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Dassault Rafale B, Operation Harmattan (Libya 2011), Hobby Boss 1/72


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Ah, la France! Le Camembert, le Bordeaux, le Moulin Rouge, la Guillotine, la bombe atomique... et le seriously armed Rafale, ready to kick some bad guys buttocks! :boxing:

So, I decided to build a Rafale, as employed over Libya 2011. I wanted to build one of the Rafales which delivered the Scalps (the French Storm Shadow). For that, I will use the well-known Hobby Boss kit, which is not bad, but has some points to be corrected. I will also use a small PE-set from Eduard for the cockpit, and the excellent decal sheet from Syhart. For Reference, I will stick to another typical french item, the comic books (le BD, bande dessiné). There are some "Rafale Leader" books from Durand/Zumbiel, which have some excellent reference after the story itself. 160 pages, mostly great colour pictures of the Rafale and the airbase. In my case, it's St. Dizier, where the scalp dropping Rafales actually departed. So, a high level of frustration is guaranteed when I can cross-check the hobby boss kit with the lot of reference material!

The Rafale will be Nr. 315, 113-HK from EC1/91 "Gascogne", equipped with 4 MICA, two Scalps and two of the big 2000ltr-tanks. This load out was common in the beginning, later they switched to one scalp only configuration. Marine employed the Rafale all the time with one Scalp only. Nice report can be found here, but unfortunately french only: http://aviateurs.e-monsite.com/pages/1946-et-annees-suivantes/les-belougas-d-harmattan.html

Let's start with the kit itself, mostly with le cockpit:


I have already scraped the side walls, as some PE-parts will be glued thereafter.


Seat looks nice, belts will be added later on.


The outlet of the aircon, I suppose. Here, it pays to make the sheets a bit thinner by sanding or scraping with a scalpel blade.


The big badda-boums, the two scalps. They are really big, and consist of 10 parts each.


And the tanks. This is where the problem starts, all modelers like recessed panel lines. But here on the tank, these are welding seams, and are not recessed, but raised. I will put some stretched sprue in the recesses, to simulate this effect.

Thanks for attention!


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The tanks were a bit a problem: they were slightly bent, so that the nose was not fitting very well. So I had to use a trick (of course, with a swiss army knife... never knew this was even useful for modelling!). The rubber band pushed the tank inside the rivet, so that the two tank halves were pushed together until the glue dried. Looks a bit strange, but worked fine!


Some added details at the underside:


And the most difficoult part: I used stretched sprue to simulate the welding seams. It went rather well with tamiya extra thin. Some are a bit more prominent than others, I need to equalize them a bit with fine sand paper when it's fully dry.


That's all for now.


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One of the many things with the kit is, it's not a real production aircraft, but has some features of pre-productions or prototype Rafales. So the wingtip launcher, which has some features that are not there on the real plane. (Left). To change the shape of the lancher, it's important not to cut at the red line. It looks much easier, but will leave a huge gap between the launcher and the aileron. So, I used the panel line as a guide for the knife, and cut where the green line is. It will leave a chunky part at the end of the aileron which needs to be removed, but it's still much easier (right).


And that's how the wingtip looks after a bit of sanding. The mishap at the outer parts comes from the two-sided-cutting of the aileron. A bit of filler should cover it up.


By the way, Hobby Boss added a strange wingtip laucher adapter for the MICA, but I've never seen it on a real Rafale. Could be again some kind of preproduction stuff...


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2600kgs of dipolmacy... the two scalps are finished. Hobby Boss did something wrong, the ventral fins are retractable. Hobby Boss shows them extended, so I had to cut them to the correct size. BTW, I think the French should start painting shark mouth on them!


On the fin, there are two mistakes, the antenna on top is only for the marine version, and the left hand sided missile approach warning receiver should be placed more back.


Burner cans look fine, the mechanism is missing, but in 1/72 it's not that bad!


Fitting for the gear is very good, it stays in place well due to large tabs. Positioning is not easy, as you can't glue the bay to the fuselage first (then you can't attach the legs anymore), but you can't glue both legs to the bay either (then you can't put the legs through the openings of the fuselage).



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  • 2 weeks later...

The MICAs were updated with the thrust vectoring nozzles. Btw, Hobby Boss included four missile bodies, and 8 seeker heads (4 IR, 4 EM). Bad thing that the IR version, which I will mount on the wingtip rails have mould seams on the tiny fins...


The cockpit gets some PE-parts, but the side consoles looks about the same. The big thing are the front panels, the "head down display" and the big screen for the WSO.


Le OSF (optronique secteur frontal) has been added. It's on all newer Rafales, and the old Navy ones got retrofitted.


On the back, some things are wrong. There is supposed to be a small antenna (?), but it's only on the Navy Rafales, so I have to fill the holes. The chaff launcher is missing, and will be added later.


The gear is ready for paint. It's aluminium, but HB says it's white. A big plus - the aircraft has tiny gear doors, so no need to work on the gear wells!


The nose gear got some wires and bits, to look a bit more realistic.



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Le Cockpit is now finished. It must have been created by Dior - it's small and black. I'm not happy with coloured PE, sometimes the foil just peeled off the metal. I honestly prefer either resin, or normal etch on resin, before painting the whole stuff in the end.

Now, the cockpit can be mounted into the upper fuselage. Belts look fine, I'm a bit proud of it! :)



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Le cockpit is glued from the underside to the top fuselage. Looks nice, but very black.


Les scalps are airbrushed with Humbrol 156, gives them a nice glossy finish for the decals.


Gear well part of the lower fuselage. It looks like Hobby Boss took the Marine Rafale and just made the gear part interchangable. The lower part still has some (wrong!) Navy-Rafale features!


The missile lauchers. Be careful, as Hobby boss has them wrong on the instructions - they are pictured with the maintenance panels the wrong way around. If you do it as HB has drawn it, the launchers are too far aft!


The Intake needs some shielding, as otherwise the gear well would be visible. I took some yoghurt packaging, which has approximately the right curvature.


Now, for the colour: the Rafales are very bright, and after some tests, I decided to take Revells Light Grey (76?). The suggested other colours just look too dark for me. If it's still too clear, I can add a bit of filtering in the end. After all, it's easier to make a bright colour dark, than the other way around!

And now it's time for a café au lait!


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you mean on the tanks? Well, it's easier than I thought: You hold the sprue with the fingers in the right shape, and with the other hand you put some tamiya extra thin cement in the recess. Because of the capillar effect, it will flow immediately underneath the sprue, and weld it onto the tank. You start at the pylon (the first part which is too long can be cut away with a scalpel blade), work around and at the end, you measure the correct length. The sprue is rather thin, and the extra thin glue works perfect for that purpose.

Sometime, modelling is just trying something new. And often, it's easier than it looks initially!


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  • 4 weeks later...

The tanks got the preshading and colour. Looks correct, but most sources say the grey should be a bit darker.


The washing of the gear wells, just to add some depth.


Exhaust looks well detailed, they will get some 20 decals to show the rivets.


Intakes have gotten some colour as well.


The gear was a bit tricky to install - you have to glue the first leg to the well, then install the well without glueing, then fiddling the second gear leg into the well, and after the two legs are glued into the well, you finally can attach the well to the fuselage. If you glue the legs to the well outside of the fuselage, you can't attach it anymore, as the diverging legs won't pass through the doors anymore!


The intakes needed some filling and sanding. I didn't attach the canards yet (they are meant to be moveable), I will glue them at the end.


The first decals were applied to the scalp. It's a pleasure to work with, they have a very thin carrier film.


And some decals on the ejection seat, thereafter I painted some revell matt cote. HUD is still missing.


The later chaff launchers were omitted by hobby boss, I used some sheet and rods to depict them.


The mirrors and handles of the canopy are from the Eduard set.


Merci pour votre attention!


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  • 2 weeks later...

The gear was a bit tricky to install - you have to glue the first leg to the well, then install the well without glueing, then fiddling the second gear leg into the well, and after the two legs are glued into the well, you finally can attach the well to the fuselage. If you glue the legs to the well outside of the fuselage, you can't attach it anymore, as the diverging legs won't pass through the doors anymore!

I screwed up my first build of the Rafale by failing to notice this! I assembled the fuselage first and then attempted to install the landing gear. I wound up tossing out the entire model.

Steven Brown

Scale Model Soup

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I guess I would have stepped into the same trap if I didn't read this in another WIP, as the instruction are not clear at all in this point.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Ah, I forgot to keep the thread updated. The Canopy was masked with tamiya tape. Not that simple, as the corners are rather curved. For this, I used PVA glue.


Then, as always: preshading


Then the main colour. I have two books on Rafales, but I feel that every Rafale has a different shade of grey. So I just went for Revell light grey as base. After that, some antennaes were painted black, and the APU exhaust steel.


Les Scalps got a whole lot of decals, 48 in total. The numbers are just made up, I just wanted the Quatorze Juillet on one of it. BTW, they look more than storm shadows than scalps; the scalps are supposed to be flat on the top side.


Les MICAs were painted in a very light grey, I used revell stone grey with white. It's almost white, but there is still a difference you can see when looking at the nose of the Radar MICAs (which is indeed white)


The light grey I had left in the airbrush was again mixed with light grey, and this was used for the radome. They are sometime a different shade, too. Colours are a bit deceptive, the airframe grey is a bit blueish, but the nose is a bit more brownish.


Then, something new for me: as some may have noted, on the border of some Eduard frets, there are some teardrop shaped holes. Like this:


They can be used to make some nice lights, just heat a bit of clear sprue, and push it into the hole. Then you have some nice little lights to replace those ugly ones in the kit like this:


And in the end, they look like this. Incroyable!



Edited by alex
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  • 3 weeks later...

A few updates... the MICA got almost all decals. There are two versions, the pointed-nose, which are radar guided and look fine. The IR-versions are a bit off; the front fins are too far aft.


The burner cans got a whole lot of decals as well, but they look better with the fine metallic rivets. A few still missing, especially where the petals merge with the fuselage. Some cutting needed, but no real problem.


I realised that the fin has too many rivets, and needs some filling. Unfortunately some decals were already on.


So, a bit of filling...


And careful sanding...


And careful airbrushing, in the end blending the colours into each other and it's fine! :) Looks much better now!


Underside completed!


A detail shot of all the tiny decals, which are hard to see, but add some nice features to the grey.


The masks provided with the Syhard decal sheet are nice to work with, but they are designed for the "right" thing. Hobby Boss did some mistakes on their surface, so you have to choose: either you rescribe the wrong panel lines, or you cut the masks to fit the model surface. I had to cut the last part, and turn by 180°. Otherwise, the anti-skid would be right on top of the fuel filler cap!


The colour used was revell light grey, with blue and white added. In the end, I airbrushed a heavily diluted base colour, to dampen the contrasts. Who says modern aircraft are just boring grey? The antiskids are barely visible on the originals, but you can see them.


The next steps are a gloss cote on the repainted surfaces, and then the last decals. So far, 205 of them applied!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Most decals are on, so far, 297..



Just wondered that many Rafales fly around with blue- AND yellow-striped missiles. (Mostly the IR are blue, and the RF are yellow) Do they always carry live weapons around? From what I heard, in the USAF it's forbidden to carry a mixed inert/live load.


Edited by alex
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Washing completed, as always some grey and brown oil colour. No need for extra washing fluids, I think...


same on the underside, where the rear end is a bit dirtier than the front part.


And the gear doors. As one can see, there is almost no view inside the wheel well, so no need for detailing or aftermarket items. Not sure if one actuator is correct, but it fits like that, and the instruction is not very clear about it.


The sign of the Escadron de chasse 1/91 "Gascogne", the main nucelar attack squadron. They operate only two-seaters, and are based in Saint-Dizier (which is not in the Gascogne region...sounds logic, it confuses the enemy!)


Next step is the semigloss cote and final assembly!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Canards (btw, french for "Duck"!) and ordnance attached. Only part missing is the AAR-probe!



Amazing how little wing is visible with almost full load!


Le Rafale is fini, pics will be added in the next two weeks! Merci pour votre attention!


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