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  1. Here I share some pictures of the Academy 1/48 F-4J Phantom, rendered as the first of the “Black Bunnies” flown by VX-4 (The Evaluators) in the 1970s. This plane (BuNo 153783) had the “squashed” bunny head on the tailplane, which was later substituted by the correctly shaped Playboy logo. This model was built out of the box, with the only additions being the decal set (from Furball Aerodesign), the LAU-10 pods for Zuni rockets (which were scratch built, using a felt pen as the main source), and some pipes and cables added to the undercarriage and wheel bays. The kit itself gave me very little trouble, with the parts fitting well and only requiring minimal use of filler. The panel lines and riveting were heavy, so some time was spent softening the surface detail. I am also aware that the Academy kit does not have the same level of detail as some of the more expensive alternatives, but this was sufficient for my enjoyment. Most of the time in this build was spend trying to get the painting "right" to my eyes. The first Black Bunny was a well kept bird, painted in very glossy black apart for the walkways and the antireflective area in front of the cockpit. Thus, the only concession to weathering was to highlight some of the panel and riveting lines, to suggest a bit of chipping along the edges. One of the corrections was to the colour of some of the instructional stencils. The Furball decals provide all stencils in white. In reality, many of the stencils were written in yellow letters, including all CAUTIONs (also, all WARNINGs were red). This was addressed by creating yellow and red filters using equal amounts of floor polish and Tamiya clear acrylics, and applying these on top of the words using a fine paintbrush. This worked well against the very dark background. I also felt that it was necessary to subdue a bit the contrast of the white stencils, to make them less obvious. Immediately after application, all those pure white decals against highly reflective black gave the model a toy-like appearance. I did this by dry brushing the black paint (I used Tamiya X-1 enamel) over the stencils. For a more complete build report, check here, or visit my web site (link in the signature panel).
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