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English Electric Lightning F.2A


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#1 Navy Bird

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 11:01 PM

Hi mates!

I’ve always wanted to model the English Electric Lightning in my favorite scale of 1:72, but the kits available left much to be desired. First I started with the Frog kit, but gave up due to MFS (Modeller Frustration Syndrome). This was in the dark ages of modelling, when the terms “resin” and “photoetch” had yet to be added to the lexicon. Next, I tried the Hasegawa kit, but was a bit surprised to find the box contained what looked like the Frog kit! I never even tried the Matchbox kit, as I had not had a good history with that brand in general. When Revell of Germany released an F.6, I thought that this could be the one, perhaps nice new tooling at the level of their very fine F-4F and Tornado GR.1 kits. I ripped open the box and found…THE FROG KIT! Arghhh…

When Trumpeter released their line of 1:72 Lightning kits, I figured that I was finally going to be able to add one to my collection. I opted for the F.2A/F.6 kit, and was greeted with beautiful mouldings, with nicely recessed panel lines and crisp detailing. But as I’ve often found with “TrumpyBoss” kits, they look great in the box, but later come back to haunt me.

I’m sure every Britmodeller knows the shortcomings of this kit. Here are the known problems that I plan to concentrate on:

1. The absolutely hideous "pinched" rear fuselage section.
2. The even more absolutely hideous pregnant guppy belly tank.
3. The just plain hideous tailpipes and exhaust nozzles.
4. The lack of the numerous kinks in the leading edge of the wings (Trumpy got one right in the yaw axis, but seems to have missed the others in the Z, or pitch, axis. Not sure what I can do, if anything, about this.)
5. The over population of rivets on the tail planes. Every time I look at it, there seems to be more. I think they’re reproducing in the box.
6. Ventral strakes are too large.
7. The main landing gear is too tall.
8. The intake ring has a dull leading edge, and the profile is a tad off.
9. Missile launchers are mounted too far aft.
10. Re-fuelling probe light is on wrong side, pointing out into space instead of pointing at the fuselage.
11. The perfectly in-register, yet perfectly wrong colour, undersized decals.
12. The cockpit and bang seat.
13. The “sealed over” small exhaust port on the port side of the rear fuselage.

(Please feel free to add to my list. I am in no way any kind of an expert on the Lightning! There may be some things that I’ve missed.)

Where to start?? Where else, fire up the Internet, open wallet and start shopping!

On the resin side, I purchased the Aires cockpit and ejection seats, the Quickboost intake ring, the Quickboost rear fuselage corrections and tailpipes/exhaust nozzles, and the Heritage F.6 belly tank. For Photoetch I bought the Eduard S.A. and exterior detail set (Oh boy! More 1:72 brake lines!). For decals, I acquired the beautiful Xtradecal sheet 72088, and selected the markings for XN793 of 92 Squadron based in Germany in 1970. I just love the red and yellow checkerboards on the front fuselage, and the Roundel Blue tail. I also picked up the Xtradecal complete stencil set for the Lightning. Whew! Here is a family shot, and a couple of close-ups of the detail accessories and decal scheme:

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The first area of attention is the rear fuselage. The Aires resin set offers a complete replacement for the rear portion of the fuselage, along with much nicer and larger exhaust nozzles. This photo compares the kit nozzles (right) with the Aires nozzles (left). There is just no way that the small kit exhausts can make the deafening Lightning roar during a full performance take-off!

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Aires designed the replacement fuselage panels so that you can cut along existing panel lines on the kit. Like so:

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I cut out both sides of the fuselage, and then added some styrene strips to provide a support for the new resin panels:

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I then did a test to see how the resin replacement will fit, and it gives the impression that it is a bit short:

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However, the replacement exhaust nozzles incorporate part of the rear fuselage, and when installed the overall length of the model will be quite close to what it should be (my measurements show about 1mm short once the exhausts are installed). To provide a nice mounting surface for the new exhausts, I’ll trim the bottom of the fuselage sides to line up with the replacement panels.

I decided to attach the new rear panels only after I have the two fuselage halves together. That means that I need to finish the cockpit and intake tunnel, as well as cut out the Trumpeter belly tank to allow its replacement by the Heritage piece. So, I turned my attention to the intake tunnel. Here are the two main pieces:

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I immediately noticed that the locating pins that are moulded into the Trumpeter parts will be visible when looking down the intake, so it will be necessary to sand them off. The radome cone and its mounting plate are provided, and will actually hide the seam in the tunnel, so that won’t have to be filled. Here are the intake tunnel pieces after sanding the locating pins off:

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The assembled cockpit sits on top of the intake tunnel. I’m replacing the kit cockpit with the one from Aires (although to be fair, the cockpit and bang seat in the Trumpeter kit are not so bad, and could be detailed nicely). Here is a shot showing the Aires cockpit on the left, and the kit cockpit on the right:

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And one that shows the Aires cockpit side panels, as well as a shot comparing the Aires resin seat with that from the kit:

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With most resin replacement cockpits that I’ve worked with, you need to sand the side of the pit as well as the inside of the fuselage in order to get a good fit, and to avoid bulging out the sides of the front fuselage. With this pit, however, I didn’t find any problem necessitating a lot of sanding to reduce its width, what I found instead was that I needed to sand a curve into the bottom of the pit. This photo shows the bottom of the Aires cockpit (flat) with the bottom of the kit cockpit (curved):

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So the sanding sticks come out, and a-sanding we shall go! Let’s hope there’s enough resin to allow me to make the curve without breaking through into the cockpit floor! Here is the end result:

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Next, a little dry fitting to make sure that everything fits together:

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It looks pretty good to me, so let’s tackle the belly tank now. Numerous sources on the Web describe the belly tank on the Trumpeter as looking like a “pregnant guppy.” I’m not so sure that a guppy can get pregnant (don’t they have to turn into a frog first?) but it sounds like a good description to me. When compared against a 1:72 scale drawing, it is obvious that the kit tank is much too low:

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First, we cut the belly tank out of each half of the fuselage. After the surgery, I assembled the four pieces of the tank so that we can get a good comparison of the kit tank (above) with the replacement tank (below) from Heritage. Here are some pretty telling photos, as there is a significant difference in size:

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But more importantly, and I think this is what really contributes to the Trumpeter belly tank looking so “bulbous” is the cross-section:

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So this is where I am today. Since I will be doing an F.2A Lightning, I need to sand the cannon blisters off of the belly tank, as well as fill the openings for the cannon barrels. I will also be filling all of the panel lines on the resin tank (they look very rather crude for my taste) and I’ll need to re-scribe it later.

Hey, much fun! But I think the results will be worth the effort, and I’ll finally have a nice Lightning to add to my collection. Next task is to fire up my new ultra-quiet compressor (Santa does really well when you do the shopping for him) and we'll start painting the cockpit and intake tunnel.

Cheers for now,
Bill

Edited by Navy Bird, 08 January 2012 - 10:39 PM.


#2 Mark M

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 11:17 PM

watching this one with interest

#3 Dr.Jellyfingers

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:07 AM

Excellent progress and nice WIP so far!


Si.

#4 Moofles

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:17 AM

Interesting progress, why not just get the heritage lightning though? As it has all of the trumpy issues fixed.

#5 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:39 AM

Interesting progress, why not just get the heritage lightning though? As it has all of the trumpy issues fixed.

Where's the fun in that? :)

My best buddy gave me the TrumpyBoss kit last year, so I want to build it. Besides, other than items 1-13 in my list above, what's not to like? :wacko:

Maybe I'll pick up the Heritage F.6 resin kit for my next Lightning project, which will most likely be the F.6 because I want to put underwing drop tanks on TOP of the wings!

Cheers,
Bill

Edited by Navy Bird, 18 December 2011 - 04:28 PM.


#6 MakingModelsAgain

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 01:01 AM

I love this kind of dedication to a build which at the present eludes my capabilities!

#7 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 01:15 AM

I love this kind of dedication to a build which at the present eludes my capabilities!

Oh, I don't know about that. I watched your video where you built a vacformer out of a toaster. Now that's dedication and skill! :speak_cool:

Cheers,
Bill

#8 Tim T

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 09:05 AM

That is looking great Bill. I have the F1a in the stash with the Hertitage rear end. It is probably less work than the Aries one but like the belly tank will need some rescribing. Keep up the good work!

#9 Duncan B

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 09:09 AM

The Fuselage is approx. 1.5mm too short which shows up forward of the leading edge of the wing. Trumpeter tried to allow for this by making the intake ring longer. I started to address this by fitting a plug in the fuselage but have got no further as other builds come along, occasionally it comes off the shelf of doom and gets a little more done to it so maybe it'll get finished some day. Also the undercarriage was too long to allow for the too deep belly, you'll have to shorten the u/c legs.
Good luck with it all.

#10 Bill Clark

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 06:57 PM

An excellent start there Bill! Looking forward to this one, and a good choice on the F2A as well. Heritage Aviation's ventral tank may be a better overall shape - but the Aden cannon blisters look woefully too big!

#11 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:00 PM

The Fuselage is approx. 1.5mm too short which shows up forward of the leading edge of the wing. Trumpeter tried to allow for this by making the intake ring longer. I started to address this by fitting a plug in the fuselage but have got no further as other builds come along, occasionally it comes off the shelf of doom and gets a little more done to it so maybe it'll get finished some day. Also the undercarriage was too long to allow for the too deep belly, you'll have to shorten the u/c legs.
Good luck with it all.

Thanks. The main gear legs are number 7 on my list.

When I compare the fuselage halves to my 1:72 scale F.6 drawings I don't see anything out of whack forward. The cockpit opening, the wing leading edges, the front gear bay, the fuselage shape, the front of the belly tank...they all line up very well. The only place I see the fuselage short is right at the exhaust nozzles, and that seems to be due to the Aires replacement. I'll try to take a picture of it. I've read several 1:32 Trumpy Lightning builds that clearly show what you've described, though. I wonder if the 1:72 version was like that to begin with, but they fixed it?

Cheers,
Bill

#12 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:03 PM

An excellent start there Bill! Looking forward to this one, and a good choice on the F2A as well. Heritage Aviation's ventral tank may be a better overall shape - but the Aden cannon blisters look woefully too big!

I thought so, too. I'll be removing the blisters, as I don't believe the F.2A had any cannons in the belly tank. Just in the nose. The pictures I have of the actual aircraft that I'm modelling, XN793, do not show any blisters.

Cheers,
Bill

#13 Bill Clark

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:07 PM

Interesting progress, why not just get the heritage lightning though? As it has all of the trumpy issues fixed.

The Heritage Lightning? In all honesty it looks like a resin copy of the Hasegawa kit - with overly heavy engraved - and wonky in places - panel lines. It may correct some of the problems with the Trumpeter kit, but raises a whole load of its own issues. I bought one, second hand a while ago and was very disappointed with it.

#14 Bill Clark

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:10 PM

I thought so, too. I'll be removing the blisters, as I don't believe the F.2A had any cannons in the belly tank. Just in the nose. The pictures I have of the actual aircraft that I'm modelling, XN793, do not show any blisters.

Cheers,
Bill

Thats correct Bill - interestingly some F2's had an additional pair of cannons either side of the nose wheel bay - this was retained when the F2's were upgraded to F2a. I've not seen any pic's (I don't think?) of a 4 cannon F2a - but I daresay someone will be along soon to correct that!!
Bill

#15 Duncan B

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:26 PM

Thanks. The main gear legs are number 7 on my list.

When I compare the fuselage halves to my 1:72 scale F.6 drawings I don't see anything out of whack forward. The cockpit opening, the wing leading edges, the front gear bay, the fuselage shape, the front of the belly tank...they all line up very well. The only place I see the fuselage short is right at the exhaust nozzles, and that seems to be due to the Aires replacement. I'll try to take a picture of it. I've read several 1:32 Trumpy Lightning builds that clearly show what you've described, though. I wonder if the 1:72 version was like that to begin with, but they fixed it?

Cheers,
Bill


I spent a small fortune on a fleet of Trumpeter Lightnings when they first came out and mostly they are still in the boxes as I was so disappointed with them. One has been hacked to add the plug and another has been used as a donor for the Neomega T bird fuselage. It's the relationship between the very forward edge of the wing where it meets the fuselage to the position of the cockpit that looks off to me, the wing looks too far forward and gives the fuselage a squashed nose look about it. The intake ring being longer makes the overall length ok against scale plans but things just look out of whack at the front end. The canopy appears to sit too tall as well which doesn't help the front end's looks to my eye.

#16 Bill Clark

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:30 PM

Thats correct Bill - interestingly some F2's had an additional pair of cannons either side of the nose wheel bay - this was retained when the F2's were upgraded to F2a. I've not seen any pic's (I don't think?) of a 4 cannon F2a - but I daresay someone will be along soon to correct that!!
Bill

I'm not sure - but this MAY just have a 4 cannon fit - though I suspect it may just be a darkened panel.....

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#17 Bill Clark

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:40 PM

I spent a small fortune on a fleet of Trumpeter Lightnings when they first came out and mostly they are still in the boxes as I was so disappointed with them. One has been hacked to add the plug and another has been used as a donor for the Neomega T bird fuselage. It's the relationship between the very forward edge of the wing where it meets the fuselage to the position of the cockpit that looks off to me, the wing looks too far forward and gives the fuselage a squashed nose look about it. The intake ring being longer makes the overall length ok against scale plans but things just look out of whack at the front end. The canopy appears to sit too tall as well which doesn't help the front end's looks to my eye.


I have to agree with all of that Duncan. I'd corrected the 1/32nd scale kit by adding a 3mm gap to the fuselage, but with my 1/72nd scale F1a that I'm planning to start soon, I'm going to ignore that. I will though move the wing back - by 1.5mm to compensate. The nose ring is far too deep - I'd considered removing the extra plastic from the back but will remove it from the front and re profile. Regarding the canopy - I think the fuselage sill is a bit too low - I'll raise that a bit, to see if it improves it. The wings may just be a bit too high as well - no doubt to compensate for the far too deep ventral tank (on the F6/F2a) and over-extended undercarriage units on both kits!

Overall the detail on the kit is good - and a great shame they concentrated on that aspect rather than accuracy!! I still think that the Matchbox kit is the best of a poor bunch in this scale - I'd certainly say its the best starting point for an F6 or an F2a!

C'mon Airfix - 1/72nd Lightnings - you know it makes sense!!

#18 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:42 PM

Hi Bill,

I think this shot shows that there are no blisters on XN973. I've also seen some shots of XN973 in a green camo...presumably after these shots were taken. Those didn't show any cannon blisters either.

Cheers,
Bill

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#19 Navy Bird

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 08:24 PM

OK, back to the model. Here is a picture that shows the cockpit sitting on top of the intake trunking:

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Getting this curve right is really important to making the resin cockpit fit into the fuselage correctly. My next step is to paint the cockpit Dark Admiralty Grey (which I mixed from some Gunze colors - it was all that I had - to match an on-line colour server representation). Yeah, I know, that's a recipe for disaster, but the resulting colour is a bit darker than Dark Gull Gray (standard US cockpit colour) and seems to match other pit photos that I've seen.

The inside of the intake trunking is natural metal - correct? Aluminium? The kit also includes the front face (fan) of the lower engine, which is located at the back of the intake tunnel. To me, this seems too far forward (it's just a bit back from the rear of the front landing gear bay). Is that right? I've found several walkaround pictures on-line that clearly show you can indeed see the fan when looking down the tunnel. And it doesn't look very deep, either. I'll most likely keep it this way, as not too many folks will look in there anyway. Except for some judge in some contest sometime... :)

Regarding the length of the fuselage, I've tried to take some photos that show the plastic compared to my scale drawings: Here is the first, which shows the front end:

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Not the best shot, and there is some perspective due to the short focal length, but I can explain what I'm trying to show. First, the front of the fuselage is lined up with the front of the scale drawing, not including the nose ring. I then made sure that the top of the spine was lined up as well. From those alignments as a benchmark, we can look at some other points. First, the cockpit opening appears to correlate well. (There is an additional piece of plastic that goes on the front of the spine, and this fills the gap that you see in the picture and again correlates well with the drawing.) The bottom of the front fuselage does not have quite the same curve as the drawings, it is flatter. The location for the front of the belly tank also matches the drawing. The notch in the fuselage spine for the antennae also matches. The location and size of the front landing gear bay correlates.

(Regarding the wings, I measured the location of the mounting slot on both the fuselage and on the wing. Using these measurements, I calculated where the leading edge of the wing would be relative to the drawing. It ends up about 1mm forward of where it should be. This may be the error that Duncan pointed out.)

The width of the intake ring on my scale drawing is 4mm. The Trumpeter ring is 5mm (also as Duncan pointed out) and the Aires replacement ring is 4mm. It would seem that the Aires part is correct, and it has a sharper leading edge and a better profile when viewed from the side, matching the fuselage quite nicely.

Now, let's look at the rear of the fuselage:

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Here, it seems obvious that something is wrong. Tail fin looks very good, but the back of the fuselage is too short. However, the resin exhaust nozzles from Aires have a portion of the rear fuselage moulded around them. You can see this earlier in the thread when I showed the picture of both the Aires nozzles and those from the kit. If you factor this in, you find that the overall length is about 2mm short. And the bump on the bottom of the rear fuselage (tailskid? light? antenna fairing?) is most definitely in the wrong place, but that should be an easy fix.

Since all of the major alignments correlate except for the area around the exhaust nozzles, I will limit any fixes to that area. Should I move the wings back 1mm? Easy to do, but for me the error is pretty small. Now it's time to start painting the pit and the intake tunnel. This will be my FIRST usage of Alclad, using their regular colors (not the shiny ones). What's best to use as a primer, considering that I don't have theirs? :doh:

Cheers,
Bill

#20 Duncan B

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 01:50 PM

I have to agree with all of that Duncan. I'd corrected the 1/32nd scale kit by adding a 3mm gap to the fuselage, but with my 1/72nd scale F1a that I'm planning to start soon, I'm going to ignore that. I will though move the wing back - by 1.5mm to compensate. The nose ring is far too deep - I'd considered removing the extra plastic from the back but will remove it from the front and re profile. Regarding the canopy - I think the fuselage sill is a bit too low - I'll raise that a bit, to see if it improves it. The wings may just be a bit too high as well - no doubt to compensate for the far too deep ventral tank (on the F6/F2a) and over-extended undercarriage units on both kits!

Overall the detail on the kit is good - and a great shame they concentrated on that aspect rather than accuracy!! I still think that the Matchbox kit is the best of a poor bunch in this scale - I'd certainly say its the best starting point for an F6 or an F2a!

C'mon Airfix - 1/72nd Lightnings - you know it makes sense!!


We've all had this discussion a few times before I'm sure. On first impressions when opening the box I was so delighted but once a dry fit had all the components in place it was obvious, even in 1/72 scale, that something was not right. As you say all the individual parts have the best detail of any Lightning in that scale (some in the wrong place mind) but it is like all the components are slightly out of whack. It's like looking at non identical twins, you can tell they are closely related but not quite the same!

Ditto Airfix. A scaled down version of the 1/48 would be fine by me, is a new tooling too much to wish for?