OK guys, a show of hands; how many of you don’t like Hasegawa kit decals? You’ve had bad experiences with them and hate ‘em to the point that you won’t build or even buy a given Hasegawa kit unless you can get aftermarket decals for it? Not a problem for those Hasegawa F-Teen kits where you easily have many more aftermarket decal choices than kits. However, when it came to cool looking, non-gray jets, like the Mitsubishi F-2, you were stuck….until now.
Afterburner Decals has solved the 1/48thscale F-2 problem with this excellent release, which, as decal sheets go, is a complete package. In the large, resealable plastic bag, you’ll find an attractive cover sheet with sample color profiles of included aircraft (see Cover Sheet); a large 8” x 10” decal sheet and a 2¾” x 3” supplemental sheet (see Sheet 1 and Sheet 2), both printed by Cartograph; 6 pages of color profiles/instructions; and a 2-sided black and white stencil guide (see Stencil Guide 1 and Stencil Guide 2).
The last piece of the package is a set of stencils to assist the modeler with the dark blue on intermediate blue buzz numbers on the fuselage. The intermediate blue on the two-tone decals likely will not match the blue paint the modeler uses so the stencils give you the option to mask off the intermediate blue part of the numbers and then carefully position dark blue buzz numbers, which are also included, over masked off intermediate blue area….or if that sounds like too much work, you can use the dark blue over intermediate blue decals, your choice.
Markings are included for 9 F-2As and 1 F-2B, all in navy blue over intermediate blue. You also get complete stencils for 1 aircraft which replace the kit decals.
The featured aircraft, and the one I’m going to do (the kit is under construction as I write this) is F-2A 52-8535 in the 6 Hikotai’s 50thAnniversary scheme, Tsuiki Air Base, October, 2009 (see Profile 1). For me, the highlight of this aircraft is the vertical tail. The base of both sides of the tail are black while the remainder of the left side of the vertical tail is in the tan/light green/dark green camo colors of the F-1, and the right side is silver. Both sides feature some attractive red and yellow markings. I found some pictures of this aircraft on Airliners.net and from what I can see, Afterburner’s decals look spot on
Next up are 3 F-2As from the 2009 Air Combat Meet (see Profile 2). Each of these aircraft has a “Grim Reaper” on the tail, one in gold, one in silver and the third in black. Another neat feature for these aircraft are yellow arrow and tail decals for the AAMs; a nice touch. Also included are stencil decals for the tire sidewalls and a squadron symbol decal for the wheel hubs.
This is followed by 3 F-2A “Skull Riders” from Tsuiki Airbase, May 2010 (see Profile 3). The markings for these aircraft are on the supplemental sheet and feature a gray skull and crossbones for the vertical tail and some stylized, gray stripes for the fuselage and wing tanks.
Photos of aircraft from the first 3 profiles can be found at this web site; http://www.amv83.fr/Asm/galleryjapanF2.htm. You’ll need to scroll about 2/3 down the page to find the 6 Hikotai pictures.
The final set of markings are for 2 F-2As and an F-2B from Cope North, Anderson AFB, Guam, 2009 (see Profile 4). These aircraft appear to be in standard markings; nothing out of the ordinary. The only special items are sharks mouths and eyes for TERs. If you go with these markings and want to use the sharks mouth decals, you’ll have to source the TERs from somewhere else as they’re not included in the kit. You can find pictures of these aircraft here; http://www.aereo.jor.br/2009/02/06/cope-north-09/. If you look closely at the third picture from the top, you can vaguely see the sharks mouth markings on a TER.
This is my first product from Afterburner and I’m very impressed as this is a quality product. Everything seems to be well researched. The color profiles are large and easy on the eyes. The stencils are extensive which can sometimes lead to a true eye test but the stencil guide and the identifiers for each stencil, both on the sheet and on the guide, are clear and easy to read. The decals are printed by Cartograph and speaking for myself, I’ve never had a bad experience with Cartograph decals so I have no reason to believe these won’t perform well. They’re glossy, in register and with excellent color saturation. They appear to be thin enough that they’ll easily settle into and over surface detail but not so thin that they’ll be difficult to work with. I’ll be using these decals on my under-construction F-2A and I plan on giving their website a good look-over for decals for some of my future projects, so I can’t give a higher recommendation than that.
Many thanks to Afterburner decals for providing this review sample.