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Various TUDM Aircraft

 

VFA Productions, 1/48 scale

 

Summary

Catalogue Number:

48MiG29-01, 48VFA-02, 48VFA-03

Scale:

1/48 (MiG-29 also available in 1/72 scale)

Contents and Media:

Waterslide decals plus instructions and notes

Price:

USD$15.00 via Two Bobs Decals
USD$8.25 via Two Bobs Decals
USD$6.25 via Two Bobs Decals

Review Type:

FirstLook

Advantages:

Very complete, good coverage of all schemes worn in service to date. MiG-29 sheet includes resin refueling probe

Disadvantages:

None noted

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Ken Bowes


HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron

 

Background

 

I, for one, have had a long desire to model the aircraft of various South East Asian air forces, particularly having seen the F-16s and F-5s of Singapore and Thailand up close and in action.

It has really been only in the last twelve to eighteen months that this ambition has started to be realized. We now have good decal sets for Indonesiaís F-16s, Flankers and Hawks. In addition Vietnamese Flankers and Singaporeís Super Skyhawks have been thoroughly addressed for the modeler by Linden Hill and Horizon Modeltech. As a general rule, however, small air forces have never been the best served by the modeling industry. Even when equipped with mainstream types, readily available in kit form, it is often the unique markings that prove the challenge for the modeler to cobble together. The Tentera Udara Di-Raja Malaysia (TUDM) is one such air force that has been poorly served by both mainstream manufacturers and the aftermarket industry.

 

 

A few years ago Hobbycraft included a TUDM option with their 1/48 A-4C kit. As is always the way this kit is now reasonably hard to find, at least in Australia. All is not lost though, with 2003-4 being watershed years for those who wished to model current TUDM types. First came the F4Dable Models set for 18Sknís eight F/A-18D Hornets based at Butterworth (previously reviewed on HyperScale). This quality sheet, printed by Cartograph in Italy, opened up the TUDM to mainstream modelers. Soon after that Model Alliance released a decal sheet for the BAe Hawk which included options for the TUDM Mk 108 (also previously reviewed). Some judicious trimming combined with a Neomega conversion can yield the Mk 208 from the same sheet as they serve with the same units (6 and 9Skns of the TUDM). With these two major types covered it has fallen to VFA Productions of Malaysia to start to fill in the gaps.

Malaysiaís principle air defence fighter is the MiG-29N Fulcrum, an export variant of the basic Article 9.12 Fulcrum A which is widely deployed in Former Soviet Union and client states. Malaysia had surprised many observers by acquiring the MiG-29 to meet its requirement to replace the F-5E in the air defence role in the mid 1990s, being a traditional purchaser of Western aircraft. Why Malaysia went down this route is best described as being due to a mix of nationalist politics and funding issues. Eighteen aircraft were eventually delivered in 1995, including two MiG-29NUB two seat trainers. The MiG-29 initially equipped two squadrons, 17 and 19 at Sultan Ahmad Shah Air Base in Kuantan on the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. In late 2003 all assets were concentrated under the banner of 19 Skn, the Cobras, with 17Skn which had acted as the conversion unit, essentially being disbanded. Originally being directly equivalent to the Fulcrum A, in 1999 the MiG-29s underwent a planned upgrade, including the fitting of a retractable air to air refueling probe on the port LEX.

 

 

FirstLook

 

VFA Productions first sheet (48MiG29-01) covers the MiG-29N in its various guises in TUDM service.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The VFA Productions package is professionally produced, reminiscent of the current industry standard with full colour instructions and sheet all in an A5 size ziplock bag. The set itself provides the modeler with enough national markings, squadron markings and stenciling to make two MiG-29N or NUBs from either 17 or 19Skns. Serials are provided for all 18 aircraft. The three A4 size instruction sheets provide profiles of all possible options (delivery and current colours schemes and Squadron markings). Comprehensive instructions are also included which outline the correct antenna arrangements and other small changes required to be made to the Academy kit to reflect the MiG-29N configuration. A handy inclusion is a resin IFR probe (in the closed position) for the post 1999 aircraft. VFA Productions has also provided accurate crew name decals for 19Sknís LIMA 2003 airshow appearance, with serial number tie-ins. Overall this set gives the modeler everything they need to produce an accurate 1/48 scale replica of the MiG-29N.

VFA Productions followed-up their initial release quite quickly with two more sheets that again fill much needed gaps in the TUDM line-up. The first sheet, Malaysian Tigers, is for the F-5B, F-5E, F-5F and RF-5E (48VFA-02).

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Like the MiG-29 sheet, VFA has documented the complete service history of the F-5 with the TUDM from 1975 to date in decal form. The F-5 was largely withdrawn from service by the late 1990s, but the requirement for lead in fighter training for potential Hornet and Fulcrum pilots has seen a number reenter service with 12 Skn. Of note Malaysia was one of the launch customers for the RF-5E Tigereye and with appropriate conversion this adds another dimension to an F-5 collection. On this sheet the modeler can chose from the overall silver scheme of 1975 with 11 and 12 Skns through to the three-gray wrap around scheme currently worn by 12Sknís remaining airframes.

As with the MiG-29 sheet, comprehensive full colour instructions are provide over three A4 sized sheets. The decal sheet itself is about two-thirds A5 size due to the smaller unique insignia of the F-5. Even so the modeler is provided with two sets of maintenance stencils. With access to other stencils the modeler can conceivably make up to three unique airframes from this sheet. This is a complete set with squadron markings for both 11 and 12Skns, and serials for all twenty aircraft in both the 1970ís and current styles.

The reason for the two-thirds size sheet for the F-5s is apparent when the third and final set from VFA Productions current releases is examined. It is clear that VFA had got this sheet printed in the same run allowing an economy of scale and simultaneous release with the F-5 set. What VFA48-03 covers is the A-4PTM (Peculiar to Malaysia). The A-4PTM is the result of the upgrading of 34 A-4C and A-4L aircraft for the TUDM by Grumman Aerospace commencing in 1982. In addition to an avionics upgrade, the A-4PTM program saw the fitting of the avionics hump and outboard stores pylons to aircraft lacking them. In addition an A-4M style canopy was also fitted. The A-4PTM equipped 6 and 9Skns of the TUDM (now Hawk operators) and served in two colour schemes, the first being the US SEA scheme and later a wrap around scheme using only the greens from the earlier scheme. Unlike earlier sheets VFA Productions has elected to provide serials for only five aircraft, two SEA scheme and three in wraparound, as well as stencils for one of each scheme. This is still more than sufficient for most modelers. The instructions have seen VFA Productions adopt an approach reminiscent of current US decal companies with an attractive cover page and full colour diagrams spread over the remaining three A4 pages. As with the MiG-29 set, the modeler is provided with the detailed instructions necessary to convert the Hasegawa A-4C to a PTM, with the Cutting Edge conversion being an option for the enlarged canopy.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The VFA Productions decal sheets are very well printed by the US company Microscale. The images are sharp and in register with minimal carrier film. Being Microscale decals there should be no incompatibility with the standard Sol and Set solutions. As mainstream aircraft types the modeler is reasonably well served for base kits for these sets. The MiG-29N is an easy conversion from the Academy Fulcrum A, all the more thanks to VFA providing the IFR probe. For the F-5s, the Classic Airframes F-5B is available, with the Monogram F-5E and F being more difficult to find in some areas. Unfortunately the RF-5E requires a modicum of conversion and I am not aware of any aftermarket set for this type. For the A-4PTM it is hard to go past the Hasegawa A-4C which provides everything except the enlarged canopy straight from the box. Overall VFA Productions have produced an interesting range of products, filling several gaps in the TUDM lineup at once. As it stands these sets will be very welcome for those interested in modeling the aircraft of smaller air forces or with an interest in more esoteric colour schemes.

Highly Recommended.

Review products thanks to my wallet.


VFA Productions are readily available via Two Bobs Decals website


Review and ImagesCopyright © 2004 by Ken Bowes
This Page Created on 22 November, 2004
Last updated 22 November, 2004

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