If you’ve ever lived the life of an Ex-pat far from your home country then you have probably experienced some level of culture shock. It takes far longer to get even the most mundane tasks accomplished until you can figure out how things work. Where can you get hobby paint? Or tools? Or anything you need for that matter. Often knowledge and wisdom come slowly – mostly through tribal knowledge. When I lived in Bahrain it was a phenomenon I like to call “I’ve got a guy”. You need your date palms pruned? I’ve got a guy. You need your son driven to rugby practice? I’ve got a guy. You get the idea. Well this is another post about decals, specifically 1/2400 scale ship decals. If you need decals for an aircraft carrier, a modern PRC destroyer, or a U.S. cruiser… I’ve got a guy.
Actually in this case it is two guys, Tanner and Brad. Tanner handles the design and Brad does production and sales I believe. Brad sells these decals through an ebay storefront known as Taskforce2400. Copyright information on the decals will either say WWII Central, Tanner’s handle, or Taskforce2400. To date all the decals in both the modern and WWII ranges are specifically sized for 1/2400 scale ships from GHQ. The picture below offers some idea of the range of modern vessels covered. The decals are full color which is both a benefit and a problem as will be shown a bit further down. The selection is not limited to helo decks by the way. In fact the LHD deck decals are some of the most detailed decals I’ve seen. My latest LHD is still in progress so the big reveal will have to wait. Additionally, Brad and Tanner have recently added RN Falklands campaign deck decals for the Type 42, 22, and 21 ships. I have these on order but they haven’t arrived yet.
If you prefer WWII they offer a wide selection of carrier deck decals as well. There are many more designs than the two included below including decals for Graf Zeppelin and Aquila. Some of the decals are offered in slightly different designs which feature different color shading, air recognition symbols, or line markings. I believe the goal is to be able to model any fleet carrier, light carrier, or escort carrier from the war.
Why is this important? Well if you game with or collect modern warships you have to deal with aviation capable ships, after all helicopters are everywhere. Until now there have been very few options. Paint the lines yourself, find decals, or go without. I certainly don’t have the talent to paint flight deck lines in this scale so that was a non-starter. I don’t really want to go without if I can avoid it so that leaves decals. I’ve tried to make my own decals with some success
But making your own decals is hard and white lettering, marks, or lines don’t work very well unless you have access to an ALPS printer which I don’t. Even my attempts to find a good used ALPS printer on ebay were totally frustrated. So most of the time I went without as evidenced by the bare helo deck on the USCG Cutter. Then in the mid 1990’s another option appeared, SeaBat Replicas. For a while these were a godsend. They offered a limited range – only the USN 1/2400 ships offered by GHQ were covered. But there was one huge advantage SeaBat offered and that was hull numbers for the whole class and usually in three different colors. The SeaBat decals were white lines on clear film so, unlike Taskforce2400 decals, whatever color you painted your deck would show through. Here are some of the SeaBat decals still on the sheet. It is hard to make out the white markings but they’re there. In 1998 or so these stopped appearing on store shelves so I quickly bought out any remaining stock I could find in hobby shops or on ebay.
Here are the Taskforce2400 decals for comparison.
So here you can see one of the problems of the Taskforce2400 approach. My old flat black flight decks are not technically correct in terms of accurate color representation. Personally these are more game pieces than museum pieces so I don’t worry about it that much. When you use decals which have the deck color included it can really stand out if it doesn’t match you planned deck color. The Jiangkai II for example looks kind of wonky because the blue gray deck color referenced from pictures here does not match the gray of the flight deck decal. The white balance of the photo above is a little off but the deck decal matches nicely with the gray of other photos of Jiangkai IIs just not the pictures I chose to use. So who is right? Well it looks kind of silly so I’ll probably have to strip the ship down and repaint to match the decal. Guess I should have waited to paint the ship until after I had seen the decal. Oh well.
I really like these decals and I love that the range is continually expanding. If I could have one wish it would be for them to expand their coverage to the Viking Forge line of 1/2400 scale ships as well. Unfortunately because they can’t print pure white decals I don’t think they’ll be able to make hull numbers anytime soon. One other note about applying the decals. If you use the Micro-Sol/Micro-Set approach be aware that the decals will bubble and wrinkle and generally look like an epic fail but will then smooth out very nicely. Don’t get too anxious and start trying to smooth it out or move it around. If you can’t resist you stand an excellent change of tearing or stretching the decal. Good luck and I hope you enjoy.