by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Titled 'Beware the Thunderbolts', Afterburner Decals have released a decal sheet, which covers the F-16's of the 56th Fighter Wing. There are markings for 23 aircraft covering blocks 20, 25, 42 and 52 . Along with the decals there is a wealth of information to help the modeller differentiate each block, to get the most accurate F-16 model possible. Included in this release are bonus markings for boarding ladders and travel pods.
The 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW) is a unit of the USAF assigned to the Air Education and Training Command 19th Air Force. It is stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The 56th FW mission is to train the world's greatest F-16 fighter pilots and maintainers, while deploying mission ready war fighters. The wing is home to more than 170 F-16 aircraft and 26 squadrons of which eight are F-16 fighter squadrons. The 56th Fighter Wing graduates more than 400 F-16 pilots and 470 crew chiefs annually. The wing also trains personnel and maintains resources to meet contingency and wartime tasking.
The Thunderbolts stems from the fact that the wing is one of the most highly decorated aviation units in history. It traces its history to the 56th Pursuit Group flying P-47 Thunderbolts during WWII. Assigned to 8th Air Force in England, the 56th flew its first combat missions of World War II on April 13, 1943. During its two-year involvement in the air war in Europe, the group damaged or destroyed 1,598.5 enemy aircraft. What seemed incredible was that the 56th posted that record while losing only 25 fighters in aerial combat. The 56th also produced 39 fighter aces.
Included with this release in a resealable plastic bag are:
2 x decal sheet, one is A4 in size containing the majority of the markings. The smaller sheet has some stencils.
9 x coloured A4 profiles of each side of selected aircraft. Other aircraft have just the one profile, but there are notes if the other side differs.
1 x modelling notes.
1 x black and white stencil guide.
4 x A4 block guides.
1 x fact file including weapon notes.
Options included with this release are:
56th Fighter Wing.
F-16CM 89-2056, Commander, block 42, 2009.
F-16C 83-1128, Commander, block 25, 2007.
61st Fighter Squadron.
F-16C 83-1161, Commander, block 25, 2009.
F-16C 83-1140, block 25.
F-16D 85-1506, block 25.
62nd Fighter Squadron.
F-16C 84-1222, Commander, block 25, 2009.
F-16C 84-1219, block 25.
F-16D 84-1328, block 25.
63rd Fighter Squadron.
F-16CM 89-2004, Commander, block 42, 2009.
F-16CG 90-0752, block 42.
F-16DG 90-0778, block 42, MIG Killer.
308th Fighter Squadron.
F-16CM 87-0358, Commander, block 42, 2009.
F-16CG 90-0766, block 42.
F-16DG 88-0165, block 42.
309th Fighter Squadron.
F-16C 83-1131, Commander, block 25, 2009.
F-16C 83-1122, block 25.
F-16D 83-1182, block 25.
310th Fighter Squadron.
F-16CG 90-0768, Commander, block 42, 2009.
F-16CG 90-0722, block 42.
F-16DG 87-0394, block 42.
425th Fighter Squadron.
Republic of Singapore Air Force.
F-16D 96-5035, Commander, block 52, 2009.
Republic of Singapore Air Force.
F-16C 97-0121, Commander, block 52, 2007.
21st Fighter Squadron.
Republic of China Air Force.
F-16A 93-0711, Commander, block 20, 2009.
One thing I really like about this release from Afterburner are the very helpful modelling notes. They guide the modeller on the best kit to acquire for each particular block. There is also advice about after market products and references, if you need any more than contained in this decal or kit release. There is also a guide for the particular weapons that are used depending on the training level of the pilot. The block guides are invaluable reference with all the information you will need to create the particular F-16 you are building. All the information for each block is on one A4 coloured sheet, for you to keep handy. There are some areas were you will need additional decals from Afterburner for some of the aircraft. Most notably the F-16C/D block 52's. They will need a separate release [48-016] for the carbon fibre petals on the Pratt & Whitney 229 nozzles.
Quality of the print by Cartograf is stunning. Decals are glossy with a minimum amount of carrier film. All the written stencils are sharp and legible except for the tiniest of stencils, that you would have to view with a strong magnifying glass. There are enough stencils for two aircraft, but there is nothing to stop the modeller from using the kits stencils to be able to utilise even more of the above markings. Even some of the smallest badges are reproduced faithfully. There are decals on this sheet that only apply to certain aircraft, for example there are decals for the General Electric engine nozzles that don't apply to the Pratt & Whitney power plant. So you need to be fairly alert when applying decals. The individual stencil guide is very useful inclusion in simplifying the positioning of the stencils. The markings do not contain any colourful full tail markings of the US Navies CAG aircraft, but what you do have are the everyday markings of this very important training Wing.
This is a well researched release from Afterburner. Not only do Afterburner use photographic evidence to produce these wonderful releases, they also, looking at the list of thanks, use first hand experience of the crews that fly and maintain the F-16's. This is an exceptional release from Afterburners and I am really looking forward to future releases. Nice one Afterburner.