The following is a general step-by-step on how I finish my model kits. First up is a primer base oF black. I prefer black now over other colors because if I miss some areas later with the main colors, it’s pretty much instant shadowing. The final tones definitely don’t look the same compared to painting over brighter primers but I’m not that hardcore about color accuracy nowadays.
Nowadays I also like to add some tonal variations to the color scheme and have been turning to using white for this purpose.
Then it was a thinned coat of the main color. In this case it was Insignia White which is a very very light gray. I would have stopped here if this was a 1/48 scale kit, but the patchiness look over-scaled for 1/72.
So I went over with an even thinner coat of Insignia White.
I’m modeling Wedge’s Red 2 and based on reference photos, it has beige color accents all around the X-wing. These were all masked and sprayed. Note the chipped paint on the inside of the bottom s-foil. Sure looks natural doesn’t it? 😀
Next are the red markings which I also masked and sprayed. I based the dimensions of the chevrons on the s-foils from the decal sheet, which cames with Red 5 markings only. Why didn’t I just use the decals and cut off 3 bars to make Red 2? It’s because I wanted the red color on the wings and the nose to match. The nose stripes on the decal sheet weren’t unbroken as needed for Red 2. Red 5 also didn’t have red accents on the engine nacelles.
Weathering is next and I begin with chipping. Ever in need of practicing making chipping look random, I went ahead with chipping by handpainting.
I used a 000 brush to do all the chipping.
I ended up using 5 different colors for my chipping do show various ‘ages’ of the paint chips.
Then it was my usual wash with a very diluted raw umber oil paint. I then added some black to the wash and added darker streaks.
One last detail I added was a clean panel on the top port engine nacelle. There are pictures on the Internet that shows the studio model of Red 2 having this particular detail. This was simply masked off and carefully sprayed white. I then added some light chipping with light gray. This replicates a newer replacement panel which I think adds more to the look of a heavily used machine.
Another thing I tried to replicate was the look of ignited thrusters with combinations of red, transparent red and white colors. I’m not sure I pulled it off that well though. Anyway, it’s all a learning experience.
In any case, I’m done.
In the middle of getting bogged down with the fitting issues of my F-5, I decided to get this already snapfitted kit done. As usual, it was a joy to snapfit and 99% of it doesn’t require cement.
Out of the box, this builds into Luke Skywalker’s Red 5 from the Battle of Yavin, and it comes with both decals and stickers for everything. The only detail I added was drilling out the barrels of the laser cannons.
The only pre-painting I did was the pilot and cockpit. When I started this was supposed to be Red 5, so the pilot has the default white helmet.
I however, decided to make my life more difficult and build Wedge Antilles’ Red 2 instead. I found 2 sources online with references for Red 2, including the actual studio model. So armed with the correct color scheme, I first went ahead and repainted the pilot’s helmet into Wedge’s.
The cockpit was a mix of paint and decals with some light dry brushing.
Masking (lots of it), painting and weathering are next.
To prep for painting, I began with masking off the cockpit, adding the HUD and attaching the windscreen.
The instructions called for aluminum for the wheel bays but I only had Model Air Metal Steel on hand. I think it looks close enough.
All the landing gear and doors were also painted steel separately.
The exhausts and engine housings were painted Vallejo Metal Jet Exhaust, left to cure for a day and then masked off. The exhaust cans themselves will be attached during final construction.
I went through a few rounds of checking seemliness and joints, using whatever paint that was available.
Painting begins with a base coat of AK Black Primer.
Then I mottled Model Air Insignia White over the whole surface. I still have the habit of mashing the trigger so my mottling is uneven. Guess I shouldn’t try to tackle WW2 German mottle camouflage just yet.
The F-5 I’m modeling deployed with the 1 brown 2 green South East Asian camouflage. I began the camouflage with free-handing the brown with Model Color US Tan Earth.
My bottle of Model Color is close to a decade old and it took quite a bit of thinning and retarder before my airbrush could spray it. Even so, it sputtered and dried at the tip quite often.
The reference I have for the camouflage is from Twobobs’ 48-216 F-5E PACAF Gomers #2 sheet. Like my previous experience with the F-16 using Twobobs’ decals, the camouflage demarcation lines don’t line up, so I guesstimated some of the lines to line them up better. I used rolls of blutack and backfilled the rest with masking tape.
I used AK Interactive’s Medium Green for the lighter green color. The AK paint, being a newer formula (I believe Vallejo has reformulated their line in recent years) thinned and went on more easily and the mottling shows through more.
I then added more blutack and backfilling with masking tape for the darker green shade. For this I used AK Interactive Dark Green. However, the tone wasn’t darker at all so I added a drop of Model Air Black Grey to darken it.
The color looks good, but I lost almost all the mottling details on the dark green.
I’ll need to do touch-ups next: fix the chipped paint, add definition to some of the demarcation lines, reduce the patchiness of the lighter green and bring back some patchiness to the brown and dark green areas.
I just got this one snapfitted and it looks very good.
Just a few quick thoughts:
Work continues and I begin with masking the canopy. Unlike my previous builds, I decide not to dip the 2 canopy parts in Future since they look quite clear as is. Maybe I’ll brush on some in the end. I’m also planning to leave the canopy open so I decided to mask the inside of the frame. It’s my first time doing it so it took a while but it wasn’t too bad.
I thought the coaming was too thick so I thinned it off by scraping with a blade. Otherwise the instrument panel fit well.
The nose to fuselage joint was good but there is a noticeable step where the bottom plate joins the top.
I ended up thinning the bottom plate and the guide on the fuselage and a judicious use of a spring clamp to minimize the step.
Where the front of the bottom plate meets the body will require some filling and rescribing though.
AFV Club offers both opened and closed options for the engine lourves towards the back. Based on photos, they are closed when on the ground with the engines off. With slight trimming, they fit nicely.
The wing to fuselage fit is very good without need for any filling.
There are separate slats and they don’t droop when the aircraft is on the ground. The LERXs needed some adjusting to fit perpendicular along the intakes.
The flaps are also separate. These are also usually straight when on the ground. I did however, find a photo of slight drooping of the flaps after I have fitted these straight. I think it would have made it more visually interesting so it’s something to file away for my next F-5 build. Both the slats and flaps fit well.
I’m modeling an F-5 from the 36th AGRS in the 1970s and I thought to arm it with 1 CATM AIM-9 on 1 wingtip and an ACMI pod on the other. But I couldn’t find reliable info on whether the ACMI was introduced by this time so I decided to leave it off. With the wingtip pylon now bare I added a bit of detail with a strip of clear plastic from a thin blister pack. It’s not entirely accurate but it’ll do.
The PE intake grills were too large and I ended up using some elbow grease to shape them back to size using cutters and a diamond file. Big mistake.
Turns out, I didn’t read the manual properly. The top edge of the grills were supposed to be folded 90 degrees. And I only realized this after trimming both grills and slightly ruining part of one. Yet another case of RTFM: the folder is getting thicker.
The rudder is a separate piece from the tailfin and it fits good. However, there’s a slight gap between the tailfin and the fuselage.
The engine housing is a separate part. Seen from the side, it’s trapezoid-shaped. It took a bit of finessing to get the bottom to remain flush with the body but gaps remain. The horizontal stabilizers joined in the middle with a rod which is then attached to the engine housing with a c-shaped clip. The rod is just slightly too short (by about 1mm) which results in a very stiff fit between the stabilizers and fuselage when the housing is fitted. I liked how AFV designed this though as usually the stabilizers are one of the harder things to fit right when they are molded as separate pieces.
Last on was the nosecone which went on without a problem. There are remarkably little seamlines to fix with the most prominent being a line that runs down the middle of the nose and the fit of the left gunbay doors requiring additional trimming.
Can’t wait to start painting this.