To address the step between the front canopy and the nose, it was a matter of putty + elbow grease with a sanding sponge. However, the way the front canopy attaches to the nose, the port side joint is only (at most) 0.5mm away from a panel line. Naturally I managed to obliterate part of the panel line so some rescribing was needed.
While the general fit of the canopies look OK, I decided to leave them open for this build. And since they are quite bare, I also decided to torture myself and add some handles and rear view mirrors. First up is masking.
The insides were also masked…
The rear view mirrors are put together from 0.2mm plastic plate and a bit of stretched sprue.
I used thin solder wire for the handles. The design and placement of these are based on photos I found online.
Looks acceptable after a spray of color. Might be a tad oversized and crude but I’m moving on.
After some more masking of the cockpit, intakes and the main landing gear, it looks like I’m finally ready for painting!
In between sessions of gap fixing, I started on the things under the wings. The kit comes with 4 gas bags but I decided to go with just the 2 outer ones. The wheels all come with the rim and tires being separate but while that makes them easy to paint, they needed trimming and a healthy dose of sanding to fit together.
I first inserted plastic plates to to fill a majority of the gap in the coaming, then the rest will be handled by filler.
I did the same for the gap on the main gear door.
The speed brakes are also usually closed when the plane is on the ground but these don’t fit well at all.
To make my life easier, I cut off the legs of the speed brakes, trimmed everything, then fit them that way. The cut marks will be tackled with more filler.
The gap fixing is taking a while…
The main issues being the intake lips to intake fit and the exhaust housings which have big steps all round the joint areas.
The canopy parts were given a dip of Future and left to dry for close to 72 hours and were test fitted onto the fuselage. The fit is decent but I think I’ll leave the canopies open, which means I’ll have to detail up the inside of the frames.
The instruction calls for a clear piece for the HUD projector (?) but I decided to replace this with G-Option’s Aurora Film. I punched out a small round piece and stuck it into the hole. Looks good!
The HUD itself is a piece of photoetch which I folded carefully. The kit parts for the glass were replaced with thinner acetate and given a brush of Future.
After masking the inside of the front canopy, I sprayed Panzer Dark Grey. Referring to photos I found online, I added ‘a round thing’ and 2 ‘side blocks’ (yes those are the technical terms) using plastic plate and stretched sprue.
The front canopy is molded with a part of the nose. But it sits just slightly proud so more elbow grease is required.
It’s been slow going, but I’m getting there!
With everything requiring multiple dryfits, trimming and adjusting, progress is going slower than I would like. Anyway, onwards we go. First up though, is a picture of the seats by themselves which I forgot to show in my previous WIP post.
The Alpha Jet’s flaps remain raised while on the ground so while it’s nice Kinetic offers the flaps down option, it simply means more work in this case.
The flap actuators fit fine but some of the holes for the pins are too large and will require filling.
There are blocks and sockets for the wings to fit into the fuselage but the sockets are bigger than the blocks so they aren’t of much help for alignment and to get the correct anhedral of the wings. In the end, due to the loose fit, I focused on the proper alignment and fit for the leading edges and will fix the gaps on the trailing edges.
This picture also shows the big gap right behind the cockpit. Since I doubt normal putty will be able to cover this, I filled with epoxy putty from the inside, pushed it out and trimmed off the excess.
To distract myself from the monotony of getting all the parts to fit with minimal gaps, I decided to try my hand at scratchbuilding brake lines on the landing gear. On the Alpha Jet, there’s only 1 cable on each gear leg so I figure it’s the best time to practise.
I used 0.1mm copper wire and 0.4mm masking tape for the bands. I think the copper wire is too thin but it’ll have to do. The result looks good but not really noticeable.
The main landing gear needs to be attached into the fuselage before the bottom plate is installed.
I don’t like this arrangement but there’s no way around it. I reinforced the joints with diluted PVA glue and then the bottom plate then gets fitted. Luckily it went on with only a little trimming.
While the cockpit tub fit OK, there is a noticeable gap on the instrument coaming. There is also a slight short molding of the coaming on the port side which leads to a very unsightly gap.
Kinetic molds the gear bay doors in the open position but all the photos I’ve seen show that almost all of them are closed while on the ground. The attachment guides were cut off and I took a while to get them to close up.
The nose gear doors didn’t turn out that well but like a lot of the other parts so far, filler will fix it.
With the huge gap on the starboard gear door, it’s clear to me that the bay doors were never designed to be closed in the first place. Interestingly, the port side fit alright.
The good news however is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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.