Tag: Modern

Completed : Italeri 1/72 BAe Sea Harrier FRS.1

Gallery

Build Report

Kit Info
Brand : Italeri No.1236
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit

The Subject
The Sea Harrier is a further development of the Harrier Jump Jet. It is a naval short/vertical take-off and landing (S/VTOL) subsonic jet fighter designed to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen. Largely based on the RAF’s Harrier GR.3, it features a ‘bubble’ canopy for better visibility, a longer fuselage to fit the Blue Fox radar and corrosion resistance alloys and coatings compared to the land-based variant.

The Sea Harrier features 4 rotatable nozzles which can be pointed down for the aircraft to lift off and land vertically (VTOL). Angling the nozzles also allows STOL operations, reducing the amount of runway needed for take-off and landing.

The Sea Harrier FRS.1 entered service with the Royal Navy in 1980. Affectionately called the ‘Shar’, its principal role in the Royal Navy was to provide air defense for task groups centered around the aircraft carriers. 57 would be built for the Royal Navy starting in 1978.

Sea Harrier FRS.1s took part in the Falklands War of 1982, flying off the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Primarily flown for the air defense role and armed with the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles and Blue Fox radar, the 3 Sea Harrier squadrons totaling 28 aircraft would shoot down 20 Argentinian aircraft in air-to air combat and suffer 6 losses (2 to ground fire, 4 to accidents).

The lessons learned from this war would lead to an upgrade to the FA.2 standard starting in 1993. The last Sea Harrier FA.2 would retire in 2006. This build depicts a Sea Harrier FRS.1 ‘XZ 451’ flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron off HMS Invincible in the subdued color scheme applied in the run-up to the war. XZ 451 is credited with 3 air-to-air victories and 1 damaged during the conflict. She would be written off in 1989 off the Sardinia coast.

Info from Wikipedia

The Kit
This kit is a rebox of the ESCI kit that was first released in 1983 so it’s actually an old kit. Features/options include:

  • Lowered landing gear only
  • Canopy that can be posed open
  • Antennas that are crude and thick
  • Positionable vector nozzles
  • Soft details on the auxiliary blow-in doors around the intakes. They appear half opened only.
  • 2 x AIM-9L Sidewinders with the right shape but no details
  • 2 x external fuel tanks
  • 2 x underbelly ADEN gunpods
  • 3 x decal options (pre-1982 Royal Navy, Falklands War Royal Navy and Indian Air Force)

The mold has held up and the panel lines are fine and quite nicely done. There’s not much flash and injection pin marks (one big one on the seat’s headrest though). Typical of Italeri, the plastic is softer than what you get from Tamigawa. Also typical of Italeri, the clear parts are a bit thick and lack clarity.

So, definitely a mixed bag. This kit has been superceded by a more modern tooling by Airfix. However, it’s still a good representation of the Sea Harrier by most accounts. It’s also cheaper. More importantly, it’s much easier to find here than the Airfix.

The Build
Kit manufacturers of this era hadn’t caught on to the idea of designing kits to accommodate various versions of the same aircraft so there’s a general lack of cutting and fitting of different parts together. So while lacking in finesse and details, they usually come together quite quickly. Fitting can be issue but that’s not really the case with this kit, which on the whole, fits well. Problem areas include:

  • Canopy halves that don’t quite align
  • Rear half of the canopy doesn’t have panel line for the frame
  • Intake covers that require adjusting and trimming
  • A molded on pitot tube (that’s bent) that will definitely break off (mine did)
  • No details inside the nose gear wheel well. Ugly seamlines in there too
  • Antennas are butt jointed only
  • I had to guesstimate the positions of the belly gunpods
  • Nozzles fit crudely although they are mostly hidden after installation

It’s not all doom and gloom though:

  • Overall fit is good
  • The 4 landing gear fit well and they all touch the ground without much work

Even with these problems, this is one of my faster aircraft builds due to the small number of parts.

Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the Falklands War option, which features a subdued color scheme and markings. The color scheme is a uniform Dark Sea Grey over every surface, including the missile rails. After seeing some photos, I decided to break up the monotony by going with Medium Sea Grey with the rails. To add some fading of the main color, I sprayed white over the black base first before the Dark Sea Grey went on.

In hindsight, the red color in the decals seems too bright but I don’t have aftermarket one for the kit so it will do.

Finishing
I used a light gray wash for the panel lines. With the panel lines being so shallow, the effect is quite subdued. I also did some further fading over the top of the kit, since that’s the part that sees the Sun the most.

Epilogue
Doh! After the final photos were done, I realized I didn’t attach the small vane in front of the canopy. I decide that I should move on and not try to deal with the really small part.

Project Log
> Part 1 : Construction
> Part 2 : Painting
> Part 3 : Finishing

Number 8 of 2017

WIP : Italeri 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 Pt. 3 – Finishing

Hey… my missing wheel turned up! So the casting work I did was all for naught. Oh well, it was good practice at least.

Anyway, on to finishing this build. First, for the base gloss coat, I sprayed AK Interactive Intermediate Gauzy. This is by far the easiest gloss coat I’ve ever used. I simply used a 0.5mm airbrush and sprayed it out of the bottle.

I then spent a few nights doing the decals. As usual, I leave some of the stencils off. Interestingly, while the main markings are muted, some of the stencils are brightly colored. The kit decals took a while to get off the backings but are easy to use and conform very well with Mark Softer even though they are slightly thick. They are also just slightly oversized compared to the instructions. I gave the decals a day to cure, wiped the kit down with a damp cloth, then sprayed another gloss coat to seal the decals.

Weathering is next. I find it a challenge to do panel lining on a dark subject but I find that light gray color works alright. It doesn’t give the most realistic finish, but it adds ‘depth’ to the finish. For this kit the panel lines are very shallow so the effect is quite subtle. I then did some filtering of the same light gray on random panels to add some variance to the color scheme.

Next are attaching the landing gear, stores and exhausts. These are done with superglue and reinforced by running diluted white glue on the joints. Thankfully, the landing gear all fitted OK and the kit sits flat on all 4 wheels. The exhausts were fricton fit and I posed them in a diagonal position since I find they look the most interesting this way.

Next are the small antennas. The thickness and general lack of finesse with these parts show the age of this mold. These were attached with superglue, reinforced with diluted PVA then quickly handpainted. The formation lights were as usual, painted in transparent colors and given a drop of Future to make them shine. The masking tape over the canopy was then removed. It turns out I didn’t fit the front canopy properly so there’s a minor gap between the front and back half. Dang.

The absolute last piece is the pitot tube, which I used stretched sprue instead of the piece that had broken off.

And I’m done. The work looks rushed in places, but all in all, it was a trouble-free build considering the age of this kit.

WIP : Italeri 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 Pt. 2 – Painting

After a few rounds of seamline fixing and rescribing, the pitot tube broke off. Oh well, it makes the kit a lot less fiddly to hold. So, first on is black primer.

To add some variety and fading to the monotone color scheme, I sprayed white in random straight lines across the top of the kit. I do this somewhat in the direction of airflow. I also varied the thickness and saturation of the white. I left the bottom without the streaks figuring since the bottom gets less exposed to the Sun, it will not fade as much.

Next is the main color of Dark Sea Grey (in this case, it’s er… Vallejo Model Air Dark Seagreen. Don’t ask). To keep the streaking visible, I thin the Dark Seagreen paint in a 1:1 ratio. I misted over the kit to build up the layers.

I stopped when I felt the effect of the streaking is subtle enough to my taste.

While prepping all the other parts, I managed to sweep most of them off the table and one of the main landing wheels ended up pulling a disappearing act. Since I didn’t want to get another box just for the one part, nor do I want to shelve the build, I decided to try my hand with casting the wheel with epoxy putty.

First I made the 2 halves of the mold with epoxy putty. Once they were slightly dry I pressed the wheel in. I only pressed up to the halfway point of the wheel for both ends. Once the molds cured, I rubbed some powder into the molds to act as a release agent and then pressed in more epoxy putty. Once these were slightly dry, I carefully pulled them out and left them to cure. Once dry, I trimmed and superglued both side together and sanded down the sides.

It’s definitely not great but it beats the alternatives.

With the epoxy putty wheel done, I have most of the parts ready.

Time to finish this thing up.

WIP : Italeri 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 Pt. 1 – Construction

Kit Info
Manufacturer : Italeri No.1236
Scale : 1/72
Media : Injection Plastic

This is the Italeri rebox of the original ESCI kit issued in 1983. By most accounts it’s still one of the better representations of the Sea Harrier in 1/72 scale.

As usual we begin with a simple cockpit. Instrument panels are all decals. I added 1mm tape to the ejection seat to simulate seatbelts.

There’s a prominent pin mark on the head rest which I think won’t be too visible under the closed canopy.

Due to its vintage, parts breakdown is very straightforward. The intakes will need a bit of finessing to fit right but all in all, this came together quite quickly.

The bottom includes a slot for a center pylon but the kit doesn’t include any stores for it. I will be adding the belly cannons so I’ll be leaving the pylon off. I added plaplate to fill up the slot.

The pitot tube comes molded onto the nose and it’s bent out of the box. I think I’ll replace it with a brass rod.

Completed : AFV Club 1/48 Northrop F-5E Tiger II ’26th TFTS’

Gallery

Build Report

Kit Info
Brand and Kit Number: AFV Club AR48102
Media: Injection Plastic, Photo-etch, Resin
Aftermarket: Seat from Wolfpack Design WPD48089
Markings: TwoBobs 48-216 F-5E PACAF Gomers #2

The Subject
The F-5E Tiger II is an upgrade of the F-5A Tiger. Introduced in 1970, it has more powerful engines, a lengthened and enlarged fuselage, larger fuel capacity, better avionics, better aerodynamics and more crucially, a radar. The F-5E would prove to be a successful combat aircraft for US allies, but would only serve the US in an ‘aggressor’ role for training.

In the latter half of the 1970s, the 26th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron received the F-5E from undelivered stocks for the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and an embargoed Ethiopian Air Force order. The aggressor F-5Es were painted in a variety of colorful camouflage schemes designed to mimic those in use by Warsaw Pact aircraft. During this period, the squadron was based in Clark AFB, The Philippines. The unit is currently active as the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron.

F-5E info from Wikipedia
26th TFTS info from Wikipedia

The Kit
AFV Club introduced this kit in 2010 to all modelers’ delight. We finally had a modern take of this popular aircraft (1,499 built with over 20 users). Before this kit, the only game in town for 1/48 was the Monogram kit from 1978. This kit is designed for multiple variants and options in this particular boxing include:

  • Open/closed canopy
  • Open/closed airbrakes
  • Open/closed engine louvres
  • Open/closed gunbay
  • Lowered/raised flaps
  • 2 x nose gear struts
  • 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinders
  • 2 x underwing and 1 x centerline droptanks
  • 1 x ACMI pod
  • 1 x access ladder

Panel lines are recessed and look good. The kit also comes with a small photo-etch fret which includes rear-view mirrors for the canopy and mesh screens for the intake splitter plates.

Build
Right from the beginning I decided to replace the stock ejection seat with an aftermarket one. I used a resin one from Wolfpack Design.

Overall fit was good but there were some things to note:

  • The gunbay can be left open but there are no internal details and it took some work to get the access doors to close properly
  • The nose to fuselage joint needs some trimming to fit properly
  • The landing gear is detailed but some parts are really small and fragile

I also ended up making a few mistakes:

  • I messed up the PE mesh grills because I didn’t read the instructions carefully
  • I didn’t fit the backplate (P11) in the exhaust area properly so I had trouble fitting the exhausts at the end

Colors & Markings
The decal sheet offers 6 options with the most interesting being 75-01561 in the Vietnamese Air Force’s SEA camouflage and a striking sharkmouth. As usual, TwoBobs’ decals went on very easily although they are a bit troublesome with the layering involved. The camouflage pattern as printed on the sheet also did not line up properly in some spots so some guesstimation was made.

Finishing
Weathering was kept to a minimum with my usual mix of dark gray and raw umber oil paint sludges. Due to the darker colors up top, the effect isn’t very obvious.

The F-5E doesn’t have many antennas and yet I managed to ping 1 off into the black hole that is my room. In my defense, it’s really tiny. The last item on were the exhausts which as mentioned above, ended up not fitting well at all. Serves me right for being careless during assembly.

All in all, it has been a fun build. Putty was kept to a minimum but the really tiny parts were a challenge since I have presbyopia now.

Project Log
> Part 1 : Construction
> Part 2 : Construction
> Part 3 : Painting
> Part 4 : Finishing
> Part 5 : Finishing

Number 7 of 2017

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