After fixing the few gaps, it’s time to put some color on this kit!
First, the stealth coat with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black.
Then a marble coating with Tamiya XF-12 IJN Gray.
The instruction sheet made a mistake in calling out 3 gray tones for the camouflage. By 2010, this jet only has 2 gray tones: FS36118 and FS36270. I went with Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey for FS36118. The nose is actually uncolored and change color naturally so any shade of medium gray would have worked and be ‘accurate’. I went with Model Air Aggressor Grey.
I then masked off the nose and the darker gray for the lighter gray color. It’s usually SOP to paint the lighter colors first then go progressively darker. I did it the other way around this time as it will be easier.
For FS36270, I went with Vallejo Mecha Color Medium Grey which after researching matches the FS color.
The bottom is one solid shade of medium gray.
Using the XF-12 as a marble coat gives off a subtler effect than using a pure white color. I also cut the colors with Vallejo Glaze Medium that reduced their opacity.
The weapons were given a base coat of XF-1 Flat Black. I decided to paint the bands instead of relying on decals so I sprayed XF-2 Flat White for them.
I handpainted the bands with Game Color Bloody Red, Model Color Deep Yellow and German Cam Med Brown then masked these off with 0.7mm masking tape and 0.4mm tape for the red band on the AGM-88’s rear section.
The CBU-105s were painted Model Air USA Olive Drab (FS34079) for the body and Mecha Color Medium Grey for the tails. The AIM-120 and AIM-9Xs were painted Mig AMMO Light Compass Ghost Grey (FS36375). Other details lile the fins and seeker heads were handpainted. While it looks white in photos, the AGM-88 is actually a very light shade of FS36622. I thought my bottle of AK Camouflage Grey was too ‘gray’ so I replaced it with Model Air Insignia White instead.
The stores, rails, pylons and ALQ-184 were all the same color as the bottom of the F-16: FS36270 ie. Vallejo Mecha Color Medium Grey. The Sniper pod however is Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey (FS36118). Not pictured is the Model Air Insignia White I handpainted the HTS pod’s tip with.
With a deep breath, primary painting is done. Time to finish this thing!
Disappointingly, Tamiya left some visible ejector pin marks on the gear doors which need to be addressed.
Tamiya calls for some blue and silver colored parts inside the gearbay. Not sure how accurate this is.
The main undercarriage is designed to be installed from the beginning. While troublesome, the upside is a stronger fit.
The wings fit without problems. Tamiya also added leading edge tabs so it’s easier to keep them straight.
The exhaust nozzle is connected to a housing where some prepainting was required. This was masked off then attached to the kit.
The stabilizers are interchangeable on the F-16 and are identical. Even though it s simple pin and hole connection, Tamiya somehow engineered the pin to ‘click’ in place. While still requiring cement, at least they don’t flop around like on the Hasegawa kit.
There are some panel lines and vents that need filling on the kit. I’m quite sure these are present for the older F-16 blocks.
There is a very fine mold line running down the center of the canopy. I couldn’t unsee it so I went ahead to remove it.
I carefully scraped it off and then used progressively finer sandpaper to get rid of the mold line.
Once cleaned up it was dipped into a vat of Future to shine everything back up.
The nose and tailfin were then cemented into place.
I attached the intake rail for the Sniper pod and the HTS pod at this point figuring that they will be much harder to attach once everything is painted. I also masked off the nose gear bay.
For the main gear bay, I first masked off the walls then backfilled with some wet tissue. These will expand and fit (somewhat) snugly into the spaces in the bay once they dry. The main landing gear were masked off with a ‘Washi tape’ that I bought to try out. These seem to be less tacky than Tamiya masking tape. But I’ll have to test them out more.
Gap fixing is next and then I can start painting.
Next on the factory floor is this Tamiya kit which looks to be as shake and bake as it will ever get. This is the 2nd release where Tamiya added the pylons, underwing stores, armaments and targeting pods.
Checking the parts, I realized that by adding 1 component, I can model the F-16CM, an upgraded version of the venerable F-16CJ. Before that though, as usual, I have to assemble the cockpit first, which is quite nicely done. The kit comes with decals for the belts but I decided to make my own with 0.7mm masking tape.
Once painted, the seat doesn’t look bad at all.
But me being me, I decided to add some details using stretched sprue, plastic plates and rod. The green tank on the side of the seat is particularly prominent in pictures.
Looks better now IMO.
Then the seat was given a wash with Citadel Nuln Oil Gloss to give it some depth.
Once cured, I did some simple highlighting with a silver pencil. The cockpit looks sufficiently busy once painted, washed and weathered.
I’m not quite sure how visible it will be under the closed canopy though. Hah!
Like its 1/48 brother, Tamiya designed the intake trunking as 2 part top and bottom halves. The difference though is this one is not full length. The problem with designing it this way is of course the seamlines on the inside of both sides of the trunking.
I did the best I could to remove the seamlines till about 1/3 into the intake.
The whole intake is made up of 4 parts: the trunking, 2 side halves and a section up top.
These need to be prepainted but come together without much problems.
Again like its 1/48 brother, this kit also oddly leaves a small section on the back of the fuselage blank for an insert. I still can’t figure out why.
The fit is good but still, why have it an insert in the first place?
I’m modeling a CCIP (Common Configuration Implementation Program) upgraded Block 50 F-16CJ which the USAF would unofficially redesignate as the F-16CM. The most prominent part of this upgrade are the AIFF ‘bird slicers’ in front of the canopy and a 2nd mounting point for a targeting pod on the intake. These are all included in the kit.
The CCIP update also added the ability to carry the BRU-57 smart bomb rack. With this bomb rack, the F-16CM can consequently carry the CBU-105 WCMD (Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser), the precision guided version of the CBU-97 cluster bomb and precision guided bombs like the GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). However, the Tamiya kit doesn’t include these racks and munitions so I bought a resin aftermarket set of BRU-57s from Reskit.
Details are very nice and the casting is very sharp. It even includes very tiny parts made from photo-etch. Since these are so intricate and small I decided to keep my sanity and just go with installing the sway braces to the rack.
I decided to arm my CM with a pair of CBU-105 cluster bombs. The cluster bomb I have comes from a boxing of the Hasegawa F-15E Strike Eagle. These look to be CBU-100 Rockeyes and requires modifications to look like the CBU-105.
So I cut off the nose and sanded the remaining tip into a rounded bevel. I then added a small length of rounded rod on the tip. Based on the dimensions, my result is about 1mm shorter and 0.5mm narrower scale-wise than a true CBU-105. Close enough for me.
The resin BRU-57 rack is to be butt-jointed onto the kit pylon so I added a tab on the rack so it can slot into the hole inside the pylon. The fit will be more secure this way.
Not too shabby for an evening’s work. I’ll need to clean up the CBU-105s as pictures show that their bodies are quite smooth all round but I’m done tinkering with this.
Along with the AGM-88 HARM, the F-16 will have 2x AIM-120 AMRAAMs, 2x AIM-9X Sidewinders, 2x drop tanks, a centerline mounted ALQ-184 ECM pod, an AN/ASQ-21 HARM targeting system pod on the right intake mount and an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod on the left intake mount. Definitely a heavily armed Viper.
Who knew a ‘shake and bake’ kit will require a multi-page build log? 😀
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:
- Separate fold out instructions for the 2 variants
- ALQ-118 ECM pod included
- 4x AIM-7 Sparrow and 4x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are included but not used
- Both straight and curve edged pylons (though my copy is missing the former)
- Both RF-4C and RF-4E exhausts
- Chaff boxes for the pylons
- Variant specific antennas and bulges
- Catapult strops or blanked off covers for the bottom fuselage
- A 4-part canopy though you can’t pose these open
- Very fine panel lines
- Clear parts for the camera covers but not the camera parts themselves
- Open or closed flare doors
- Very simplified gear bays
- Horizontal stabilizers that fit via tabs which give a more positive fit
- Markings for 6x RF-4Cs and 2x RF-4Es
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.
Time to finish this thing. First an overall gloss coat to prep for decals.
The AirDOC decals are printed by Cartograph and look very good. However, all the aircraft numbers and codes are individually printed and need to be added 1 at a time.
I decided to use the slime lights from the Hasegawa sheet instead. I’ll save the AirDOC ones for a better-made build.
64-1047 had a striking shark mouth painted onto its nose during its deployment. It took a healthy dose of Mark Softer to get the shark mouth to conform and luckily it was quite robust and didn’t tear.
The AirDOC sheet isn’t clear with the placement of the marking since it shows only 1 side of the subject so I had to guesstimate. I skipped some of the less obvious stencils and then it’s another gloss coat before weathering begins.
The panel wash is the usual Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Wash.
It smells compared to the usual oil paint I use but it’s pre-mixed so is more convenient.
After about an hour of drying, it was time to wipe off the excess panel wash. I’ve read that facial sponge works so I gave that a go.
It does clean better but the one I used started to break off in clumps when damp with turpentine. It also works when dry although some force is needed to get rid of the dried oil wash.
Then I added filters to be bring down the overall contrast. I used medium gray, red and blue oil paints for this using the oil paint dot method.
With a damp paintbrush I worked front to back on the wings and tailfin and top to the bottom on the rest.
The result is subtle, but the contrast between the main colors and the marble coats are reduced and because I added red in random places, those areas look slightly warmer. Those areas in blue become slightly cooler in tone.
Fading is next. I used white oil paint for this. I dotted random spots all over the kit.
Again working with a damped brush, I slowly blended the oil paint with short strokes. There are now subtle fading in the paint surfaces.
For the exhaust area I added a filter with deep brown and black oil paints. I made sure to do it in an up to down strokes.
I then faded some panels with white and then used thinned black oil and randomly splotched the exhaust areas.
I did not do fading on the bottom since I figure it won’t be as exposed to the Sun. But photos show the bottom gets stained towards the back so I splotched the area with thinned deep brown oil paint. I worked in stages to build up the stains by waiting for each layer to dry first.
After another day of drying, I gave everything a flat coat and can finally put everything together. The horizontal stabs fiction fit with no problem. The nose gear and door fit quite nicely but the main gear doors only butt join to the bays which requires some careful cementing. The inside door struts are too long and were cut to the correct length.
And of course, disaster struck. A drop of cement dripped onto the finishing. So out with the buffing pad then a quick spray of gunship gray.
Once the gear was secure I added the stores starting from inside out: belly tank, pylons, ECM pod then wing tanks.
The masking tape on the clear parts was then removed carefully. I did OK with the masking with only minor touch-ups required. There’s a step between the back of the pilot’s canopy and the middle frame which I have to live with. It was the best all round fit I could manage. There’s also dust behind the camera windows. I tried blowing them with a rocket blower with no luck. Any masking tape residue was cleaned off with a cotton bud soaked with airbrush cleaner. I also brushed Future on some of them to bring back some of the shine.
Last on were the wingtip lights that I handpainted and shined up with Future and the pitot tube. I can finally call this unexpectedly challenging build done.