Aero Image Works | C033201: 'Desert Shark Attack' Curtiss Tomahawk in the Mediterranean War

Reviewed by Tony Oliver

Aero Imageworks are a relatively new name in the aftermarket decal industry and are based in Sydney, Australia. Naturally the subject matter of their initial releases centres on aircraft with an underlying antipodean connection. A shrewd move considering that the decal business is awash with ever increasing renditions of assorted Bf 109s and other populist choices. Along with post war jets, this is a largely untapped resource. Of course the kit makers are, only now addressing the relative lack of modelling material to put these decals onto.

This set covers no less than six examples of the Curtiss Tomahawk MkIIA in RAF and RAAF service in the Mediterranean Theatre. Included is a guidebook to the camouflage and markings more of which later.

The decal sheet itself is produced on an ALPS type printer, which means that the entire sheet is one piece of decal film with the markings printed via computer onto its surface. The quality of the image is excellent. Since this process doesn't involve a traditional colour separation and offset or screen print process, there is no problem with image register.

Back to the 'guidebook', and a welcome addition in what is a limited run issue. Included are some very comprehensive instructions including notes on the individual aircraft schemes provided by monotone three view illustrations. Subtle detail callouts are added to these three view drawings such as the different colour fuel/oil filler caps and the note that RAF versions were fitted with standard Sutton harnesses and not the Curtiss factory example. Advice on application and handling of the decals is given which is essential given that the majority of modellers will be wholly used to handling screen printed water slide decals.

A further section on the vagaries of the RAF desert camouflage scheme and the colours used is also a valuable inclusion along with a final paragraph on converting the smaller details of the Trumpeter kit to better represent a desert Tomahawk. The very last word details what the well-dressed Commonwealth pilot was wearing around dispersal, now that's attention to detail!

In summary this is a great set of decals for modellers looking to build something different from the Pacific and CBI theatre P-40s available on the mainstream decal sheets. I cannot comment on the usability or how they react to decal solvents yet but I plan in the future to build Neville Duke's 112Sqn machine. Allegedly 112 Sqn were the originators of the 'sharkmouth' noseart, which has been plagiarised by so many other aircraft of all nationalities over the years although I have heard a certain Bf 110 Nachtjagd unit also lay claim to this fact…

Another aspect that makes this hobby so absorbing.

Available directly from:
Aero Imageworks
PO Box 1484
Victoria Harbor SA 5211

© Tony Oliver 2004

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016