From my early days as a modeler I have been fascinated by Aircraft carriers. Italeri's 1/720 scale line was always available but once I got into more serious modeling (meaning the ship wasn't supposed to swim in the pond) I was never quite satisfied with their details.
This is where Gold Medal Models comes to the rescue with their generic PE-Set for modern U.S. Navy Sueprcarriers (reviewed here: PE Set Review
and the decal sheet which is the subject of this review.
So what can another decal sheet give you that is not included in the kit? A lot! This set does not repeat the same decals already included in the kit, such as the landing lines etc. It gives you lots of different types of ship numbers from different periods and all the little details that were missed in the kit.
The sheet was released in 2006 and covers all then current 1/700 or 1/720 scale kits of U.S. Navy post WWII supercarriers from the USS Forrestal (CV-59) to the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77).
It includes the decal sheet, which measures approx. 25.5x10.5cm and a legal size double sided instruction sheet. The decal sheet has enough markings for one model but leaves many decals unused (in particular the ship numbers). The decals are clearly printed with only little offset apparent on elevator outline stripes and forward flight deck stripes. The carrier film is commendably thin. I will follow the instructions to tell you what is included in the set:
The instructions start out with the island of USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and point out placement of decals for different time periods, such as warning marks, kill mark, efficiency marks, even up to the different I in the ship name from 1988 onwards.
Next is a top view of the deck of USS Enterprise showing placement of elevator outline stripes, flight deck number, ordnance jettison markings, flight deck electrical power hatch stripes and red and white forward flight deck stripes. For the remainder of the markings the instructions refer to the kit's decals.
Placement of the same kinds of decals is then pointed out for the Nimitz class carriers in the next top view. Special here is the inclusion of two types of flight deck numbers for CVN-68 - CVN-71, which first had large solid numbers that were replaced with smaller outline numbers.
Turning the instruction sheet around, you will find instructions for decal placement on the islands of all Nimitz class carriers up to USS Ronald Reagan. There are shaded and unshaded numbers for different time periods, as well as other "double" decals for items that changed over time.
A short section on weapons warning circles (large and small, 4 each) describes their placement around Mk. 29 Sea Sparrow launchers and Phalanx mounts.
The last section shows placement of ship's name and draft marks on a side view of both the Nimitz class and the USS Enterprise.
Though the sheet says it is for all carriers from CV-59 onwards, the instructions only deal with CVNs. Throughout the instructions, GMM always refer the modeler to reference photos for correct placement of decals for certain periods and point out, that the instructions are just a guidance. They contain no suggestions for reference material, as is the case in many of their PE-sets (also in the PE set mentioned in the introduction of this review).
The set seems very comprehensive and it's good to see some of the more finer details of these ships as well as the options for different time periods. The slight offset on some warning lines is unfortunate but I for one can live with it. The instructions are very comprehensive when it comes to CVNs but unfortunately contain little information on decal placement for non nuclear carriers. I would thorougly recommend this set to anyone who wants those little details on his carriers.