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F-15 'The Early Years'

Caracal Models 1/72 F-15 'The Early Years' Decal First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2019 Manufacturer Caracal Models
Subject F-15 'The Early Years' Scale 1/72
Set Number 72087 Pros Eight colorful subjects
Cons Nothing noted Skill Level Novice
MSRP (USD) $13.99

First Look

Here is the latest decal set from Caracal and this one brings back memories from the early years of my Air Force career. This set covers the F-15 Eagle in its very early years. The first F-15 flew in 1972, one year before I joined the Air Force, and production aircraft began flowing into the squadrons not long after that. The 1st TFW at Langley was the first to receive the aircraft for operational service (I still remember when the Langley tailcode FF proudly proclaimed as 'First Fighter' when the Eagles did arrive), but it was the 58th that received the first Eagles outside of flight test. The 58th TFTW at Luke AFB was the wing assigned to transition experienced pilots into the F-15, soon followed by the younger 'sierra hotel' rocket aces.

F-15 'The Early Years' F-15 'The Early Years'

The aircraft presented in this set include:

  • F-15A, 71-0280, first prototype
  • F-15A, 71-0283, AFFTC, Edwards AFB
  • F-15A, 71-0285, AFFTC, Edwards AFB
  • F-15A, 72-0119, AFFTC, Edwards AFB, 'Streak Eagle'
  • F-15A, 71-0284, 1 TFW (early production block used later by 1 TFW for ground maintenance training)
  • F-15A, 73-0103, 58 TFTW, Luke AFB
  • F-15B, 73-0111, 58 TFTW, Luke AFB, Wing CC's Flagship
  • F-15B, 73-0112, 58 TFTW, Luke AFB, 12th AF CC's aircraft

This set includes all of the distinctive markings plus stenciling for at least one aircraft. As usual, these decals are nicely printed by Cartograf and are in perfect register.

You'll have to backdate your favorite 1/72 F-15 to render an early-block F-15A/B. Most of the detail differences are subtle like antenna placement and wheels, though you will want to find the feathered afterburner nozzles that were used early in the Eagle's career. Don't forget the smaller speed brake on these early Eagles, the horizontal stabs did not have the dog-toothed leading edges, and the Escapac ejection seat that preceded the ACES II. There are good print and online references to help you through the details.

One of hallmarks of the early Eagles was the overall Air Superiority Blue paint scheme with white markings/stencils. This paint scheme didn't last long before the Eagles were repainted in their light/dark Ghost Gray camouflage.

For more information about this set and the other releases from Caracal Models, visit their website at

My sincere thanks to Caracal Models for this review sample!