I spent some time fiddling with the canopy to get it to fit flush with the fuselage but it seems like the tolerance is very tight and the Future coat actually made the canopy thicker. I ended up resorting to some sanding and leaving out the back section of the canopy.
And then it was time for the decals. I decided to use the F-8E Crusader markings from the Wolfpak Decals 72-039 ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ sheet. These were the markings worn by an F-8E from VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ which claimed the first air-to-air victory by this aircraft. Ironically it achieved this with a missile and not with its guns.
The Wolfpak decals proved a bit resistant to Mark Softer and I had to use several passes before they really snuggled down the panel lines. Otherwise though, they are pretty easy to use. I think the blue on the stars and bars are too light but went ahead with it since I’m no expert and the kit provided ones are sized differently.Â the ‘NP 103’ markings on the starboard wing silvered but that is due to my less than smooth gloss coat. Chalk that one up to my usual challenge with Future.
As for the stencils I decided to put on all the major ones and skipped all the ‘no steps’. It makes for a cleaner looking plane and less of a headache on the modeler. The stencils are from the kit and are designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograph. Very nicely done and easy to use.
After a day of curing and wipedown with a wet cloth to remove decal residue, I then sprayed on another layer of Future over the decals. A minor disaster struck: the Future spattered and I ended up with some orange peel. I fixed whatever I could with a Windex-soaked cotton bud and hope that the final finishing flat coat will hide it.
After this last layer has cured, I then proceeded to do the wash and panel lining. The wash inside the speed brake revealed injection pin marks but luckily all will be hidden by the speed brake itself. 🙂
For the main fuselage panel lines, I tried to do pin washes but the Vallejo Wash didn’t travel down the panel lines as smoothly as I hoped. This was even though I have thinned the wash quite significantly. I probably need to add something else to break the surface tension. But that’s for a different project.
So for this kit, I simply brushed roughly on all the panel lines. Leave to dry a bit, then wipe away with a Windex soaked tissue paper.
I originally used water for wipe down but it’s not as effective, especially when the wash has dried. I had to be careful with the Windex though as it can dissolve Future. Anyway, maybe it’s time to consider something else for the gloss coat before panel lining.
So panel lining is quickly over and done with. Next is putting everything together. First up are the landing gear. The gear doors took some finessing due to their small size but stayed put with some extra thin cement running down the joints. I managed to launch a part of the nose gear into the ether but found it on the floor a few hours later. Ding! Disaster #1 averted.
The main landing gear were attached with the help of both cement and super glue. The dive brake looked like it would clear the bottom of the main landing gear but it turned out OK.
Then I attached the pitot tube with extra thin cement. The front canopy is actually framed with yellow which Academy provides as decals. I’ll have to add them after my final coat.
Next are the tiny clear parts on top and bottom of the fuselage. I attach these with PVA glue. The top part went on fine and was painted clear red but I managed to catapult the bottom clear part into the jungle that is my room. Ding! Official Disaster #1!
Thankfully, the wing lights didn’t come in separate clear parts so all I had to do is paint silver as a base then clear blue on the starboard wing and clear red on the port wing. Much much easier than having to fiddle with the really small parts. Note the problem with the decal on the wing there. Oh well.
The paint on part of the port horizontal stab chipped off. No big deal there so I sand it down and respray the white color (which is actually just white primer). And… the colors don’t match. Much gnashing of teeth followed. Ding! Disaster #2!
The solution I came up with is simple: I cheat. I masked and sprayed white primer on the whole panel on both stabs. And since they are at the bottom, it’s easy enough to get away with. They were then very carefully pushed into the fuselage.
The fit was very tight so I didn’t use cement. There is a slight dihedral of the stabs but otherwise, both are exactly the same. I also added the engine into the exhaust which also fit without need for cement.
Hi-viz aircraft were apparently glossy in real-life so I went with a satin coat for the final clear layer. This time, I tried out Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish. Even thinned 50% with water it refuses to be sprayed by my 0.3mm airbrush. I ended up using the 0.5mm airbrush and it went on very smoothly and easily.
Once that has cured I removed the masking on the canopy (not perfect but not disaster worthy) and finally add the canopy frame decals. The main canopy frame is made up of 4 separate decals. While very small, they went on without much problems. The IRST ball and the lights were then given a brush of Future to shine them back up.
Last on were warning decals on the exhaust and I’m finally done! 😀