A pretty basic idea and likely something good modelers know, but sometimes the dim bulb gets brighter in my mind. Applying the many small decals to the Tomcat’s missile load out forced me to find and adopt a repeatable technique, a procedure, that helped the work to go smoothly and consistently. This idea is extendable to other modeling activities, like making landing gear, preparing and masking canopies, assembling the myriad of smaller caliber guns on warships. Perhaps even installing railings on 1:700 ships, a thing that has so far evaded all of my attempts.
So, to get better I probably need to build a good many more kits, and in 1:72 scale because of the precision it demands and their lower cost.
So, on to my simple technique for tiny decals.
Cut out and assemble the decals for the missile. Orient the missile as per the instructions. This is an important step for me else I will inevitably put decals in the wrong places.
Secure missile with a bit of Blue Tack. Get the decaling equipment ready: water, paper towel, sharp nose self-closing tweezers, pair of regular sharp nose tweezers, small paint brush.
Cut out a specific decal, maybe two or four depending on their placement. Put them in water for about fifteen seconds. Place a small drop of water where it is to go. When it is ready, slides easily on the backing paper, nudge it off with the pointy tweezers until you can pick it up with them. Place it on the wet area and orient it properly. This is where that small drop of water helps.
Do this many times always working in sequence from the instructions. It is too easy to put small decals like this in the wrong place.
Let them all dry then apply your favorite decal setting solution. I still like Microsol.
Once that has dried and you are happy with it, coat the part with a gloss medium. I merely used a soft brush to apply Future since it tends to be self-leveling.
Of course these aren’t perfect but slung under the fuselage they will certainly look the part.
Next, landing gear.