Furball Aero Design

1/48 Topgun Tigers & Talons decal sheet

Product # 48-056 for $19.99 

Product  Article by Fred Krause on Mar 16 2017



Hot off of the press from Furball Aero Design comes three new decal sheets covering the F-5E and F-5F Tiger IIs, and T-38A Talons that were flown by the Naval Fighter Weapons School (NFWS), more popularly know as Topgun. The sheets cover markings used by the unit in the 1976 to 1987 time frame until the Tigers were replaced by the F-16Ns, and reassigned to VF-126 (briefly) and VFA-127, and still later VF-43 and VF-45. Also included on the sheets are the famous all black jets used in the filming of the movie Topgun. The sheets are beautifully printed by Cartograf in their 9 by 11 size format, and are in perfect register. I have used Cartograf decals on several occasions, and they are outstanding! For options you get COMPLETE markings for a staggering 12 F-5Es, 5 F-5Fs, and 6 T-38As. Thats 23 options for $20. Now thats what I call money well spent! Please note that the 32nd scale sheet has markings for the 12 F-5Es only.... no F-5Fs or T-38As, as unfortunately there are no available mainstream kits for these jets. Perhaps one day Furball will have a reason to print the F-5Fs, and T-38As up in another sheet!

Click on images below to see larger images

As you can see in the scans, six 9 by 11 full color printed instruction sheets (printed front and back) provide all of the information that youll need to accurately build these jets, including the often confusing nose cone/wing root extension details. All of Topguns original six F-5Es (BuNos 159878 to 159882, and 160794), and three F-5Fs (BuNos 160964 to 160966) were delivered with the original round nose cone and no wing root extensions (LEXs). As the aircraft were sent through re-work in the early 1980s, they came back with the later style duckbill/shark nose style nose cone, and wing root extensions. The one exception is BuNo 162307, the second NFWS #41, which was taken from USAF stocks as an attrition replacement. This aircraft was delivered to Topgun with the late style modifications. Generally about the time the aircraft lost their red engine warning stripe is when they were modified with the duckbill nose cone, and wing wing root LEXs. Unlike the USAF, the Navy had virtually no standardization when it came to adversary paint schemes, and the squadron painted up the jets pretty much however they felt like. So with 23 options available on these sheets, there are nearly as many different paint schemes for the modeler to choose from. Check out the scans for more details.

In years past there has been a handful of decal sheets with markings for Topgun Tiger IIs, and none that I can recall for their T-38As. Most notably, there was a couple of old Superscale sheets that covered a few of their jets, but while the decals were okay, paint scheme info was sorely lacking. Thanks to Furball we now have the definitive Topgun Tiger and Talon sheets nearly 30 years since they passed their Tigers on to other units.

On a personal note, these sheets really bring back some great memories! In the early 1980s while I was in high school in Oceanside, California, and some of my buddies and I would routinely ditch school and make the 35 mile drive south to NAS Miramar to take photographs. All of my friends were military dependents thanks to their fathers being stationed at nearby Camp Pendalton USMC base, so getting onto Miramar was no problem. Once there wed simply walk up to the front gates of the various units as ask to take pictures of their jets. Occasionally wed be told to get lost, but usually some bored sailor would show up to escort us onto the ramp. Topgun was always a favorite stop, and they were always very friendly and cordial. To those fine folks I will be forever grateful! Included in this article are a few pictures of some of the Tigers that we shot back in the day. Numbers 42 and 44 were shot by myself, 43 was shot by Mike Shapiro, and 40 is from my personal slide collection shot by an un-named photographer. My final photo is of BuNo 159880, as VFC-13 #20 in 2003, formerly NFWS #42. It was the sole surviving original Topgun F-5E, the other five having all crashed by 2003. It was finally retired in 2005 after nearly 30 years of adversary service!

This sheet is also available in 1/72 and 1/32 scale.

You can buy this decal sheet directly from Furball Aero Design.

Fred Krause aka f5guy

Click on images below to see larger images


Photos and text by Fred Krause