Tag Archives: Aircraft

Done: Hobby Boss 1/48 F-14A Tomcat

My favourite jet aircraft since my childhood, I knew it would be a long and involved build – featuring a fair share of aftermarket stuff and lots of research. Being somewhat limited when it comes to shelf space (and having a statsh that wants to be taken care of), I know that this will be my last Tomcat for quite some time. So I took my time and tried a couple of new things along the way.

The Kit

The kit itself is good. Period. I haven’t built Hasegawa’s Tomcat, not even seen an unbuilt kit in the flesh, so I cannot comment on the pros and cons of Hobby Boss’ effort. Some issues, however, should be addressed:

  • ┬áThe air intake lips should not be parallel to the ground, and they are a bit thick. This was fixed by sanding the lips at an angle, thereby introducing a slight upward cant.
  • The wings and stabilizers are covered in rivets that need to be filled. Multiple coats of Squadron putty, thinned with acetone, took care of that.
  • The slats, when deployed, should protrude at a slight downward angle. Easiest fix is to carefully bend their attachment rods downward a bit.
  • If you want to attach the AIM-7 Sparrow missiles to the wing glove pylons, they need to be positioned farther forward. I did that by cutting off the missile fin that should go into the pylon, the missile then can be attached in its proper position.
  • The main landing gear struts lack some heavy springs which are quite noticable – instead, HB gives you a rather generic rod (parts F25/F26). Some thin wire, wrapped around these parts, does the trick.

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Apart from these fixes, I used an Aires cockpit set, Aires exhaust nozzles and the Wheeliant wheels set. Fitting the cockpit resulted in the usual sanding mayhem, but it’s worth it. The nozzles, on the other hand, are more or less a drop fit.

Painting

Now would be the right time for some cheap “50 Shades of Grey” joke. Maybe next time. Some time ago I mentioned I wasn’t too impressed with the Gunze Ghost Greys (H307, H308 and H337 for FS36320, 36375 and 35237). These colors seem to be too dark and have a weird purple hue to them when compared to a neutral grey card. As mentioned elsewhere, as the US Navy’s Tactical Paint Scheme doesn’t show too much contrast between paint and markings, these deviations in tone can be rather problematic when applying your decals later on.

After testing a couple of different brands I settled on the Lifecolor range – which can be very tricky to get out of your airbrush. Some experimenting later, I finally have it worked out for me. It’s either a mix of color, distilled water and Vallejo flow improver (sprays good enough), or simply Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner (sprays excellent). And keep your air pressure down!

So, after a primer coat of Tamiya XF-19 and some very random preshading, the Lifecolor paints went on without a glitch.

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Decals

Speaking of glitches… As I wanted to depict a bird from VF-111 (“The Sundowners”), I picked up a sheet from fcm Decals. Very nice, the decals are thin, the instructions complete. so everything went well – until I applied the last two decals. The large black “Sundowners” motif for the fins would first not adhere to the surface properly, then they wouldn’t react to any setting solution, and in the end they decided to crumple up really bad and produce a general mess. No clue what caused that, my only idea would be the color used on these decals – all the grey ones behaved very well, it was only these two buggers that just wouldn’t work.

In the end, I had to use the markings for another aircraft from that sheet, which meant stripping and repainting the tail section and all the areas were the other markings specific to that plane had already been applied.

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Finishing

After the usual coat of clear gloss (Tamiya X-22), I initially wanted to apply some salt weathering. I actually did start on the horizontal stabs, but then changed my mind. This method simply doesn’t cut it for me – not enough control over the final output, and too messy. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing models on the net that have been weathered using this technique, it’s just that I like to take my time and work slowly and deliberately. So back to my tried and tested method of oil filters and washes, various sizes of soft brushes and a couple of happy hours stippling away. By stippling the drying wash, reactivating it with small amounts of thinner, I found it easy to create that chuffed and beaten look so typical for Navy planes.

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Done: Accurate Miniatures 1/48 A-36 Apache

It has been a while since I finished something… Mainly because I have three projects on the go that take their time, and, to some extent, test ones resolve. So, in order to get a break, I picked another quick build from the stash.

AM’s A-36 is a very nice little kit with some small imperfections. Straight out of the box it builds into a beautiful model that captures the lines of an early Mustang pretty well. Some areas can be refined, as with any kit, but it’s up to you if you are willing to invest the extra effort.

One thing that is rather easy to fix is the missing armor plate behind the pilot’s seat. Some thin plastic sheet, a couple of swipes with a sanding stick, and you are done. Adding some cables to the radio set behind the cockpit pays off, because that area is very visible through the side windows. And finally, if you want to pose the canopy open you need to cut the clear part. Be careful, as the clear plastic is brittle and tends to crack if you apply too much pressure.

Apart from that I used Ultracast’s seat and wheels, the antenna mast was replaced with a whip antenna, and brake lines were added from thin copper wire. Painted with Tamiya and Gunze acrylics, weathered with oils.

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On the Bench – Week 42, 2014

So I decided to finally start on the Hobby Boss F-14A Tomcat. The kit has been in my stash for almost two years now, together with an Aires cockpit and burner cans, Wheeliant wheels and a very nice FCM decal set – alas, I felt a bit intimidated by what to me is *the* icon of military jet aviation. Only so much space being available in the display cabinet, I know that this will be the only Turkey for a very long time. and we don’t want to cock that up, do we.

After going through reference photos, videos and books for the n-th time, I just couldn’t resist any longer. I know that this will be a rather long build, as there are quite some areas that need to be addressed. The list is by no means complete and reads as follows:

  • Fix intake angles
  • Shorten tail hook
  • Fill rivets on wings and stabilisers
  • Modify flap mechanism
  • Change angle of slats

Anyway, one has to start somewhere. I did by assembling all the two-part pieces which will need filling and sanding, modifying the flap doors and hinges, and fitting the Aires cockpit. This is how it looks after painting, some small mistakes still need ironing out.

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… and the M916 LET is still in progress. But after breaking the bonnet in a dozen pieces while trying to fix warpage, things slowed down a bit.

Done: Revell 1/48 F-15E Strike Eagle

Having been out of production for quite some time, I was happy when last year I found that kit in my LHS (of course, two weeks after I finished the build, Revell re-released it…). It is a lovely kit, nice level of detail, especially the cockpit is really good, even the seats are okay. Ish. Of course there is always room for improvement, so I added some oxygen hoses and scratchbuilt the ejection seat rails. The seats themselves are Quick Boost.

The only thing missing out of the box is a proper weapons load. As the E version’s sole purpose is to haul ridiculous amounts of ordnance through the sky, it needs a good heavy load to look the part. I went for GBU-12s and CBUs, courtesy of Hasegawa’s weapons sets.

Way too late I noticed that the decals provided are basically for a trainer aircraft of the 57th Wing from Nellis AFB – so no Desert Storm bird this time, I guess. Anyway, I think it is safe to assume that these planes are maintained to a very high standard, weathering was therefore kept to a minimum. To spice the Gunship Grey monotony up a bit, I scratchbuilt some protective covers and used Eduard’s RBF tags.

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Done: Tamiya 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt

What I love about this hobby? That every day is a school day. Or at least it can be if you are so inclined. This time it was post-shading using Tamiya Smoke that was on the TLL (To-Learn List. Yes, I am a lists guy). Not having had too much success with pre-shading NMF paint jobs, I wanted to see if I could pull off a subtle type of weathering without that “contest table”-look of which I am not a huge fan. What I did learn is to be very careful, thin the Smoke well and always adjust your light source so that you can actually see when the coat starts to get that wet, reflectant sheen – which will happen just before the paint start to run…

Apart from that it was a relaxing quick build, something I really needed as a distraction from my ongoing struggle with an Italeri chopper and Eduard’s P-38. NMF, as usual, was airbrushed using Tesors buffing Metalizers, Gunze Yellow and Olive Drab. The decals are for the most part Tamiya’s, nose art and aircraft IDs are from the lovely Kagero book “P-47 Thunderbolt with the USAAF – European Theatre of Operations”. Speaking of decals: Why on earth does Tamiya still produce their own decals? They produce wonderful kits, detailed, easy to build, accurate – but their decals still suck. Would it really be such a loss of face to them to stop their own production and go Cartograph instead?

Anyway, here it is. Oh, another thing I learnt: It is a good idea to always have some Tamiya kits in your stash – just in case you need a quick success to keep the mojo on track.

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