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DECAL REVIEW


Furball Aero-Design 48-065
Bandit Sundowners: VFC-111 F-5N/F -- 1:48 Scale

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USAF aggressor and USN adversary aircraft have flown some of the most distinctive, eye-catching, and impressive paint schemes over the years.  Today, VFC-111 Sundowners are one of the squadrons that specialize in the role of “good guys gone bad” providing the all-important dissimilar air combat training (DACT) for fleet pilots.  The Sundowners, of course, are an iconic Navy squadron going back to the F-4s and F-14s wearing their shark mouths and the setting Japanese-style sun on their tails.  The Sundowners had a strong run from 1959 to 1995 when they were disestablished as part of the post-Cold War Tomcat drawdown.  In 2006, VFC-13 DET KEY WEST was re-designated as VFC-111 and they assumed the Sundowner identity.  Composed entirely of reservists, VFC-111 complements VFC-12 and VFC-13 in preparing naval aviators to confront and kill a very diverse range of enemy air threats.        

In this release, Furball Aero-Design provides decals for nine VFC-111 jets (eight F-5Ns and one F-5F).  The instructions don’t indicate if the decals are optimized for any one kit, but if I had to guess, Furball has the AFV Club family of Tiger IIs in mind, though some of the decals are generic enough that you can get away with using them on the earlier Monogram F-5s.  The set holds these markings on one large decal sheet.  Stencils are provided for two jets along with these nine airplanes:

These schemes are awesome especially if you are seeking to build an F-5 with some REALLY distinctive colors and noteworthy operational roles.  These include the high-visibility 2017 CAG jet with the full red-and-white shark mouth and sunburst on the tail, the two desert schemes, and the three various blue-gray camouflage schemes.  By far, though, the most unusual of these schemes is the nonspecular sea blue over sky blue seen on 761550 in 2017.  I think it’s a simulation of one of the latest Russian Su-34/35 schemes and reminds me of a killer whale’s coloration (think Shamu!).  It also has a replacement vertical stabilizer cap and inboard port flap in different colors.  You’ll notice that the tail numbers for these jets are not Navy bureau numbers, but Air Force serials.  This is because these F-5Ns started out life as F-5Es constructed under USAF contracts and exported to Switzerland.  Their lowest-time airframes were eventually bailed back to the United States for the U.S. Navy to operate as adversaries.  These jets were then designated as the F-5N, following a major phase maintenance program and installation of the AN/APG-69 radar.

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.  Furball does their typical job of providing excellent markings guides, though any jet-by-jet historical and technical notes are pretty limited here.  Overall, this decal sheet is an absolute winner and is sure to inspire quite a few scale modelers to start that F-5 adversary project that they’ve been thinking about. 

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
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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