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DECAL REVIEW


Furball Aero-Design 48-060
Sundowner Anthology -- 1:48 Scale

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U.S. Navy F-14s carried among the most notable and memorable paint schemes of the modern era.  VF-84/103 had the skull and crossbones, VF-31 is remembered for Felix the Cat, and VF-101 impressed many with their grim reaper tail art.  And then there’s VF-111.  For many years, their jets sported among the most instantly recognizable and colorful Tomcats with the sharkmouth on the nose and the setting sun emblazoned upon their tails.      

In this release, Furball Aero-Design provides decals for no less than 19 F-14As assigned to the Sundowners from 1978-1994.  The set is optimized for the 1:48 scale Tamiya F-14A and contains three separate decal sheets (including one complete set of high- and low-viz stencils) for the following Tomcats:

The decal sheets provide nothing less than a complete historical compilation of VF-111’s paint schemes, from their first jets when the squadron stood up with the F-14 in 1978 to their last scheme just before disestablishment in early 1995.  The decals represent a combination of CAG, CO, and line jets that take you through the evolution of Sundowner markings from the comparatively austere but still colorful 1970s markings with just a tail code on their factory-fresh F-14s, to the emergence of the red and white tail art, the introduction of the low-visibility markings in the 1980s, the return to high-viz colors in the late 1980s, and the final evolution of low-viz but high-contrast markings of the mid 1990s. 

And of course, you’ll also find every other VF-111 marking variation in between in this sheet, too.  These include a lot of unique and subtle details, such as Superman badges on the nose, Boola-Boola and Recce Rally markings, the historically accurate bogus tail codes applied to a several Sundowners in 1987 to confuse Soviet observers, and decals for pilot helmets.  And no Sundowners anthology could be complete without the iconic “Miss Molly” nose art also provided in this decal set, representing the markings applied to both sides of the nose of BuNo 161621 in 1989 in honor of Molly Snead, long-time friend and nurse to Georgia congressman Carl Vinson.

The airframe stencils that are included are available by themselves as Furball #48-059, and cover both the gull grey and TPS schemes, so no matter what scheme you choose here, you’ve got the stencils for the job.  I’ll review the F-14A stencil sheet just by itself in an upcoming review, but they are great, covering everything from ejection seat stencils to various hoist points, grounding points, and every NO STEP that you’ll need for your Tomcat.
 
The quality of the decal design is superlative, and the printing by Cartograf is technically impeccable.  Colors are vibrant, in perfect register, and carrier film is very thin and exceptionally restrained.  I might add as well that Miss Molly has never looked so good.

Furball does their typical job of providing excellent markings guides and invaluable historical and technical notes on specific airframe configurations, such as which jets had the ECM blisters, TCS chin pods, or only the ALQ-100 under the nose.  Of course, the Tamiya F-14 only has the ALQ-100 in the kit, so if you’re going to do a TCS-equipped F-14A from this set, you’ll have to source that from somewhere else such as an older Hasegawa or Hobby Boss kit, or any one of the multiple aftermarket resin TCS pods that are out there.  

While I must admit that I am quite partial to the F-14 as a kid growing up by Grumman and that Sundowners schemes have long been a favorite of mine, I’ve just got to say that Furball has really topped themselves here.  This is an awesome decal sheet set - equal parts brilliant decal design, excellent decal printing, and the wow-factor that activates my nostalgia for the golden years of Tomcat operations. 

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
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Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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