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 The original text has been replaced by current work, and has not been retained (in part due to the sheer size).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. ]

ESCI      1/72 Scale Decals, No.44     "Russia-- Yak-9, Lavochkin La-5/7"

    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 solution.

    Eight schemes are provided on this sheet, including complete national markings for each aircraft.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 scheme.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. La-5FN "Yellow 06", 437 IAP, 1943-44:    Another hopeless attempt at one of the presentation Lavochkins of the 201 IAD.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
    In addition to these markings, there are some 'bonus' decals provided, including inscription decals for an Il-2, Yak-7B, P-39, etc.

    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.

Eduard (Propagteam)      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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 29", however.
  4. P-39 N "White 2", Nikolai Gulyaev, 66 GIAP, 1945:    Fine decal set.
  5. La-7 "White 24", Sultan Amet-Khan, 9 GIAP, 1945:    Basically correct, "White 24" had in fact a yellow spinner and a red cowl.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 agreed).
  8. 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.
    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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Yak-1 "White 1", Mikhail Baranov, 183 IAP, 1942:    Another fine effort. Baranov's Yak was finished in an AII Green/Black/Blue scheme.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
    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.

Travers      Sheet 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Yak-3 "Yellow 15", Semyen Rogov, 3 GIAD, 1944:    A very fine set of decals for this interesting machine.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 'Loops' pattern.
  6. Yak-3 "White 5", Roger Sauvage, Normandie-Niemen IAP, 1945:    Nice decal set for "White 5", though the correct scheme should be an NKAP AMT-11/-12/-7 job.
    In addition to these markings, the sheet also contains some nice cockpit panel decals and a number of Yak-9 aircraft stencils.

    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.