JAG 1/350 Modern USN Ship Decals v. Panda Arleigh Burke Decals
By Peter Van Buren

The new Panda 1/350 Arleigh Burke is a welcome addition to the growing line of 1/350 scale kits. This ship was previously only available in this scale as a resin kit that demanded both high prices and a fairly advanced level of skill. The Panda kit runs only about US$20-25 and can be built into a decent model straight-from-the-box by just about any modeler.

Panda Shortcomings
For those who enjoy taking their work to a higher level of detail, the Panda kit presents some shortcomings, notably in the included photo-etch, which is a bit thick and has no ladders, and in the decals. Although it may be hard to tell, after my scanner, the web, the web site's compression software, and your monitor's color adjustments, the Panda decals on my sample at least are more pinkish where they should be red, and are a bit heavy on the lines of the warning circles and the "E" marks. The "E" marks are also printed too close to primary colored red, blue and yellow to my eye. Panda did not include the warning circles for the helicopter deck.

Panda vs JAG
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1/350 JAG Modern USN Ship Decals
An alternative is the 1/350 JAG Modern USN Ship Decals. As you can see from the scans, the line weight is much finer and to my eye will look much less toy-like on the finished ship. The "E" marks come in more accurate, colors, including the white with black shadowed style. JAG also includes a nice selection of fruit salad badges for the bridge, decals which Panda left out. Panda also left off the helicopter deck warning markings, which JAG does include. You also get way more decals than needed to complete the Burke, so you can also spruce up that DML Sprucan and other 1/350 kits rumored to be coming soon out of China.

JAG USN Decals
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The JAG decal sheet is a full 8.5 x 11, roughly A4 in size and like most after-market decals, is fully over-coated. This means you will need to fully cut out each decal from the carrier paper. The decals come off the paper easily in warm water just like kit decals, and are quite thin. I used Gunze's Mr. Mark Softener on the decals over Tamiya Acrylics and there were no problems. The decals shrunk down nice and tight. I've still got a lot of work to do on my Burke but will upload some photos of the finished project when I'm done, with the JAG decals. The JAG decals also come in 1/700 scale. You can buy the decals direct from JAG, or Trident Hobbies offers them online.

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