Markings: Kit + Custom
The SAFS MK.III Rapoon is a reconnaissance variant of the SAFS MK.III Raptor deployed by the mercenary forces.
Yep. That’s all I know. There’s a general lack of translated information about Ma.K stuff 🙂
This kit was released in 2017. I believe it’s the first time the Rapoon has been issued in injection form. Like all Wave injection kits, the plastic is rather soft although the details are quite sharp. Other details I note:
- The kit comes in 140 or so dark red parts including 2 clear parts
- The joints and the hoses are made from polycap material so there is (limited) poseability
- There is an open cockpit option with 2 types of pilot heads
- The left arm can be a laser or a normal manipulator
- The nose sensor assembly is in a fixed position
- Assembly guide is a booklet type
- The decal sheet offers multiple options as usual and is nicely printed
All in all, the usual Wave Ma.K product. Based on experience, the fit will be so-so and the limbs will be slightly loose even with the use of polycaps.
The kit is advertised as snapfit. As per usual with Wave kits though, cement helps greatly: do not expect Bandai levels of engineering here. It’s also advertised as poseable and comes with polycaps for the joints but these are not stiff like what you get from Bandai. The range of poseability is very limited and loosen quite quickly.
The joint covers are also made from polycap material which do not paint well so in the end I decided on a pose, cemented everything in place, then replaced the joint covers with ones made from epoxy putty.
Colors & Markings
Since the Rapoon is a ground unit I went with ground-based camo. I picked a random green and gray color in my collection and free hand sprayed the colors. I then lost my momentum and left it aside for a few months in that painted state.
After finally deciding to get off my butt and finish this thing, I added the decals then I went ahead with the sponge chipping. Doing this from the beginning will make paint chips look older once other weathering steps are done. I did the panel wash with diluted raw umber oil paint.
Once dried I went ahead to filter with blue and yellow then faded with white oil paint. Smudges and streaks were also added using Starship Filth oil paint from Mig AMMO. The feet were weathered using a light brown color (Dusty Earth from Mig AMMO).
Once pinned to the base, I did final weathering with a pigment mixture on the legs and the base to tie everything together.
And I’m done. What should have been my fifth finished kit is now my last one of the year.
Number 8 of 2019
Brand: Tamiya 60788
The Lockheed Martin (originally General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter. It currently serves in no less than 25 nations, with over 4,400 aircraft built. Commonly known as the ‘Viper’, it features innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. It is also the first fighter to be built to sustain 9-g turns.
The F-16CM is the USAF’s designation for its fleet of Block 40/42 F-16CG/DG and 50/52 F-16CJ/DJs that have gone through the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP). The program seeks o standardize all the avionics and hardware configuration to simplify training and maintenance. With CCIP, the CM (DM for the two-seaters) can now carry the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, employ GPS-guided weapons, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), employ the AIM-9X Sidewinder and radar upgrades.
The build depicts 92-3884, an F-16CM Block 50P in 35th FW Wing Commander color markings from the 13th Fighter Squadron ‘Panthers’ in 2010. The squadron is part of the 35th Fighter Wing, 5th Air Force, flying out of Misawa Air Base, Japan. The 13th FS F-16s carry the ‘WW’ tailcode, which refers to the ‘Wild Weasel’ Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) mission the squadron specializes in. With the transition from the F-16CJ/DJ to the F-16CM/DM, there is now the additional Destruction of Enemy Air Defences (DEAD) capability. 92-884 wears the more colorful markings of the 5th Air Force commander.
In 2014, Tamiya release an all-new tooling of the F-16CJ. Curiously though, it came without the ’things under the wings’, not even the ubiquitous fuel tanks and pylons. Then in 2015, they released the same exact kit but with ‘full weapons’. This is a popular kit of a popular subject and there are tons of previews already online so I’ll just add some observations:
- It’s a proper Tamiya kit so as expected, details and molding are very nice
- With parts swapping, you can build a pre or post CCIP Block 50 F-16C
- Kit is missing the JHCMS sensor inside the canopy but that’s a very minor detail
- A nicely molded pilot is included but it lacks the JHCMS helmet
- The canopy is clear instead of tinted which is accurate to the modern F-16s
- Like its 1/48 brother, there are 2 panels on the rear fuselage that are molded separately. I still have no idea why this was done
- Weapons include: 2x AIM-120 AMRAAM, 2x AGM-88 HARM, 2x AIM-9X Sidewinder, 2x AIM-9L Sidewinder, 2x HTS pod (left and right mounted versions), ALQ-184 ECM pod, Sniper Targeting pod (in clear plastic)
- 3 fuel tanks are included (2x wing and 1x centerline)
- Various minor ejector pin marks on the landing gear doors and missiles
- Markings are included for 3 F-16s and all the stores. The color call outs are wrong though as at least 2 of the F-16s depicted have switched to the simpler 2-tone gray camouflage
- Option for an open canopy
- The intake is detailed for 1/72 but overly engineered because of it with quite a few seamlines to deal with
- A very nicely done information sheet about the F-16 is included
Whlle the breakdown of parts indicate that other F-16 versions would be forthcoming, Tamiya hasn’t done so as of this writing (2019). In any case, this is a superb kit.
It’s a Tamiya kit. Nuff said.
Out of the box, there are parts to replicate the SEAD/DEAD capable F-16CM although it lacks the smart bombs to be ‘accurate’. I added a BRU-57 dual resin bomb rack from Reskit for this.
Construction was painless for the most part. Some problem areas for me:
- The intake assembly is over-engineered and required a bit of planning to get right. In the end though, I didn’t manage to do a flawless job with it. But so long as you don’t stare into the intake, it’s fine.
- While it makes for a stronger fit, I don’t like assembling the landing gear from the beginning. It’s just asking for trouble really.
- Compared to the rest of the kit, the ejection seat is simplified but I think it’s because Tamiya really wants me to stick the pilot on it.
- There’s a hole on the starboard fuselage that needed to be opened so I can stick a small vent into it. It’s small and quite a handful to attach properly though because I also needed to putty over some panel lines around the area.
These aren’t major issues with this build. In fact, I’d take this kinds of problems any day (looking at my Hasegawa F-14 kit grimly).
Colors & Markings
As mentioned above, the color call outs are wrong. The 2 CCIP F-16s (with the ‘bird slicers’ in front of the canopy) should be in 2-tone gray instead of 3-tones. Tamiya still only lists their own colors on the instructions but the F-16 doesn’t require any special colors so it’s quite straightforward to find the colors from other brands.
I went for a more subtle marbling coat using gray instead of white and I think it suits a 1/72 subject better. The results still look quite patchy though so it’s something to look at in later builds.
For the panel wash I went back to using diluted raw umber oil paint as I didn’t want to deal with Mig AMMO Panel Wash’s smell. After cleaning the panel wash, I think I prefer the deeper brown of my bottle of Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Wash. Let’s see how I can replicate that same shade with odorless oil paint. I did some random dot filtering using white oil paints to add more variations to the finish. I also used the white oil paint to try to lighten the lighter gray tone on the nose.
Once cured and given a flat coat, it was time to add the things under the wings. First the landing gear (which was detailed but finicky), then the sensor pods, then the pylons and lastly the wing stores. Each was given some time to cure before the next one was attached either with cement of Gator Glue.
Last on as usual were the antennas (only 1 thankfully) and the pitot tube.
So this build has been slow but it’s just due to the many parts of this kit. It fits great and I really like the details especially compared to the much older Hasegawa F-16. If only all the kits in the stash are like this one.
Brand: Hasegawa 09385
Markings: TwoBobs 48-051 ‘F-104J Komatsu Starfighters’
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft developed for the USAF, but would serve the air forces of more than a dozen countries. It set many world speed records and a total of 2,578 Starfighters would be built. However, its reputation is somewhat marred by the Lockheed bribery scandals and a poor safety record.
Developed in the 1950s, the first YF-104A flew in February 1956 with the first production F-104A delivered to the USAF by January 1958. The F-104 was all-metal with a fuselage that was 2.5 times longer than its wingspan. It featured a radical wing design: small, straight, mid-mounted, trapezoidal in shape and was so thin that the leading edges were a cut hazard for ground crew. The Starfighter is an especially difficult plane to fly. For example, the newly reformed Luftwaffe (West German Air Force) would have 4 F-104 crashes in a single day in 1962. By the 1970s, the F-104’s international service began to wind down. The last operational F-104s served with the Italian Air Force, which retired them in October 2004.
The JASDF (Japan Air Self Defense Force) nicknamed their licence-built Starfighter the ‘Eiko’ (Glory). Mitsubishi would build 210 single-seated F-104Js and 20 twin-seated F-104DJ purchased wholesale from Lockheed.. The F-104J is a specialized interceptor version of the F-104G that was built for air superiority. Despite the bad reputation of the F-104, the JASDF did not have the same problems as the European Air Forces, mainly because it was used as an interceptor and not an attack aircraft. The JASDF would operate the F-104 from 1966 and retire its last F-104J in 1986.
The model depicted here is of 46-8621, an F-104J with special markings that flew in the 1979 Air Combat Meet at Komatsu Air Base. I don’t have anecdotal evidence of whether the F-104Js flew as ‘red air’ but they all sported unique bright colored schemes like typical aggressor aircraft.
The boxing I have is a 2001 markings variant of the original F-104J released in 2000. The kit comprises 117 light gray styrene parts in 13 sprues along with a sprue of clear parts and 4 polycaps. Surface texture is nice with very crisp fine panel lines and a ton of recessed pin holes representing flush rivets. However, the flaps, ailerons and slats all suffer from ejector pin marks, with many of them nestled among the rivets.
Other details are great: cockpit, wheel well, speed brake bays are all nicely rendered. The canopy is 3-piece but is not able to be modeled open. A very nice touch is that the slats, flaps and speed brakes can all be positioned. The undercarriage is attached to the fuselage via polycaps and Hasegawa includes different style wheel hubs in the kit.
Some of the parts breakdown is complicated: the ejection seat is 14 parts, the fuel tank is 9 parts and each sidewinder rail is made up of 2 halves. I’m not sure why Hasegawa over-engineered these parts and yet leave so many ejector pin marks on other parts.
The kit comes with 3 marking options for 207th Squadron, 83rd Air Wing F-104Js that flew in custom schemes at the 1984 Air Combat Meet. I got my kit 2nd hand and the decal sheet has already dried and yellowed so I can’t talk about the quality.
Hasegawa is known to put in a bit more effort designing kits of Japanese armed forces equipment: this one is no different. It’s lovely out of the box. Parts breakdown (except for the fuel tanks) are logical. Assembly of the main body was quick although hampered by the many ejector pin marks on the slats, flaps, ailerons and undercarriage. The most annoying part is fixing the pin marks without destroying the beautifully done rivet details.
A major hiccup for me were the wingtip fuel tanks. Each one was made up of 9 parts and they didn’t fit particularly well. Each tank has 4 circular disks that need to be clamped in between the 2 halves. These turn out to require specific orientations to fit flush. After messing up some of them I decided to simply sand them smooth and live without the fine details on them. As it turns out, there would be decals for most of these and would hide the details anyway.
I really like the idea of the undercarriage using polycaps to fit and have always wondered why this method isn’t standard on all kits. It makes for a stronger overall fit and is easier for final assembly.
I realized too late that the clear parts (formation lights?) are supposed to be attached from the INSIDE of the fuselage and fuel tanks and I have left all these off. It turns out though that they would all be covered by decals in the end. All in all, a straightforward build although as usual with Hasegawa, some finicky fit in minor areas. I also managed to drop the whole kit on its nose so I had to go back to fix the shape. There’s always 1 disaster with every build I do so the record is intact.
Colors & Markings
This F-104J will be part of my Aggressor-themed collection of kits: normally plain colored aircraft that are dressed up in special color schemes for adversary training purposes. I’m modeling the blue and white color schemed 46-8621 that flew in the 1979 Air Combat Meet. Decals will be from the TwoBobs 48-051 ‘F-104J Komatsu Starfighters’ sheet.
As this aircraft has a partial full metal finish, I only did the marble coating for the colored areas. These areas required some masking work but were straightforward. I added glaze medium to reduce their opacity so the marble coat still shows through.
The metal finish was simply done over a flat black surface. As usual with metal finishes, I made sure to give the paints a bit more time to cure between masking and painting the different shades. So far, I’ve had very good luck with Vallejo Metal Colors and this time was no different. The colors went on easily with slight thinning.
Once the main colors were done, it was time for decals. As usual, the TwoBobs decals performed very well: they were easy to handle, robust and reacted well to Mark Softer. I did mess up a few stencil markings but the sheet had enough markings for 2 complete F-104Js so I have spare stencils. I’m also glad that the carrier film almost disappeared once cured.
While doing the decals, I realized that I missed out on painting a section on the spine pale yellow so I went back in to mask the area with tape and paper. I used paper for the decals that were already on as masking tape will definitely lift them. This section was quickly painted up with not much problem. 10 minutes masking, 10 seconds of painting. As usual.
I was initially a bit stuck on how I would weather this kit but looking at photos of JASDF F-104Js, they were all kept in very clean conditions so I decided to keep the weathering light. I decided to use Vallejo Model Wash again this time and I like the results. It’s subtler than the usual Raw Umber oil paint wash I use and I think it looks appropriate here with the cleaner look I’m going for. The exhaust was given the same wash and then highlighted with silver pencil. I went heavier with the wash on the metal areas near the exhaust to show some wear in the area.
Last on as usual were the pitot tube, various antenna and the AOA indicator (which I pinged 1 away and decided not to do the other one). And of course, just as everything was done, I dropped one of the wings and the tip of one of the winglets on the port fuel tank broke off. I used 0.25mm plastic card for the last minute repair. It looks OK so long as you don’t look closely.
To finish off the kit, the colored areas were given a spray of flat coat while I sprayed more gloss on the metal areas to seal everything in.
When I drew jet aircraft as a kid, the result always looked like an F-104 even though I didn’t know what an F-104 was then. I guess a rocket tube with wings will always imply a fast flying jet aircraft. And now I have the real thing in my collection!
This build has been relatively painless and the result is a very colorful and striking jet. It’s not without its problems (especially the wing tanks) but Hasegawa has a winner here. Details are great right out of the box and fit was generally good.
I decided it’s time to add a 1/48 modern pilot to join my 1/48 WWII pilot that’s used for size comparisons for my completed kits. There is a surprising lack of offerings for standing modern pilots in 1/48 scale but I finally got my hands of a pair of them, courtesy of Plus Model. Even better, it’s a mixed gender pair. Inside the blister are 2 figures, a duffel bag and a small sheet of decals. An illustration serves as a color guide with no paint codes provided.
I decided to go with the female pilot as it’s more interesting and I prefer the pose. The sculpt looks good overall though I think the face lacks femininity. The pour tabs are small and easily removed.
Once the tabs are cut off and the cut marks sanded down, I scrubbed the figure with soap before pinning onto the cork base. First color on is black as a base.
Then I sprayed white at a 45 degree down angle to hit the spots where the Sun up in the sky will hit on a typical day. This will serve as a base for my highlights and shadows. I then painted with paints cut with a bit of glaze medium to reduce the opacity so the work done previously still shows through. For an added splash of color, I gave the figure a red undershirt. I also went with a tan flight suit to break up the monotony of everything being olive drab.
After the first wash, the figure still looks flat. So I went in to add highlights on the edges and ridges of the figure. I then spent some time tweaking the highlights and shadows by repainting, washing then repainting again.
I then added the shoulder patches from the included decal sheet.
After a final flat coat, I’m done. I think I still have a ways to go with painting faces but I can live with this result.
For what I intend to use it for, I think it looks good.
Brand: Fujimi K-3
Markings: AirDOC Gulf War Warriors 72006 and Hasegawa 00954
The RF-4C was the unarmed tactical reconnaissance variant of the F-4 Phantom II deployed by the USAF. It was similar to the US Marine operated RF-4B but with different engines and a more spacious nose for more camera options. Though unarmed, the RF-4C could carry a tactical nuclear weapon on its centerline pylon and would eventually be modernized to carry the AIM-9 missile. 503 would be built for the USAF and serve from 1964 to 1994.
This build depicts 64-1047, an RF-4C from 106th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) flying during Operation Desert Shield. 106th TRS operated from Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain during this period. 1047 flew 172* sorties over enemy territory in Desert Shield and its mission totals (represented by camels) were painted on its port splitter plate. 1047 would be the ’top scorer’ of 106th TRS, flying more missions than any other RF-4C during this period. The 106th TRS was relieved on 18 December 1990 by the 192nd TRS. 1047 would log 7,300 hours of flight time at the time of its retirement in May 1994 and is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB Ohio.
The first RF-4 kit Fujimi release was the RF-4B in 1984. This particular boxing however, was released in 1996 and offered the option to build either an RF-4C or RF-4E. Fujimi has a different approach to Hasegawa when it comes to depicting the different variants: the RF-4 fuselage comes as 2 nose-to-tail halves instead of simply partial nose segments like Hasegawa. The kit also features:
- Separate fold out instructions for the 2 variants
- ALQ-118 ECM pod included
- 4x AIM-7 Sparrow and 4x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are included but not used
- Both straight and curve edged pylons (though my copy is missing the former)
- Both RF-4C and RF-4E exhausts
- Chaff boxes for the pylons
- Variant specific antennas and bulges
- Catapult strops or blanked off covers for the bottom fuselage
- A 4-part canopy though you can’t pose these open
- Very fine panel lines
- Clear parts for the camera covers but not the camera parts themselves
- Open or closed flare doors
- Very simplified gear bays
- Horizontal stabilizers that fit via tabs which give a more positive fit
- Markings for 6x RF-4Cs and 2x RF-4Es
Back in the early 1990s I built a Fujimi F-4G and remember it to be a trouble-free build by my standards then. Alas, it wasn’t to be for this one.
This kit was quite a bear to build. An initial dry fit showed that the 2 fuselage halves were ever so warped and this would cause me no end in fitting problems.
Since the parts count was low (especially by modern standards), it quickly took shape but I was seriously bogged down with how everything fit together. This was especially true with the nose and it took multiple sessions of gap filling to get it to look decent. The panel lines were also very (VERY) fine and I lost them in the areas I had to fix. I ended up going back to re-scribe all the lost panel lines and I also deepened the remaining existing panel lines so subsequent painting won’t cover them up.
My copy was bought second hand and it was missing the straight edged pylons that were used by the RF-4C and since I intended to build a modern 1990s-era RF-4C I had to get various donor parts. The straight edged pylons and newer 600 gallon centerline fuel tank came from a Hasegawa F-4G kit and the ALQ-131 ECM pod came from the Italeri (Tamiya reboxed) F-16A/B kit.
Colors & Markings
By the 1990s USAF F-4s were given a very nice and simple 2-tone gray camouflage (aka ‘Hill Gray’) much like the one on the F-16. I went through my usual painting procedure with only 1 minor difference. I started with a base of black, then a marble coat of both medium gray and white. I wanted to see if the 2 tones of marble coat had any effect on the main colors.
The main colors of FS 36270 and FS 36118 were a mix of Vallejo Model Color and Mig AMMO paints. They were thinned with acrylic thinner and given a few drops of Vallejo Glaze Medium to cut their opacity. Interestingly the demarcation lines on the nose were hard-edged but the one on the intakes were soft. These were easily replicated with masking tape and blutack.
The AirDOC sheet stated that the walkways were outlines but based on photos of 64-1047 I had, these needed to be solid dark gray patterns. I decided to mask and spray these instead of using the Hasegawa decals since I thought fitting around the intakes would be an issue. Based on the locations indicated on the Hasegawa instructions, I masked these off and sprayed the walkways.
Once the camouflage was done, I had to mask them off and paint the exhaust area. The primary colors I used were Vallejo Metal Color Exhaust Manifold and Dull Aluminium. There are small sections on the horizontal stabilizer that were darker where I used Model Air Metal Gun Grey. I think the area where I used Exhaust Manifold should be darker but I moved on and addressed it during weathering.
Since I wasn’t particularly happy with this build, I decided to save the (very nicely done) stencils from the AirDOC sheet for a more ‘worthy’ kit. WIth that in mind, I mixed and matched: RF-4C specific markings from AirDOC and generic stencils from Hasegawa F-4G (00954) sheets. I really like the AirDOC decals: they are thin, have barely any carrier film, are strong and reacted very well to Mark Softer. Thing is though, all the numbers were standalone so I had to cut out individual numbers to form all the squadron markings. It was lucky they were so robust (they were printed by Cartograph) since it took time to line up everything. It was a pain, but the end results looked good.
A minor complaint about the AirDOC sheet is that the marking callouts only showed 1 side of each subject. For 64-1047 there was only a port-side view and generic top and bottom views so I had to guesstimate how the shark mouth markings would look from the bottom. The positions of the tail markings were also just a best guess and from various online references. I also suspect the decals weren’t properly sized for Fujimi F-4s but there was nothing seriously over/under-scaled.
After another gloss coat to seal the decals, I did the usual panel wash with Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Wash. I previously would wipe everything down with a damp (with turpentine) tissue. This time I tested with a dry make-up sponge and waited till the wash has dried completely. It cleans er… cleanly but requires more effort to get the excess paint off. It worked better when damp with turpentine but started to break off in clumps. Anyway I still have a pack of them and will experiment further.
The whole kit was filtered with red, blue and medium gray oil paints using the oil dot method. I kept the filtering light since this is a 1/72 kit. I then randomly faded the upper surfaces with white oil paint but didn’t with the bottom since the upper surfaces are exposed to the Sun more.
From photos I’ve seen, no 2 F-4s look the same in the exhaust area due to heat stains and general wear and tear so some creativity can be had here. I first filtered the exhaust area with both thinned deep brown wash and black oil paints. Staining was also added with the same colors by splotching thinned oil paints with a used round paint brush. I kept the filters and staining lighter on the bottom but based on photos, the rear area can get quite dirty so I did the same splotching with the round brush using very thinned deep brown wash. I did this in stages as the wash dried.
By this time it does seem like a lot of work for some subtle changes but taken as a whole, the kit now looks visually more interesting.
After everything was given a day to dry, I sprayed a flat coat and did the final assembly for the landing gear and stores. It took some fiddling to attach all of them as the main gear doors were butt joints. The struts also needed trimming.
I had to do some touch-ups after taking off the masking tape but thankfully it was nothing difficult. I did however have to live with a step on the pilot’s canopy. It was that or the canopy won’t fit properly on the side. It was also obvious there were no cameras behind the camera windows. Should really have done something about them.
Now all that remained were painting the usual lights on the wingtips and the tailfin. These were transparent colors over a silver base and shined up with Future. The absolute last thing was the nose probe. This was painted after being attached.
So that’s it. With so many problems, my luck ran out and I did not finish by 27 May 2019, the time limit for an FB group challenge I joined. I did however finish in the last day of May so my ‘1 kit a month’ run was intact. This was far from a good build though. With so many fitting problems and my brute force solutions, this was at best, a 3 foot model ie. looks OK from 3 feet away. Still, having started and stopped a few of the Hasegawa F-4 kits, I’m glad I managed to see this one through to completion.