In-Box Review
Nail Head decals
tacking down a rigid subject
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

A word from the artist

"I think I've cracked the code! After a couple of tries I've hit upon what I think is the perfect solution for replicating the nail heads on the bare plywood fuselage of Albatros fighters. These are laser printed on a continuous clear coat, so the closer you trim them, the less visible decal film you'll have. The paper I use is the same outstanding quality stuff that F-Dcal uses. It's traditional water slide decal paper, and the clear film is very thin and responds perfectly to any kind of decal setting solution (which you really won't even need). The nail heads are spaced from close-up photos of a D.Va. I first thought they might be too stark, but in 1/32 scale they look just about perfect as you can see in the attached photo. Note this is the decal applied to bare plastic with no kind of undercoat, overcoat, or anything. Applied to a glossed surface and with a coat of clear over the top and the clear film will disappear completely.

You get a full sheet of 8.5x11" decal paper of nail heads with consistent spacing (note - all of the D.V stuff I measured had essentially the same spacing). That comes out to something like 400 scale meters (over 1200 scale feet) of nail heads, enough to do several 1/32 models with plenty to spare.

You can order them directly from me for US $10 for a sheet, plus $2 (US addresses) or $5 (overseas) for postage. Paypal only please, to this email address

Be sure to give me your correct mailing address.

Jennings Heilig"

How to apply

They are typical in their make-up of waterslide ink based decals. Their worst problem can be fracturing and tearing. But the method that you use to lay them down makes all the difference.

First, do yourself a favor and spray the section you are working from with a clear gloss. Once this begins to dry it bonds the surface and when dry to the touch will keep fracturing and tearing on the edges to a minimum. Do this at least twice. Also, if you apply clear lacquer, plan on using these within 12 hours.

Second, remember always use a "new" blade to cut the sections of the strip. Do not use scissors on this type of decal.

Third, always use hot water to submerge the cut decal section in. Work one piece / section at a time.

Fourth, lay down liberally a decal setting fluid (Microscale blue script on the bottle).

Fifth, Move the decal section in place and after a few minutes roll the brush you applied the setting fluid with - over the decal and smear any excess fluid out over the adjacent areas.

Sixth, add liberal amounts of decal solvent or Sol (Microscale red script on the bottle). I usually hit the decal at least twice or even three times. When the decal wrinkles, it is working. Don't touch the decal at this Point.

When you get good at this you will be able to lay down up-to three decal sections at one time with very pleasing results.


Albatros D.Va German Fighter of WWI by Robert Mikesh, Smithsonian Inst. Press.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Unique subject matter. Will add detail not easily done in any other manner.
Lows: Decals come on a solid clear carrier and might be better served in strips.
Verdict: A worthwhile investment.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: #001
  Suggested Retail: $12 -15.00 @ sheet
  PUBLISHED: Jun 06, 2012

Our Thanks to Heilig Products!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright 2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Hi Stephen A key issue for nail head decals is to what extent the strip of carrier film is visible after it has been laid down. Do you have any feedback concerning that? Have you tested how well these decals respond to softening solutions? I have got some of these myself, and haven't used them yet, but plan to in the next week or so. If you have specific guidance based on actual usage that would be very helpful. Thanks James
JUN 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM
Greeting James, I am testing these out on scrap plastic. More on that to come. They are drying now. I also have set that Microsculpt experimented with. They come in panel squares so the edges match up with the fuslage ply panels. Also HGW has a set out (with in the past week of this post) but I don't have thos yet. More as soon as I can get it. You have good questions and mirror my own concerns.
JUN 10, 2012 - 06:43 PM
I will be posting some results on my tests with these decals in the next couple of days. Here is a bit from the manufacturer. "Hi Stephen, Thanks much for the great writeup! A couple of points: . . .The paper I'm using really doesn't need "hot" water, nor any solvent solution whatever. It is outstanding quality decal film and will suck down into and around details quite well without any help. In any event, on the Albatros, you don't really need to apply the nail heads across any kind of raised or engraved detail. They just go along the edges of and across smooth areas of plywood. As with any decal, a nice smooth (not necessarily highly glossed) surface is helpful. Very hot water may well make them too pliable to work with. Just use tepid water and things will be fine. Cheers, Jennings"
JUN 25, 2012 - 04:04 PM
I used these on my Albatros D.Va build over the weekend. The size and colour work well IMHO. Depending on your viewing distance the clear film is hard to see. Key success factors: Check references for where the nail strips should go. The middle longeron is tricky to get right and this is important for the diamond shape on the fuselage sides. High gloss base is essential to prevent silvering. Need to minimise the width of the nail strip - I would recommend using a sharp rotary cutter and a metal straight ruler. The nail heads can easily unglue when another decal is applied over the top the next day, so clear coat after is a good idea. The decals do not appear to be ink jet printed as I did not clear coat before using and there were no ink running issues. I didn't use any decal softeners, these *may* help the clear film to be even less visible. Would I use them again? Yes, the nail heads look right and the clear film was not as big a problem as I had thought it might be. Photos to follow after I have finished clear coating the fuselage There are lots of nail heads on one A4 sheet. Enough for 4 or more kits depending on how much of the fuselage is in natural wood finish
JUN 26, 2012 - 03:57 PM

Click image to enlarge
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