Vital Storm Early Hurricanes Collection Part 1 and Part 2

Published: May 10th, 2011     
Product Image
Decal sets cover sheeets
Reviewed by: John Ratzenberger - IPMS# 40196
Scale: 1/24
Company: Aviaeology
Price: $23.69
Product / Stock #: AOD24007.1 and AOD24007.2

Aviaeology did a series of 1/32 decals for Zotz -- they released under their own name the 1/24, 1/48, and 1/72 versions. Of the 16 total aircraft in the original super set for Zotz, 7 have been released in 1/24 scale in these two sets. More may be coming, depending on how these sell.

Airfix (top) and Trumpeter (bottom) kit decalsHere are the decals from the two kits, Airfix #14002 and Trumpeter #02414, both Mk.I Hurricanes. Both have markings for two aircraft with one, LK-A of 87 Sqn, in common. There are several immediate differences. Trumpeter used the pre-war bright red in the roundels, Airfix used dull red, although it is interesting to note that Airfix did not release the red part of the fin flash and the color profile in the book would lead you to believe, absent any specific direction (it doesn't say), that they should be painted bright red. Trumpeter has the squadron codes in white when they, at least for LK-A, should be in grey. The Trumpeter A1 roundels are a brighter yellow than Airfix and there is a different interpretation of the fuselage roundel for LK-A. Other than that, the Trumpeter kit offers a few more, and overall much nicer, stencils than does Airfix.

Set 1 instruction booklet cover

Set 1 top and bottom camo details

Set 1 stencil placement

Set 1 specific aircraft notes

Each decal set comes in a baggie with a black & white instruction booklet of 8 pages -- two double sided 8-1/2 x 11 sheets folded over. An insert advises you that you can email them for a color PDF of the instruction booklet which I did and got it back in 30 minutes. If you buy direct from them, and provide your email address, you'll get them automatically.

The instruction sheets tell you everything you need to know to use the decals -- except any notes on how to handle their decals such as recommended setting solutions, etc. They discuss about as much historical data as is necessary while acknowledge that differing interpretations may exist -- but rather than leaving you hanging, they provide decal options for all of them. For example, LK-A became a night fighter and thus may or may not, at the time, have had red stencils so they give you a complete set of red stencils. You'll further note this when you see that they have cleverly avoided, or better let you decide, the bright versus dull red issue by giving you both.

Set 1 decal sheet

Set 2 decal sheet

In Part 1, Aviaeology gives you two aircraft from 242 Sqn, LE-A and LE-X, and one from 261 Sqn at Malta. The inclusion of the latter is odd as neither kit contains a tropical filter option.

All 3, Airfix, Trumpeter, and Aviaeology, in Part 2, give you LK-A in its earliest version with no visible serial. Aviaeology also provide a later version with serial, and another in night fighter scheme. That's the only commonality. For the night fighter version, they provide a red nose flash -- I have seen, in SAM's Combat Colours #2, a blue nose. From a photo, I'd bet more on the red nose, but I'm no expert. The other aircraft in Part 2 is Flt/Lt Nicholson's VC aircraft, GN-A, of 249 Sqn -- because no photos of GN-A exist, they provide two versions -- one with standard A1 roundels, the other oversize. On early instruction sheets, it may say "our preference is the one at the left", it is in fact the one at the right (or upper) -- the standard size roundels.

Aviaeology wins the stencil battle -- way more comprehensive than either of the others, and, as noted before, a set of red ones just in case. As for size and shape, Aviaeology and Airfix are about the same, while Trumpeter's A1 roundels appear too big. Color wise, the Aviaeology and Trumpeter roundels seem identical, with Aviaeology's blue being slightly darker. Compared to Airfix, the Aviaeology red and blue are darker, while the yellow seems flatter. The Aviaeology squadron codes are a lighter gray and seem more correct.

Although I have both the Airfix and Trumpeter 1/24 Hurricane I kits and got two decals sets to review, let's be reasonable here -- I'm going to burn one of them in a quick gear-up, no detail build that will hang from my ceiling when done. My victim is the Airfix kit, although the build isn't relevant. Also, it's my model and I'll do what I want -- which in this case means I changed my mind several times and have ended up with what I have, regardless of whether it is correct.

A view of the upper surfaces

The decals come off the sheet cleaning and lay down well -- a little too well. They don't hold water well and need another soaking on the model to be able to move them around and even then it isn't easy. If you blot a decal dry and want to move it later, good luck. That said, the decals are strong-tough -- given that I couldn't push or pull them around easily, I just peeled them off with tweezers and re-positioned them and didn't tear a one. All things considered, I decided not to apply the stencils.

There is minimal carrier, just a very narrow band around each decal -- that's the good news. The counter is this applies to the code letters, to include their interior. That means, given my comment above, getting the "G" in place was difficult as it had no structure to it -- like handling a wet noodle. The serials, thankfully, are one piece and so avoid the "G" problem, but I had one curl on me (I suspect it was my fault) and despite some effort I could not save it. Fortunately, most these misadventures occurred on the right side, so you won't see it in any pix.

Decals lay down and blend well, have no film

I used Micro-Sol/Set on them and Testors Dullcote over them. If you look at some of them, they have really gone on well -- no carrier, no silvering, conform very well to the aircraft curvature and to both raised and scribed detail of various sizes -- I was amazed given how thick they look and how strong they are.

Decals settle well around detail

Summary

It looks to me that the Aviaeology sets are necessary to correct the Trumpeter incorrect codes, probable incorrect roundel sizing, and roundel/flash colors if desired. The Aviaeology sets are a nice to have replacement for Airfix decals. Regardless, in either case, the Aviaeology sets give you additional marking options and better stencils. From a content perspective, I'd have to recommend either, or both, of these sets as valuable replacements for the kit decals.

Highly recommended, but the difficulties noted above may not be for beginners. Aviaeology deserve high marks for research, documentation, completeness, and for providing alternatives so you can make up your mind. The decals look great when on, but are somewhat of a bear to get on. The folks at Aviaeology respond promptly to questions -- they are a pleasure to deal with.

My sincere thanks to Aviaeology for the review samples, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review them.

Just what I wanted!!!

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