Among modern aircraft modelers, if they want colorful and interesting paint schemes the aircraft of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) have always delivered. One of the most attractive, and sleek looking aircraft is the Mitsubishi F-2. Having origins within the FSX program in the late 1980’s, it was birthed out of a cooperative effort with Lockheed Martin after selecting the F-16 as a basis for study into a new support fighter. It wasn’t until the mid 2000 that flight test were concluded and delivery started in September of the same year. With a 25% larger wing, longer fuselage, advanced avionics, and 11 hard points it is a F-16 on steroids and provides the JASDF with a 21stcentury fighter and trainer.
Hasegawa’s F-2A and F-2B kits are fantastic and much like comparing a Block 10 F-16 to the F-2, the kit bears no connection to Hasegawa’s other F-16 kits. However there has been very little in decal options until now. Afterburner Decals has released sets covering the F-2A, F-2B, and “details” in an extensive spread of options! Set 48-065 covers the F-2B’s of the 21stHikotai, or training squadron.
In the large zip-loc bag you get a full sheet with decals for six options and stencil data for two complete airframes. Also included are vinyl paint masks for the nose numbers so the modeler can spray the blue surround with the blue of choice then apply the black numbers over, or if you prefer the numbers are also provided on the sheet complete with the blue printed. Options include schemes for the JASDF 50thAnniversary, 21stHikotai 30thAnniversary, 2005 Matsushima Air Base commemorative scheme, and three “line” jets in standard markings.
Instructions are in full color, 8x11 sheets covering all schemes provided. A single page is dedicated to overall paint scheme minus markings, and another page with black and white line drawings precisely calls out all of the stencil data for the airframe. Among the instructions are very descriptive instructions for use of the mask, as well as suggested color matches using Mr Color paints.
Looking at the decals one can’t help but be amazed at the printing technology! Not only are there at least 15 different colors on the sheet including silver and golds, but also many of the markings have phenomenal gradients that are finer than anything I’ve ever seen printed on a decal before! The markings are printed in perfect register and feature some exquisite detail. Of one interesting note that most will catch the first time seeing this sheet is the “mirror” image markings. These are not an error, but the way the actual markings are on the aircraft with one side being “correct” and the other being a mirror image. A most interesting way of doing markings and will for sure catch a few double takes!
Until this sheet came out I had only a passing interest in modern JASDF aircraft. After seeing the artwork it motivated me to find an F-2B kit, and I may just have to find a second! With the blues and beautiful artwork, an F-2B kit using these decals will surely become one of the most attractive aircraft on your shelf. Highly recommended, and many thanks to IPMS and Afterburner Decals for the review sample.