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In-Box Review
1/48 East Coast SuperBug CAG
Part I F/A-18E/F VFA-31, VFA-81, VFA-105, VFA-136, VFA-211.
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by: Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]

Not to be left out of the fun, Afterburner Decals have released a decal set for the F/A-18E/F's based at NAS Oceana titled East Coast SuperBug CAGs [see Weat Coast SuperBug CAGs here.]. This set is aimed at the 1/48 Hasegawa kit and the decals are printed by Cartograf.


Protected in a A4 resealable plastic wallet. Included with this release are:
6 x A4 colour guides.
2 x A4 black and white stencil guides.
1 x A4 decal sheet.
2 x smaller decal sheets.

CAG aircraft covered by this release include:
F/A-18E 166776, VFA-31 75th Anniversary scheme, USS George H.W. Bush, Sept 2010.
F/A-18E 166830, VFA-81, USS Carl Vinson, April 2010.
F/A-18E 166650, VFA-105, USS Harry S. Truman, June 2010.
F/A-18E 166820, VFA-136, USS Enterprise, June 2010.
F/A-18F 166820, VFA-211, USS Enterprise, Sept 2010.

Although there are just five options with this release, they are some of the best looking markings in the US Navy. VFA-31, “the Tomcatters” has been particularly popular with kit manufacturers in the past. Other not so well known units are included such as VFA-136 “the Knighthawks” and VFA-211, “the Fighting Checkmates” The “Fighting Checkmates” were the first East Coast operational Super Hornet Squadron. All aircraft featured in this release are painted light ghost grey [FS 36375] on the lower surfaces and dark ghost grey [FS36320] on the upper surfaces. What will appeal to many modelers is that the national insignia are not low visibility greys, instead you have the stars and bars in glorious colour. Makes a great change.
Also included are decals for Steel Beach's vinyl intake cover sets and the Bard Stack resin sets. There are decals for the ejector seats and white square decals for the interior of the exhaust cones as well. The sheet includes the red and green decals representing the navigation lights as well as the strips of formation lights.
The red cheat lines that separate the black back of “the Tomcatters” aircraft are printed in sections which will make placing them much easier than if they were in one strip as the line extends from the rear of the radome to the Bard Stacks heat exchanger vents just aft of the vertical fin leading edges.
There are full colour port and starboard views of each aircraft to aid the placement of markings and the colour demarcation between upper and lower colours. There are upper and lower plan views of 166776, 166650 and 166805 providing the layout for the cheat lines. There are very useful illustrations for the placement of the wing modex numbers for each aircraft. The separate stencil placement guide helps placing the numerous tiny stencils accurately. There is a small decal sheet for the “Felix the Cat”, which presumably replaces the character on the main sheet. Interestingly the colour instructions show the port view of 166776, “the Tomcatters” which shows the cat on the tail with blacked out eyes and missing the “75 years” written on the bomb. This must be a printing error on the instructions as this style of character does not appear on the decal sheet.
Quality of the print by Cartograf is simply stunning. Decals are glossy with a minimum amount of carrier film and excellent colour depth. All the written stencils are sharp and legible, even the tiniest of stencils, that you have to view with a strong magnifying glass. I like the attention to detail, there are even decals for the personalised engine intake and exhaust covers for the Fighting Checkmates F/A-18F. There are enough stencils and wing walk ways for two aircraft, but there is nothing to stop the modeler from using the kits stencils to be able to utilise even more of the above markings. Decals are sized to the Hasegawa 1/48 kit. Nice one Afterburner.


Another superb release from the Afterburner Decals stable. They just keep reeling these subjects in with all the enthusiasm and dedication to accuracy and quality we have now come to expect from this company. Outstanding Afterburner, outstanding.
Highs: Too many to mention.
Lows: None.
Verdict: Absolutely superb release from Afterburner Decals.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48-073
  Suggested Retail: $20.00
  PUBLISHED: Jul 04, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Afterburner Decals!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Tim Hatton (litespeed)

Aircraft are my primary interest from WWll to present day.

Copyright ©2021 text by Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


One of the many reasons we use Cartograf to print is because of the innovative new ways they print things. One of the banes to model decal designers has been gradients. Those ideally have to be printed in 4-color, or offset process...normal printing like what comes from your home printer. The problem was, the dpi was not conducive to really good printing. Cartograf now uses a process that renders gradients extremely fine. The problem was, I wasn't sure how to adjust the colors in the art to account for the fact that offset printing only uses a very thin later of ink over a white background. The original Felix the Cat logos came out very nice...they just didn't "pop" the way they do on the real jet. The colors looked a bit washed out. On the red background of the tail, I'm betting they'd have looked ok, but "ok" isn't what we do here. The delay to have them redone was frustrating, but if you look at the 2 pieces side by side, you'll see what I mean, and I decided the delay was worth getting the sheet "right". Now that I know how to adjust the art to take advantage of the technology, it makes us a little more agile in terms of rendering complicated gradients correctly.
JUL 04, 2011 - 05:22 PM

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