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Afterburner Decals 1/48 F-14 Tomcat VF-103 Sluggers Decal First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2011 Manufacturer Afterburner Decals
Subject F-14 Tomcat VF-103 Sluggers Scale 1/48
Set Number 48071 Pros 12 F-14A, F-14A+, and F-14B options
Cons None noted Skill Level Novice
MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Afterburner Decals continues to turn out some impressive decal releases covering contemporary US subjects and this latest set is definitely no exception. This release covers a somewhat overlooked part of Tomcat lore - the F-14s of VF-103. While many folks associate VF-103 (now VFA-103) with the Jolly Rogers' distinctive skull and crossbones logo, before October of 1995, it was still VF-84 that was the Jolly Rogers.

F-14 F-14

VF-103 was originally the 'Sluggers' when they activated with the F4U Corsair in 1952. While they were one of the last squadrons to receive the F-14 in 1983, this decal set picks up the markings history of the Sluggers in 1986 after US Navy tactical aircraft adopted low visibility camouflage.

This decal set provides a nice cross-section of tactical schemes and markings from the skipper's high-visibility hold-out in 1988 through the last markings of the Sluggers in 1995. The subjects included in this set include:

  • F-14A, 162706, AA/201, VF-103, USS Independence, 1988, Skipper's aircraft
  • F-14A, 160896, AA/202, VF-103, USS Saratoga, 1986, XO's aircraft
  • F-14A, 161156, AA/211, VF-103, USS Saratoga, 1986
  • F-14A+, 162921, AA/200, VF-103, USS Saratoga, ODS, CAG's aircraft
  • F-14A+, 163219, AA/201, VF-103, USS Saratoga, ODS, Skipper's aircraft
  • F-14A+, 161430, AA/212, VF-103, USS Saratoga, ODS
  • F-14B, 162921, AA/200, VF-103, USS Saratoga, 1992, CAG's aircraft
  • F-14B, 163219, AA/201, VF-103, USS Saratoga, 1993, Skipper's aircraft
  • F-14B, 161601, AA/214, VF-103, USS Saratoga, 1993
  • F-14B, 162921, AA/200, VF-103, CVW-17, 1995, CAG's aircraft
  • F-14B, 161873, AA/202, VF-103, CVW-17, 1995, XO's aircraft
  • F-14B, 161608, AA/213, VF-103, CVW-17, 1995, 'FLIR CAT'

This set provides two complete sets of maintenance stencils and markings to replicate at least three aircraft, and what a nice selection to choose from! These markings are designed for the Hasegawa kit.

My sincere thanks to Afterburner Decals for this review sample!