Tag: Modern

Completed : Airfix 1/72 BAE Systems Hawk 109 ‘TNI-AU’

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Kit Info
Brand: Airfix A03073
Scale: 1/72
Media: Styrene
Markings: Scale Nutz A72019
1/72 TNI-AU Hawk 109/209 ‘Unity Guardian’

The Subject
The British Aerospace Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, twin seat advanced trainer aircraft. It is used in a trainer capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. First flown in 1974, over 900 Hawks have been sold to 18 operators around the world. The Hawk was designed to be maneuverable and can reach Mach 0.88 in level flight and the airframe is stressed for +9g. When configured for combat, the Hawk can be armed with a centerline gun pod and armaments on 4 (up to 6) hard points.

The Hawk 100 is an upgrade of the original Hawk T1 with a re-designed nose, re-designed wings with 2 additional hard points, additional avionics, optional forward looking infrared (FLIR) and HOTAS. The TNI-AU export is designated Hawk 109.

The TNI-AU first placed orders for the Hawk starting in 1978 and would operate 3 variants: Hawk Mk 53, 109 and 209. 8 Hawk 109s were delivered and assigned to Skadron Udara 1 “Elang Khatulistiwa” (1st Air Squadron “Equatorial Eagles”) and Skadron Udara 12 “Panther Hitam” (12th Air Squadron “Black Panthers”). It is flown as a primary jet trainer and 7 are still believed to be deployed by TNI-AU in 2018.

My build depicts TT-1203 circa 1997, a Hawk 109 from Skadron Udara 12 flying out of Pekanbaru AFB, Sumatra.

Info from WIkipedia

The Kit
This kit was released in 2009 along with the T.1 variant. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The cockpit is basic with instrument panel and side console details presented as decals. Other options include:

  • 2 x seated pilots
  • gear up or down
  • open or closed ventral speed brake
  • centerline gun pod
  • 4 x AIM-9L/M missiles
  • wingtips can be rounded or with missile rails
  • optional refueling probe
  • 2 types of external fuel tanks

Parts break down is straightforward and the molding is crisper than Italeri but less so than Tamigawa. The panel lines are on the heavy side but are done well. There were no flash on the parts but there are some visible ejection pin marks.

Decals look well printed with sharp details although the carrier film is somewhat thick. It’s a huge sheet with complete stencils and 3 markings for 2 BAE Systems demonstrators and 1 Indian Air Force operational trainer.

The Build
In the late 2000s, Airfix started releasing modern kits with the latest molding technology and this kit is part of that wave. The plastic is softer than what I’m used to but was easy to trim, handle and sanded very easily. Sprue gates are on the heavy side but it’s nothing that some sanding can’t handle. I find that the instructions are not as user-friendly as what you get from Tamigawa. For instance, there are color call outs via a paint number but I couldn’t find a legend for the numbers anywhere.

I was building a TNI-AU Hawk 109 trainer, and based on reference photos I did the following:

  • left off the pilots and added seatbelts on the seats with tape
  • installed the wingtip missile rails
  • left off the AIM-9Ls from the kit as TNI-AU uses AIM-9Js
  • gunpod wasn’t installed
  • left off the glass plate separating the front and rear cockpit
  • replaced the rear cockpit HUD with a control box made from styrene rod
  • inflight refueling probe wasn’t installed

The fit on the wingroots aren’t great with obvious gaps but otherwise, it’s a straightforward and quick build. I decided to prioritize the fit on the top side and leaving the major gaps on the bottom but there’s no real way to prevent the gaps on the wingroots.

An odd omission is the frame in the middle of the canopy. Airfix designed the glass plate separator inside the cockpit to replicate this frame but based on photos it should be outside the canopy, not inside. I decided to simply mask and spray this frame. Making it even stranger is this frame actually appears on the boxart and instructions. Also missing are the lights on the side of the intakes. Another odd thing is the pre-drilled holes for the centerline gunpod but not for the pylons on the wings.

Other that these small issues, it was a trouble-free build.

Colors & Markings
The TNI-AU Hawk 109 was painted in a 3 tone SEA camouflage up top and a light gray on the bottom for much of its operational life. The demarcations are solid so it was a matter of a lot of careful usage of vinyl masking tape and spraying each color.

I’ve had the Scale Nutz (since defunct?) TNI-AU Hawk sheet for a long time now. The decal sheet is marked ‘Made in Singapore’ and the decals are printed well with decently thin carrier film. All 109 and 209 Hawks from either squadrons can be modeled. While there are enough specific markings for 1 Hawk 109 or 1 Hawk 209 from either squadron, you’ll need to source the common stencils elsewhere to do so. The decals reacted well with Mark Softer and are quite easy to use.

Finishing
In real life, TNI-AU maintains their Hawk 109s very well so I went with a simple panel wash for a clean finish. The final assembly of all the small antennas did provide some challenges as their pins were all oversized and had to be trimmed carefully to fit. I also managed to lose the round clear part that sits on top of the fuselage but I managed to replace this with part of the clear tree.

I can now call this done. The paint job isn’t as smooth as I want it but for a get-back-on-the-saddle project, it’ll have to do.

Build Log
> Part 1 : Construction
> Part 2 : Painting
> Part 3 : Finishing

Number 6 of 2018

WIP : Airfix 1/72 Hawk 109 Pt. 3 – Finishing

Time to finish this thing. The markings come from Scale Nutz, a defunct decal company based in Singapore. The sheet comes with full stencils for 1 aircraft but enough unit numbers to build any of the Hawk 109 and 209s in TNI-AU service in either squadron. I went with TT-1203 from Skadron 12 for this one. The decals were easy to use and reacted very well to Mark Softer.

Once cured and another gloss coat over the markings, I gave the kit a panel wash using Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Line Wash. The TNI-AU maintains their Hawks quite well so I didn’t do other weathering besides this panel wash. Once that has dried I gave the kit an overall flat coat.

Once the flat has cured, it was time to do final assembly. First up are the landing gear, gear doors, external fuel tanks and antennas. The pins on the antennas were all oversized so some trimming were required. The main gear struts were just about 2mm too short so the fit isn’t perfect there.

I was missing the blade antenna on top so I shaped one using 0.5mm plastic card. The clear part that goes into the recess on the spine was also oversized and I pinged it into my room when trying to trim it down. In the end I cut out a small circle from the clear part tree and used that instead.

Last off was the canopy masking and turns out there was some overspray inside the canopy. I popped this off, cleaned the inside, then re-attached.

This one’s definitely not my best finish with all the minor problems popping up. But at least it’s done.

Build Log
Pt. 1 – Construction | Pt. 2 – Painting | Pt. 3 – Finishing

WIP : Airfix 1/72 Hawk 109 Pt. 2 – Painting

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.

Build Log
Pt. 1 – Construction | Pt. 2 – Painting | Pt. 3 – Finishing

WIP : Airfix 1/72 Hawk 109 Pt. 1 – Construction

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.

Build Log
Pt. 1 – Construction | Pt. 2 – Painting | Pt. 3 – Finishing

Completed : Kinetic 1/48 Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet A ‘Top Aces’

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Kit Info
Brand and Kit Number: Kinetic K48043
Media: Injection Plastic and Photoetch
Markings: Kit

The Subject
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.

Alpha Jet info from Wikipedia
Top Aces info from Wikipedia

The Kit
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:

  • Photoetch restraints for the ejection seats
  • Photoetch HUD frame
  • Positionable canopy
  • Options of the A and E types (with parts for the minor variants within each type)
  • Positionable flaps
  • Separate speed brakes
  • 4 underwing fuel tanks
  • 2 types of centerline gun pods

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:

  • Qinetiq United Kingdom A in gloss black and white
  • Top Aces A in 3 tone camouflage
  • French Air Force E in gloss black

Interestingly, there are parts to build a Belgian B variant but no marking options for it.

Build
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:

  • The instructions are unclear in the direction of how some parts should fit.
  • There are also wrong part call outs. Notably, I found out too late that for the air brakes to close, I needed only to install parts A6/7 instead of C14/15. I ended working quite a bit to get the air brakes to fit in place.
  • All the gear doors required work as they are designed to be left open. I didn’t quite get the nose gear doors to fit closed properly.
  • The main gear doors fit better but the starboard door is too short on one side. Some trim and adjustment was needed for every gear door part for them to fit.
  • The cowling is short molded on one side.
  • The intake halves fit well but they are narrow so there’s no real easy way to get rid of the joint line running length-wise down the engine trunking.
  • The anhedral of the wings look good but they fit with some play into the sockets on the fuselage. I ended up making sure the fit of the leading edges of the wingroot were good and settled with fixing the trailing edges.
  • Some of the panels unique to the A variant didn’t fit well and required a fair bit of trimming and brute force.
  • The tailfin doesn’t fit flush to the base of the tail and required filling.
  • Not my preferred method but the main landing gear needs to be installed before the fuselage was closed up. At least they are quite chunky and stayed in place throughout the build.
  • I went with building each half completely with the correct nose and inserts before joining both halves together. Had I followed the instructions, I think I’d have more fitting problems.
  • Major trimming and adjustments were required for the exhaust housings and for the speed brakes to fit closed. This latter bit could have been avoided if Kinetic had called out the correct parts for the closed position.
  • I should have tested the fit between the pylon, sway braces and fuel tank before the finishing stage. I don’t think I ended with the correct fit and I find that the fuel tanks hang off the pylons wrongly.

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:

  • Replacing the photoetch restraints with ones made of masking tape.
  • Replacing the HUD projector and glass plates with thinner ones from a battery blister pack.
  • Adding cockpit sidewall details.
  • Adding cabling to the back of the rear instrument panel.
  • Adding cabling to the rear bulkhead of the rear cockpit.
  • Adding details on the canopies including rear view mirrors and handles.
  • Adding hydraulic lines on the landing gear.

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.

Last minute fix: attaching the fuel tanks without using the sway braces

Finishing
The few decals went on very easily and reacted nicely to Mark Softer. However, some of the markings are slightly oversized compared to references. Weathering was also kept at a minimum based on what I’ve seen in references.

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.

Build Log
> Part 1 : Cockpit
> Part 2 : Main Construction
> Part 3 : Main Construction
> Part 4 : Main Construction
> Part 5 : Main Construction
> Part 6 : Painting
> Part 7 : Finishing

Number 4 of 2018

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