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.
Finally ready for painting!
I begin as usual with a base primer of black.
I’m trying something new with a marble coat of medium gray and white colors. Not sure if it’ll affect the final paintjob though. Let’s see…
Modern USAF F-4s came in a striking 2-tone gray camouflage of FS36270 and FS36118. For the lighter FS36270 ‘Neutral Gray’ I’m going with Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey. This was thinned and with a few drops of Vallejo Glaze Medium added to cut down on the paint’s opacity.
Once cured I mask off the demarcation lines. Interestingly they are a mix of hard and soft edges. So it’s masking tape for the hard ones and blutack for the soft ones. I referenced the AirDOC info sheet for the camouflage pattern.
Next is FS36118 ‘Gunship Gray’ for the darker gray tone. I’m using Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey.
The Hasegawa sheet comes with the dark gray walkway decals but I think it will be easier to mask and spray it. The AirDOC instruction indicates that the walkways are outlines but checking photos online they are the solid dark gray type. So it’s time for more masking tape.
I used a mix of Vallejo Model Air Dark Sea Grey and Engine Grey for the walkways. I think the tone is quite close to the photo reference.
So did the mix of gray and white marbling affect the final paintwork? In my opinion, nothing obvious. So the extra work wasn’t needed. Anyway, moving on.
Next up, the exhaust area which on the F-4 is bare metal and through time, gets gloriously weathered and stained. More masking ensues to get this done.
I went with Vallejo Metal Color Exhaust Manifold and Dull Aluminium. Weathering and staining will be done later.
The fuel tanks, pylon and ECM pod were duly painted in FS36118. The landing gear was painted as per instructed. A third metallic tone on the horizontal stabs was Model Air Metal Gun Grey.
Weathering and finishing next!
So I was told by a fellow modeler that the fit of the 4-part canopy might not be great so I decided to do a quick dryfit. Thankfully they fit fine. Problem is the rear canopy has a crack in it. Nice. I’ll live with it. A dip in Future is next for these.
The nose inlets were attached and well, they didn’t look right.
They sit proud of the nose. Looking at reference photos, the ends should smoothly transition into the nose.
So I quickly sanded where they join the nose. The transition is smooth now.
I originally wanted to leave this alone but since I’ve done so much already I might as well do it. The ‘arrowheads’ on the horizontal stabs are not present for the RF-4C I’m modeling.
These were quickly trimmed away and sanded down.
I test-fitted the stabs into the slots on the fuselage. On the starboard side there are 2 visible holes that are out of place.
So I filled the gaps with plastic plate.
I marked all the panel lines on the spine since they will definitely be obliterated by the time I’m done fixing the gaps.
See? Anyway, now I need to scribe them all back. Also, all the panel lines are very fine (though nice), too fine in fact. So I went ahead and went over them lightly with my scriber.
My scribing skills is amateurish at best. And after a re-check, I missed out on the refueling door when I took this photo. Ah well.
I think they should look fine under some coats of primer and paint.
I’m modeling a USAF aircraft so I had to remove the panel lines for the air-to-air refueling door on the side of the cockpit.
The catapult strops are blanked off but the parts provided didn’t fit properly so I added 0.2mm plastic plate and carefully sanded it flush to the bottom.
The kit provides a clear HUD but it’s very thick so I decided to make one from scratch. First I cut out 2 small triangles from plastic plate to act as the HUD mount.
The HUD itself is a clear piece from a battery blister pack.
The RF-4C has a offset antenna on the spine. I added this using 0.2mm plastic plate. This was glued into a groove I cut out so it’ll have a stronger fit.
The final step before painting is attaching the ejection seats and the canopy in place.
Now I can FINALLY start finishing this thing.
So I’ll be building a Desert Storm era RF-4C. The kit will require donor parts to get it to be configured correctly.
USAF F-4s use straight-edged styled pylons. The kit is supposed to include them but alas, these were missing (I bought this kit used). I got a spare pair with the sway braces from a Hasegawa RF-4 kit. Based on a reference photo, I also trimmed the bottom of these pylons flat. The ALQ-131 pod comes from the (Italeri reboxed) Tamiya F-16 kit.
By this time, the USAF F-4 mounted a different version of the 600 gallon fuel tank. This tank is the same as the one carried by the F-15. The kit includes the old-style tank so I got another donation from the Hasegawa RF-4 kit. The mounting method had to be modified. I made new pins using stretched sprue for a more positive fit. I also added plates to thicken the whole molded-on pylon for some height so the tank clears the bottom fuselage.
Work on the nose begins with attaching the side windows for the camera first before the fuselage halves come together. The bottom camera windows are molded as 1 piece of clear plastic. These were also masked off.
There’s no tab that holds the camera plate in position so I made some with plastic plates.
There’s an odd gap between the plate and the nose gear bay.
With a spray of primer, the problem becomes more glaring. The gaps around the camera plate are quite bad.
So instead of throwing the kit against the wall, I decided to try to fix it. The gaps were filled with both epoxy and AK Interactive putty.
Putty, sand, buff, prime, check, putty, sand, buff, prime, check. After (quite) a few rounds of this, I think the nose looks acceptable.
A small plate is added to cover the gap behind the camera plate.
Onwards to the intakes which is usually a problem area for aircraft kits. The interiors were painted in white and masked off before installation.
For the port side intake, I had to choose to have a gap at the bottom or up top. Since there’s less molded details on top, I went with aligning the intake with the bottom so there’s now a sizeable gap up top. The panel lines on the intake and the main body also don’t quite align. I’ll have to live with it.
I inserted plastic plate and trimmed off to quickly fill the gap.
On the starboard side, there’s a thin step where the intake meets the body. I shaped a small plate to cover this step.
WIth that settled, the instake fits very well though there’s a gap at the bottom.
This was fixed with more inserting of plastic plate and trimming off.
More fixing of stuff next…
Next build up is an oldie but goodie (famous last words). Having built one in the mid 1990s in college I remember this kit to fit well in general and with fewer parts than the Hasegawa counterpart, would be a quicker build. I was planning for this kit to be part of a groupbuild with a bunch of local modelers. It’s due at the end of May.
A quick dry fit shows however, that the fit is wonky.
It looks like the fuselage halves have somehow warped (foreboding music).
Plowing on, the ejection seats get some work by way of harness details using 0.7mm masking tape. The seats were quickly painted and weathered and set aside.
I added sidewall details with plastic plate to busy them up. It’s nothing accurate and will not be too visible once closed up.
Painted and given a wash, these look alright.
I found more warped parts. This time if was the cockpit tub, which didn’t sit quite right on the bottom fuselage plate. I added a length of sprue to push the tub up to the correct height.
The fuselage halves included alignment tabs on the bottom but these refused to line up so I trimmed one off. I added spreader bars inside the fuselage to minimize the gap with the wingroots. Note the clamp on the right of the photo. I had to use one to keep the 2 halves together until the cement cures. Only brute force works.
The spreaders work and the wingroot gaps are kept to a minimum.
Fit of the fuselage halves though… is disheartening.
There’s a V-shaped notch going down the whole upper fuselage. Not difficult to fix, but the upper details will be gone by the time it’s fixed.
I seriously didn’t expect the fit to be so bad on this one.