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.
Brand : Italeri No.1236
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
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
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:
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.
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:
It’s not all doom and gloom though:
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.
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.
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.
Number 8 of 2017
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.