on a Topgun F-5.  

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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