Restoring & Using Old Decals

I was recently asked by a fellow model builder if I had any advise on how to use a decal sheet that was from a kit from 1977.  The kit plastic had survived 40+ years but the decal sheet had yellowed.  Though the decals had not cracked, faded, or show other signs of deterioration, it was unlikely they would survive the application process.

Working with many vintage kits that have old decal sheets, I have had some success with restoring, recreating and using the old decals.

If the decals have yellowed, I will place the sheet in sunlight for a few hours a day. This helps get rid of the yellow many times.  I don’t leave it all day as I do not want the decals to start to fade, just the yellow.  Keep the sheet somewhere you can keep an eye on it.  I have taken sheets to work with me in the past.

I will also scan the decal sheet into my computer so that I can try to print them on new decal paper or be able to cut my own masks to paint on the larger markings.  Airbrushing a light coat of clear gloss lacquer or Testors decal spray to the whole sheet will help strengthen the decals before applying them into water.

When ready to apply, I will test first with a small decal. If there are marking for more then one version on the sheet I will take a decal from the markings I am not going to use. I will try it on a junk kit or an old water bottle or some other smooth plastic surface to see if they will survive handling and decal solvents.

When it looks like the decals will work,  I will trim away as much of the clear carrier film away from the decal so that I do not have to deal with that part of it. With larger marking that I do not think will handle the application process as a one piece decal, I will find a place on the decal that will follow a panel line on the model and cut the decal to follow that panel line if possible. Then I only have to deal with two smaller decals instead of one. I can go back and with a little paint and fine brush, fill in the gap if any where I cut the decal.

If all else has failed then its usually time to check my spares, print or paint and last, look for aftermarket decals.

Super Hornet Intakes installed

The intakes on this kit come in 4 parts that complete the square opening that makes the intake.   This makes for some hard to reach seam filling on the inside of the intakes.  With patience and multiple applications of filler, once painted they turned out better then expected.

The turbine fan is a simple piece that was painted silver and slightly weathered to give the blades a little depth.  The picture washes out the weathering but the overall attempt at making this model look like it has smooth intakes that lead to a engine was achieved.

Intakes installed and seams filled.
Turbine fan

Revell F-18F Super Hornet WIP

I bought this kit for a deal at $10 bucks.  The box was rough, it had been opened, and few parts were missing including the canopy.  A visit to Revells online parts order form and a few weeks later the kit is now whole.

Stock photo of box art

I plan to build it OOB and use the decal sheet to depict the Diamondbacks marking as shown on the box art.  At first glance the kit looked promising.  Full decal sheet nicely printed, recessed panel lines, lots of options for under wing goodies, nicely detailed if not totally accurate wheel wells and cockpit. That all went out the window when assembly started and I was again elbow deep in fixing the fit issues common with Revellogram kits.

Lots of clamping, filling pin marks and so on.  On top of that the kit is warped once the top and bottom halves are mated.  Nothing horrible, but typical with Revelogram kits.

Warped wings


Lots of gaps


nothing lines up


Forcing everything together


Have to force everything to line up


Filling pin marks

The instructions call to assemble the seats and other cockpit bits prior to installing the cockpit tub into the fuselage but after going over the steps I decided I would have plenty of access to the cockpit tub after it was installed and would still be able to paint it once installed.  I will treat it the same way I paint wheel wells, painting the fuselage first then masking cockpit and wheel wells off and painting it later.

This will make masking easier and I wont break off any of the small bits that normally would be inside the cockpit tub.




The intakes come as 4 parts per side.  Lots of seams to fill.  I will update as progress continues.  Glad I only paid 10 bucks…

Diorama For A-20J Havoc

I decided to create a simple diorama for the Havoc model I completed to enter into the Orlando Modelpalooza contest This Sep 2017.  The dio consists of two WW2 monogram figures I took from some other kits I had, a WW2 Clark Clarktor Tug tractor, a couple of 250lb bombs and some scratch made bomb crates made from popsicle sticks.

Small bits for Havoc dio scene. Includes Tug, 250lb bombs with lift and bomb crates

I have complete basic assembly and have sprayed the a coat of future in prep for decals and weathering.  I do not plan to permanently glue anything down to the base so I can use these bits in future builds.

Monogram WW2 navigator figure
Basic WW2 tramac base

AMT A-20J Havoc Completed June 2017

Chipping was added to prop and cowl
Made a simple tarmac base to give the model context

I received this kit for free from a modeler friend.  It was partially started and the bomb bay parts were missing.  Everything else was there so I decided to build this with the bay closed.  I added some resin wheels and life raft.  I also added the Eduard photo etch detail in the wheel wells and did some scratch building in the wells and a little framing in the cockpit.  The kit decals were to thick so I only used a few of them and used aftermarket decals to replace the lettering and the stars and bars insignia.  Invasion stripes were painted on.

Though the kit is older it did have recessed panel lines and offered decent detail.  I added photo etch seat belts from my spares box to the pilot seat.  Only major issue was the fuselage was warped making the tail twist about 10 degrees out of line.  I assembled the fuselage and then cut the tail section off along a panel line.  Re attached the tail with some support styrene strip framing on the inside and got the tail to line up.

The paint scheme is the aircraft depicted on the box and in the instructions.  I chose this scheme as I wanted to try my hand at painting on invasion stripes.  The weathering was done to depict an aircraft that saw regular use and showed signs of wear but not too heavy.