Media: Injection Plastic
The Vought F-8E Crusader was a single-engined, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft which replaced the Vought F7U Cutlass in the US Navy and Marine Corps fleets. Known for its distinctive variable-incidence wing which pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing, it served principally in the Vietnam War and was the last American-designed fighter with guns (4 x 20mm Colt Mk.12s) as the primarily weapon. Due to this, it earned the title of ‘The Last of the Gunfighters’. 1,219 would eventually be built serving with the US Navy, US Marine Corps, Philippine Air Force and the Aeronavale (French Naval Aviation).
Despite the moniker however, F-8s only achieved 4 victories with their cannon out of the official 19. The rest were accomplished with the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile as the cannons had a tendency to jam during high-speed maneuvers. The F-8 would serve for 2 decades and would be retired by the US Navy in 1976 with the reconnaissance variant serving on for another 11 years. The last F-8 in service would retire from the Aeronavale in 2000.
On 12 June 1966, VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ squadron CO Harold ‘Hal’ Marr would claim the first air-to-air victory for the F-8 over the skies of Vietnam. Flying Nickel 103 on Combat Air Patrol northwest of Haiphong, Marr and his wingman engaged 4 Mig-17s and he would get his first victory with an AIM-9D Sidewinder. He would proceed to get an unofficial 2nd ‘kill’ using his guns in the same engagement. The model depicted here carries the markings of this particular F-8E.
More info on Wikipedia.
‘Nickel 103’ info from Wolfpak Decals.
My first memory of the F-8 is the aircraft piloted by the main character of the anime/manga Area 88. I didn’t know much about the series but it was about combat aircraft so I was automatically sold. The Academy release of the F-8E is currently the best (as of 2015) and most modern in the market.
This is another shelf queen from 2012 that I’m finishing OOB. The build was straightforward without much fitting problems besides the size of some of the parts. As per usual with modern subjects, there are a lot of small parts that need to be attached to the kit and they can be quite fragile. The only part that proved more challenging is the fit of the main wing. It’s made up of a top and bottom half which requires some sanding down to fit together. I didn’t do this properly so there is a step at the bottom of each wing. The other issue is the canopy which fit fine only if I left out the back section on the inside. There’s also no option to leave the canopy open. The surface is very detailed with fine rivets everywhere. Sure, they make for very nice details but are a pain to sand around. I managed to obliterate a lot of them. I didn’t bother redoing the rivets as I value my sanity and eyesight.
I originally wanted to use the VF-111 markings included in the box but after seeing Wolfpak Decals’ offering of the historic VF-211 F-8 I decided to switch. The VF-111 had an interesting sharkmouth on the intake but the tail looked boring.
Some things to mention about Wolfpak Decals: The historical research on each subject on their sheet is simply amazing. Each subject is fully described with type history, specific subject history, mods required on kits and weapons data (if any). However, they only provide the main markings for the aircraft. The markings are not numbered, there are no stencils at all and the placement sheets aren’t very clear so there were some eyeball 1.0 guesstimates needed.
I used the following paints for this kit:
Some notes for my reference for future projects:
All in all, I’m very satisfied with this build. It was quite pain-free and the kit is surprisingly big, sleek, fine detailed and with the colorful markings, looks very good on display.
The next project is a new kit instead of finishing a shelf queen. My friend said that this kit was quite straightforward compared to the Hasegawa. Let’s see shall we?
First impressions are good so far. The panel lines aren’t as fine as Hasegawa’s but aren’t as deep as the Revell’s. Shape looks alright too. Best of all, unlike Hasegawa, Hobbyboss went the route of remolding whole pieces for the various F-14 versions instead of changing a small panel here and there which should make for less fiddly fitting.
Anyway first up is a quick wash with soap as the kit is covered with a coat of mold release. I then assembled the ejection seats. It wasn’t surprising that there are no molded-on seat belts but disappointingly, the very prominent ejection handles on the headrests are missing. In addition, the back cushion also looks off but I’m not too concerned with it.
I decided to do something about the missing ejection handles. I remember reading about a simple method of scratchbuilding the handles by using some wire and a custom jig from Andy Mullen’s site (since offline). The custom jig is made of 2 straight sections cut from a straightened paperclip that were hammered into a wooden base. Then it’s a simple matter of threading a brass rod (mine is a Wave Option System C-Line 0.5mm) through the jig and adjusting to taste with pliers. The handles look slightly oversized to my eye but barring finding a thinner wire, I think I’ll go with these. After some more adjustments, they should look fine behind a coat of paint and under the canopy.
This was actually a 2nd attempt at it. I initially used nails for the jig and craft wire for the ejection handles but the result looked more appropriate for a 1/48 scale seat (the silver handles in the below pic).
Since this is an F-14B, the gun vents are the correct NACA version. Also of note here is that the nose gear doors are molded on! Excellent for those who want to model this kit with the gear down, but pretty much a non-starter for folks who want to build this in-flight. The ECM blister on the gear door is also correct for the F-14B.
Most impressive is Hobbyboss molded the reinforcement plate surrounding the co-pilot’s step which is a feature on the F-14B.
The wings are designed to swing in and out which I don’t care much for since I prefer how the F-14 looks with wings swept anyway. I think I’ll need to figure out a way to modify the wings so that I can attach after painting though.
I then decided to do a quick dry fit to see how well the kit comes together: so far so good! More importantly, looks a lot like an F-14 Tomcat to me!
In the 1990s, the F-14 was adapted to drop bombs and the starboard weapons pylon was modified to have a LANTIRN pod mounted for precision strike. The kit includes the LANTIRN-specific vertical pylon but doesn’t come with the LANTIRN pod itself and the attachment rail for the pod. I got a LANTIRN pod and pylon from the Hasegawa Weapons Set VII. The Hasegawa pylon fits about 5mm longer than the shoulder pylon but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.
Hobbyboss also includes some nicely done LAU-138 BOL missile rails which is accurate for the F-14 in the 1990s onwards.
Another detail that Hobbyboss missed are the bomb racks on the underbelly missile palettes. I also got these from the Hasegawa Weapons Set VI. I’m going ahead with only the 2 forward ones mounted with 2 GBU-12s, which is one of the more common configurations for the F-14B in the 2000s.
Hobbyboss has molded identical looking fuel tanks which have center aligned pylons. The pylons are supposed to be offset to one side. It’s a hassle to try to correct and since they aren’t obvious when mounted, I left them as is.
So most of the major components have been dealt with, next comes proper assembly.
Media: Injection Plastic
Well, it’s an egg-shaped Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. What’s not to like?
This kit was originally released in the 1980s. The original came with a globe base. This release doesn’t but it does come with a chibi Russian soldier holding a pair of binoculars. The figure isn’t that great as it has a big seamline running down the whole side of the it so it’s consigned to the spares box.
The SR-71 itself has both recessed and raised panel lines and construction was straightforward: it’s really not easy to fowl this up. It doesn’t come with a pilot figure but I added one from the F-22 Eggplane. Even though the canopy windows are big, it’s still a challenge to see the pilot. There’s supposed to be a small part that attaches onto the top of the canopy but I lost it. Oops.
Painting this is as easy as it gets since everything including the landing gear is black. I find that in real-life, nothing is really pure black in color so I used Vallejo Air Black Grey instead. The cockpit is Vallejo Grey Primer with a decal for the control panel. The nosegear has a light molded on it and was colored with a Sakura silver ink pen with Future brushed over.
The figure proved to be more challenging than the eggcraft itself as I’ve only ever painted less than 3 figures previously: basically I’m really not so good at it. I used various Vallejo paints onhand and handpainted everything. She looks jaundiced but should look OK behind the canopy windows (^_^). I had to sand off about 5mm off the bottom before the canopy fit over the figure which is strange because it fit fine before painting. The engines were simply sprayed with Vallejo Metallic Black Metal and set aside till final assembly.
The decals went on quite nicely over a coat of Future. They are a bit thick but nothing that Mark Softer couldn’t handle. I decided to do 17967 with its high-viz markings but with the other SR-71’s mission markings on the canopy. I left out most of the smaller markings that are in red and yellow since I couldn’t see them after I put them on. I also didn’t do panel lining on this one as 1) I’ve never tried it on an all-black kit before and 2) I didn’t think it will enhance the look anyway. After the Future has cured I flatcoated with a rattle can Krylon matt coat.
Eggplanes are a nice detour to endless seamline fixing that I have to go through with other kits. They are quite eggdictive!
I spent some time fiddling with the canopy to get it to fit flush with the fuselage but it seems like the tolerance is very tight and the Future coat actually made the canopy thicker. I ended up resorting to some sanding and leaving out the back section of the canopy.
And then it was time for the decals. I decided to use the F-8E Crusader markings from the Wolfpak Decals 72-039 ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ sheet. These were the markings worn by an F-8E from VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ which claimed the first air-to-air victory by this aircraft. Ironically it achieved this with a missile and not with its guns.
The Wolfpak decals proved a bit resistant to Mark Softer and I had to use several passes before they really snuggled down the panel lines. Otherwise though, they are pretty easy to use. I think the blue on the stars and bars are too light but went ahead with it since I’m no expert and the kit provided ones are sized differently.Â the ‘NP 103’ markings on the starboard wing silvered but that is due to my less than smooth gloss coat. Chalk that one up to my usual challenge with Future.
As for the stencils I decided to put on all the major ones and skipped all the ‘no steps’. It makes for a cleaner looking plane and less of a headache on the modeler. The stencils are from the kit and are designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograph. Very nicely done and easy to use.
After a day of curing and wipedown with a wet cloth to remove decal residue, I then sprayed on another layer of Future over the decals. A minor disaster struck: the Future spattered and I ended up with some orange peel. I fixed whatever I could with a Windex-soaked cotton bud and hope that the final finishing flat coat will hide it.
After this last layer has cured, I then proceeded to do the wash and panel lining. The wash inside the speed brake revealed injection pin marks but luckily all will be hidden by the speed brake itself. 🙂
For the main fuselage panel lines, I tried to do pin washes but the Vallejo Wash didn’t travel down the panel lines as smoothly as I hoped. This was even though I have thinned the wash quite significantly. I probably need to add something else to break the surface tension. But that’s for a different project.
So for this kit, I simply brushed roughly on all the panel lines. Leave to dry a bit, then wipe away with a Windex soaked tissue paper.
I originally used water for wipe down but it’s not as effective, especially when the wash has dried. I had to be careful with the Windex though as it can dissolve Future. Anyway, maybe it’s time to consider something else for the gloss coat before panel lining.
So panel lining is quickly over and done with. Next is putting everything together. First up are the landing gear. The gear doors took some finessing due to their small size but stayed put with some extra thin cement running down the joints. I managed to launch a part of the nose gear into the ether but found it on the floor a few hours later. Ding! Disaster #1 averted.
The main landing gear were attached with the help of both cement and super glue. The dive brake looked like it would clear the bottom of the main landing gear but it turned out OK.
Then I attached the pitot tube with extra thin cement. The front canopy is actually framed with yellow which Academy provides as decals. I’ll have to add them after my final coat.
Next are the tiny clear parts on top and bottom of the fuselage. I attach these with PVA glue. The top part went on fine and was painted clear red but I managed to catapult the bottom clear part into the jungle that is my room. Ding! Official Disaster #1!
Thankfully, the wing lights didn’t come in separate clear parts so all I had to do is paint silver as a base then clear blue on the starboard wing and clear red on the port wing. Much much easier than having to fiddle with the really small parts. Note the problem with the decal on the wing there. Oh well.
The paint on part of the port horizontal stab chipped off. No big deal there so I sand it down and respray the white color (which is actually just white primer). And… the colors don’t match. Much gnashing of teeth followed. Ding! Disaster #2!
The solution I came up with is simple: I cheat. I masked and sprayed white primer on the whole panel on both stabs. And since they are at the bottom, it’s easy enough to get away with. They were then very carefully pushed into the fuselage.
The fit was very tight so I didn’t use cement. There is a slight dihedral of the stabs but otherwise, both are exactly the same. I also added the engine into the exhaust which also fit without need for cement.
Hi-viz aircraft were apparently glossy in real-life so I went with a satin coat for the final clear layer. This time, I tried out Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish. Even thinned 50% with water it refuses to be sprayed by my 0.3mm airbrush. I ended up using the 0.5mm airbrush and it went on very smoothly and easily.
Once that has cured I removed the masking on the canopy (not perfect but not disaster worthy) and finally add the canopy frame decals. The main canopy frame is made up of 4 separate decals. While very small, they went on without much problems. The IRST ball and the lights were then given a brush of Future to shine them back up.
Last on were warning decals on the exhaust and I’m finally done! 😀