Decal Sheet Review: VVS Fighters, Part I
In our forthcoming decal
sheet review series, we'll seek to highlight and critique some of the currently
available-- and long past issue-- VVS decal sheets. In our first series
installment, we'll take a look at several VVS Fighter sheets.
This article has been updated with newer artwork
and research. The original text has been replaced by current work, and
has not been retained (in part due to the sheer size).
[ All decal sheet scans have
been deliberately skewed and distorted at random angles to dissuade illegal
reproduction or Copyright infringement by any such parties. The precise
line and measurement of any specific marking, therefore, should not be
taken literally from these illustrations. ]
Scale Decals, No.44 "Russia-- Yak-9, Lavochkin
This classic old ESCI sheet first appeared
some 25 years ago, and it is still one of our favorites, despite the rather
dated assumptions to be found in the instructions! Long since out of print,
these sheets are nonetheless still obtainable at most major modeling conventions,
and from specialty hobby shops. The age of these old ESCIs often means
that one can expect considerable yellowing of the carrier film, but prolonged
exposure to the sun seems to be a fair remedy for this condition. The quality
of the decals, however, is surprisingly good, especially considering their
age, and they do lie down fairly well with moderate applications of setting
Eight schemes are provided
on this sheet, including complete national markings for each aircraft.
In addition to these markings, there are some 'bonus'
decals provided, including inscription decals for an Il-2, Yak-7B, P-39,
Yak-9D "Yellow 22", Mikhail Grib, 6 GIAP ChF, 1944: The
instructions attribute the machine to Col. Avdeyev! The color scheme and
application pattern are complete rubbish, as they are throughout the painting
guide; "22" wore an AMT-11/-12-7 scheme, which is shown on the site in
a 3-view here.
Those who still maintain a yellow number interpretation of the "22 will
be pleased with this sheet, but the majority of researchers now agree on
a dirty white appearance.
Unknown It seems most likely that this scheme is a conglomerate
of two different Yaks. The inscription "Moskva" most probably was that
found on some Yak-9Bs, whilst the numeral "12" is similar to one found
on a Yak-1.
Yak-1b "White 58", Sergei Luganski, 270 IAP, 1943: The
instructions identify this aircraft as a Yak-3, erroneously, and it is
in fact Luganskiy's Yak-1b. The current interpretation of the markings
on this machine are somewhat split. Virtually all resarchers agree that
the numeral and inscription text are in white; however, the wreath feature
is argued to be both in white or yellow. This sheet supports the former
interpretation, and will be useful in that case. The aircraft wore an AMT-11/-12/-7
Yak-1 "White 11", Albert Durand, 303 IAD, 1944 (?): Once
again, we suffer from a lack of photographs of NN aircraft. There
are plenty of drawings of them, most of which have turned out to be greatly
in error. I suspect that this appearance is very much wrong, but we will
have to await more evidence on the aircraft.
La-5F "White 14", Ivan Kozhedub, 240 IAP, Winter 1943/44:
This is a rather failed attempt to represent the markings for Kozhedub's
"14" machine, which should be in its odd AMT-11/-12 mix scheme here. Not
useable at all.
La-5FN "Yellow 06", 437 IAP, 1943-44: Another hopeless
attempt at one of the presentation Lavochkins of the 201 IAD.
La-7 "White 27", Ivan Kozhedub, 176 GIAP, 1945: The scoreboard
and medal decals here are appropriate for "White 27's" post-War appearance.
A thorough look at "27" can be found here.
P-40K (Kittyhawk III) "White 23", Nikolai Kuznetsov, 436 IAP, 1942:
A fine set of markings for Kuznetsov's P-40. Very useable. The printed
scheme is pretty good, actually.
Overall, the sheet is extremely valuable as a source
of very well completed national markings, the Yellow and White bordered
national stars are amongst the best decals of their kind anywhere. Certainly
the sheet is a must have item for these, alone, but there are in addition
some very useable decals on the sheet besides, Kuznetsov's Kittyhawk and
Luganskiy's Yak-1b predominately among them.
Sheet No.D 72-002 "Russian WWII Aces"
One of a series of excellent new VVS
decal sheets from Propagteam, these decals are absolutely of the highest
quality in manufacture. Alas, as with many VVS markings sheets, the accuracy
of the scheme information in the instructions provided by Eduard fall somewhat
short of this very high mark. But, despite that, they are amongst the finest
of all the contemporary GPW VVS decal sheets.
No less than eight sets of
markings cover this sheet, ranging in era from the I-16 to the La-7.
Despite the occasional problems with the reproduction
of some of the camouflage schemes, this decal sheet is quite outstanding.
The decals themselves are rather thin, well registered, and settle down
nicely to produce an excellent effect. Certainly, a winner here.
I-16 Type 24 "Red 21", Gennadi Tsokolayev, 4 GIAP KBF, 1942:
Tsokolayev's machine is a Type 24, not a -10 (s/n 24-21321), and looks
to have been wearing a worn MK-7 white distemper. The provided numerals
are ok-ish, but not exactly of the correct font nor size. The Guard's Emblem
should have a white backing field in the centre, but it may still be useable.
La-7 "White 23", Pavel Golovachov, 9 GIAD, 1945: Photographs
of "White 23" are rather incomplete, and therefore it is hard to determine
the exact appearance of the aircraft. On balance, it was probably more
likely that the nationa stars were not Victory types, but rather featured
a plain white border. The background to the 'eagle' artwork is a source
of intensive debate, and no conclusions are yet possible on this matter.
The main artwork looks very useable, however.
P-39Q, A.Kozhevnikov, 9 GIAD, 1945: I have been unable
to track down a photograph of this specific machine, and can offer no comment
here. This scheme should not be confused with Kozhevnikov's P-39N "White
P-39 N "White 2", Nikolai Gulyaev, 66 GIAP, 1945: Fine
La-7 "White 24", Sultan Amet-Khan, 9 GIAP, 1945: Basically
correct, "White 24" had in fact a yellow spinner and a red cowl.
La-5FN "Yellow 01", Vladimir Popkov, 5 GIAP, 1944: Another
erroneous attempt at Popkov's machine, probably taken from the Osprey book
color plate. Popkov's aircraft was finished in a typical AMT-11/-12/-7
scheme. There is still debate over the colouration of the numerals and
star trim, with the view split between yellow and dirty white. The spinner
is now known to have been white, as well.
I-16 Type 24 "White 11", Boris Safanov, 72 SAP SF, 1941:
Here Eduard appears to have fallen under the influence of certain Finnish
enthusiasts, and rendered the inscriptions for Safanov's famous " Za
Stalina !" machine in a quite absurd 'silver' color. In fact, of course,
these should be in either yellow or dirty white (the matter is still not
La-7 "White 27", Ivan Kozhedub, 176 GIAP, 1945: These
markings are alas plagued by red borders, both on the star and numerals.
A thorough look at "27" can be found here.
Super Scale International
No.72-347 "Russian Aces Yak-1, Yak-3, Yak-9"
One of the commonly encountered SuperScale
VVS sheets, this one has some rather nice decals on it. Typically of higher
quality, and often reacting well to setting solution, these decals are
delightful to work with. Sheet No.347 features the machines of various
Yakovlev fighter aces, and features some very interesting selections. Curiously,
while the instruction sheet's side illustrations of the various color patterns
are usually good, the upper plan views are ridiculous. Despite that, however,
this is an excellent group of decals.
Five schemes are provided on
this sheet, along with a nice assortment of national stars.
Despite having having been around for some years, the
original research put into the creation of this decal sheet must have been
impressive, as this set is superior in accuracy to many more modern attempts.
This sheet, in addition, has a nice collection of extra national markings
on it. Overall, a very fine sheet, and highly recommended.
Yak-9 "White 14", Marcel LeFavre, 303 IAD, 1943: Nice
markings in this set. "14" looks to be wearing an AMT-4/-6/-7 scheme, and
the insctructions should of course be disregarded in all camouflage matters.
Yak-1 "White 1", Mikhail Baranov, 183 IAP, 1942: Another
fine effort. Baranov's Yak was finished in an AII Green/Black/Blue scheme.
Yak-1 "White 58", Sergei Luganski, 270 IAP, 1943: The
current interpretation of the markings on this machine are somewhat split.
Virtually all resarchers agree that the numeral and inscription text are
in white; however, the wreath feature is argued to be both in white or
yellow. This sheet is a mix of interpretations, actually, and not very
useful. The aircraft wore an AMT-11/-12/-7 scheme.
Yak-9D, Mikhail Avdeyev, 6 GIAP ChF, 1944: Another fine
set of markings. Avdeyev's Yak-9D " Orlitsa " has been photographed
with both White border and Victory type stars; modeler's choice on this
one. The scheme should beAMT-11/-12/-7.
Yak-3 "White 1", Gregori Zakharov, 303 IAP, 1944: As
with most reproductions of this scheme, the decal set is missing the white
numeral "1". Also, the shield background should be red, not blue, but aside
from that the rest of the markings look to be OK.
No. 72-040 "Yak Fighters #2"
Although rather difficult to make out
in the above illustration (due to the large number of white markings),
these Travers sheets offer some very interesting VVS fighter schemes. The
execution of this sheet is somewhat unusual in that the various national
stars all feature separate white backing star-shaped 'masks' to provide
the white areas of the insignia. The decal registration is acceptable,
but not up to the standards of SuperScale nor Propagteam. Further, the
entire sheet is printed on a single piece of somewhat thicker clear sheet,
requiring one to trim the markings carefully before application. But, despite
these potential drawbacks, there are some nice markings here.
Six individual aircraft make
up this sheet, all of them Yakolev fighters.
In addition to these markings, the sheet also contains
some nice cockpit panel decals and a number of Yak-9 aircraft stencils.
Yak-9 "White 14", Marcel LeFavre, 303 IAD, 1943: Nicely
done; perhaps not just quite as sharp as the SSI decals of the same type.
Yak-3 "Yellow 15", Semyen Rogov, 3 GIAD, 1944: A very
fine set of decals for this interesting machine.
Yak-9D, Mikhail Avdeyev, 6 GIAP ChF, 1944: I suspect
a mis-print here, as the instructions refer to Maj.Grib's Yak-9 aircraft!
The decals are correct for the later appearance of " Orlitsa " (although
with an ususual colour interpretation of the eagle) , complete with Victory
type stars and kill markings on the fin/rudder. The instructions give the
color scheme incorrectly-- it should be AMT-11/-12/-7.
Yak-1, Pavel Pokrovskiy, 2 GIAP SF, 1944: This colorful
and delightful machine is well represented with this fine set. There continues
a heated debate as to whether this aircraft sported a 'tiger' motif on
the port fuselage side, as well as the starboard; but in the case, Travers
provides only one such decal! The scheme was thought to be a coat of AMT-11
on the upper surfaces.
Yak-9, Vano Gugridzhe, 65 GIAP, 1944: The decal set for
Gugridzhe's " Za Brata Shota " are fair, but inferior to the same
markings provided with the ISM Yak-9 kit. Still, with nothing else on hand
they will do. This machine was finished in AMT-4/-6/-7 lacquers in a
Yak-3 "White 5", Roger Sauvage, Normandie-Niemen IAP, 1945:
Nice decal set for "White 5", though the correct scheme should be an NKAP
Though not quite of the quality of some of the sheets
examined here, these decals nonetheless are useable, and they will settle
down to the model surface with some minor attention. The decal subject
matter, of course, is the really exciting feature here, with at least three
of the schemes having never been printed before. I suspect we will only
see an improvement in the quality of Travers decals over time, but the
subject matter is sure to remain an outstanding point of their decal work.