Wednesday, October 24

Zotz 1/32 "The F-105F/G in Vietnam – Wild Weasels II at War” decal sheet reviewed

We don't have any decals in 1/32nd for the two-seat F-105F and F-105G Wild Weasel variants of the Thunderchief in print right now. Enter Zotz to the rescue – This allows us to now take you through the EIGHT different choices of aircraft on offer in our review. 

Zotz 1/32  “The F-105F/G in Vietnam – Wild Weasels II at War” decal sheet
Product # ZTZ32/055
Scales: 1/32
Colour Schemes: Eight! in 1/32
Printed by: Zotz in Mexico
Available from:  Zotz Site where you can buy directly - SquadronSprue BrothersMid-Ten Hobbies , Stevens International , Hannants   Scott’s Model Workshop also carry this set if they are closer to you.
US$30 + P&P

When the Republic F-105F/G became the first dedicated Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) platforms, fighting against the Soviet-built S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missiles in the Vietnam war many were given different and interesting colour schemes – Zotz have eight different schemes on their latest sheet in 1/32 and we thought we would check them out to see if this old kit can still fly under the radar once these are released...
Mine arrived to me in a few days from Mexico - as always with these decals in a large envelope sandwiched in flat cardboard to look after them and they were indeed safe inside. The contents of the Zip loc bag did indeed have a heavy-ish feel to them and on investigating first i got the smell of new plastic - then delving deeper i was pleasantly surprised to see the contents - two large sheets of decals, a full colour instruction and placement guide and a printed paper eleven page booklet on the stores these aircraft carried!! More on this in a second but I'll talk really briefly about the cover image.
Most decal makers don't bother - some put the profiles on the cover image which is a start - but Zotz constantly give a damn and bother to make great cover art to get you enthused in their product - maybe to take a second look on the store's shelves The image of a nearly all black cover with a crow looking into the distance to see other birds of the night winging their way into the darkness - but wait - the birds are done in such a way that the images are actually of EITHER F-105s or birds! a nice little trick of the eye but really cool!
There is an amazing eleven page booklet included - in printed black and white paper - showing records of the stores your kit of the F-105 should carry -  Jim Rotramel who is a well read expert on this and other subjects - this comprehensive breakdown of weapons loads and load outs of these thuds is invaluable to a modeller - i cannot remember getting so much detail about a model in a decal set before - the addition of this is really impressive and Zotz again should be commended for it's inclusion.
The decals themselves are printed in Mexico (proudly i see) and are a semi gloss texture with not much extra carrier film, the decals aren't too thick and i can say in applying these types before to my mustang they go down very well. Included - and missed by me at first - are the national markings for the aircraft as well.

The colours are true to my eye and the whites are not see through, printing of the lettering is one of the highpoints of this decal sheet - with the tiny data stencils on the aircraft able to be read into the smallest of sizes - there is other writing on these decal sheets where people have signed the aircraft - and that is legible as well - nice work on the mechanics and artwork of the sheet.

Aha the ol' "Giant Coin trick"
The other inclusion in the decal sheet is the placement instructions - each of the aircraft has a profile (two where needed) in colour which show the aircraft and any notes needed to be explained to the modeller. 
Data placement and federal standard colours are included on the sheet which also shows the standard breakdown of camouflage schemes of the Thud from Vietnam onwards,  you have both a top and bottom view included to help you. The instructions also not the contributors to the project - several people helped in the making of this sheet - and it seems many hands made good work.
 The Eight aircraft depicted in this large set are:
-       F-105F, 63-8319, 44 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1970, 'Sinister Vampire'
-       F-105F, 63-8351, 354 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 'The Red River Showboat'
-       F-105F, 63-8311, 354 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1970, 'SAM Fighter'
-       F-105F, 63-8301, 357 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1968, 'Jinkin' Josie' / F-105F, 63-8301, 357 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 'Take Her Down'
-       F-105F, 63-8299, 128 TFS/GA ANG, Dobbins AFB, 1983, 'Peach 91'
-       F-105G, 63-8336, 17 WWS/388 TFW, Korat RTAFB, 1972, 'Patience' 
-    F-105G, 62-4425, 388th TFS/17th TFW, Korat RTAFB 1972 , "Naada"

We will go through them each in turn for you now, showing you the decals for each aircraft choice and some pics to back up the research...

F-105F, 63-8319, 44 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1970, 'Sinister Vampire' Thakli, Thailand, October 1970
EF-105F "Sinister Vampire" (ex F-105F-1-RE) was from the  44th TFS, 355th TFW, USAF -  Based at Takhli in Thailand (as most of these aircraft on this set are) This aircraft is a fave of mine i'll admit - the clack aircrew placards on either cockpit have been traced to their real occupants  Captain Ron Kilgus and Captain Ted Lowry (check it out in your Osprey book about thuds in Vietnam) The starboard side black and silver canopy decal is there without of course the aircrews names.
RE (63-8319) with it’s commander Capt. Don Kilgus and Capt Ted Lowry were interestingly shot down by their quarry – an SA-2 SAM whilst they were on a POW rescue mission. 
On the decal sheet you will also see the art of the bat that sits on the port underside of the mid fuselage and the "Sinister Vampire" with white writing on a black background nameplate for both sides of the engine intake.
The large "JB" tailcode is included as is a small bat in white for the starboard side that sat between the canopy frames. The starboard side is also adorned with the campaign decorations as well.

F-105F, 63-8351, 354 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 'The Red River Showboat'
Provided here by Zotz on the decal are four name placards for the different aircrew- Maj.Bob Huntley, Capt. Stearman and  their ground crew ASST CC A Sarganis and CC Donald Ricci. Here is a slideshow of this nose art being recreated on the resurrected aircraft just recently - great for research but we have a period shot below..

This is a brilliant site on this colourful aircraft which was the subject of an impressive restoration recently. The Pilot Bob Huntley had an impressive record in this and other aircraft and even shot down a Mig 17 which would have been only half the size (and a lot more maneuverable not to mention) than this Thud. This aircraft is adorned by a steamboat on the port side of the front fuselage and it is here replicated in great artwork on the decal sheet - it actually looks like it is brush painted on as it would have been on the aircraft (check with the pics below to see)

F-105F, 63-8311, 354 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1970, 'SAM Fighter'

I have unearthed lots of pictures of “SAM Fighter” luckily some were taken before she crashed on the 15th of November 1970 from an engine failure problem whilst on an escort mission. The decal features a  black crow dressed as a matador with sword in hand and cape dodging a SAM missiles - with the SAM kills lined up on the red cape.

There are two white patches included for each side of the intake where the aircraft's name often went - i cannot find any names in the pictures i have done and so i think Zotz were exactly right to leave them blank.

F-105F, 63-8301, 357 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 1968, 'Jinkin' Josie' / F-105F, 63-8301, 357 TFS/355 TFW, Takhki RTAFB, 'Take Her Down'
"Josie" was flown by Captain Vern Harris and Captain Kim Pepperell of the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron over North Vietnam in 1968. The South East Asian camouflage scheme has the additional markings of a nude in up girl  and a SAM firing past her. This aircraft is linked in serial number to the next aircraft -  no one is sure if they are the same airframe or even crews -  but Zotz has done both for you...
F-105F Thunderchief, serial #63-8261 was flown by Colonel Leo Thorsness who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War for his work in “Thuds” whilst covering the strike to rescue P.O.W.s Here we have a view of the starboard side of the aircraft - not great eveidence but at least we have the right bird!
This decal choice features a rather tasty young lady as her port side nose art literally "taking em down"  It really comes down to whether you like blondes or redheads really doesn't it??

F-105F, 63-8299, 128 TFS/GA ANG, Dobbins AFB, 1983, 'Peach 91'
This colourful machine from Georgia ANG is shown here in it’s last markings with the many signatures on the underside port and starboard. Flown by Wing Commander Gen. Ben Patterson this machine also has a large “116th TFW” on it’s starboard upper wing. This is the only machine from Dobbins AFB on this sheet.
Painted to commemorate the retirement of the F-105 in 1983 - this aircraft has the most decals applied to it - coming from the "Georgia Peach" decal on the sides of the front fuselage of the aircraft (different for each side as noted by the decal makers) and both represented here -  to the shark mouths which  have a small cut in the black to fit around the guns either side of the nose cone...
To the special drop-tank markings with a big "Thunderchief" and "Thuds Forever" on either outboard side (again as the picture above shows)
The decal has the names of everyone who signed the aircraft recreated in some detail by Eli. Here you can see the scale of the writing by the size of the giant coin i have placed by it  - seriously though the writing here is mainly legible whilst remaining very small - a great achievement in research and printing. also of note in this decal marking choice is the "116th TFW" on the starboard wingtip which really - when added to the other markings here make this a top choice for a colourful thud. I almost forgot to add the "Georgia" tail flashes in bright yellow/black and the choice of the tailcodes in slightly different lettering according to your own research - it is nice to have the choice and to be covered by such good research.

F-105G, 63-8336, 17 WWS/388 TFW, Korat RTAFB, 1972, 'Patience'
This is a pretty cool looking choice primarily for the Vulture that sits on the port side of the aircraft – I understand you had to wait for the SAMs to “show” themselves and I suppose that is what this motif was all about.
The decal choice is the squared off shark’s mouth which starts behind the guns on the nose, the decal features as well the white on black “Patience” for each intake shown in the picture below. These "patience" decals are one part jobs whilst the pilot and weapons systems officer’s names are a blue block decal with white writing on them in two parts

F-105G, 62-4425, 388th TFS/17th TFW, Korat RTAFB 1972 , "Naada"
Flown by Jim Boyd and Kim Pepperell this "G" model aircraft SN 62-4425 was used on the last "Weasel" mission of the Vietnam conflict. This was a well photographed jet and we have a good colour shot of it below - so the research is easy on this one - You can clearly see the shape of the sharkmouth that Zotz have faithfully recreated - also the blue cockpit placards with the aircrew names. Reproduced in Thai lettering font on the intakes was the aircraft's name "Naada" in white on a black background - here all in the one decal and below that the picture of the aircraft in question to prove it.

Well what can i say about this decal set - you could really build several different types of the same aircraft from this kit. You could well buy this with a friend or two and get markings for all. The quality of the research and the artwork is as is usual from Zotz top notch. Well done to Eli's many contributors on this and to Zotz for producing such a great set that Thud fans will relish.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Zotz for the decals to review

Available from:  Zotz Site where you can buy directly - SquadronSprue BrothersMid-Ten Hobbies , Stevens International , Hannants   Scott’s Model Workshop also carry this set if they are closer to you.