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: 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:
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.