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  1. I just wanted to say thank you for your very kind comments. I think the tomcat has a special place in the heart of many perhaps inspired by a certain pair of films, whether it was responsible for the downing of some Mig 28s [sic] or splashing a pair of zeros... but it's an impressive machine and just amazingly beautiful from almost any angle... I've enjoyed making three so far... more to come, promise. And thanks for the comments about the build (warts n all) paintwork and photography. I think the results look ok. The mirror works after a fashion... I'm still looking for a front-face mirror for the perfect reflection... or maybe I'll get a piece of polished aluminium that should do the trick too. I think a diorama would be nice. I do have the Italieri carrier deck section to put togther at some point (although it's a little warped) and i'm just near finishing a verlinden deck tractor mule... but posing on a white (or blue) background with just a few crew is, I think, a nice minimalist approach... which works after a fashion. So thanks again - and once I get around to it, we'll see what I can make of the Finemolds tooling
  2. Thanks.... whenever I need a pick me up, I just watch the first few minutes.... https://youtu.be/bNxvXj9nff4
  3. They're lovely markings aren't they. I always admired these but somehow the early vf41 black ace flying pencil schemes just didn't do it for me. Of the main glory schemes, VF84 is still to be done, but I'm still struggling to find a good quality set of aftermarket decals that would work for a late 80s high vis scheme... I've got some but their quality is not as good as I'd like. If only cartograf did them all eh. But thanks.... onwards with the next one after a short break J
  4. Thanks Nick... very kind of you to say. It's an interesting little project, to work through the modern 72nd offerings of these fine machines and how cost does not always relate to quality, although this one produces a fine result. With each one I learn something more about the aircraft and try to find the benefits and wrinkles of each kit... So far, I'd day this produces the most detailed kit, but with convexities along the way. The 2019 tool academy is a good balance. I'm looking at the finemolds one now, and narrowing on a solution to the oddly shaped wings, so we'll see what else that one throws my way as we go. But thanks. I do my best Jonathan
  5. Thanks very much. I strive to tackle each project looking for its own merits. This kit has its complexities and challenges but looks to produce a decent result, so I'll be doing another at some point. Cheers
  6. After a few weeks, I thought I ought to post a RFI topic to sum up the final result of my 9 month build that I documented in the WIP thread below. The build did require some effort and concentration, and the kit is quite complex for the scale, but the end result is, I think, worthwhile. There are issues, but they're resolvable... and it'd probably my best Tomcat so far. So, lets just add some photos: This is probably a good one to start with, as a summary of what's what: GWH F-14A Tomcat detailed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Then some general ones... you may notice in some further down, the refueling probe is positioned a bit low. I had to remove it and reposition it higher, which is shown in the later photos that appear first... below. Tomcat upper rear view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Nose details and refuelling probe angle correction by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Reflections by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Electricals test by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Tomcat by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Electricians' check by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Tomcat tailfeathers open by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Servicing Bandwagon 202 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202; admired by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Port front quarter (Wings dirty) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Port rear quarter (Wings dirty) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Rear Starboard quarter by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Port nose quarter (wings clean, parked in oversweep) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Starboard elevation by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I'm happy with the final result... just pondering the next one now Jonathan
  7. And I forgot to post an upper view... so here's one from behind with everything open Tomcat upper rear view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Jonathan
  8. Good evening all, Well, the task is now complete and I managed to assemble the aircraft without any breakages… not quite issue free, but points learned along the way. So, the order I ended up with was: Nose gear and nose gear doors test fit (fettle until fit) Arrester hook Nose gear doors and nose gear fitted. Rear doors simultaneously with gear leg, then retraction strut. Lower airbrakes (were quite tight) Cockpit side upper steps Main gear Main gear doors Nose gear forward doors Pylons Wheels (Nose then mains) Side nose air probes (4) Upper airbrake Refueling probe Nose probe (masters) The stores (ACMI pod and AIM9) The ladder and central coaming, seats and electrician are all currently a loose fit; the ladder has a wire piece that helps secure it in place without the need for glue. All were secured using Bob Smith Industries odourless CA glue The forward masters probe I had coated in AK True Metals AK457 Steel “wax”, left that for a bit and then buffed with a cotton bud. This seemed to work well.. and left to “dry” before fitting at the end (as above) One clash I did find was noticed when I test fitted the wings. I tried the dirty wings first and these were fine. I then test fitted the clean wings and went to sweep them…. No, they got stuck on something (annoying as always went ok before. A quick check found that one of the mounting lugs of the rear main gear doors protruded through too far… as shown below. This was carefully cut away with a sharp Swann Morten blade… cut flush and then all was ok. Assembly snag by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The yaw string was needed at the end. My usual choice of thin rigging line wouldn't really work as it's black and wouldn't really show up, so I selected to take a small piece of cotton, separate the three cores of the thread and use just one, and then retwist that. It has separated a bit at the end, but so would the yaw string. It's secured with a blob of Klear. Yaw string bits by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The job was essentially completed. I still needed to paint the electrician I wanted in the rear seat (which I then did over a few evenings) and test fits were ok. It’d be better to put him in the front but that’d not be possible without some surgery to get his legs/feet around the central panel, so in the back he went. Interestingly, I had a pair of fully finished GWH seats that I detailed for my Academy kit build but then didn’t use (I used the kit seats with Reedoak crew seated) so I went to fit these, but I couldn’t get them in.. something was snagging. I think it was that I’d detailed the rear bulkheads of each pit, which coincided with the nicely cut away detailed rear face of the Aires seat… but not the GWH seat; so they wouldn’t fit. The Aires ones went in fine; thankfully. Seats and occupant by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr One issue that bugged me for a while was that the refueling probe sat a bit low. After living with it for a few days, I decided to try to remove it without causing too much damage... using a pair of tweezers on the probe body rocking it back and forth I was able to free and remove it... clean up the residue dry glue, redrill the hole and remount in a slightly steeper position that would then clear the upper deck and be visible from the port side So, I’ll post a quick selection of “finished” photos here and do a RFI thread separately. I’ll also think about a summary of what I think of the model. I’ve made some mistakes as I’ve gone along, and some aspects I’d watch for (per this thread) next time. I think there will be a next time as whilst the kit can be complex, the end result looks worthwhile. The Academy kit was easier and gave almost as nice a result at the end… so I’ll do another of those too… but we’ll have a break for a bit first, and get some perspective. Reflections by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Refuelling probe detail by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Tomcat tailfeathers open by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Bandwagon 202 Port front quarter (Wings dirty) by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Tomcat by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Electricals test by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Thanks for reading and for sticking with me on this journey... 9 months in the making! Jonathan
  9. Thanks for your kind comments. We were away this week so no progress until a couple of hours today, carefully dry fitting, checking, fettling and then once happy, adding a few bits with odourless superglue. Still a work in progress and she's becoming progressively more challenging to hold... but it was always going to be so. That's the underside prior to adding the wheels.... after which it could stand happily. So.... hopefully I'll get more progress this long weekend, although the sunshine is pulling me outside more today... writing this sat in the garden. Thanks all Jonathan
  10. Wow. Only just found this topic. Will certainly follow with interest. Superb modelling
  11. Evening all. I thought I’d just post am update given that progress has been a little slow and sporadic recently, but some bits have been achieved. So…. The wings needed their wing-sweep marks adding. Unlike lots of representation, I tend to opt for a blend of lighter colours than are seen on certain models... but then again, if modelling a late-service example, the marks will be darker due to the graphite (?) lubricant that was used. For this, judging from photos, I kept to a pallet that was similar to the blended colours used on the wing bags themselves. I added the clean wings to the model and swept them. I then applied masking tape where the wing protruded (the clean bit) for both the top and bottom. I then removed the wings, and by comparing this with the layout on the dirty wings, added take to that set too. For the scuffs, I use small dabs of oilbrusher … white, black and starship filth, blended to lighter colours than the harsh brown and black and shades in between. Wing scuff marks in progress by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr You may note that I’ve drilled a hole in the plasticard wing holders. This is the position of the wing pivot (tested by taking a part from a GWH kit and slotting that in place and then drilling these bits out) With this, I know the centre point of sweep… so I can put a cocktail stick in this, and then wrap some cotton (see last photo) around this and a brush, and then sweep the dots in an arc… shortening the cotton loop to different radii to suit all sweep marks. After a lot of blending, some reapplying and then further blending with a soft brush, a harder flat brush and then a cotton bud, the result shown is achieved on the upper and lower faces. Wing scuff marks, dragged and tidied. Top. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Wing scuff marks, dragged and tidied. Bottom by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I then set about adding the slats and spoilers using carefully (or not) odourless superglue. Here, I must have managed to get a drop on my finger tip… and in applying a little pressure to the starboard slat managed to pull the paint away. One step backwards. Oops by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr After putting another £5 in the swear jar, I sanded this area carefully, then lightly masked with some post-it notes and drifted a few light layers of light gull grey over the area. A coat of aqua gloss to this seemed to blend it all back in enough afterwards. It wasn’t my only mistake – more of that in a moment. So here’s a quick status shot taken at the time after everything had been given a few light coats of Mission Models Semi-gloss with a very light dusting of Mission Models matt over the engine exhaust to de-sheen them… I also applied a cut out mask around the anti-glare panel and gave that a light dusting of matt too… to flatten that a bit further. Anyway, all seen here - with all bits that were in hand at the time. Parts count. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I’d started weathering the upper deck, especially the flat area between the engines, with various oil brusher shades (as before) but almost blended to nothing, to just give a hint and tell tale of footfall likely in this area. However, it was at about this point, that I compared this one with my other two tomcats and noticed that something was missing. I’d forgotten the upper section of the compressor ring(?) warning stripe. I rubbed the local area down with some very fine paper (2500) to smooth, and then used some small bits of post-it to mask local areas to apply some aqua gloss to give a good layer for the decals. Another oops. Stripe forgotten by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I looked at the GWH decals and quite honestly, I wasn’t impressed. Expecting to see a nice clean straight red line, the decal looked like it had been brushed in stages and it was hardly consistent in width. So… resorting to my preference, I cut out 5 shorter sections from the rest of the DXM set and these settled very well. Using the short sections allowed me to leave the panel joins clear... something that may not be accurate, but hinted at panel replacements perhaps. A very small amount to Daco strong was applied where it sat over the fin leading edges, but I can’t recommend the DXM decals enough, they are excellent… not to say double excellent. Stripe applied.... and re blended by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr This was given a localised blast of semi gloss and some more oil brusher to blend it all back together again. As an aside, as I needed to sort out some more ground crew and removed a further one from its 3D print mount, I also set about putting my Verlinden tractor together. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get the figure to sit correctly on the seat so may need to make do with this, but I’ll work on whether I can add something to the floor for him to rest his foot on at the right height. TBD The Verlinden bits needed some clean up but went together well once he mating surfaces were roughed up a bit and using some medium thick superglue. I drilled out the wheels to sit on a 0.6mm wire axle, and then drilled holes through at front and back to accommodate these to allow it to sit right. I think it’ll do. Lots of details to add and fabricate, but something that will suit sitting with my last Tomcat (Wichita 103) if not this one. Verlinden deck tractor. Reedoak figure by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr One task I’m never keen on and need to build up to is unmasking the canopy and windscreen… and cockpit tub of course. But, in this instance, it all went quite well. I’d used the Eduard self adhesive parts and these came off ok. On the canopy, I’d applied Tamiya masking tape on the inside and then filed-in around the Eduard tape with Maskol. The cockpit was masked using plasticar sections I’d cut to shape and Secure with Maskol as a securing sealing but easy to remove bond. But, no all was good. The canopy sill needed painting (a mix of dark grey and black humbrol paints) to blend in with the faded black elsewhere. There was a very small amount of bleed on the windscreen that was carefully scraped away with a flattened (but smooth) end of a cocktail stick. Windscreen and cockpit unmasked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I then took the canopy piece (it doesn’t have the lower frame fitted at this stage) and dropped that on top. What was evident was how clear the canopy was. I had polished this with Tamiya compound when removing the seam, but it’s a lot clearer and optically better than pervious ones. So, I won’t be needing to use Klear on it. Before frame added, canopy test fit. Passed. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Moving on with the details, I added some Glue and Glaze into the IR sensor and left he model propped vertically overnight. It didn’t dry as smooth as previously, but it’s good enough and better than the kit (or quickboost) clear plastic bit. I also added the small clear red plastic (Light representation) without too much swearing and only moderate sweating. IR lens added and light fitted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Back to the canopy and the Eduard windscreen frame/mirrors, single mirror (although that came from a Eduard for Academy set] and of course the windscreen frame with handle (that I forgot to photograph. The single mirror in the Eduard GWH kit comes on a length of straight frame that is supposed to be painted black and then glued inside the canopy… but that sounds too risky for me. So, I use what I have done before and added a thin strip of black PVC tape instead… it’s hardly visible but does still bulk up the inner part of the canopy as you’d want to, and then you can glue the single mirror to the crown of the tape without fear of damaging the clear plastic. The frames here were primed, then painted a slightly-dirty black (a mix of tire black and black) so as to not be too dark – a matt “scale” black. Once dry, I carefully applied the mirror faces using my small Molotov pen. Once dry, I carefully went back around the mirror edges with some black and a (very) fine brush. Good enough I think. You’ll see that these are attached to the end of cocktail sticks (using a thin pva type glue) on the faces that won’t be visible once assembled) to allow handling. Canopy frame and mirrors painted by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The cockpit. The seats were fitted out with the Quinta harnesses and handles. These were applied with a little drop of pva and settled very well. I have left the seat lower harness off the rear seat as the crewman (plane captain) will sit in there… so I need to keep the seat pan clear. But adding the other parts did not interfere with the figure when seated. These seats are Aires and came up nicely. Now… for my academy kit, I’d used the GWH seats and added the Eduard harnesses to detail these up. I then added pilots to that kit, so went back to the Academy kit seats (not so detailed) but allowed the pilots to sit better (not atop the PE harnesses). So, I had the GWH seats to hand, so thought I drop these in. They wouldn’t go in! The area between the thigh cushions on the Aires seats is quite wide, with the ejection loop in between. This sits in nicely around the control stick in the front and the rear of the control coaming (with joystick) in the rear, but the GWH kit seats are a bit narrower in that area and try as I might, I could not get the seats to drop in. Bear in mind that I’ve added rear bulkhead details to both cockpits, so this pushes the seats forward – or it would had I not made use of the seat cut outs at the rear to interface with… whereas the GWH seats didn’t have that. Ok, so that’s probably the problem. Not an issue, but best not to swap seats mid – build… so I’m keeping to the Aires ones shown here. Note also that the RIO coaming is the Aires item for the Hasegawa kit refined to fit here. An option I’d do again for another GWH – A. Although I’m not sure what I’d do for a GWH B or D. Hmmm. Will think about that before opening those kits. Cockpit reassembly check. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Cockpit view, port side. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr So, that’s about it. The only other test fit was to pop the canopy on in the open position. I’d added a “tongue” at the back of the canopy frame part, to fit in a slot I’d cut in the forward face of the upper deck, and that seemed to work well. The forward tongue of the inner frame sits between the two uprights of the big A frame with a nice interference fit, although I’ll add, or make, a jack item to sit in there to hold the angle reliably. Canopy open test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr So that’s it. I need to write up an order of assembly now… recognising that the more parts get added, the harder handling the model becomes. I may start with the arrester hook, then the side AoA and Smart probe kit parts (painted but shown here on the sprue sections) as I’ve not done a test fit on those. Then the cockpit pop out platforms (main ladder near the end). The gear and gear doors probably come next, then pylons with the masters nose probe, refuelling probe and lower fold out step near the end. The wings will slot on, as will the horiz stabs. But I’ll give it all some thought first. Ready for final assembly by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Thanks for reading and sticking with me on this journey. Jonathan
  12. Hi Jacques, Thanks for the reminder about these. Yes, they look superb... I'm just not sure Mrs H would be happy with me extending the house mortgage to afford one But yes, stunning work... and inspiring Cheers Jonathan
  13. Keith.... I do keep looking; you never know As for bases, yes I know what you mean. I bought an italeri carrier deck section... it's the cat section so of limited use for a parked aircraft, but I was interested in how it depicted the surface. All those tie downs will need work, but I do have some etch parts for those somewhere
  14. Hi Keith. Thanks for the kind comments and for noticing one aspect that is worthy of further explanation. I guess, I was suggesting that the aircraft was ashore at Fallon with this load-out... and I'd spent some time looking at photos and trying to convince myself that the Reedoak figures would be ok for this, that I would find photos of ground crew in full "at sea" gear, but alas... not really. I alternatively sought through the figure sets to see if any were offered in the less-dressed against the elements look, but I didn't find any - but I was only looking at US Modern figures now that I think about it so further searching may be worthwhile. Again... I did find a photo of a VF31 aircraft on the deck of the Forrestal with a dummy Sidewinder fitted (that's all) ... so would it be likely that one may have a TACTS pod too.... possibly not that likely, but some artistic license may come into play... maybe it was a cold day at Fallon ... but yes you're right; it's not ideal. The figures are for all my tomcats though... I've painted up 6 before to go around my Hobbyboss and Academy builds, interchangeably so yes, flexibility will be applied. But... good catch But I'll not let on further if you don't Cheers Jonathan
  15. Good eventing. I thought it was time that I posted a bit of a catch-up update after my brief post last week. So, where to start. Work has been quite busy, we had some time away with friends (which was nice) and I seem to have damaged my knee (which is a bit aggravating) … and I have managed a bit of work on BW-202… focusing my spare-distraction time on that instead of writing updates; sometimes it’s good to get away from the computer. So, after Christmas, I spent some time browsing the Reedoak website as I fancied some more figures to go with the models… I think there should always be more figures than aircraft… and I’m working on it. I ordered a fair selection of items and selected these two to clean up first, to accompany this model once finished… along with the figure sat in the read cockpit previously cleaned up; I might clean up a standing pilot figure.. but I haven’t yet. Anyway… these are lovely; painting them will be fun (!) New figures from Reedoak by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The other non-aircraft item is the stores. As previously mentioned (I think) I’m not looking for a ship-based load-out, but a NAS Fallon set-up. Hence the dummy Sidewinder and ADMI pod. The Sidewinder is from the GWH kit, or maybe from a spare kit as I think I used all of the ones from this kit on my Academy F-14 build. I could have left the fins off, as sometimes the dummy units do not have them, but the photos I worked from did. This was primed and then the main body (except the nose) sprayed white ( as a base) and then I masked the end off and coated that with a mix of Alclad Stainless Steel and Jet exhaust. Once dry, I masked the metal areas and applied a mix of Mission Models MMP-122 Bright Blue (Mecha) and white … and then shaded a darker mix (with a drop of black) around the raised edges, followed by a slightly lighter mix (again) on the main flat and raised edges… all with the airbrush on a low pressure. I then noticed that the fins should have been white (!) so… after leaving it a few days, I masked the body leaving just the fins and sprayed those white. A little clean up afterwards was all that was necessary. The ACMI pod, or AN/APX-95 TACTS pod, is from the Hasegawa Aircraft Weapons set:V (US Missiles ad Launcher set)… these can be picked up at a reasonable cost every now and again … worth watching out on a certain bidding site. The decals wouldn’t suit the particular configuration I had in mind… but I found a solution in the end. For this, I mixed a suitable orange using Mission models MMP-101 Insignia red and MMP-007 Yellow which I applied over a suitable coat of primer. Some highlights were applied, but they’re more subtle. Once dry, I masked the end and applied the black MMP-047, and then when this was dry, I brush painted some Alclad Stainless Steel to the rear part of the air data probe nozzle, finishing the front section of this off with a Molotov pen once all was dry. Stores. AIM-9L dummy and ACMI pod by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I’d got to the stage where I could unmask the bays previously covered up on the fuselage (not the cockpit – not yet!) so the masking for the gear bays, refuelling probe bay, cockpit crew access ladder bay and airbrake bays, could all be removed, carefully, and put away for the next one. I then decided to try a test fit of the undercarriage, on the basis that it was last test fitted before any paint was applied. The nose gear was first, and went in with a bit of a wiggle. The retraction strut is missing here, and that will go in once the leg is fully installed. A test fit showed that it would be fine, just a bit tight. Nose gear test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The main gear also went in ok – port side shown here. Note the wire for holding it while it’s painted. Looked ok – but gear legs and main gear bays were pre-paint detailing at this stage. Main gear test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I also did a test fit of the doors… they wouldn’t stay in place on their own (without glue) but at least they would fit ok afterwards. I recall that I had issues with this on my first two F-14s; this once seemed a bit more refined. Gear test fit and all the doors by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr A test fit of the airbrakes was also conducted… looking very red at this stage as they’ve not been detail-painted yet, but the test fit showed they’d sit quite nicely, fully open. Airbrake test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Back to the main gear again … and a wash (or two) and a little detail painting and they look a little better. For the wash, I used Mig PLW deep grey panel line wash. Main gear bay- washed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr A quick photo whilst I popped the wings and checked for a harmony between the shading on the fuselage and wings… seems ok. At this stage, I’d added a little aqua gloss to the fuselage and then added some panel lining. For the undersides, where grime accumulates, I used the Mig PLW deep grey panel line wash, as it’s a nice dirty colour. In other areas, I used the medium, and on the upper surfaces I used the light grey (except around the spine removal panels, where the dark grey was called upon again) Underside check for harmony by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr A couple fo photos of the engine/exhaust combo. This is the Aires exhaust nozzle for the Hasegawa kit (they don’t do one for the GWH, but the size of this one is good). I tried the others I had in stock – Hobby boss and Academy, but they’re not the right size (they’re all different, but all still smaller than the nozzle for the Fujimi kit) First photo is an overall exterior image; the second is looking down the pipe, where the Eduard PE is seen sat atop the rear fan spinner. The insides were painted with a mixture of warmer Alcalds – pale burnt metal giving the warm glow colour with some stainless steel and jet exhaust mixed in around the fan blades and in the tube to give a nit more depth. Having modelled this one with both nozzles in the open position, I wanted these to look reasonable as they’d be easier to see than if the nozzles were closed. Anyway, I think they’re good enough Engine detail 1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Engine detail 2 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr A few other details that were worked up to this point included the wheels and arrester hook. The main wheels are Armoury wheels (I like these for mid-life wheel depictions), the nose wheels are True Details (from a F-14D set) as I think these are the nicest resin nose wheels about. They were primed then painted white (MMP-001) then sealed with some aqua gloss and the hubs then masked. I sprayed the tyres using a slightly warm black mix using enamels (so I can clean them us slowly if here's overspray); is used humbrol enamels, using dark earth and black. Once sprayed and unmasked, the rims could be tidied with a cocktail stick softened in white spirit (a day or two after the pain had dried) and then any more black can be added with a thin mix, with a fine brush around the rim. Once dried for several days, I remasked the entire sides leaving just the tread faces and sprayed a thin mix of tyre back MMP-040, darkened with a little black MMP-047 to soften the running faces. It didn’t give the contrast I expected, but it’s there. I might lighten the areas between the treads with some powders later. The Arrester hook was the kit part although I did detail this just a little by refining the hook attachment point, reprofiling it away from the body to make it separate. This might show up better in a later photo. Bits that dangle by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr That was that…apart from a few tidy up items, all items were now ready for decals/transfers (call them what you will)… so a good couple of coats of Aqua Gloss went on all bits… some seen here in one of the two in-use drying/storing boxes for this model. Ready for aqua gloss by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Decals I’d been pondering about how to approach the tail markings for a while. I was using the decals from the Hasegawa (Atlantic Squadrons) kit… and a good friend who previously spent a lot of time on here contributing a huge amount of guidance and knowledge to anyone detailing their 1/72 F-14s, that had inspired me at the time, and who has recently been on TV in a programme about his day-job, warned me that they were a little thick (for armour plating). I would be using a large one for the fins… or I could paint the insignia red and then use the separate Felix/bomb, Modex and USS Forrestal decals. I think, had I not yet fitted the fins, that I would have painted them. Having fitted them, the thought of getting the red slab and stripes masked and airbrushed without issue, especially on the insides, left me to wonder if the decals could indeed be worked. I had two sets of the decals (two atlantic sqn F-14 kits) so I took a spare fin out of the kit box and tried to apply a spare decal to it. Whilst I did damage it a bit, I found that by trimming the decal tight to the colouring and then by giving it a few coats of Daco Strong, and then leaving it a lone for at least a day, it would settle.. and where it didn’t (around the reinforcing strake), a slice with a shape blade and another application of Daco, did the trick... well, good enough for me. The photo shows a cruel close up prior to final tidying and settling. Settling those thick decals by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I spent about a week working these on... one at a time and not rushing it. Some tidying up with some paint along the trailing edge was needed, but given that the Hasegawa kit has broad fins, these were a good fit and needed only about 0.5mm taking off at the upper end of the trailing edge. Fins... done by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Once these were settled, aqau glossed, cleaned up and left alone for a bit, it was time to move along with the other decals. I start off with the big ones so that I can work the smaller ones in and around them to suit. I started with another trick one, the port side nose national insignia. I was intending to use a mix of the Hasegawa kit (thick) decals (only when needed), the GWH kit decals (when needed) and a Furball Stencil set (as these are really nice). The GWH kit has a star/bar national insignia cut away to sit over the crew access ladder bay, but the blue used is quite pale. I did try this, but I found that by lining the cut out with the hole, it left the star sitting too low for BW202; so I took it off an put it back on the backing paper to dry off. I then took one of the furball national insignia and added this… they’re quite thin and very crisp; it settled well with some Daco strong (and patience) and once it was dry, I sliced the opening with a sharp blade and removed the piece over the hole. I did not dispose of that, but I re-moistened it and added it to the back of the door behind the ladder. The bit I’d cut away was slightly smaller than the opening, but once on the door, hardly any edge was noticeable; it’ll be mostly hidden anyway. Good stuff that Daco strong! The only other item to address was cutting away part of the bar as it sat over the rear side probe plate (the other AOA probe).. but I’d not attempted that at the time of the photo. Further decals were then added, the furball ones being used where suitable as they’re font was much, much crisper than any of the others I had to hand. Nose, port side. Getting there by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr On the nose, the most prominent decals are the Modex numbers. For this, I was using the Hasegawa decals and again the challenge of thick decals presented itself. I started off by slicing around the decal as close to the printed bits as possible, to remove excess of the thick carrier film. For the port side, the additional complication is the position of the sharp pointy angle of attack probe. I took my photocopy of the decal sheet and cut out the modex number (the right one as they are handed) and aligned this with the location on the nose and worked out where the probe would be (checking against photos) and elected to separate the rear “2” of the decal and cut away just a little into its leading edge to accommodate the probe. I soaked the decal in warm water (recommended for the Hasegawa decals) and carefully positioned the two sperate decals around the probe, taking care to check alignment. Once in place with excess water removed, and given a bit of a press with a paper towel, I applied a good coat of daco strong, and walked away with my fingers crossed. Ok, so a second coat was required, but yes it did settle into the fine surface detail. So that’s good. The other side was slightly simpler as the Modex number went on as a single piece; the majority of the rest of the decals are added at this stage. Nose decals mostly done by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Isn’t it always the case that you can suddenly notice a detail that had escaped your attention… especially when the instructions don’t highlight it? In this case, it was noticing that for a number of years, including the period my model was to represent, the VF-31 aircraft had red wheel hubs. I duly masked the wheel faces (I used an old circle template to cut out a 2mm dia circle from some Tamiya tape – I really ought to get a proper circle mask cutter) and with some additional bits, masked the faces. Addressing the bit I didn't notice by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I applied a few light coats of MMP-003 red – a richer, deeper red than Insignia red, purely on the basis that in the photos it didn’t look like insignia red, then waited a little and unmasked. Unmasked by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr These did need a little cleaning up, but using a lightly water-soaked small brush this was easily dealt with… and touched in with a fine brush and some paint too. Cue cruel close up… awaiting a bit more of a wash: Wheels by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr It was then time to get to work on the rest of the little decals, lifting/jacking points, tie down points, no steps, etc., working the undersides, upper surfaces, wings, doors and horiz stabs… a mix of decla sheets to support the work, but mostly from the Furball set. Stencils.... lots. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The stores didn’t escape this either. The acmi pod and Sidewinder had a few small white rectangles to depict, and these I cut from some spare white markings that were in the spares box; I think they were the serials from my old airfix phantom kit… but that didn’t matter. Being small and a bit thick, some settling with Daco Strong was called for. The ACMI pods are numbered, but the kit decals were white and “SN303” whereas the markings on the aircraft shown at Fallon were black and “626”, thus something closer to the latter was called for. With a stroke of luck I realised that my mate Brian, who had printed me some decals for my Academy kit (which I did as Wichita 103) had provided me with plenty of spares, including the BuNo serial. That aircraft is 162603. That’s handy! Ok, these were perhaps just a little large, but close enough and whilst I lost a few in the process, I was able to slice away at 8 that did work and settle to conform nicely to the probe. Note here the paint detailing on both where some lighter metal bands have been applied, the roller flying control surfaces to the sidewinder fin tips and the seeker head. Dummy sidewinder and ACMI pod decalled by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Wings and surfaces now shown all decaled-up… with a coat of aqua gloss to seal it all in place. I often have an issue at this stage as the varnish shows up any decal “glue” residue that wasn’t visible before. I tend to lightly sand this after the varnish has dried (with a 1500 or 2500 grade sanding sponge) and re-coat, which sorts it in most cases… some Tamiya polishing compound can work too, but take care not to get any residue in the panel lines as it’ll show up as it dries. Big sticky out bits . Decalled by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr I then added the dirty wings and took a couple of pre-weathering photos Dirty wings test fit, prior to weathering 1 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Dirty wings test fit, prior to weathering 2 by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Here’s some of the other bits waiting some assembly later on. Evident is that the gear legs have had details picked out in colour and received a suitable wash. Although a little crude, aluminium self-adhesive tape has been used for the oleos and some straps. Note that the arrester hook has had the stripes decal added… cut into three sections to allow it to sit either side of the assembly struts… and subject to persuasion with some Daco strong… again – Cue more cruel close ups Doors etc by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Nose leg by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Main gear legs by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Arrester hook by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Weathering Well, this has started… and continues. My method of choice for this is to use small drops of oilbrusher (white, black, starship filth) or daler rowney Georgian oil (Burnt Umber in this case)… adding a few drops and allowing to dry off a little and then blend in with a brush (or three) using a mix of dragging and stippling action. In all cases with weathering, less is more. It’s easy to remove by blending out further with a brush, wiping away with a cotton bud, or wiping off with a little white spirit (once dry) and easy to add to if more is needed by repeating the actions or changing the colour. The wing root bags are a good place to start and these received a few placed dots of oil brusher colours that were then blended Oil brusher weathering commences by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Work carried on focusing primarily on the anti slip panels on top of the intakes, the main upper deck areas where footfall would have left some scuffing and dirtying (but not much)… just enough to dirty the grey tones a bit, and the wings, where streaking from the hydraulics is always evident across the flaps and within the exposed bays that needed toning back with some filth… again, but not too much. Walkways, weathered by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Wing glove and central area weathered by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Stbd wing and spoiler bay weathered by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Weathered overview.... not yet finished by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr The underside was also treated to some streaking, but not too much as these aircraft seem to be kept well and not allowed to get filthy like some of the other squadrons or periods of operational usage... but some leaking should still be evident, so has been captured. Underside again by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr Finally… no it’s not a biplane, but it has two wing sets, so both sets were tacked to look “similar”. Clean and dirty wings, weathered by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr There’s still more to do. I need to tone down the nav lights and then seal the wings a bit before adding the wing root dirty areas (sweep areas) on both sets. The exhaust will be given a matt coat to tone them down, and the overall body a satin coat as befits the period. I might have a go at fading the fin markings (red does fade doesn’t it) with some white oil brusher, but I’ll have a practice first. That’s almost all for now… but as last BW202 is getting closer to the end. It’s taken a while. However, at this stage of the build, I think I’ve decided that the kit is worthwhile. Yes it has its challenges and errors and it takes a lot more building than other’s I’ve put together (the Academy is still the best there (so far)) but this one presents a lovely product at the end. I’ve made mistakes (all part of the learning process), but hopefully I’ve learnt enough to do better on the next one. Fingers crossed eh! Thanks for reading. Jonathan
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