Painting a weathered F-14 is always challenging but fun. The key I think is to build up the effects layer by layer. I began with a base coat of black with the marble coating using white and brown. Note I avoided the panel lines and have kept them black except for areas in the rear fuselage where I actually added ‘preshading’ in white. This will hopefully simulate underway repainting by the maintenance crew.
The F-14 TPS scheme has three shades of gray: FS35237, FS36320 and FS36375. The bottom and part of the sides of the nose is FS36375. I used Tamiya XF-19 for this.
I thinned the paint much more than usual: at around 7:3 thinner to paint ratio.
The thin paint allows the work done on the marbling to remain visible.
The second shade of gray (FS36320) covers the sides of the F-14. I used Model Air Dark Ghost Gray. Again this was thinned and sprayed in multiple thin passes to slowly build up opacity.
The last shade of gray (FS35237) was Mig AMMO Gray Blue. I used blutack to get a more solid demarcation.
Get the paint thin enough and the work on the base layer really shows through.
Next I had to tackle the antiglare, skunk tail, ventral fins and the vertical tails. These are black on VF-103 F-14s. Looking at references I carefully masked out the patterns.
Tamiya Rubber Black was used for all the black sections. I like this color because I think is a more realistic ‘black’ than pure black. Once I was satisfied I did further masking and spraying practice on: the gun barrel, the walkways and the white fin flashes.
I then buffed everything down to get a smooth surface for decals. Fightertown doesn’t include decals of the white fin flashes but they do include the black line that runs through them. But they were too short.
There’s nothing I can do besides masking and spraying these lines instead.
There are decals for them but I decided to spray the white outline on the ventral fins instead.
I also painted the nose probes at this point and I’m finally ready (again) for the decals.
The Fightertown decals were very easy to use and went down well with Mark Softer. I had initially wanted to do ‘Santa Cat’ from 2000 which had a pair of candy canes in place of the crossed bones. But I one of the red candy cane markings folded in the water and I couldn’t recover it so I had to go with Plan B. Now I have a VF-103 with the bog standard skull and crossbones tail.
Note a few things here: Fightertown uses pure black for all the markings and the ‘3’ on the starboard ‘103’ nose number is missing its white outline. They also didn’t include decals for the slime lights so I had to use the ones on the kit which went on without any problem.
Once the decals have cured, I gave the whole kit a coat of satin. First on was the panel wash with diluted AK Abteilung Starship Filth. As usual, wiping the wash also resulted in random patches of Mig AMMO paint being lifted. I still haven’t figured out why this happens and only at random.
I’ve also noted how stark the panel wash looked this time. I decided to let the kit cure for a day before re-looking at the result.
First though I needed to add some staining on the sections of the main wing which slide into the fuselage when the F-14 is in stowage configuration. I carefully folded the wings in and used masking tape to mark the areas where the staining should end.
Then it’s just a matter of a few rounds of adding oil paints and working them with a brush to slowly ‘stain’ the areas.
I really didn’t like how much contrast there with the panel wash so I decided to knock it down by misting with very thin Tamiya Sky Grey. I also used the same paint to respray the areas where the paint was stripped by the oil paint thinner. The result is a more cohesive look without the panel lines looking too stark.
I then removed the masking on the canopy and thankfully, there’s no repair work to be done.
I then attached the exhausts which had been worked on separately.
I added heavier staining on both the top of the rear fuselage…
… and the bottom. The griminess of the bottom was really enhanced by all the previous work done during painting.
The landing gear were then attached and I went more slowly than usual and gave each part more time to cure before moving on to the next. The nose gear door actuators had to be trimmed to fit properly which also required some slow and careful work.
The wings were then inserted and I only have the stores left to deal with.
Working from inside out, I attached the GBU-12s, fuel tanks, LANTIRN, AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinders in order. Again I worked slowly, allowing each piece some time to cure before moving on to the next.
The nose probe is last on and I’m done with this kit.
I can safely say I can now retire the Hasegawa kits: this kit is really that good. The Fine Molds kit has also gained a good reputation and I’m curious how that one builds up. Hopefully I’ll be able to sooner rather than later.