(Login randall1879) HyperScale Forums from IP address 22.214.171.124
Just wondering if anybody else has become suspicious about decals and their references? I know it is not an exact science when dealing with the past, but we have all built models where we later found out that the markings are either inaccurate or never existed. Aftermarket decals can be quite inaccurate also. Where do they get their information, or do they just draw estimates from photos? Some of these sets can run 40.00 in certain cases. Maybe we just throw them on and turn a blind eye? I'm not obsessing over minor details, just major flaws. Then of course there is the varying quality of the decals themselves, especially those in most kits, but we can save that for another time. Which companies do the best research and produce the most accurate and user friendly decals? Feel free to chime in.
It's the same with color call-outs, camouflage patterns, and painted markings. In the past all of my Bf-109 builds were green & dark green due to the old kit and and decal sheet instructions. Port side photos is the most reference we all have and have no idea what the other side or top of the wings look like. A big part of it we all have to guess and just roll with it. I couldn't say any decal maker could get them all 100% right.
With half of the stuff on decal sheets, especially from World War II, there may be little or no direct or concrete information on markings and colors. Perhaps there is one grainy b/w photo of the tail of a plane and a decal maker has to extrapolate the whole camo scheme and markings layout from that one photo. Even well known planes like Gabreski's P-47 can be enigmatic with various written and photographic depictions not being conclusive or contradictory.
Some companies do make mistakes but a lot of time they (just like you) must make an interpretation.
Accurate and user-friendly may not be the same thing either. It depends what you want for your model. Something that is easy to use but, perhaps, less accurate, or a total POS decal that is a bear to use, but might be more accurate (at least in your eyes)
...no decal art is 100% correct. At Red Gecko, we search out the most reliable photographic evidence (always working within a limited budget) and subject that evidence to rigorous analysis. We've passed on several attractive schemes when they fail to meet our admitedly minimalistic standards for completeness of information. We're lucky to get spot-on even some of the time.
There is an inevitable embarassing moment when a new photo comes to light which disproves our previous best guess, usually after the artwork has gone to press or is already on sale. This applies not only to colors, but to size, shape and even wording.
On the other hand, if everyone waited until the absolute definitive references became available, no decals would ever be printed.
Phil Schenfeld, Senior Vector Herder, Red Gecko Productions
As an Graphic Artist myself, I can tell you not having accurate information can really bite back and not only that, it can bug you to no end.
This is why I take my time to make sure I get it right the first time the best I can based on all the information I can gather at the time I am making a given subject.
Sometimes it can be easy to do (such as some of the P-51s flown by George Preddy for example) As they in some cases, have been well documented. However, there are some subjects that are much harder to do and for that reason can take much longer.
You will note in some cases, there is simply not enough information such as Photographs that show the entire subject and therefore, the artist may use an educated guess as to what the entire subject should look like. Example, is they may fill in the missing blanks based on the squadron's other planes, their paint schemes, ect.
Granted, you will never see all subjects that will have complete references, so this constructive educated guessing can help in most if not all cases.
I am currently working on plenty of subjects, both US Army Airforce and Japanese Imperial Army Airforce subjects and I can tell you the Japanese subjects are very difficult to flesh out correctly.
So when I say there are some Artist out there who really work long hours to bring you subjects to enjoy, it's not easy to get things 100% correct all the time. There are some who really do care about getting things right as much as I do.
I can tell you for a FACT that MOST decals are not 100% accurate.
I have done some research that has wound up on decal and have been told the following more than once:
1) "too many colors" - even it would have been ACCURATE to depict and item such as nose art in various colors the company chose to fudge certain colors to keep the cost down.
(and this next one really makes me sick)
2) "make it look like it does in the Osprey book" - even though we had pictures to show different the company felt the decal sheet would be tarnished if it didn't look exactly like the profile in the Osprey book that happened to be wrong.
This is why we started fündekals. We hated hearing that from other decal companies so we started our own.
I figure that just like model kits, there is not anything near 100 percent accuracy, and to think there should be is pure folly. And as for Osprey, they try hard but do make their share of mistakes, as does many of the Squadron publications. But it is disheartening to buy a set of expensive decals, (or a model kit for that matter), only to find out there are many mistakes, and/or the quality of film used is poor. On the other hand, if we get too caught up in the various threads of just about any modeling forum it can make any model/decals seem worthless. Once again it comes down to what level of authenticity/accuracy we are comfortable with. There are some really good decals out there. I find Xtradecal to do a great job, and if they are not exactly sure about a particular paint scheme they will tell you and not state it as total fact. Best of luck with your endeavor, I will take a look at them, I always like to support "the little guys" when I can.
I was working on an aircraft for a friend, a WWII veteran. He had a photo of himself standing next to a P-51 with some nose art, "Moose". He was not the pilot, he was actually a chaplain's assistant for the 357th FG right after the war.
I found a set of decals for the aircraft in question, with the Moose art in solid blue.
I asked my friend "Is this correct?" And he said "No, it was actually solid black."
So I looked closer at the photo he had, and after thoroughly examining it, I was convinced that the nose art actually had two colors- a solid color for the moose head, and a different outline color/antler. I presumed the moose head to be blue (thus the decal color), and the other to be black.
So I pointed this out to my friend, and he was adamant that it was black, one color, no outline. Now, keep in mind, I could clearly see in the photo- which was close-up and clear, that there were two colors. What colors they were I was not absolutely sure of, but two there were.
So I did it all black. I figured it was for a veteran, and by golly if he remembered it black, then black it would be. Accuracy, in this case, did not matter, but rather the nostalgia a veteran felt for an aircraft he admired as a young airman.
So I get done with the project, gave him the model, and he loved it. Still sits proudly on his desk.
Later, while researching a completely different aircraft, I found a small photo in color of the very same airplane...
The moose appeared to be brown, with a black outline.
Even if you have eyewitness accounts, it may not give you the information you need.
I've since found other photos that lead me to believe there were several versions of the nose art over time, so that can also compound the problems for decal makers.
bob in Maine (Login gingerbob) HyperScale Forums 126.96.36.199
Hah, I was gonna say...
May 2 2012, 2:04 PM
I'd never heard of a blue moose before, and it seemed a lot more logical that it would be brown!
I've got a friend who flew P-47s (the same one for a long time)- I've got photos of the airplane pretty much new, with standard squadron markings and no embellishments, then with full invasion stripes (he was 9th AF), then with the stripes reduced, and nifty paint on the cowl flaps (he remembered the colors of those) and a huge nose art- but neither he, his crew chief, nor the pilot who got the airplane after he received a bubbletop, can remember what the nose art was, and the photo isn't clear enough to make it out. GRRR! So far no other photo of that particular airplane has come to light, or at least to our lights.
You make two excellent observations. perhaps not intentionally.
May 2 2012, 4:19 PM
1. Eyewitness accounts are probably the most unreliable. In fact, they are. They are being given less and less credibility on our courts, even if the event happened only a short time ago.
2. Some decal companies gave what the client expected, not what was accurate.
There is no such thing as an unbuildable kit, just some kits one may consider not worth building.
Ive realized that most people ... tend not to be direct when they feel something is shoddy because they want to be liked, "which is actually a vain trait".
[Walter Isaacson's (author of Steve Jobs) recounting of his interview with Jony Ive, Chief Designer at Apple @ page p. 461]
Lee Griffin (Login leegee_77) HyperScale Forums 188.8.131.52
Something very similar happened with me....
May 2 2012, 4:43 PM
I built a PV-1 Ventura of VB-135 flown out of Alaska for a former crewman (co-pilot). His description of the plane included his recollection that the entire BuNo was painted on the side of the aircraft. I know it was common practice to paint the last three digits (photographs), not the entire BuNo, but that's how he remembered it and that's how I built it.
And you pretty much have to. There aren't that many schemes that have multiple iterations on the market--for those, you can probably do some research which will hint at which decal set might be best in terms of accuracy. In too many cases, the alternative is paralysis by analysis.
The trouble, of course, is that you get the decals on the model, and then you find out there's something very wrong with the scheme. It's happened to me more than once, and it's a little frustrating, but in the end, there's something rewarding about knowing the truth, even if the model doesn't represent it as precisely as I might have liked. It is possible to refinish models, or do up a new one; I don't bother.
I'm reluctant to get into blanket analyses of decal companies, except where they have a tendency to consistently get insignia colors right or wrong--this at least is fairly easy to determine. The rest of it is so variable that one must go on a product-by-product basis.
"Don't take your life too seriously, son. At the end of it, you won't be alive anyway."
Would it be unrealistic if folks who produce decals put out a list of subjects they want to produce and make modelers aware of their ideas. Consider the reference pool at Hyperscale (and other modeling sites). I am always impressed by the answers and observations made on so many aircraft subjects. Using all the viewers help and input would help getting things right.
Bruce Blackwelder (Login Bruce-B) HyperScale Forums 184.108.40.206
Sometimes the decals are accurate, but…
May 2 2012, 7:00 PM
The profiles are not. As a Skyraider fan, I have often noted incorrect directions, such as white rudders and red/white prop tips on USN birds prior to 1961 (the rear prop tips remained yellow throughout USN service), etc.
Beyond older USN birds, I am lost and duly follow the decal instructions, right or wrong.
The person(s) doing the research is the #1 factor. Crap research = crap decals. A close second is the skill and attention to detail of the person doing the artwork. Great research + crap art production = crap decals. Close behind that is the printer. Crap printing = crap decals.
There are more variables down the line under those, but those are the biggies. How do you know whom to trust? You don't. Sadly, unless you're at least as anal-retentive as the researcher and/or the artist, you can't know. If you're seriously into historical research, you can take your own knowledge and compare it to the decal label's research and art production and see how it measures up.
Keep in mind that decals are made by people. People are subject to making mistakes. People are subject to misinterpretations. People (sometimes) can be lazy and take the path of least resistance when it comes to research and art production. Relying on someone else's research, someone else's profile art (DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!), or someone doing the artwork who isn't skilled and knowledgeable of the subject matter and the intricacies of silkscreen printing will all get you in trouble. Sometimes there are compromises that have to be made in the name of economics. Modelers don't often appreciate how a simple looking decal can be **enormously** complex in terms of art and number of colors required. More colors = more cost.
See Jonathan Strickland's post above... true stories all.
Its just another "occupational" hazard, except its not going to ruin your childrens college fund or cause you to fall behind on your mortgage, maybe at most give you heartburn, perhaps throw a small plastic plane into a wall. Unless youre ready to take a decal maker at their word and just enjoy it for what it is, it pays to search the internet and books for pictures and opinions in regards to your chosen profile. Do your home work and buy the set you think works for you. No need to slavishly buy decals from one maker or totally shun those by another because of a few examples. Quality is a different matter though.
...that the best way to proof something is to publish it, and that's when you find out all the things you got wrong because that's either when people will point out your mistakes, or when you'll find that last piece of evidence you didn't have before you committed to press.
Two instances from my recent past come to mind. The first was that for years I'd struggled to find out about the "welcome home" messages painted beneath "Old 66" for the Apollo recoveries. I knew what they said, but not how they were applied, and no pictures seem to exist. I called in a couple favors and got someone to ask the co-pilot for one of the recovery missions, and based on his 40-year-old recollection the decal artist and I made the best, most educated guess we could. That's what you get on the decal sheets we printed: the "welcome home" messages as they would have looked as stenciled and painted on aboard ship. Now that we've printed them, of course, I expect any day now for a picture to turn up showing "Old 66" with those words on the belly, looking nothing like our decals do.
More recently, I've worked with Keith Davidson of Red Pegasus Decals on a sheet for the Joe DeBona/Jimmy Stewart P-51 "Thunderbird" (N5528N) that carried the films of the Coronation from Goose Bay to Boston for CBS Television in 1953. There's a lot of pictures of that airplane in what turned out to be its final color scheme, but I've found none in color, and thus don't know if that was a dark blue or black. Keith and I made the best guess we could, that it was dark blue, and Keith started printing the decals. Well, along comes more information that indicated the dark color was black, even after I'd told Keith "I'm pretty sure that's blue" and he had committed to it. It was with my tail between my legs I informed Keith of this, and seldom have I felt more like a schmuck in my life.
I imagine if you talked to a lot of us in the decal business, we're our own worst critics!
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