I used a gray color on the parts to check for gaps and thankfully, they weren’t too bad.
Painting begins with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black.
First on was freehanded AK Interactive Dark Tan.
Based on photos, the camouflage demarcations are solid so I used Tamiya Tape for Curves for these. To prevent overspray, I backfilled the parts I want to remain the previous color.
The second color is AK Interactive Medium Green.
After more masking, I sprayed AK Interactive Dark Green.
The bottom was then masked off and colored AK Interactive Camouflage Grey.
Some slight overspray which will need to be addressed but that went quite well.
Next up is another aircraft flown by the TNI-AU and my first modern Airfix kit. As usual, I begin with the ejection seats. The kit comes with seated pilots so no seatbelt details are provided. I made these from 1mm masking tape.
Cockpit details are decals and are the same for both cockpits. Oddly, the decal sheet provides 4 different front console decals. On the other hand, the instruction shows 1 type to use for both cockpits. Must be a misprint.
Overall details are nice although the panel lines are on the heavier side.
A check after the major components have been attached show some gap fixing required: some are quite obvious and deep while others simply need some quick sanding to resolve.
All in all though, quite a trouble-free build so far. Good thing as I’m trying to finish this by 17 August 2018. Fingers crossed.
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
On to the finishing stage! First up are the decals after a gloss coat. The decals are designed by Canuck Models and printed by Cartograph. While generally printed nicely, the red bands that go around the bottom fuselage were slightly out of register. Pity.
These went on beautifully and are really easy to use although I think slightly oversized when I compared to references. As usual with aggressor aircraft, markings are limited with a general lack of stencils. Not that I’m complaining.
Kinetic’s markings callout was vague in some parts (black line pointing into a black area…. really, Kinetic?) So I ended up referring to reference photos instead. Based on these photos, Kinetic also missed out on some markings on the bottom. I wasn’t able to figure out where marking B15 went on so I left it off.
Once cured and given another gloss coat, I began the weathering process with raw umber oil wash for the panel lines.
Unfortunately, the wash brought up a molding mistake on the port wing: there’s ONE missing rivet. Yeesh. Now I can’t unsee it but I decided to move on.
Photo references show that these aircraft are maintained very well so I went with a cleaner finish.
There are minor wear and exhaust streaks on the bottom of the stabilizers and fuselage.
After a day of curing, I flat coated and gave the kit another half day to cure. For final assembly. I installed the pylons, sway braces, fuel tanks, gear doors, wheels, wingtip lights, various pitot tubes and antennas that line the Alpha Jet. These were attached with either CA or PVA glue. Predictably, all of these parts required minor trimming and adjustments to fit and the sway braces in particular didn’t fit right. The fuel tanks don’t hang right to my eye.
The ejection seats are finally installed and these fit quite securely without cement.
Just some final painting of the various antennas, pitot tubes, canopy actuators and wingtip lights and I can finally call this done!
Painting begins as is usual now with a base color of Tamiya XF-1 Black thinned with lacquer thinner.
Reference photos show that the Top Aces Alpha Jets are maintained very well with very smooth paint jobs. I decided to take some artistic license by adding some subtle variation to the colors for visual interest. So I added marble coating with Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey and Model Air Light Grey. This should create a subtler effect than my usual white marble coat. BTW don’t mind the photo, I realized too late I didn’t take a photo of the kit with just the marble coat.
The Top Aces Alpha Jet is painted in a very nice 3 tone livery of white, light gray and light blue. First up I sprayed the white. The instructions call for Gloss White (FS27874) which I replaced with Model Air Insignia White.
After a day of curing, it was time for the light blue color. Masking was done with rolled blutack and backfilled with Tamiya tape.
I used Mig AMMO Dark Grey Blue in place of the called for FSXXXXX and sprayed quite tightly against the blutack as references show that the demarcations are quite solid. While they have different FS codes, the blue looks good when compared to many photos I found online.
Then it’s more masking to prep for the gray color.
The gray is Model Color Medium Sea Grey.
As usual for me, once all the masking tape and blutack have been removed, there are various spots that require fixing and finetuning. This stage usually takes a bit of time due to the multiple colors involved. I also found more seamlines and had to fix those. One particularly obvious one is on the nose.
Kinetic missed out 2 notable things with the livery. The first is they have the pattern wrong in the bottom aft of the fuselage and the tailfin which I have to redo.
The other is that the the splitter plates and the leading edges of the intake lips, wings, stabilizers, tailfin and pylons are black. Kinetic only got the deatils of the splitter plates and intake lips color right. Anyway, after fixing all the various livery problems, it was time for more masking.
These sections are painted Model Air Dark Panzer Grey.
The canopy frames were painted Mig AMMO Gunship Grey as per reference photos. Kinetic’s instructions shows the frames are a different color from the rest of the camo but they don’t specify which color it is.
The pylons and fuel tanks are primarily Model Color Medium Sea Grey with the leading edges Model Air Dark Panzer Grey. Gear doors and wheels were also finally prepped.
And could it be that I’m almost done?! Decals and finishing are next!