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.
First introduced in 2008, the VF-1 was developed for the UN Spacy using Overtechnology obtained from the Macross alien spaceship. It would remain as the mainstay fighter throughout what would be called Space War 1. The VF-1 is capable of space flight and is able to have FAST packs attached to it to increase performance and ordinance.
The VF-1 is designed to be able to transform into a bipedal humanoid ‘Battroid’ mode and a hybrid ‘Gerwalk’ mode where the VF-1 takes on the look of a fighter jet with a pair of arms and legs. In Gerwalk mode, the VF-1 has the additional capability of VTOL operations and is able to skim the surface like a hovercraft. In Battroid mode, the VF-1 is pretty much capable of replicating human movements and most importantly, go into hand-to-hand combat with enemies.
The VF-1S is an uprated variant of the standard VF-1 built by Northrom. It features a modified head with 4 lasers, improved engines and avionics and is assigned to squadron leaders and CAGs.
The VF-1 can be augmented with the Shinnakasu Heavy Industry FAST Pack system with six micro-missiles in two NP-AR-01 micro-missile launcher pods (mounted rearwardly under center ventral section in Fighter mode), and two HMMP-02 micro-missile launcher pods. This configuration is called the Super Valkyrie. The HMMP-02 pod can be replaced by the optional Mauler RO-X2A high-powered double-action beam cannon pod (mounted on dorsal section) which changes the VF-1’s designation to Strike Valkyrie.
The Super Strike Valkyrie* variant is armed with 4 FAST packs (2 overhead, 2 underwing) with 2 HMMP-02 pods and 2 RO-X2A beam cannon pods. It is a further modification of the S-FAST pack / Config ver. 1.1 w variant. It is assigned the first strike role and a secondary space defence role. The mission is to quickly intercept the enemy before they get too close to the fleet.
*The Super Strike Valkyrie is my own variant
The base VF-1 kit was first released in 2000. In 2001, the Super and Strike Valkyrie variants were issued. In 2004, Hasegawa released an all-in-1 boxing where you can build either a Super or Strike Valkyrie. Options were also provided for the A/J or S variants.
Revolutionary at the time, the parts were designed to be able to be built in sub-assemblies so you can paint them separately before finally assembling it together. Now that it’s 2019 though, it is showing its age with most of the components broken down to the very basic left and right halves so there are seamlines everywhere.
With that in mind though, the mold is still holding up with a minimal of flash and very finely done panel lines as per Hasegawa’s usual standards. 4 marking options are provided: all of them are for the ‘Macross: Do You Remember Love?’ color schemes. No pilots or missiles are included (you need the weapons set for these). Out of the box, there’s also no gear up option.
Well, the base kit is the same as the VF-1A I built in 2017 so the same comments apply. I did go with a gear up option so some cutting, trimming and adjusting was required for the gear bay doors to fit properly. The most modifications done were on the Super PACKs which would fit under the wings. The female mounting point needed to be filled up and a slot required for the underwing pylon to fit in. I followed the reference pic of the S-FAST pack / Config ver. 1.1 w and armed my VF-1S with AMM-1 and RMS-1 missiles. First strike role so it needs a lot of missiles to do its job. 🙂
The kit is made up of components from 2 separate boxings. but I replaced those that I didn’t assemble properly with new more carefully done ones. Yes it means I have a ton of spares now which can’t be assembled into another VF-1. Oh well.
I pre-painted quite a lot of parts that I foresee would be hard to reach later on. I should have pre-painted the inside of the FAST packs also but didn’t. These would prove to be hard to reach during the painting stage. Lesson learned.
Colors & Markings
I figured only someone as brave (or reckless) as Milia Jenius would fly this configured VF-1 but I didn’t want to paint the whole kit in her red color. It’s… well… too red. So I decided to go with a white VF-1 with red highlights in a splinter pattern. It took quite a bit of masking but was straightforward enough. For the FAST packs I ended up with a darker color than I originally planned but I think they still work with the main color scheme.
I had 2 sets of decals. 1 is old and yellowed but I needed some of the markings from this sheet for the Super packs. All went well until the last piece which started tearing. I ended up fixing it with some red from unused markings on the new sheet. The shade of red didn’t quite match but you won’t know until you stared at it. It’ll have to do.
The new decals went on without a hitch and as usual, reacted very well with Mark Softer. I gave Milia the nose number of ’03’ figuring Hikaru Ichijyo is ’01′ and Maximilian Jenius is ’02’. Stencils were as usual kept to a minimum.
The kit went through my usual stages of weathering of panel wash, fading and filtering but no chipping this time. For the dark FAST packs I panel washed with a medium gray instead of the dark brown I always use. All the clear parts were installed and painted before the components come together.
Final assembly took quite a bit of patience. Some careful planning was required and the components were attached in a specific sequence to reduce the chance of screwing up on my part.
And I’m done! Killing 2 kits in 1 go might be a waste to some, but for me, it’s well worth it to have such a heavily armed variant.
Time to put everything together! First i attached all the vernier nozzles on the FAST packs. I kept these glossy just like the thrusters.
Since I only have 1 clear parts tree I’m stuck with only 1 lens for the beam cannons. I made up a pair of lenses from battery blister pack instead, painted these clear orange and glossed them up with a brush of Future.
The beam cannon FAST packs are then attached to the backpack. They fit canted slightly inwards so I added 0.25mm plates to the attachment points to keep them perpendicular.
The head and the GU-11 gunpod were then attached.
The pilot and canopy were then added. Turns out the black on the canopy is a different shade than the black on the nose. To get them to match better, I handpainted flat black over the nose pattern.
The clear parts are painted accordingly with transparent red and blue and attached with Gator Glue. Future was brushed on to give them a shine.
The stores were added in an inside to outside sequence: FAST pack, RMS-1 missile then AMM-1 missiles. These were attached with CA glue.
The legs/engines were then attached with good dollops of cement.
The base is a piece of round balsa. I drilled a hole and added a short length of metal pipe for reinforcement. The block was sprayed in AK Black Grey and given a coat of gloss.
The rod attached to the kit slots into to the pipe in the base.
Last on is the backpack with the beam cannons.
And I’m done! Quite happy with how this turned out.