FREE VNAF INSIGNIA DECALS
Contrary to decals made in bitmap program (Photoshop, EmageReady etc.) which would look pixeled or loosing quality after being enlarged or reduced; decals made in vector program (Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw etc.) stay sharp and clean-cut no matter what size they are changed into. Unfortunately, Internet Browser didn't support vector format (although we can attach it by email). To resolve the problem I have to rely on jpg format but with high resolution (150dpi), instead of 72dpi. From times to times, I will post all VNAF decals that I have made for anyone interested to dowload.
Click on the thumbnail picture on the left column for the decal print (PDF format can be printed on Testors white decal paper [5.5" x 8.5"] ). For the layout and color scheme of 524th, 526th, and 526th FS markings, see the following illustration drawings, plus a close-up view of 524th's fuselage marking (it has only 6 arrows, instead of 10 arrows as others commercial decals have incorrectly made).
Click here for more documentary photos of VNAF A-37. Thank Francois B. again for great contribution.
Francois B. has just sent in 2 decal sheets for VNAF 83rd Squadron (aka Than Phong Squadron). The files were saved as pdf format and can be printed on Testors decal paper (5.5" x 8.5"). Click on the two thumb nail pictures on the left for the decal prints. With the introduction of Personal Computer, today most modelers can do home made decals from any picture of VNAF markings of any source; however, the decals available on this web page have been professionally drawn in Vector program, second to none (method of printing is the only difference). For reference on VNAF 83rd Squadron's Skyraiders, click here for the whole set of 83rd FS photos . Happy VNAF modeling!
These decals have been made in Illustrator CS2 then converted to JPG file format. Click on the thumbnails pics on the left to open the full size image for download. Due to high resolution files, allow more time to open. Check on art works (PAINTING section) or Photos of VNAF Skyraiders (VNAF PHOTOS section) for references (like photos of the two VNAF Skyraiders below).
INSTRUCTION ON HOME MADE DECALS
This instruction is based on the "Decal WHITE Sheet" 8.5"x11" ["Expert-Choice Decal" made by Bare Metal Foil Co. (*)], but I think the other "Decal White Sheets" should be more or less the same. To help applying the decal on the model easier, some one would spray a thin coat of "FUTURE Floor Finish" solution (liquid substance) on the model. You can buy this bottle at most of the drug stores; because of its gloss finish you may have to spray ("MICRO COAT" flat type solution) later on to dull the model's paint coat. But this process is necessary any way if you are going to weather-wear your model. I printed the decal from an old inkjet Epson 740 Photo. Most inkjet printers have more or less the same quality as long as they don't have inking problem. Beside the Decal White Sheet for printing, you need to buy 3 different solution bottles as follow: MICRO LIQUID DECAL FILM; MICRO SOL; MICRO SET. (If your local hobby store is big enough, it will carry most of the stuff you need). Here's is the basic steps:
1/ After you get the decals printed on the "Decal White Sheet" from the printer, spray your decal sheet with a heavy coat of "MICRO LIQUID DECAL FILM" solution (or use flat brush to paint on the designs that you are going to use) to protect the ink from being smudged also for better application. Without this coat of solution, your decal's ink will get smeared once you put it in the water. Let it dry before going to the next step.
2/ Use the hobby-cutting tool to cut the designs (decals) out of the Design White Sheet, running the cutting blade precisely along the border of the design (with new sharp pointed blade). If you use scissors, it should be small, pointed and sharp so that you can get a clean cut. If you dont apply a thin coat of "FUTURE Floor Finish" on your model as I have mentioned above, you can use "MICRO SET" solution to prepare the spot (by painting a thin coat of MICRO SET) on the model where you are going to slide off the decal. Micro Set prepares the surface with special wetting agents that cut the oils in new paint and convert the adhesive on the back of the decal to a stronger and longer lasting one.
3/ Dip the decal into warm water for about 30 second. Take it out and lay it on a napkin paper to take out the water residue. Use a damp Q-tip slightly push the decal, testing to see if the decal has been loosened from the backing paper. If not, dip it in the water again for some more seconds. This is a critical step, if you leave your decal in water for unnecessary amount of time, it will thin out the adhesive coat on the back of your decal, then your decal won't stick well on the model's surface (this kind of decal sheet "custom made decal" is not as good as the commercial decals in many aspects).
4/ Use a damp Q-tip to hold the decal at the position you want, then use the tweezers to slowly pull the backing paper (you may have to slide off the decal a bit beforehand to get a "lip" for your tweezers to pick on the backing paper). Try to position the decal right at the spot you want at once, you won't have much benefit to adjust your decal at this step because the decal is just wet enough to stay there, not to move around. If you apply water on it so that you can do some position adjustment, the decal may loosen some adhesion and it won't stick at some spots later on. At this point I use a Q-tip (or tissue paper to blot the decal) slightly roll on the decal, applying slight pressure; be careful not to move it out of position or lift it off by accident. When I didn't do a good job, some edges of the decal would get loosened, raised up; I have to use a dame Q-tip to press them down, holding for a few minutes to make sure they stick on.
5/ Wait for the decals to dry completely before applying a thin coat of "MICRO SOL setting solution" (Micro Sol works to help decal conformed to the surface of the model and make it look like part of the paint). If you use strong setting solution product (some brands considered strong compared to the others) while the decals are not quite dry, the decals may shrink terribly, damaging your decals. After applying a few brush strokes of the MICRO SET, do not disturb the decal. Let it dry over night.
To sump up, take precaution at each step by working first on an inconspicuous spot such as the VNAF insignial under surface of the wings. To get an idea of how thing works out, you can cut out something from the decal sheet and do a test on an unused part of the model. It then will help you know how much you should handle at each particular step and what problem you may encounter during the process. If the designs don't have white color area, you can print them on a "Decal Clear Sheet." It's easy to cut the designs on the "Clear Sheet," because you can cut it out in any shape as long as it contains all elements of the design; however, "Clear Sheet" serves good only for designs with complicated borders, for letters and numbers. The colors on the "Clear Sheet" are not as strong and solid as those on the "White Sheet," so we use "Clear Sheet" to print the designs only when we have no choice.
Finally, a tip for those who never use "FUTURE Floor Finish." It's cheap, abundant and available at any drug stores. It works better than any hobby stuff for gloss finishing coat, making your model look shiny brand new like just rolled out from an aircraft manufacture, or a showcase aircraft like the Blue Angel. Also if you dip the cockpit's canopy parts into a small cup of "Future Floor Finish" then take them out and let them dry over night. The next day, they look super crystal clear just like the real thing. The "Future" coat also protects clear plastic parts from being scratched or foggy caused by super glue.
There is another solution to produce the custom made decals as good as the commercial ones without such the cautious, trouble some techniques as I described above. "Triple-T", a model aircraft veteran let me know that he owns an ALPS printer, model MD-1000 (made by OKIDATA Co.) that can print WHITE INK for decals. This printer uses special ink-cartridges, so you don't even need to spray stuff for coating the printout decals, and the company provides decal sheets and inks etc. It sounds like we can even make some extra bucks if we have this kind of printer. We just print out any number of decal sheets according to the customer's order, worrying no thing about the inventory investment. But first of all, good luck with your first homemade VNAF decal.
PS: (*) "Expert-Choice Decal" made by Bare Metal Foil Co. White sheet item number is #125; Clear sheet #123. You can check them out at www.Bare-Metal.com
If you want to know more stuffs about modeling skills, you can visit a commercial website www.aircraftresourcecenter.com where it has a whole section devoted to Tip & Tricks on aircraft modeling.