Brand and Kit Number: Kinetic K48043
Media: Injection Plastic and Photoetch
The Alpha Jet is a light attack jet and advanced jet trainer jointly manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation and Germany’s Dornier Flugzeugwerke from a collaboration initiated in 1967. Under the terms of this agreement, each country agreed to purchase and assemble 200 aircraft. A total of 480 Alpha Jets would see production with deliveries starting in 1978 and would be adopted by various other countries. Due to different avionics fit, French and German Alpha Jets were visually distinct, with French planes (designated E for Ecole or school) featuring a rounded-off nose and German ones (Designated A for Appui Tactique or tactical strike) featuring a sharp, pointed nose.
Germany would fly the Alpha Jet in the ground attack role. The Alpha Jet A specifications were noticeably different from France’s Alpha Jet E with many components provided by German companies. In addition to the ground attack role, the Luftwaffe would also fly the Alpha Jet in ECM and reconnaissance roles.
The Alpha Jet was purposely designed to be simple (eg. it can be turned around in 10 minutes with minimal ground equipment) and easily exportable to other countries. It can carry up to 5,000lbs of munitions, which includes an external belly-mounted gun pod.
In 1992, the Luftwaffe began to phase out their Alpha Jets with the last leaving the service in 1999. 16 were purchased by the Canadian company Top Aces (formerly Discovery Air Defence Services) in the 2000s and flown to provide ‘Red Air’ threat replication, ie. to fly as the ‘bad guys’ for adversary training. Some of these would retain the original Luftwaffe camouflage but others would be repainted in a unique white, gray and medium blue scheme.
This build depicts a Top Aces Alpha Jet A.
Before the release of this kit, your only option for a 48 scale Alpha Jet was by Esci from 1980 (which Heller reboxed) and a PJ Productions resin kit. So this was a welcome modern release in 2013 by Kinetic.
Befitting its modern sensibilities, the kit is designed to be built into either the A or E variant of the Alpha Jet. The kit is broken down into 170 or so parts with separate inserts, antenna and noses for the various variants. It’s molded in light gray and comes in 3 styrene sprues, 1 sprue of clear parts and a small fret of photoetch parts.
Features and options include:
Details are good although the panel lines are somewhat heavy-handed though consistent. The parts also feel ‘thick’ and lack the finesse of stuff from Tamigawa. The clear parts are quite nice with minor distortion. All in all, it’s quite an improvement compared to my experience with their original F-16 releases.
The box comes with 3 marking options:
Interestingly, there are parts to build a Belgian B variant but no marking options for it.
I can summarize this as: ‘some basic modeling skills required.’
It’s definitely not as bad as their F-16 kit (which I threw in the towel after just trying to assemble the cockpit) but I pretty much had to dryfit, sand, trim and adjust almost every part. There were no sink marks and a minimum of ejector pin marks but most parts have some flash which required sanding off. At least the plastic was easy to sand and work with.
Some problem areas I want to note:
Like I said, ‘some basic modeling skills required’. However, while time consuming, not once did I really become frustrated and wanted to throw the kit against a wall. In the end I consider this kit to be a ‘good’ challenge. YMMV of course.
Heck, I even challenged myself to add scratchbuilt details:
Colors & Markings
This kit will be part of my Aggressor collection so naturally, I’ll be going with the Top Aces scheme. Looking at photos online, these aircraft look very clean with only minor weathering. Translated to the model kit, I think this clean finish will look quite flat so I decided to take a bit of artistic license.
I went ahead with adding a marble coat under the main colors to break up the monotony of the finish. I tried to make this marble coat lighter by using a medium and dark gray instead of the usual white. Then it was a matter of painting white, masking, blue, more masking and then the gray. Based on references, the demarcations are kept tighter than usual.
I don’t have the exact shade of blue on hand but I think the end result compares well to the photos online which were all taken under different lighting conditions.
One major thing Kinetic missed out are that the leading edges of the tailfin, wings, stabilizers and pylons are black. These are quite prominent in photos so were masked and sprayed. I’m not sure why this detail was missed although they didn’t miss the black for the splitter plates and intake lips. Kinetic also missed a small extension of black on the top side of the intake lips.Finishing
With that done, I added the final parts and painting the details like the wingtip lights, antennas, pitot tubes, pylons and fuel tanks. Every one of these things required some sort of trimming and adjustments before they fit so it took a while. Again, I had to check references as the instructions had missing part numbers or the wrong info.
In the end, I couldn’t couldn’t leave the fuel tanks alone. Checking references, it turns out the tanks attach directly to the pylons without the use of sway braces. So I pulled the braces off and inserted stretched sprue into the sockets in the tanks to create pins. These pins are then inserted into the sockets in the pylons. I think they look a lot better now.
All in all, not the smoothest of builds but I had a bit of fun with this one. It just took longer than expected. Kinetic has definitely improved from their earlier releases (I finished this one after all) but they are still a ways from the likes of Tamigawa.
This is definitely one of my ‘look from 2 feet away’ kits. Nonetheless, I’m glad to add this unique and IMO handsome aircraft to my finished column.
Number 4 of 2018
This is actually my son’s third finished kit (the second one has broken to pieces before any photos have been taken) but is his first figure.
Bernard, the owner of M Workshop kindly gave my son this small set when we dropped by his shop earlier this year. The figure is painted primarily with Vallejo Game Color.
He has already started on his next kit, a 1/48 scale Bf109. Hopefully he’ll see this one through.
The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft in service with the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and British Royal Navy in World War II. It was the only fighter available in the USN and USMC in the Pacific Theater during the early part of the war. It was outperformed in most categories by the A6M Zero but due to its ruggedness and newly developed tactics, it would claim an air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 6.9:1 for the entire war. 7,885 Wildcats would be built throughout the war even after newer and better fighters were introduced.
The F4F-4 variant of the Wildcat entered service in 1941 armed with 6 machine guns and a folding wing system. The F4F-4 is the definitive version of the Wildcat and saw the most combat service in the early war years.
Marian Eugene Carl was the USMC’s first ace in WWII. He began his career with VMF-211 and was re-assigned to VMF-223. In August 1942, VMF-223 was deployed to Guadalcanal, the first fighter unit ashore with the so-called Cactus Air Force. Over the next 2 months, Carl became the Marines’ first ace, running his tally to 16.5 victories. It is believed that 1 of his victories was against the Imperial Japanese Navy 27-victory ace Junichi Sasai. In 1943, VMF-223 returned to the Pacific. Carl would end his WWII service with 18.5 victories. He is the 7th highest ranking ace in the USMC.
My build depicts (eventual) Major General Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat ‘White 2′ as she appeared in September 1942.
By and large, there’s no better kit out there than a Tamiya one. This one is no different. Made out of about 50 parts, this kit is unfussy, with very nice molding and sharp details. Options are simple: the canopy can be posed open and 2 external fuel tanks. The landing gear however, cannot be modeled raised. There are decal options for 4 aircraft (VF-41, VMF-223, VGF-29 and VF-22) and the instruction sheet is an 8 page foldout assembly diagram. As usual with Tamiya, color callouts are only for Tamiya paints.
I’ve actually started on this kit a few years ago so all the major parts have already been cut from the sprues. Before putting everything together though I decided to add details to the cockpit.
The cockpit was already sprayed in Interior Green previously but since I decided to add some scratchbuilt shoulder and lap belts, this was repainted. The pilot was supposed to be able to look down and out the belly ports for better visibility so I cut open the cockpit’s floor plate. The result wasn’t really visible after assembly but hey, ‘I know it’s there’. Everything else was built out of the box.
The 6 wing machine guns came modeled solid. I tried to drill out the barrels but I messed it up quite badly so I ended up cutting them all off, drilled through into the wings, and made my own machine gun barrels with 0.5mm brass pipe. I think 5 of the barrels stick out slightly too much but I’ll live with it.
After sanding off the sprue marks, the kit came together quickly without much fit problems and a minimal of seamline fixing. I read somewhere that the external tanks were only introduced in 1943. Since I’m modeling a Wildcat in 1942, I left these off.
Colors & Markings
With my WWII kits, I try my best to model an ace’s aircraft or one with some sort of historical significance. This kit will receive the markings of Marian Eugene Carl’s F4F-4 Wildcat. The decals come from Techmod, a Polish decal company. The decals are very well done and reacted well to Mark Softer. They aren’t as thin as something from Cartograph though. The instruction from the Techmod sheet also comes with color call outs. I followed this instead of the kit’s.
Wildcats during this period flew with a simple 2 tone camouflage of a bluish gray over light gray. To break up the monotony, I added a marble coat in between the primer and main colors to add some variation to the finish. Usually I’m quite haphazard with the marble coat but I was more deliberate and careful this time. The result looks good. The demarcation line was done with blutack but I sprayed quite close so the line itself was quite solid.
As usual, I did a panel line wash with thinned raw umber oil paint. Once that has dried I went easy with the weathering.
After unmasking the canopy I realized I made some mistakes:
Still, not a bad build at all. The Wildcat definitely has a presence: it’s not pretty nor graceful as a Spitfire but it definitely looks tough and can take a ton of punishment.
Number 3 of 2018
Brand and Kit Number: Bandai 954034 and Masterbox 35193
Media: Injection Plastic
A Tactical Armor (TA) is a bipedal combat machine with artificial muscles featured in the anime television series Gasaraki. The Type 17EX Shinden is an improved model of the Type 17 Raiden manufactured by Gowa Industries. It features better armor distribution and more importantly, a much improved battery system that allows it to operate for up to 36 hours per charge. However, the strain and stress inflicted on the pilot has not been reduced and has proved to be unsuccessful to overcome.
Info from Gasaraki Wiki
In 1999, to support the anime television series, the Shinden was 1 of 3 Tactical Armor kits issued by Bandai. The kits were on-par with any of the Master Grade Gunpla kits of the time in that they featured: complete snapfit build, decent poseability and molding that was crisp and detailed, a plethora of weapon options and even boasted 2 figures (1 standing, 1 sitting). For 2018 though, the kit is showing its age with its lack of attempt to hide seamlines and the decent albeit limited poseability. However, these are still great kits with excellent representation of Shinki Aramaki and Yutaka Izubuchi’s mecha designs.
The Masterbox ‘Under Fire’ kit is the continuation in the series of US infantry figures in a modern warfare setting. The kit comes with 4 figures that when placed together tells the story of soldiers providing cover fire while a wounded soldier is being tended to. Each figure comes with its own weapons and pouches which by and large can be swapped around depending on the modeler’s preference. The molding is quite good with nice folds on the uniforms although there are prominent mold lines that need cleaning up. More importantly, the faces are well done and convey the emotions of the figures well.
I’ve had the Shinden snapfit together for close to a decade already by the time I restarted it. I’ve always wanted to place it in a vignette charging along with some soldiers but I was intimidated with painting figures and the Shinden didn’t look right placed in a running pose. When I saw Masterbox’s ‘Under Fire’ kit it gave me the idea to replace the SAW gunner in the kit with the Shinden providing cover for the wounded soldier. The soldiers would be hiding behind some sort of cover and the setting would be in wacka-wacka-kistan with a desert/semi-arid location.
Through the years, I’ve slowly worked on the Shinden by filling the hollow areas in the armor with epoxy putty (a mistake in hindsight) and fixing the prominent seamlines. The joints have held up relatively well and while one leg is slightly loose, it can still hold the final pose I had in mind. The kit comes with various weapons for the arms and I went with the chain gun and rocket launcher. The only modification I did on the kit was to replace the open palms with closed fists modified from the Bandai MS Hand 01 set.
The figures required some minor cleaning up of mold lines and filling of gaps with putty. Otherwise though, they fit well and look quite dynamic.
Colors & Markings
Since my Shinden is set somewhere that’s not in Japan like the anime, I figure I can go crazy with the color scheme and markings. The scene is to be a semi-arid place so I went with a desert scheme. To break the monotony of having the mecha, figures and base in brown, I mixed in a dark bluish gray color for the Shinden. One of the shoulders was painted in red as a unit indicator.
The figures are painted in colors of my own making but it resembles a desertized tiger stripe camo. In a call out to my old Crossfire airsoft team logo, I added some red inverted triangle patches on the shoulders.
The Shinden was given my by now standard weathering treatment of chipping with acrylic paint. Meanwhile, oil paints were used for washing, filters and streaks. I have to conclude that I really botched the seamline fixing as there are still visible ones in various spots. There’s just too many of them in this close to 2 decade kit.
The figures were washed with Army Painter Quickshade which were very effective in popping the details of the folds of the uniforms. This was my time painting whole figures and I think I did a decent job although my work on the faces still needs work: they lack the finesse of the great work I see on the ‘net.
The base is cork on balsa. The look of the environment was based on the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. The main cover the soldiers will hide behind is meant to look like a part of an aircraft fuselage that has broken off. I made this with plastic plates and various pipes, I and round beams. I also added a PE mesh piece and made other wreckage from plastic plates. Making the base look damaged and grimy was definitely fun.
Number 2 of 2018
Brand : Max Factory Combat Armor Max 02
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
Fang of the Sun Dougram (Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu) is a 75 episode anime TV series created by Ryōsuke Takahashi that aired in Japan from 1981 to 1983.
In Space Century (SC) 152, an independence movement is growing on the planet Deloyer. Crinn Cashim, the son of the leader of the Earth Federation government on Deloyer, pilots the Dougram and fights for the ‘Fang of the Sun’, a small team of guerillas fighting for the independence of Deloyer.
The Roundfacer is the standard Combat Armor deployed by the Federation. It is versatile and would revolutionize mechanized warfare. It is easy to produce and would serve the Federation throughout the war with the insurgents. It is armed with a handheld linear gun, a shoulder-mounted 7-tube missile pod and 4 arm-mounted 25mm chain guns.
Info from Wikipedia and instruction manual
Note: Western audiences would probably recognize this mecha as the GRF-1N Griffin, a BattleMech from the board game Battletech.
This is the second release in Max Factory’s modern take on the mecha from Fang of the Sun Dougram. The kits are by and large snapfit and come with water slide decals. Somewhat poseable with the use of polycaps, they also have a retro aesthetic to match the design sensibilities from the 1980s. Parts breakdown is quite simple and can be easily separated into subassemblies. However there are some oddities: the pilot figure will need to be cemented in place since there’s nothing holding it in the cockpit and the right hand won’t hold the gun properly. A pleasant surprise though is the canopy which already comes with a pre-painted frame.
The overall fit is a mixed bag. Some of the joints fit well, others are loose. The shoulder ball joints are about 1mm too large so there’s no positive fit to the sockets on the body. Luckily for me, the easiest fix worked: I carefully sanded down one side of each ball joint. In any case, the overall design of parts are quite simple where Max Factory doesn’t try to avoid obvious seamlines. All in all, it slots in between a modern Bandai and Wave kit.
Colors & Markings
I went with a modified version of the standard colors for the Roundfacer. It’s now a 2-tone green painted in a splinter pattern. The 2 shades of green (RLM 2 and RLM 71) are what the Luftwaffe used for their machines in WW2. Otherwise, I followed what is shown in the instructions.
As usual I went easy on the decals. I initially wanted to add a custom artwork on the shoulder shield but changed my mind in the last minute. The kit decals are a mixed bag: they separated quickly from the backings but they have a satin finish to them and the white colored decals tore easily. Initially it looks like they didn’t react well with Mark Softer. Thankfully though, once cured and given another spray of gloss, they actually looked quite good.
I decided to weather this kit slightly more than usual which I wrote about here. TL:DR, it was panel lining with oil paint, then panel filtering with oil paint, then chipping and drybrushing with acrylic paint, then streaking with oil paint, then dusting with Tamiya Weathering Master, and lastly adding dirt on the feet with pigments. I also made sure to cover some of the paint that had flaked off with chipping. Unfortunately the weathering revealed some seamlines that I didn’t fix properly. Oh well, lesson learned and moving on.
So that’s it. My first completed kit of the year. And one that was relatively trouble-free. While not the best fitting, I like this series of kits. Definitely more to come.
Number 1 of 2018