Work starts on the main body starting with the intakes. These were painted insignia white on the inside and come with the engine fans at the end which I painted jet exhaust color. If you peered into the intakes, there are obvious lines where the 2 halves join and is really very difficult to fix so I left them as it. Nothing can really be seen once everything was closed up anyway.
Kinetic designed the kit for different variants in mind depending on the nose, tailfin, tailboom and panels on the fuselage attached. The instructions will have you put the 2 main halves together then attach the parts for the variant you want. I decided to do each half completely before joining them together.
While one gets all the variants with one mold, the execution isn’t great: I have to trim, adjust and re-adjust every part for them to fit properly. The instructions are also vague with regards to the exact orientation of some of the panels.
One of the more troublesome ones are the bumps on the aft end of the wing root. The parts aren’t curved enough to conform to the fuselage. I decided to cut out the whole section where the panels will attach to and then fit the panels in. I first drilled a row of holes in the area I want to remove.
Then a sharp hobby knife makes short work of cutting out the area. After some trimming and thinning of the resulting holes, the new panels fit somewhat better. They’d still need to be refined with filler.
Putting the 2 halves together required the assistance of my various clamps. I also worked inch by inch, adjusting and trimming throughout. By and large, this method worked out well although a small number of places will definitely need filler. The instructions didn’t call for it but I stuffed a small fishing weight with blutack inside the nose.
Did I already mention almost every part needed to be trimmed and adjusted to fit? And so it is with the tailfin too. Cutting down the various guides and sanding flat the bottom of the tailfin made it sit slightly closer to the base. Filler should take care of the rest.
There was however, one part so far that fit like a glove without needing work and it’s the bulkhead for the main gear. Funnily, this part will barely be visible since a majority of the Alpha Jet’s gear doors are always closed even when the landing gear is down. 🙂
After some careful fitting and elbow grease, the Alpha Jet is finally taking shape! Having test-fitted the air brakes, I think I’ll end up leaving these open. I’ll probably end up leaving the canopies open too.
A few years ago, I tried to build the Kinetic F-16 kit. I gave up after only a few steps as the kit ‘requires basic modeling skills’. Since that time, has Kinetic improved? Let’s see with one of their newer (2013) releases, the Alpha Jet. I’m heavily referencing this build on an Alpha Jet build on Britmodeller.
Out of the box, the parts look OK: the panel lines are not as sharp as Tamigawa and are on the thick side, but at least they are consistent. A happy note is that the sprues are all dry unlike the F-16 where they were all coated with release agent out of the box so work can begin immediately. As usual, we begin with the cockpit.
The ejection seats are made of 6 parts, look quite good and has some nice fine details. The harnesses come in the form of photo-etch but I decided to use Tamiya Tape instead.
I based the design of the harnesses on photos I found on the Internet. They aren’t 100% accurate but I think the result looks better than the flat PE Kinetic provides. Plus I can make the belts drape differently on the 2 seats.
I decided to add more detail to the cockpit bulkheads by adding wiring. I used both copper wires and wires I salvaged from a broken USB cable. Being stiffer, the copper wire is easier to work with and while time consuming, I think this simple step adds some nice details.
I also decided to add details to the sidewalls of the cockpit. These details were stretched sprue and plastic plate.
The sidewalls were then given the standard procedure of a base in black, colored in Light Compass Ghost Grey, detailed in Black Grey, washed with dark gray, then a light drybrush of silver.
Not too shabby. Time to paint.
I went with a base of black. Over this is Light Compass Ghost Grey.
Then it was a matter of handpainting the details with various colors. Based on photos of Top Aces’ Alpha Jets, the belts are brown in color. Once painted, everything was given a dark gray wash, then lightly drybrushed in silver.
The dials on the instrument panels were picked out with black grey. Since I wanted to depict the plane when it’s not ‘turned on’, I left all the dials dark.
Next up is assembling the main body.
The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft in service with the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and British Royal Navy in World War II. It was the only fighter available in the USN and USMC in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the war. It was outperformed in most categories by the A6M Zero but due to its ruggedness and newly developed tactics, it would claim an air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 6.9:1 for the entire war. 7,885 Wildcats would be built throughout the war even after newer and better fighters were introduced.
The F4F-4 variant of the Wildcat entered service in 1941 armed with 6 machine guns and a folding wing system. The F4F-4 is the definitive version of the Wildcat and saw the most combat service in the early war years.
Marian Eugene Carl was the USMC’s first ace in WWII. He began his career with VMF-211 and was re-assigned to VMF-223. In August 1942, VMF-223 was deployed to Guadalcanal, the first fighter unit ashore with the so-called Cactus Air Force. Over the next 2 months, Carl became the Marines’ first ace, running his tally to 16.5 victories. It is believed that 1 of his victories was against the Imperial Japanese Navy 27-victory ace Junichi Sasai. In 1943, VMF-223 returned to the Pacific. Carl would end his WWII service with 18.5 victories. He is the 7th highest ranking ace in the USMC.
My build depicts (eventual) Major General Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat ‘White 2′ as she appeared in September 1942.
By and large, there’s no better kit out there than a Tamiya one. This one is no different. Made out of about 50 parts, this kit is unfussy, with very nice molding and sharp details. Options are simple: the canopy can be posed open and 2 external fuel tanks. The landing gear however, cannot be modeled raised. There are decal options for 4 aircraft (VF-41, VMF-223, VGF-29 and VF-22) and the instruction sheet is an 8 page foldout assembly diagram. As usual with Tamiya, color callouts are only for Tamiya paints.
I’ve actually started on this kit a few years ago so all the major parts have already been cut from the sprues. Before putting everything together though I decided to add details to the cockpit.
The cockpit was already sprayed in Interior Green previously but since I decided to add some scratchbuilt shoulder and lap belts, this was repainted. The pilot was supposed to be able to look down and out the belly ports for better visibility so I cut open the cockpit’s floor plate. The result wasn’t really visible after assembly but hey, ‘I know it’s there’. Everything else was built out of the box.
The 6 wing machine guns came modeled solid. I tried to drill out the barrels but I messed it up quite badly so I ended up cutting them all off, drilled through into the wings, and made my own machine gun barrels with 0.5mm brass pipe. I think 5 of the barrels stick out slightly too much but I’ll live with it.
After sanding off the sprue marks, the kit came together quickly without much fit problems and a minimal of seamline fixing. I read somewhere that the external tanks were only introduced in 1943. Since I’m modeling a Wildcat in 1942, I left these off.
Colors & Markings
With my WWII kits, I try my best to model an ace’s aircraft or one with some sort of historical significance. This kit will receive the markings of Marian Eugene Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat. The decals come from Techmod, a Polish decal company. The decals are very well done and reacted well to Mark Softer. They aren’t as thin as something from Cartograph though. The instruction from the Techmod sheet also comes with color call outs. I followed this instead of the kit’s.
Wildcats during this period flew with a simple 2 tone camouflage of a bluish gray over light gray. To break up the monotony, I added a marble coat in between the primer and main colors to add some variation to the finish. Usually I’m quite haphazard with the marble coat but I was more deliberate and careful this time. The result looks good. The demarcation line was done with blutack but I sprayed quite close so the line itself was quite solid.
As usual, I did a panel line wash with thinned raw umber oil paint. Once that has dried I went easy with the weathering.
After unmasking the canopy I realized I made some mistakes:
Still, not a bad build at all. The Wildcat definitely has a presence: it’s not pretty nor graceful as a Spitfire but it definitely looks tough and can take a ton of punishment.
Number 3 of 2018
I decided to model an ace’s Wildcat. In this case, it will be Marian Eugene Carl’s F4F-4 from September 1942 while stationed in Guadacanal. The decals some from Techmod, a Polish decal maker. The decals went on very easily and reacted well to Mark Softer. Markings are sparse and I was done quite quickly. After curing, I wiped it down with a damp cloth and re-glossed the kit to prepare for weathering.
The first step was to do a panel wash with raw umber oil paint.
I then did some filtering on random panels with the same color. You can see here that some of the decals did not comform 100% over the raised rivets on the fuselage. It’s something to look out for in future builds.
Gun port soot stains was done with Tamiya Weathering Master. Streaking was done with the same raw umber oil paint. I basically hit all the actuators.
Nothing too fancy.
After sealing the oil washes and streaks with a flat coat, I added the engine exhaust stains by freehanding black gray acrylic paint. Not sure if I overdid the opacity though.
I then added silver chippings with a sponge on the leading edges of the wings and the fuselage. I did a heavier chipping on the walkways.
Last on was the aerial. This is the first time I was doing it and I used a strand of my daughter’s hair for it. Lucky she has long hair eh? Anyway, I had to mess with it for close to an hour before it stuck in place. There’s actually a shorter aerial going from the antenna to the left fuselage. I decided to preserve my sanity and move on.
And I’m done!
Ah well, the other shoe has fallen. Toys R Us will be closing all its US stores with the intention to sell all the ones overseas. They previously shuttered 180 stores in the US and all its British stores but alas, too little too late.
Even though I didn’t live in the US until my adulthood, I’m actually a Toys R Us kid! In the 1980s, there was a huge 2 floor Toys R Us store next to Parkway Parade in Marine Parade in Singapore. In those days, TRU didn’t allow kids under 13 to go in unaccompanied so my mom would bring me in, leave me in the store and walk out to do her shopping. I’d then spend about 1-2 hours just browsing the aisles till she came back to pick me up. Good times!
In the 1990s, I moved to Los Angeles to further my studies. Near my apartment was a TRU (Sepulveda) where I’d go with my like-minded friends to peruse the aisles for Lego. I still remember lining up in 1999 for the midnight launch of Star Wars The Phantom Menace toys with my friends at the La Cienega branch. We lined up for 3 hours and I hoarded a few Star Wars Lego sets then.
Now that I’m a parent, TRU is still a must stop in whatever country that has them. I’m glad my kids got the chance to go to a big box store where all you see are toys and stuff for kids. It’s too bad that it won’t be for much longer.
In 2015 I brought my family back to Los Angeles and wouldn’t you know it, the Toys R Us at Sepulveda was still around! We went twice and memories of my trips there during my college days flooded back. The aisles were different but the experience remained the same. The difference being I was spending on my kids now instead of myself.
KB Toys and FAO Schwartz were the other big box toy stores that came and went during my lifetime. But Toys R Us is the one that has stayed in my memories the most, simply because it was around since my formative years.
Good bye Toys R Us. I will forever be a Toys R Us kid.