Strike! A week ago a review of the Starfighter Decals 1:540 scale decal set for the USS Hornet as the Apollo capsule recovery ship was posted. (Click for Hornet Decals Review) Starting in the late 1950s, as ships of the Forrestal class were commissioned, units of the Essex class were designated as CVS, anti-submarine aircraft carrier. They shed their fighters and attack aircraft for ASW helicopters and propeller aircraft. The Hornet carried the designation of CVS-12 and was deployed with an anti-submarine air wing, CVSG-57. In 1970 the Essex class carrier, Shangri-La, was on her last tour. Although she carried the anti-submarine designation of CVS-38, the Shang was no submarine hunter for this tour. She carried an attack wing. CVW-8 consisted of two F8U Crusader squadrons and three A4B Skyhawk attack squadrons, as well as the usual recon, refueling and helicopter detachments. With Starfighter Decals set #540-37 a modeler can decorated the classic Revell Essex class angled deck carrier as the Shang in this deployment. The shift from a true CVS carrier with a series of helicopter landing circles on deck to an attack carrier loaded down with fast movers, will give the Shangri-La a very different look from the Hornet completed as a CVS.
There are three decal sheets in this set, one covers ship decorations and two cover aircraft markings. The ship sheet includes almost every deck, island or hull marking needed. I say almost, because the ship sheet does not include the edge or centerline markings for the angled deck. For the main deck, there is ample provision for all of the markings. There are even some markings on the sheet, whose location is not shown on the instruction plan, such as the solid red line decals numbered 17. The warning lines around the aircraft and ammunition elevators have very colorful yellow and red markings, further complemented by the long red and white line running inboard of the angled deck.
Two sheets cover the aircraft markings for CVW-8. One sheet covers specific markings for the aircraft of the individual squadrons. There are two fighter squadrons, both equipped with the Crusader. One is the Sundowners VF-111 with their red tail markings. Markings are provided for fifteen aircraft of VF-111 and include the multi-color tail markings of the CAG's bird. The second fighter squadron is VF-162 The Hunters. Their blue and yellow tail markings will make a suitable contrast with the red tail markings of VF-111 (14 aircraft). Markings for three attack squadrons, VA-12, VA-152 and VA-172, are provided. All of these fly the A4C Skyhawk. The blue and yellow markings for VA-152 (12 aircraft) are most extensive with the fuselage national markings on the rear. Both VA-12 and VA-172 have their national markings on the nose. The skull in black circle for VA-12 (12 aircraft) and blue lightning bolt for VA-172 (12 aircraft) add further color and diversity. Detachments are covered for the photographic Crusaders of VFP-63 Eyes of the Fleet (3 aircraft), KA-3B Whales of VAH-10 \ Vikings (4 aircraft), E-1B of VAW-121 det 38 Griffins (4 aircraft), and helicopter markings of the HU detachment. The second sheet contains the national insignia for wings and fuselages in four different sizes.
The instructions show decal placement through colored drawings. The coverage of the aircraft markings is very thorough. However, as mentioned earlier the ship markings placement could have been clearer in some regards. If solid red line deck markings are not used or are a variant, mention should be made.
The Starfighter Decals set #540-37 will allow the modeler to outfit their 1:540 scale Revell angled deck Essex as the USS Shangri-La CVS-38 on her last tour in 1970. In spite of her anti-submarine CVS classification, this Shang will have her deck filled with strike aircraft of Crusader fighter and Skyhawk attack jets of CVW-8.