It’s actually quite strange that Bandai still hasn’t issued any of the Federation mobile suits in the MSV line but have done so for the much newer Origin MSV. Oh well, if I knew what’s going on, I’d be the product line manager for Bandai. In any case, I sought to modify the Origin MSV GM Cannon Space Assault Type into the original bog standard GM Cannon from MSV.
The kit is a P-Bandai limited release so it comes with a monochrome boxart. Besides the simplified instructions, everything is as it should be: sharply molded parts that snapfit without any issues.
To replicate the original GM Cannon’s legs, I took the legs from the GM Thunderbolt kit. Thankfully they attach without modifications.
I like the overall look but the thighs look ‘off’: too bulky. It also had canvas covered leg joints. I decided to see if I can modify the Space Type’s thighs to fit the GM Thunderbolt lower legs.
I began by keeping the knee sections on the Space Type’s lower legs, then experimented with plastic rod and plates for gribbling.
The ability to bend at the knees is retained but the assembly doesn’t snapfit into the lower legs. Nothing that cement 1.0 won’t fix.
Playing around with other sized rods, I managed to replicate some pistons. I also added a tab with plastic sheet on the bottom.
It now slots into the er… slot I made inside the lower leg. The inside of the lower legs were blanked off using plastic plate.
The pistons aren’t obvious once the leg is assembled but ‘I know it’s there’.
The side of the knee looked empty so I added minus molds from Kotobukiya for more detail.
I think the new leg looks better. Now I just have to replicate it for the other leg.
Part 1 – Construction | Part 2 – Construction
Trying to get my building routine going again, I decided to tackle a 1/48 kit next. This will be an F-104J flown by the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force dressed in ‘Aggressor’ markings in the 1970s.
I got this kit used from an online seller and it came with a set of aftermarket resin wheel bays from CMK. I decided to not use them though.
Some parts also came assembled and painted. Quite nicely done I might add.
I completed the ejection seat and cockpit which have nicely molded raised details.
Hasegawa has a reputation of making extra effort in designing kits operated by the JASDF and it shows here.
The details are sublime with very nicely done rivets.
A dryfit shows that overall fitting is good.
There’s a bit of a messy fit between the back of the main wheel bay and fuselage but it’s minor. The landing gear fits into the fuselage without cement using polycaps. Nice.
Check out the fit of the wingroot!
I took a short family holiday to Vietnam over the Ramadan holidays and on the schedule was a visit to the War Remnants Musuem in Ho Chi Minh City. Before normalization of relations with the US, this museum was called “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression”. Ahhh Vietnam, not burying the lead at all. Anyway, the military geek in me was excited.
The Musuem is 3 floors with different sections. On the main court are captured American equipment filled with aircraft and ground armored vehicles. Of note to me is the wrongly applied markings on the F-5A as it was flown by the South Vietnamese Air Force and not the USAF.
As I was in a guided tour and had limited time, I was specifically led into 2 rooms only: the Agent Orange exhibit and a photographic exhibit of horrible acts the US enacted on Vietnam. The photos are graphic and disturbing and going for maximum impact. Off the top of my head there were photos from effects of Agent Orange, the My Lai Massacre, photos of villagers ran over by tanks and mass executions and graves. None of them censored and accompanied by damning descriptions. It’s a lot to take in. Taking center stage was also the famous photo of Napalm Girl. One particular curious exhibit was a piece of fuselage from (purportedly) a downed B-52 Stratofortress.
There was also a gallery where they showed captured small arms. Interestingly, there were FN FALs (which are Belgian) and UZIs (Israeli) on display. Of interest to me are what looks to be field modified M79 grenade launcher and a (to me) unknown grenade launcher with heat shield attached to an M-16.
There are a lot more displays that I didn’t have time to see. If I ever come back to Vietnam I’ll definitely visit this place again. It’s a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in military history. As to the perspective being shown here, I’ll just say that history is written by the winners. But I think both sides would agree that war is hell.
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.
- WIP : Tamiya 1/72 F-16CM Fighting Falcon Pt.2 – Construction
- WIP : Tamiya 1/72 F-16CM Fighting Falcon Pt.1 – Construction
- Completed : Hasegawa 1/48 Lockheed/Mitsubishi F-104J Starfighter
- WIP : Hasegawa 1/48 F-104J Starfighter Pt. 6 – Finishing
- WIP : Hasegawa 1/48 F-104J Starfighter Pt. 5 – Finishing