by: Tim Hatton [ ]
VFA-106 can trace its linage back to January 1945 when Bomber-Fighter Squadron seventeen [VBF-17] was created. The Squadron was made up primarily of former members of VF-17, the Squadron flew strikes over Tokyo in February 1945. After a brief yet distinguished WWII campaign, the Squadron was redesignated VF-6B in November 1946. In 1948 the Squadron became VF-62. Finally in 1955 the unit was designated Attack Squadron One Hundred and Six [VA-106] and the Squadron adopted the name ‘Gladiators’. The Roman Helmet adorned both their unit patch as well as their aircraft. In November 1969 the Squadron was disestablished. In April 1984 Strike Fighter Squadron 106 was established at NAS Cecil Field, where VFA-106 assumed the ‘Gladiator’ title as well as the Roman Helmet insignia. VFA-106 was established as the East Coast Fleet, 106’s mission was to train Pilots and Weapons System Officers to fly and fight in the Hornet. Due to Base Realignment Closures [BRAC], the ‘Gladiators’ would move their operations to NAS Ocean in 1999. They added the F/A-18E/F to their inventory in 2004 and currently the Squadron utilises over 90 of every variant for training purposes.
This release is an officially licensed centennial of Naval Aviation product.
Inside the clear plastic resealble bag is:
-6 x A4 pages of colour guides including the front cover.
-2 x A4 pages of stencil guides.
-1 x A4 decal sheet, with all the colour decals
-1 x small decal sheet with all the black decals.
A-4D-2, 144962: VA-106, USS Shangri –La, 1962.
A-4C, 148463: VA-106, USS Independence, 1964.
A-4E, 152078: VA-106, USS Intrepid, 1968.
Above are finished with white [FS 17875] under surfaces and light grey [FS 16440] upper surfaces.
TF-18A, 161714: VA-106, NAS Cecil Field, 1985.
161714 is painted with light grey under surfaces [FS 36495] and upper surfaces are light compass grey [FS 36375].
F-18D, 163454: VA-106 CAG, NAS Cecil Field, 1990.
F-18D, 163457: VA-106 CAG, NAS Oceana, 2005.
F-18E, 166420: VA-106, NAS Oceana, 2009.
F-18C, 164230: VA-106 CO, NAS Oceana, 2010.
F-18A, 162867: VA-106, NAS Oceana, 2010.
The above are finished compass grey [FS 36375] under surfaces and dark compass grey [FS 36320] upper surfaces.
F-18C, 163745: VA-106, NAS Oceana, 2010.
163745 is finished in overall glossy sea blue [FS 15042] and has a white number ‘45’ painted on the side of the fuselage underneath the canopy. On the fuselage over the wing is ‘VBF-17 VFA-106’ in white.
F-18E, 165666: VA-106, NAS Oceana, 2010.
The above are finished compass grey [FS 36375] under surfaces and dark compass grey [FS 36320] upper surfaces. Rudders are painted yellow with thin black stripes. Decals are available on the small decal sheet for the rudder stripes.
There are additional decals for the ejector seats for the Hornets and Super Hornets. Also for the Super Hornets are decal representations of the Bard stack exhausts and the white squares found inside the exhaust cones.
Stencil guide: provides upper and lower plan views as well as port and starboard side profiles of the Hornet and the Super hornet. The drawings are black line and the supplement the colour profiles. There are not nearly as many stencils on the Skyhawks and stencil placement is dealt with on the colour profiles. There are enough stencils to complete two aircraft.
Instructions: there are full colour views of the portside of each aircraft to aid the placement of markings. 163745 and 165666 have both port and starboard profile views. There are upper and lower plan views providing the guidance for applying the walkways and modex numbers.
Decals: the 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 particularly like the tiny stencils with the outline of the aircraft drawn on them. There are arrows pointing to areas of the aircraft, not sure what they indicate, but they look good. There are enough stencils and wing walk ways 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.
Application: Decals respond very well too Microsol, you will see the decals crinkle slightly, but don’t be tempted to brush out the creases. I found that the decals conform very well too low relief detail. Afterburner has reduced the amount of carrier film to a minimum so do not attempt to cut too close to the decal in order to reduce the amount of carrier film. It’s not necessary. In fact it is well worth your while taking a close look at some of the markings to determine the extent of the carrier film. You will notice that the carrier film will follow the shape of the letters or stencils very closely rather than surrounding them with excessive carrier film. This does have an effect when moving decals from the sheet to the model and you need to move them with a little caution. As there is little carrier film the decals look almost painted on after a coat or two of Kleer.
This is another superb release from the team at Afterburner Decals. They just keep delivering these subjects with all the enthusiasm and dedication too accuracy and quality we have now come to expect from this company. I really like this release as it covers more than three different aircraft. The shelf display line will look very coordinated with this fine release covering the aircraft of VF-106 ‘the Gladiators’. Outstanding Afterburner, outstanding.