Painting the bare metal finish is next. I’ve had good results from the Vallejo Metal Color line which are acrylics, a more exotic choice than the usual lacquers like Alclad.
I begin by masking off the colored areas with masking tape and paper.
First on is Metal Color Aluminium.
The paint goes on easily when slightly thinned.
I then removed all the masking tape to check the work. Unfortunately I didn’t do a good job masking off the antiglare panel.
So after more masking, I repainted the dark green color. There were also minor spots that needed fixing which I settled at this point.
The fuel tanks were straightforward.
Based on photos I’ve seen, there are variations of color at the aft end of the fuselage so I’ll be trying to replicate it. I don’t have a reference photo of this exact F-104J I’m building so this is an artistic license call.
More masking. But I was concerned that the tape might lift the metallic paint so I made sure to stick the tape to my pants first before applying on the kit. The next color I used was Metal Color Duralanium for the left and right panels.
Once that has cured, I then masked these off and painted the middle panel Metal Color Dull Aluminium. I’m quite happy with the results. I think the middle panel should be darker but I’ll live with it!
I then attached the wings to check the work. The old school vibe is strong in this one…
Decals and finishing are next!
Painting begins with a black base with Tamiya XF-1 Black.
The F-104J I’m modeling is a unit from the 202nd Hikotai, 5th Kokuden out of Nyutabaru Air Base in 1979. It sported a custom scheme over its all metal finish when it flew as an aggressor. So out come Tamiya XF-2 Flat White for the marble coat.
As usual, I’m not not precise about it.
First up the blue. The TwoBobs instructions call for FS 15102. I used Mig AMMO Dark Gray Blue for this.
I thinned it with thinner and added a few drops of flow improver and glaze medium to reduce the opacity. So even after a few layers of paint, the marble coat still shows.
There’s a white band inside the blue so I started masking.
I went with a base of black then Model Air Insignia White. Looks like I thinned it too much though and it didn’t spray right.
So I buffed down the blobs and re-sprayed with Tamiya XF-2 Flat White instead.
The white band also wraps around the bottom.
The nose is also not in bare metal so this also gets a marble coat.
There are also 2 colors for the nose. Instructions say FS 36251. I used Vallejo Model Air Aggressor Grey.
Once cured, I masked out the antiglare panel.
AK Interactive Dark Green for FS 34079.
The wings went through the same treatment as the fuselage so I start with a base of black.
Then a marble coat of white.
The top side is white so it’s Tamiya XF-2 Flat White over Model Air Insignia White. The bottom of the wings are FS 36375 gray and I used Model Air Pale Grey Blue.
Once these have cured properly it’s time for more masking and then tackling the metal finish.
Once properly painted, washed and weathered, the out of the box cockpit looks good.
Fit in general is good. The instructions don’t call for it but I added some fishing weights in the nose just in case.
The tip of the tail broke off during construction.
This was fixed with plastic plates.
As usual, some prepping is required for the intakes. The tip of the inlet cones were painted black then masked off as per the instructions. The rest was painted steel.
The intakes fit well and as expected, not much of the inside can be seen since they are so narrow.
So the details are great and the ailerons, flaps and rudder are kitted separately. However, there are injection pin marks all over them. Oof… ball dropped Hasegawa!
They are very close to the rivets too. Sigh…
Work begins using acrylic putty which can be wiped off with water.
Yep. There are many ejector pin marks including some on the main landing gear.
After a few rounds I’m ready to move on.
The wings were assembled and I decided to have the flaps slightly lowered. I’ve seen them both up and down on the tarmac but figured lowered looks more interesting.
The wingtip tanks are also over-engineered with each made up of 9 parts. The L4 and L5 fins didn’t fit properly but worse were the round disks part U5. These needed to fit before the 2 halves came together so I cemented them to 1 of the halves first. What’s not mentioned in the instructions is that these disks have an orientation for them to fit flushed.
I botched some of them so I simply sanded everything down smooth. The markings I’ll be using comes with decals for these disks so no problem with the lack of details.
I decided to close the speed brakes. These fit well though the gap on 1 side is bigger than expected. These were quickly filled with acrylic putty.
The stabilator is in 1 piece and there’s a hole on the bottom that I can’t find a use for. This was filled and sanded down. There’s also a big ejector pin mark here which was filled.
And of course, I dropped the kit and of course it landed nose down.
I fixed the best I could with sanding sticks. Looks OK but we’ll see.
I punched out a small round disk of G-Option Aurora Film for the HUD projector and chipped, washed and highlighted the cockpit.
The 3 part canopy was given a dip of Future, then masked off. Curiously, there’s no open canopy option so I cemented them in place.
Since they can pretty much snapfit into place, I’m leaving the main wings off until final assembly. In any case, once the minor gaps are addressed, it’s time for painting!
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!
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