Finally ready for painting!
I begin as usual with a base primer of black.
I’m trying something new with a marble coat of medium gray and white colors. Not sure if it’ll affect the final paintjob though. Let’s see…
Modern USAF F-4s came in a striking 2-tone gray camouflage of FS36270 and FS36118. For the lighter FS36270 ‘Neutral Gray’ I’m going with Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey. This was thinned and with a few drops of Vallejo Glaze Medium added to cut down on the paint’s opacity.
Once cured I mask off the demarcation lines. Interestingly they are a mix of hard and soft edges. So it’s masking tape for the hard ones and blutack for the soft ones. I referenced the AirDOC info sheet for the camouflage pattern.
Next is FS36118 ‘Gunship Gray’ for the darker gray tone. I’m using Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey.
The Hasegawa sheet comes with the dark gray walkway decals but I think it will be easier to mask and spray it. The AirDOC instruction indicates that the walkways are outlines but checking photos online they are the solid dark gray type. So it’s time for more masking tape.
I used a mix of Vallejo Model Air Dark Sea Grey and Engine Grey for the walkways. I think the tone is quite close to the photo reference.
So did the mix of gray and white marbling affect the final paintwork? In my opinion, nothing obvious. So the extra work wasn’t needed. Anyway, moving on.
Next up, the exhaust area which on the F-4 is bare metal and through time, gets gloriously weathered and stained. More masking ensues to get this done.
I went with Vallejo Metal Color Exhaust Manifold and Dull Aluminium. Weathering and staining will be done later.
The fuel tanks, pylon and ECM pod were duly painted in FS36118. The landing gear was painted as per instructed. A third metallic tone on the horizontal stabs was Model Air Metal Gun Grey.
Weathering and finishing next!
So I was told by a fellow modeler that the fit of the 4-part canopy might not be great so I decided to do a quick dryfit. Thankfully they fit fine. Problem is the rear canopy has a crack in it. Nice. I’ll live with it. A dip in Future is next for these.
The nose inlets were attached and well, they didn’t look right.
They sit proud of the nose. Looking at reference photos, the ends should smoothly transition into the nose.
So I quickly sanded where they join the nose. The transition is smooth now.
I originally wanted to leave this alone but since I’ve done so much already I might as well do it. The ‘arrowheads’ on the horizontal stabs are not present for the RF-4C I’m modeling.
These were quickly trimmed away and sanded down.
I test-fitted the stabs into the slots on the fuselage. On the starboard side there are 2 visible holes that are out of place.
So I filled the gaps with plastic plate.
I marked all the panel lines on the spine since they will definitely be obliterated by the time I’m done fixing the gaps.
See? Anyway, now I need to scribe them all back. Also, all the panel lines are very fine (though nice), too fine in fact. So I went ahead and went over them lightly with my scriber.
My scribing skills is amateurish at best. And after a re-check, I missed out on the refueling door when I took this photo. Ah well.
I think they should look fine under some coats of primer and paint.
I’m modeling a USAF aircraft so I had to remove the panel lines for the air-to-air refueling door on the side of the cockpit.
The catapult strops are blanked off but the parts provided didn’t fit properly so I added 0.2mm plastic plate and carefully sanded it flush to the bottom.
The kit provides a clear HUD but it’s very thick so I decided to make one from scratch. First I cut out 2 small triangles from plastic plate to act as the HUD mount.
The HUD itself is a clear piece from a battery blister pack.
The RF-4C has a offset antenna on the spine. I added this using 0.2mm plastic plate. This was glued into a groove I cut out so it’ll have a stronger fit.
The final step before painting is attaching the ejection seats and the canopy in place.
Now I can FINALLY start finishing this thing.
Kittyhawk is finally releasing the AH-1W variant of the AH-1 Cobra. I’ve been holding off getting the AH-1Z because I prefer the sleeker look of the AH-1W.
No release details yet but their AH-1Z has gotten good reviews so I expect the same with this one.
So I’ll be building a Desert Storm era RF-4C. The kit will require donor parts to get it to be configured correctly.
USAF F-4s use straight-edged styled pylons. The kit is supposed to include them but alas, these were missing (I bought this kit used). I got a spare pair with the sway braces from a Hasegawa RF-4 kit. Based on a reference photo, I also trimmed the bottom of these pylons flat. The ALQ-131 pod comes from the (Italeri reboxed) Tamiya F-16 kit.
By this time, the USAF F-4 mounted a different version of the 600 gallon fuel tank. This tank is the same as the one carried by the F-15. The kit includes the old-style tank so I got another donation from the Hasegawa RF-4 kit. The mounting method had to be modified. I made new pins using stretched sprue for a more positive fit. I also added plates to thicken the whole molded-on pylon for some height so the tank clears the bottom fuselage.
Work on the nose begins with attaching the side windows for the camera first before the fuselage halves come together. The bottom camera windows are molded as 1 piece of clear plastic. These were also masked off.
There’s no tab that holds the camera plate in position so I made some with plastic plates.
There’s an odd gap between the plate and the nose gear bay.
With a spray of primer, the problem becomes more glaring. The gaps around the camera plate are quite bad.
So instead of throwing the kit against the wall, I decided to try to fix it. The gaps were filled with both epoxy and AK Interactive putty.
Putty, sand, buff, prime, check, putty, sand, buff, prime, check. After (quite) a few rounds of this, I think the nose looks acceptable.
A small plate is added to cover the gap behind the camera plate.
Onwards to the intakes which is usually a problem area for aircraft kits. The interiors were painted in white and masked off before installation.
For the port side intake, I had to choose to have a gap at the bottom or up top. Since there’s less molded details on top, I went with aligning the intake with the bottom so there’s now a sizeable gap up top. The panel lines on the intake and the main body also don’t quite align. I’ll have to live with it.
I inserted plastic plate and trimmed off to quickly fill the gap.
On the starboard side, there’s a thin step where the intake meets the body. I shaped a small plate to cover this step.
WIth that settled, the instake fits very well though there’s a gap at the bottom.
This was fixed with more inserting of plastic plate and trimming off.
More fixing of stuff next…
Next build up is an oldie but goodie (famous last words). Having built one in the mid 1990s in college I remember this kit to fit well in general and with fewer parts than the Hasegawa counterpart, would be a quicker build. I was planning for this kit to be part of a groupbuild with a bunch of local modelers. It’s due at the end of May.
A quick dry fit shows however, that the fit is wonky.
It looks like the fuselage halves have somehow warped (foreboding music).
Plowing on, the ejection seats get some work by way of harness details using 0.7mm masking tape. The seats were quickly painted and weathered and set aside.
I added sidewall details with plastic plate to busy them up. It’s nothing accurate and will not be too visible once closed up.
Painted and given a wash, these look alright.
I found more warped parts. This time if was the cockpit tub, which didn’t sit quite right on the bottom fuselage plate. I added a length of sprue to push the tub up to the correct height.
The fuselage halves included alignment tabs on the bottom but these refused to line up so I trimmed one off. I added spreader bars inside the fuselage to minimize the gap with the wingroots. Note the clamp on the right of the photo. I had to use one to keep the 2 halves together until the cement cures. Only brute force works.
The spreaders work and the wingroot gaps are kept to a minimum.
Fit of the fuselage halves though… is disheartening.
There’s a V-shaped notch going down the whole upper fuselage. Not difficult to fix, but the upper details will be gone by the time it’s fixed.
I seriously didn’t expect the fit to be so bad on this one.