FCM 48-038: VF-301 Devil's Desciples
Love a Tomcat decal sheet, especially one on a unit that is not all that well covered. VF-301 was a Miramar based reserve unit that was one of the last Navy squadrons to fly the F-4 Phantom II. As a result, they were late getting into the F-14 business, and like most Reserve units, got some of the oldest Tomcats around, these being in the 158 and low 159 serial numbers. Still, they were just as potent as any other F-14 A flying in the late 1980s. What it did mean is that they transitioned after the Tactical Paint Scheme (TPS)was well established so had very few colorful planes.
Thanks to photos supplied by my shipmate from the F-4 Phantom II Society, Jan Jacobs, we now have a well done sheet covering these aircraft. The sheet has four markings options and really, one can do only the overall light gull grey plane and one of the TPS birds. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out a bit of a markings glitch with the insignia. The insignia marked #66 on the instructions is really #63 on the sheet. Marking #66 is for the underside of the wing in the TPS scheme, though that marking is not shown anywhere on the instructions. Just a heads up. I should also mention that while the three greys of the TPS scheme are distinct when new, after a a short time out in the sun, they tended to fade quite a bit, making many think these planes were monochromatic.
Decals are superbly printed by Microscale and have no registration problems. For kits, there are several on the market. Thanks to the design of the markings, the sheet is not kit specific so use what you have. This is a great sheet and as FCM usually does their sheets in multiple scales, I'm especially looking forward to the 1/144 sheet as I have several kits waiting for it!
As a bonus, I have found photos of all these planes in my slide collection. Though not precisely from the same 1986/87 time period, it is interesting to see them.
This is the CO's plane, ND/101, at it appeared in August 1991. Still in what looks like overall light gull grey, but without the color as it was in December 1986, the scheme provided in the sheet.
From August 1988, this is ND/104 looking pretty much like it was in July of 1987, the sheet's time frame. Notice how dirty the boarding area of the nose gets.
Here is ND/106 as photographed in July of 1986. This is undoubtedly the same paint as provided in the decal sheet as it's date is February of 1986. Still pretty clean, though as you can see, it is a bit difficult to see all three greys.
Finally, ND/112 when photographed in March of 1986. The difference between the upper and lower colors on this one is quite distinct as the paint scheme is even fresher than the December 1986 date of the plane on the decal sheet.
Thanks to FCM for providing the review sheet.
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