Flying Leathernecks 48-004

Units: VMFA-121 (2007 tour)


$20.00  (includes CD)


Mike Idacavage

Flying Leathernecks Decals Hat Trick!

 Recently, I had the opportunity to get a copy of the latest set of decals from Flying Leathernecks Decals. Before I comment of the decals and instruction sheets/CD (yes, a CD!), let me mention something about my philosophy towards decals, especially aftermarket decals. When I approach a sheet of decals, I have three things in mind. These are, by the way, in no particular order of importance. First, is the subject of the decal interesting? When I invest my time in modeling a subject, I would like to have an attachment to the subject or the subject has an interesting history/importance. To me, modeling is a link to the 1:1 subject, so there must be something there to make it interesting. Second, what is the quality of the decal sheet in regards to what is on the sheet and the level of detail. This is pretty much controlled by the artist and artist’s company. Lastly, I am interested in the actual quality of the printed decal. Having been in the printing industry in a previous job, the quality of the actual print job is hard for me to ignore.

Well, how does this decal stack up? Let’s start with the subject matter. This decal sheet(s) depict 4 different F/A-18D Hornets from VMFA(AW)-121 “Green Knights”. These are no ordinary Bugs, though. Each Hornet is named for a VMF-121 Ace from World War II. The names of the Ace for each aircraft are carried on the LEX panels. The aircraft modeled on the sheet are BUNO 165413 (Covey 01, Joe Foss), 165867 (Covey 04, Cecil Doyle), 165411 (Covey 05, Kenneth Ford) and 164652 (Covey 11, William Marontate). Covey 01 looks stunning in hi-vis markings while Covey 04, 05 and 11 are low vis line schemes.

Moving on to the quality of the decal package, it has to be seen to be believed. Dave Roof at Flying Leathernecks raised the bar on this one! I compared the decal markings to the photos of the actual aircraft on the CD, and they look spot on to me. An unbelievable amount of small details have been captured by Dave. As an example, in addition to the major markings you get such small details as the CRT buttons in the ‘pit, rivets in various places such as on the inside of the exhausts and even small decals for the patches on the flight crew flight suits! One really neat option that is a first that I have seen is the AN/ANE-47 bucket decals that come with separate flares and chaff . All you need to do is trim the appropriate block decals for the load you want to represent and you have it! To depict expended rounds, the modeler simply does not use the colored circles (rounds) over the bucket decal holes. You can easily do any mixed combination that you desire. By the way, did I mention the CD? Each decal comes with a CD containing walk around photos of each aircraft, a folder containing general detail shots and the decal instruction sheets in pdf format. In addition, there is also a nice write up on VMFA(AW)-121 Unit History.

 Finally, I want to move onto the printing quality. In a word – Excellent! These decals are printed by Cartograf and are first rate. While I have not had a chance to use this set of decals, I just finished a model using other Cartograf decals and they deserve the reputation that they have. I expect this sheet to perform the same. The colors are solid, opaque and in perfect register. I used a small loupe from my printing days to closely examine the sheet, and the printing is so good, I was able to read the print that was smaller than could be seen by the naked eye. The decals are on one main sheet and a small insert sheet with a few markings that could not fit. Looking at what is contained on both sheets, there are enough stencils to make two complete aircraft, and a third model if you source the generic stencils from somewhere else.

 Let’s see… the markings on the sheet have a cool history behind them in addition to Covey 01 having really cool hi-vis markings, the quality of the artwork on the decals and CD is excellent and the printing is first rate. Three scores and you have your Flying Leatherneck hat trick! This is available for a cost of $20 per decal package (decals plus CD). Life is good!

 Mike J. Idacavage

December 2007

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