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.
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.
Manufacturer : AFV Club
Scale : 1/48
Media : Injection Plastic and Photo-etch
My next kit is a new build (as opposed to another Shelf Queen) of a USAF F-5E Tiger II flown as an Adversary for training purposes. The build begins with the cockpit as usual. Details are nice and are finely raised.
I first sprayed a base coat of Model Air Black Grey then Mig Ammo Dark Compass Ghost Gray.
The instrument panels were first hand painted Black Grey, then I randomly painted Game Color Sun Yellow and Bloody Red to the dials. The center dial was painted Model Color Transparent Green. Everything was given a wash of black-tinted thinned Future. Once that dried I sprayed a flat coat and then dry-brushed all the raised details with a Derwent Metallic Silver pencil. It’s been a while since I’ve done this and I quite like the end result.
I decided to add a resin aftermarket resin seat for this build and below is a comparison of the seat from the kit and the one from Wolfpack Designs. I managed to ping off the very small blade (canopy breaker?) on the tip of the seat so I replaced with one fashioned from plastic plate. I’m surprised the shape is quite different but it’s a lot more detailed.
AFV Club gives the option for an open port gun bay but without the details within. Fitting the 2 panels closed was an exercise in a lot of cutting, trimming and dry fitting. In the end, I cut off some of the locating tabs and added my own with plastic plate.
The fit is not perfect with the bottom section not sitting quite flush on the fuselage and there is a big gap on one side. I masked off the details and carefully trimmed, sanded and buffed down the slight step at the bottom. I tried various means to filling the big gap but ended up using a very small roll of epoxy putty which when cured, will need to be re-scribed.
I usually use Dymo Tape for scribing but am trying out HiQ Parts’ 3mm Carving Guide Tape. The tape conforms to curves much better and is still stiff enough to guide a scriber. I think I can retire my roll of Dymo Tape now.
There is an injection pin mark inside each intake that needs filling. Normally I would simply ignore these but they are visible when assembled on this one. I used my melted sprue cement solution to fill the holes and left to cure for half a day.
Using a piece of sandpaper taped to a satay stick I’m able to reach this concave area. It was was then sprayed Insignia White over a base of Model Air Black Grey.
There is a big injection pin mark and sprue nub inside the other intake part.
I fixed the injection pin mark inside the intakes as best as I can and sprayed it Model Air Insignia White over Model Air Black Grey. The intakes are quite small and a dry-fit shows my less than perfect work was enough.
This time, I’m a lot more careful with assembly so I did a lot of dry-fitting and checking for gaps before committing with cement. Except for the gun bay door on the nose, fitting is excellent and I think I can avoid using putty in most places.
Wow… there sure is a lot of hate being hurled right now at Tamiya ever since they announced their 1/48 F-14A Tomcat at Shizuoka Hobby Show 2016. Personally it does look like an F-14…
And since it’s a Tamiya kit, we can pretty much be assured that it fits better than most other brands (I’m looking at you Hasegawa) and will probably be more accurate than others (ahem, Hobbyboss). Apparently it has been rumored for years that Tamiya would release an F-14 in 1/48 scale. So finally everyone’s wish has come true right? But then the sprue shots turned up online too. And the rage began. It seems like the wings will all be one piece. No options for flaps and slats to be down. No options for the nose gear to be down either so there’s no way you can do this kit up in a nice catapult launch shot. Both of which are available as options in the Hasegawa kit. But while I did finish one before, it is generally known that the Hasegawa F-14 is a bear to assemble. It has major fitting problems with the cockpit, fuselage and intakes. It’s also an old kit so it’s pretty much safe to assume that the Tamiya one will probably be more detailed.
I like the fact that the wings will be one piece since to save space, I pretty much always display swing-wing kits with their wings swung in. It will also make assembly less complicated. But I can understand why some folks will want the ‘all down’ option. What’s more mind boggling is that the weapons will be a separate option (addendum: the weapons are now included)! Tamiya kits are already expensive, and I expect this kit will be more expensive than even the Hasegawa. And now the weapons (which look very good) are an option for additional money. Yeesh. This also looks to build up only as an early F-14A and looking at Tamiya’s track record, there’s no guarantee they will ever release all the other versions (still no 2 seat F-16s for instance).
Oh in the meantime, Avantgrade Model Kits (AMK) announced in October last year that they will also have an F-14 in all 3 variants out in 2016. They’ve been getting a lot of kudos for it even though they haven’t released any additional information or even a photo ever since. It’s weird seeing the treatment the 2 companies are getting right now.
A 1/48 F-14 was one of my first ever properly done model kits so I have a soft spot for the subject. I also already own quite a few F-14 kits in various scales but at this point in my modeling life, I’ll take pretty good engineering, good detail with good fit over great engineering, great detail with challenging fit any day. I think depending on the price I will probably end up owning one of the these…
Media: Injection Plastic
The Douglas (later McDonnell Douglas) A-4 Skyhawk is a single seat subsonic carrier-capable attack aircraft originally developed for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. While relatively lightweight, it was nimble, had a top speed of more than 670mph and could carry the same bomb loads as the B-17 Flying Fortress. Deliveries to the USN and USMC commenced in late 1956 and withdrawn from front-line service in 1976 and 1994. The A-4 would however remain in USN service in training units (like TOPGUN) flying as stand-ins for the MiG-17 in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. It will serve in this role in TOPGUN until 1999.
This build depicts an A-4E serving with TOPGUN in the early 1980s. During this period, the squadrons were constantly trying different camouflages. TOPGUN 56 had the silhouette of a camouflaged MiG-17 painted onto it but was only dressed up this way for a short period of time.
This is pretty much the definitive 1/48 A-4 kit in the market right now. Hasegawa has boxed every major variant of the Skyhawk except for the OA-4M, with each box usually including parts to do up various versions of the A-4 if you know what to look for.
The kit comes in 7 light grey and 1 clear sprues. Panel lines are nicely done and recessed. Options include open canopy, dive brakes, slats, flaps and two different types of fuel probes. As per usual with Hasegawa, no weapons are included but a nice touch is the inclusion of a crew ladder.
Construction was pretty straightforward and fitting was generally OK. As it’s a modular mold, there are a lot of small parts that need to be added or cut off to get the exact variant you’re building. It’s also quite obvious that Hasegawa didn’t design the dive brakes to be closed as it took some sanding and finessing to get them to fit. The brakes also do not have the same â€˜curve’ as the fuselage so when fitted in, they aren’t perfectly flushed.
TOPGUN 56 had some specific features in which Dave Aungst has wonderfully documented in his article on Hyperscale. I referred to it quite heavily for this build.
The showcase of this build is of course the camouflage pattern which I have detailed here. It took a few rounds of tweaking and respraying but in the end, I think I got a decent result.
The markings are on the TwoBobs Heinemann’s Hotrods but it turns out I only had the other options and not TOPGUN 56. I had to custom make my own decals so this was what I came up with. Since it’s my decal sheet, I decided to assign Lt. Pete Mitchell as the crew chief for TOPGUN 56. It didn’t come out perfect (the font is not 100% same, some of the sizes were off, BuNo in the wrong color and the nameplates aren’t in gold color) but it will have to do. Annoyingly, I placed the MARINES decals onto the tailfin before inserting the stabilizers. Turns out the starboard stab covers a bit of the marking. I cursed but had to move on. Otherwise though, the custom decals went on fine. The remaining ones came from the original TwoBobs sheet which worked very well although having to stack some of the decals was a bit challenging.
The edges of the MLG doors were painted with a red permanent marker. This is a whole lot easier than using a paintbrush.
After another gloss coat over the decals it was time to put everything together. The arresting hook, flaps, slats and refueling probe were attached with superglue and the 2 blade antennas with Gator glue. For some reason (and it seems like not many bring this up), the MLG doors are attached via a butt joint which isn’t ideal. To strengthen the joint I drilled a small hole in both the bay and the MLG door and inserted a 0.5mm brass tube to pin them together.
I then noticed that the brown camo on the port nose needed to be fixed: the demarcation between the brown and the grey was too low. I spent about 10 minutes cursing and 30 minutes deciding if I could live with the mistake. I decided that I couldn’t so I carefully masked off the decals with a Post-It note and rolled the blutack needed. Then I carefully sprayed on more paint to a somewhat finished kit (with all the fragile parts on). I made sure to spray in a very low pressure and in layers. I think I also held my breath on every color I added. Anyway, luckily for me it got done with no problems.
Then I gave the whole kit a wash of black grey oil wash (yeah I’ve given up on the Vallejo Wash for now). My gloss coat wasn’t smooth enough so I had some difficulty removing the wash in some spots. In fact, my turpentine rubbed off a whole section of gloss from the upper fuselage. I’ll just say it’s patchy weathering on the plane. Interestingly the nose camo that I fixed also has a different tone even after the wash: yepâ€¦ more ‘weathering’. I then attached the clear bits with Gator glue. These were colored with transparent Vallejo model color paints by hand.
Then an overall flat coat was sprayed on. After that I go back to brush Future onto the clear bits to gloss them back up. The exhaust is then cemented in place. The final step as per usual is removing the tape off the canopy which is always teeth gnashing. It wasn’t too bad though. Just a bit of scraping with a hobby knife after which I brushed on Future to clear up all the tiny scratches.
I made quite a few mistakes on this one:
But most importantly, I’m done! Onward to the next imperfect build! 🙂
Number 6 of 2016