Once fully cured and wiped down, I sprayed another layer of gloss to prep for a panel wash.
This time I decided to do it with Vallejo Dark Grey Model Wash instead of the usual Mig AMMO panel wash. I figured this one will give a subtler effect.
I haven’t used it in a while so I thought to try on it on the wing first.
I first used the wash straight from the bottle but ran into a problem.
Once dried it was really hard to remove. I had to use a combination of Windex, Vallejo thinner and even an eraser before the excess Wash was removed. I was sweating bullets since there was a very good chance the Windex or thinner would strip the gloss and paint underneath.
The results however, look good. Model Wash definitely gives a less contrasty finish than Mig AMMO’s enamel washes.
So lesson learned, I went ahead with panel washing the rest of the kit. The Model Wash was thinned about 1:2 with water.
Given about 20 seconds to dry, I then wiped with a damp tissue in the direction of the wind so front to back.
Subtle but still makes a difference.
I like the overall effect. The panel lines are not too contrasty.
I’ve been wondering how much I should weather the kit but from photos I’ve seen, it looks like the JADSF keeps their aircraft clean so I went with just some griming of the area near the exhaust.
To seal everything in, I misted light coats of thinned flat coat over the colored areas and the exhaust area. The rest of the metal finish was left alone although I misted flat coat over the markings to knock their glossiness down. Final assembly is next. First, the landing gear. These fit using polycaps and every aircraft kit should really do it this way. It’s so much easier and strong.
The main strut is big and solid and the whole undercarriage assembly is simple enough.
Unfortunately, the way the small bay door fits onto the strut is not good. The instruction is not entirely clear how a small strut fits connects the door to the big strut and there’s no solid connecting point for it. I wouldn’t have minded some sacrifice in accuracy for an easier connection. So while faffing with it, I naturally fouled up and dropped a glob of cement on the small door which I have to repaint.
So after faffing with it a bit more, I got all the struts on, handpainted them and gave them a bit of wash. I also attached the MLG doors.
A light made of clear sprue is attached onto the nose gear, which looks sufficiently detailed.
Then I remove the masking tape to check the canopy. Could be better, but I’ll take it. I like how the aurora sticker on the HUD projector stands out.
Antennas and pitot tube is last on. I only managed to install the Temperature Probe (part R3) though. I pinged one of the really small AOA indicators (part U3) into the wild blue yonder so I cut my losses and left the other off. They are butt-jointed anyway so they wouldn’t attach that strongly in the first place.
The pitot tube needed some careful sanding and adjusting due to the nose being slightly damaged in the fall but still fit quite well.
The wings go on last and I’m done!
I begin with a gloss coat. I use AK Interactive’s Intermediate Gauzy, thinned 1:1 with water. There’s a tendency for gloss or flat coats to change the tone of metal paints but I’m glad to say that it works well with metal paints.
Markings will be from the TwoBobs ‘F-104J Komatsu Starfighters’ sheet. As usual with Twobobs, the quality is very good and the decals are thin yet strong. They reacted well with Mark Softer and the carrier film is so thin you can’t really see it unless you really look closely and only at some angles.
At this point, I realized I missed out on painting a part on the spine. The instructions call for a yellowish shade.
I carefully masked off the area and made sure no masking tape touched any of the surrounding decals.
The yellow is a mix of yellow and a brownish white color. I ended up having to remove the red decal closest to the yellow area. Luckily the TwoBobs sheet comes with enough stencils for 2 F-104Js so I have a replacement.
Unfortunately, the instructions weren’t too clear about the exact placement of the wing Hinomaru and the stencils around it. This is purely guesstimate on my part.
The intructions also didn’t indicate which Hinomaru to place on each side of the fuselage: they have different white stencil markings in them.
There were a few ports that needed to be drilled out with clear parts inserted. Turns out I had to drill them from the inside during construction so it was something I needed to address during finishing. Turns out though, all these spots were covered by decals so all the nice clear ports would have been covered up.
The F-104J is thankfully not stencil-heavy like the JASDF’s F-4 Phantom. What markings there are definitely showcases how striking they are though.
Weathering and finishing is next.
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!