Zotz Decals 72-018 and 48-018: RA-5C Vigilantes

By Chris Bucholtz

With the new Trumpeter kits on their way in both scales, fans of this hulking hot-rod will be happy to know that there are some alternate markings available to them (especially the 1:48 builders). There were two 1:72 SuperScale sheets of a fairly ancient vintage out there, but Zotz has stepped up and put out the first new sheet of the "Viggie" in many years.

The sheet gives you seven options, and they're colorful ones at that, which is useful for a plane that only wore a gull gray-over-white paint scheme. First up is RVAH-13's NK 601, based aboard Enterprise from September 1972 to June 1973; this plane wears the RVAH-13 "Bats" logo on the intake sides and atop the tail and has its air wing codes in stylized Asian-style letters above an orange stripe on the tail.

Next is NE 610 belonging to RVAH-7, the "Peacemakers of the Fleet" and the only unit to paint their nose radomes black. This example is based aboard Ranger and is depicted as it appeared in September 22 1979, when it made the final catapulted carrier launch of any Vigilante. The unit logo and the traditional black star of the tail complete these markings.

RVAH-5, the "Savage Sons of Sanford," have two late schemes depicted. GK 613 is provided as it appeared in 1977 at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia after the unit's final deployment. The unit logo is in the traditional place on the intake sides, and the tail carries a modex adorned with Indian-style feathers above a red arrow festooned with white stars. The other scheme dates to RVAH-5's November 16-June 22 1973 Vietnam cruise on Ranger; NE 501 has similar markings, but has a standard block-letter modex and nose art purloined from the old "Tumbleweeds" comic strip declaring the plane "Head Savage".

RVAH-9, the "Hoot Owls," is represented by GM 603, depicted as it was based ashore around the time of the unit's disestablishment in 1977. The plane had the "Hoot Owls" logo on the intake, and the tail sports a green stripe and the stylized GM modex, which is rendered to resemble an owl's head.

Another Enterprise deployment is portrayed with RVAH-1's NK 612. This "Smokin' Tigers" Vigilante has the unit's whimsical logo on the intake and the modex on the tail in black and enclosed by a black and red chevron, which is repeated on the nose. This aircraft dates from the April 4-Oct. 30 1978 cruise of the "Big E.".

Lastly is a RVAH-6 aircraft, dating from the unit's final cruise from Dec. 1 1977 to July 20, 1978 aboard Nimitz. This "Fluers" aircraft lacks any logo on the intake but has large blue chevrons trimmed in red on the tail and nose.

The decals are well-printed, with most of the designs in very good register (my example had issues with the RVAH-1 chevron and one of the "Savage Sons of Sanford" logos. Data markings and national insignia are provided for one plane. The decals come on two 5 ¾ by 5 ¼ inch sheets, one in color and one with just the black markings. The directions provide color profiles of all the aircraft on the sheet, and a second photocopied sheet explains where the data markings and wing modex numbers go. If there were anything I'd have like to see in the sheet, it would be a better explanation of the placements of the markings atop the wing.

If you're looking for a colorful Vigilante, these markings are for you. Only two of the schemes depict Vietnam cruise markings, but the addition of these seven schemes to the possibilities for an RA-5C build is welcome nonetheless.

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