Time to thin my SF3D/Ma.K stash! This is a PKA Gustav from Nitto when Maschinen Krieger was still known as SF3D. It has since been superseded by a snapfit release from Wave. While this is definitely showing its age with its 1980s engineering and fit, it’s a multimedia kit: it includes brass rods, wires, springs and brass mesh to detail the kit up. But it’s so old school it can’t even hold it’s one accesory, the Panzerfaust. 😛
Unlike the Wave kits, this one doesn’t come with the pain in the ass rubber joints. They are instead solid pieces like Gunpla without the fabric-looking covers. The limbs are attached via polycaps but aren’t really poseable: the arms swing and you can bend them slighly. I decided to make the covers with epoxy putty with the folds molded using the flat end of a Tamiya paint stirrer. Since I had some spare epoxy putty left, I also added cushions to the seat and headrest.
Due to how it’s designed, I have to build up the full interior before closing everything together. The majority would be in shadow but the pilot will need some decent painting done as I was planning to leave the visor open. Interestingly, the pilot has access to a PDW in the form of a small sub-machinegun inside the suit. It’s molded with the magazine separate and they are attached to a plate which fits to the back of the suit. Once the pilot is attached this whole piece can’t be seen.
As for the pilot, it took me 4 attempts before I managed what is seen here. It’s definitely not great, but it’ll have to do. I’ll just make sure people see it from 3 feet away.
The legs flop around even with the polycaps and are really only holding a walking pose due to the careful bending of the brass rods that are inside the springs. The instruction indicates that the clear piece on the chest can be wired for an LED (not included) but I replaced this with a Kotobukiya round mold. The original included copper wire running under the chest piece was replaced with easier to bend lead wire. I also added 2 round molds on the chest as small added details.
This kit has some very obvious seamlines which will need fixing and once that’s done, I’m ready to paint.
Brand and Kit Number: Fine Molds
Media: Injection Plastic
The BTL-A4 Y-Wing Starfighter is a single-seat assault fighter-bomber. Heavily armed with laser cannons, ion cannons, proton torpedos and proton bombs, it was deployed by the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars and the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War.
The BTL-A4 traces its lineage to the BTL-B used during the Clone Wars which were crewed by a single pilot and a gunner in a domed turret behind the cockpit. By the time of the Galactic Civil War, most Y-wings had their engine nacelles and body panels stripped down to the bare minimum to ease maintenance. This resulted with them sporting a skeletal appearance. The gunner’s turret was also replaced with a pair of fixed forward firing ion cannons.
The BTL-A4 variant would see action in the Battle of Scarif, the Battle of Yavin, the Battle of Hoth, the Battle of Endor and the Battle of Jakku.
Y-wing info from Wikipedia
The kit comes with 5 trees molded in light gray and 1 small clear tree for the canopy. The only options provided are a pilot and landing gear in both up and down positions. The lowered landing gear are attached with polycaps. The base comes as 1 tree and is somewhat overly engineered for what it is.
Fine Molds has a reputation of very nicely done kits and this one is no different. Molding is very crisp for its vintage (2007) with barely any flash on the parts. There are however ejector pin marks on the support pylons and particular deep ones on the restractied landing gear pads. The pilot could be nicer but I think it looks fine once under the canopy. The breakdown of the parts seem to indicate that seamlines would either be hidden by other parts or wouldn’t be obvious.
Markings provided are for Gold Leader, Gold 2 and Gold 3 with the decals replicating the various wear and tear on them. The decals are printed well and in register although I can’t vouch for the quality due to its age.
So after the ‘fun’ that was the Alpha Jet, I decided I needed a sanity build. Something that fits well and I can bang it out in a much shorter time. Luckily this kit was easily reachable in my stack.
And per Fine Molds’ reputation, this kit came together very quickly and generally pain-free with the only fitting problems I have are attaching some of the piping and the retracted landing gear. The parts that cover around the nacelles also needed some adjustments to fit properly. All in all though, very much trouble-free and I was done in no time.
Colors & Markings
First up was a gray jumpsuit instead of the usual orange for the pilot. I decided to go with a custom color scheme instead of the usual (tragic) Gold Squadron Y-wing. I’ve always remembered the Y-wing to have orange markings so that’s what I went with. Then it’s a matter of masking the pattern on the nose and nacelles. I went with orange and a medium gray for the patterns and the result gave me a 1970s vibe.
I didn’t use the decals at all for this build.
The fun begins with an overall panel wash of Raw Umber oil paint. I tried to be more precise but with the Y-wing having so much gribble, the oil wash inevitably filtered some of the panels. The effect looks alright though.
Then I filtered some of the panels with red and blue oil paint to add some subtle discoloration. Lastly I added chipping over the whole kit with a sponge and some minor handpainting.
Overall and extremely trouble-free and enjoyable build. Given another go I would have made sure the orange was more discolored. But I’m moving on and calling this done.
Number 5 of 2018
Painting begins with my usual black base using Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black.
I’m trying a different marble coat this time with patches of various colors. I wanted to see these would have effect on the main colors.
The primary color for the Y-wing is thinned Game Color Dead White. The nice thing about priming in black is the spots that aren’t hit by the main color simply become shadows.
I’ve always remembered the Y-wing chevrons to be orange (in reality they are a faded yellow) so I’m going ahead with this color instead. Out come the masking tape. It took a while to get the tape to conform around the many gribbles on the nacelles.
The color scheme I’m going for is Game Color Fiery Orange and AMMO Medium Gunship Grey on the nose and nacelles. The result has an unexpected 1970s vibe to it. 😀
Weathering is next. The Astromech was handpainted and attached then everything was given a gloss coat. First up is panel washing with Raw Umber oil paint.
It was a bit hard to be precise about it on the gribble so I basically ended up with a filter on some of the areas.
Before proceeding with chipping, I added some red and blue filters to random spots. These are quite subtle and my camera couldn’t quite ‘see’ them. Not enough dynamic range I guess. They look OK in person though.
Anyway next was sponge chipping. I still find it a challenge to make the chipping totally random but this stage is quite fun. 😀
Some close-up shots of the chipping. I made it heavier on the port side since the pilot enters and exits the Y-wing from this side so there would be more scuff marks.
To add more subtle variation, I handpainted lightened orange and gray to the main colors.
I added more chipping to the landing skid since these would impact the ground and get scuffed. I also added soot stains to the proton torpedo launchers using Tamiya Weathering Master. Not quite sure what these weapons use for propulsion but hey… the stains add to the overall look.
And I’m more or less done. I’ll let the kit marinate overnight and see if it requires more chipping tomorrow. Then the canopy’s clear insert will go on last.
Time for a more stress-free build in the shape of this Star Wars kit from the folks at Fine Molds. As usual with anything that looks like an aircraft, the cockpit is built first. It’s on the simple side but once the pilot is in place, most the things here can’t be seen.
With some paint, wash and highlights, the cockpit looks quite good.
The pilot is decently detailed and I gave it my own color scheme instead of the usual orange jumpsuit.
The pilot leans somewhat back in the cockpit due to the low roofline.
The kit comes with an elaborate base so I decided to mount the kit my own way. There’s a circular shape on the bottom which I drilled out and inserted a piece of rod that’s wider than the one which will attach to the base. I hope this section will add some friction to the mounting rod and reduce the spinning that might occur.
The Y-wing is a huge starfighter.
4 curved plates and a round dome make up each nacelle. Where each plate connects the support pylon will cover the seamline.
Details are great. I’ll just take it at face value that Fine Molds got all the gribbles right. I think the newer Bandai kit will have sharper details but this one’s no slouch at all.
I’ve heard good things about Fine Molds and these seem to hold up: the kit fits very well for the most part even though there are ejection pin marks on the support pylons and the bottom of the landing skids that require filler.
Anyway, due to how well the kit fits, construction is done in no time at all.
Painting’s next. I’ll be going with a custom scheme instead of the usual Gold Squadron colors.
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