Tag: Aggressors

WIP : 1/48 F-5E Tiger II Pt. 3 : Painting

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.

WIP : 1/48 F-5E Tiger II Pt. 1 – Construction

Kit Info
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.

I used my sewing pin + pin vise to scribe a shallow guide line and then used my 0.15mm chisel to scribe the actual panel line.

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.

Construction continues…

Completed : Hasegawa 1/48 Douglas A-4E Skyhawk ‘TOPGUN 56’

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

Build Report

Kit Info
Brand: Hasegawa
Scale: 1/48
Media: Injection Plastic

The Subject
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.

Info adapted from Wikipedia
TOPGUN 56 info from Modeling Madness and Hyperscale

The Kit
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 ‘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.

Colors and Markings
The main colors used for this kit include:

  • Lifecolour Gray
  • Model Master Acryl Insignia Yellow
  • Model Master Acryl Medium Grey
  • Vallejo Model Air Black Grey
  • Vallejo Model Air Metal Gun Grey
  • Vallejo Game Color Dead White
  • Vallejo Model Color Desert Yellow
  • Vallejo Model Color Olive Green
  • Vallejo Model Color US Tan Earth

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: yep… 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:

  • Had to replace the decals with custom made ones which aren’t really accurate
  • I handpainted the landing gear so the paint is quite thick. I also did this when I wasn’t better at it
  • Forgetting to buff down the paint before the first gloss coat (it’s something I’ve wanted to try)
  • I should have attached the horizontal stabs before putting the decals on
  • I need to deal with blutack better. Throughout this build I had trouble getting them to roll into a uniform thin roll for masking straight lines
  • As this is a Queen from the shelf, it had quite a few parts that I missed out from the box. And I couldn’t find the box anymore so I had to break open another A-4 kit to get them
  • I glued the intake inlets before commencing painting thinking it’ll make everything easier. Boy was I wrong. Next time they’ll be painted separately and attached after
  • I’ve been having problems with the gloss coats in the last few projects. I have to address this

But most importantly, I’m done! Onward to the next imperfect build! 🙂

> View the Project log

Modeling Madness – The story behind the MiG-17 on the A-4
Hyperscale – “Fake MiG” A Deceptively Painted A-4E

Number 6 of 2016

WIP : 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk ‘TOPGUN 56’ Pt. 2

Another queen (this time from 2011) joins the masses. 😀

This is a Hasegawa 1/48 Skyhawk kit to be draped as TOPGUN 56, an A-4E flown by the US Navy as an Aggressor. The scheme is very unique with a desert camo MiG-17 silhouette superimposed on the aircraft. This build is heavily reliant on the excellent article by David Aungst at Hyperscale and the info found on the TwoBobs decal sheet.

As I restart this build, the kit is already in a grey-primed state and the undercarriage parts were handpainted in white and given a wash of Black Grey a long while back. I didn’t do a very good job at them to be honest. I’ll see if I can live with it down the road. It’s more important to do the camouflage properly as that’s the highlight of this build.

I decided to preshade with Black Grey instead of re-black basing the whole kit. As usual, I’m not that particular nor neat about the way I do it but I do make sure I didn’t paint the undercarriage bays.

So first up I painted with Lifecolor UA023 Gray color on the parts of the aircraft that’s grey. The rest I left as is with the preshade on. Using blu-tack to mask, I then tackled the bottom with Model Master Acryl Medium Grey. I didn’t get the pattern right and there’s overspray but I’ll fix those in the fine-tuning stage.

I also then sprayed the undercarriage bays with Game Color Dead White.

For the top-side camouflage pattern, I first painted Model Color Desert Yellow.

Then it was Model Color US Tan Earth for the darker brown color. Both of these were done with blu-tack masking.

The colors I’ve used aren’t 100% correct but the photo references available are all scans of old 35mm photos which don’t have the correct color fidelity anyway. Close enough is good enough for me. Next up is corrections and fine-tuning of the camouflage.

WIP : 1/48 A-4E Skyhawk ‘TOPGUN 56’ Pt. 1

This one’s been in the backburner for awhile (what else is new?) so it’s time for it to see the light of day again. The plan is OOB with decals from TwoBobs Decals.

Back when the US Navy ran the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School aka ‘TOPGUN’, it operated A-4 Skyhawks in the role of the adversarys, ie. the bad guys. This particular Skyhawk took that role to the extreme by having an actual silhouette of a MiG-17 painted on it.


This project is heavily reliant on the excellent article by David Aungst at Hyperscale, who did all the research required to do up an accurate Top Gun #56. In fact, the TwoBobs decals are also based on this same research. The kit itself is the excellent 1/48 Hasegawa A-4E/F kit.

The cockpit is surprisingly detailed and with the canopy opening being so small, I think it looks more than adequate.





Based on the article, I needed to modify the cone shaped fairings that’s attached all over the airframe. The cone tips need to be cut off first.


Work is actually quite straightforward and I managed to get quite far in assembly. The kit also broke down into very easy subassemblies. The landing gear and landing gear doors were all handbrushed with white and given a wash of black gray.


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