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Navy Bird

1:72 Grumman/General Dynamics F-111B "Beta Tomcat"

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All right then, time to get started! My project for this group build is the Grumman/General Dynamics F-111B. I suspect that everyone knows the story of this aircraft and its development, but if not I'll direct you to the mother-lode of F-111B information later on in this post. 

 

My initial idea is to model one of the Phoenix missile test aircraft, and BuNo 151972 seems a good candidate.

 

F-111B 151972 at Hughes

 

This, of course, will be a conversion and my base kit will be the Hasegawa 1:72 RAAF F-111C/G. This is a great kit, and contains all necessary parts to build either the C or G model. The G is essentially the same as the FB-111 as you know. Let's see what we get (and it's so much that it's difficult to close the box without squeezing the contents). First, the specific kit I'm using:

 

IMG_1255

 

Inside we find a lot of styrene! This next photo may look like two copies of the same sprue, but they are different - one is sprue C and the other sprue D. The difference is primarily with respect to the intakes as the F-111C and G had variations in this area (Triple Plow I vs. Triple Plow II). Since 151972 did not have either of these intakes, I will be modifying the Triple Plow I.

 

IMG_1258

 

And the rest:

 

IMG_1259

 

IMG_1262

 

IMG_1263

 

IMG_1261

 

And finally two of these babies:

 

IMG_1260

 

I've acquired several bits of aftermarket goodies to help with this conversion, starting with the set from Pete's Hangar which unfortunately is no longer available. My understanding is that this set has a few problems, but they don't look to be insurmountable. Apparently, the shape of the nose, and its demarcation with the fuselage, is not quite right, but that's why they call it modelling. 

 

IMG_1285

 

Some additional decal sheets that may be of help - the sheet from Pete's Hangar is also pictured here, but the other two sheets are from Microscale and are quite old. 72-132 includes the markings for 151972, and 72-452 includes stenciling for the early models of the F-111. Also shown here is the sheet from the kit, not sure if any of this will be used. The Phoenix testing logo is different between the Microscale and Pete's sheets, and based on photographs it looks like Microscale is better (for instance, Pete's omits the fire that the Phoenix bird is emerging from, the USMC globe and USN anchor).  I hope those old Microscale sheets are still good!

 

IMG_1257

 

Some additional aftermarket that may be used.

 

IMG_1256

 

Obviously, not all of the photoetch for the F-111D/F is appropriate, but some of it may be useful. We'll see. The masks are fine, but what's this with the ejection seats for a B-57 Canberra? The F-111 had a ejection capsule! Well, yes it did, after a fashion. However, the first three F-111B prototypes, including 151972, did not have the capsule, and were instead fitted with Douglas Escapac ejection seats. According to the Ejection Site, they were model 1C. The resin seats from Pavla are models 1C-6, and have the right basic shape. But I suspect they will need some alteration or enhancement before the end of the day. 

 

Finally, the old Revell kit from 1966 will also be used, as it contains a lot of parts that will help, like the knife edge boat tail, aft fuselage bullet fairings (speed bumps as they were called), etc. I picked this up at a model show, and although it's been started (the B/C/FB long wing tips have been glued to the wings) that won't be a problem as I won't be using them. This is one of the few kits produced which claimed to be a B model. Like a lot of kits from the 60s, this one came out while the aircraft was still being developed, and contains several issues. But I think it will come in handy nonetheless.

 

IMG_1265

 

The loose parts, rolling around in the box:

 

IMG_1266

 

And the ones still clinging to the runners:

 

IMG_1267

 

IMG_1268

 

Also in the box were these four pylons, which I suspect are from an F/A-18. But they have a shape resemblance (kind of) to the pylons used by 151972 for the Phoenix missiles. I will be checking if they are close to being the right size, and might work for the model. Again, we'll see. Perhaps they can be modified, maybe not. But it was nice of the chap who sold this to me to include them! 

 

IMG_1269

 

The Phoenix missiles will probably be sourced from a Hasegawa F-14A kit, but will need some mods to represent the missiles used in the F-111B test program.

 

 

Now, about that mother-lode. If you're going to build an F-111B, you simply have to have this monograph:

 

IMG_1264

 

Tommy is the F-111B subject matter expert, and he contributes regularly to Britmodeller. I expect he will show up here to keep me on the straight and moral path.   :) 

 

If you follow this link, you'll go to Tommy's blog where he has posted several links to articles that concern the F-111B. There are also instructions for how to obtain the amendments and errata for the F-111B monograph. All of this material taken together remains the prime reference for this much-maligned bird.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Popcorn at the ready for this one Bill! :popcorn: 

 

I've built multiple F-14's and feel I need to build one of these sometime to tell the whole story, if you know what I mean.

 

Dermot 

 

 

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G'day Bill,

 

I was hoping someone would build an F-111B, it looks like this one is in good hands. I seem to recall that the radome went through a transition shapewise so there was more than one radome shape?

 

cheers,

 

Pappy

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On 4/15/2017 at 18:53, Pappy said:

G'day Bill,

 

I was hoping someone would build an F-111B, it looks like this one is in good hands. I seem to recall that the radome went through a transition shapewise so there was more than one radome shape?

 

That's correct. The first five prototype aircraft (151970, 151971, 151972, 151973, and 151974) had the original "short" nose, and the two pre-production aircraft (152714 and 152715) had the "long nose." The latter was not as long as the nose on the F-111A and the other models however. Here is a comparison:

 

Original nose:

 

F-111B 151972 at Hughes

 

Long nose:

 

GD_F-111B_152714_USN_DM_22.04.71

 

You can also see the different intakes here also. The top photo of 151972 has the original F-111A style translating cowl intake with the non-kinked splitter plate, and the lower photo of 152714 has the Triple Plow II intake (I think).

 

The pre-production nose was two feet longer, and added to help prevent the problem of the aircraft tipping back, like seen in this photo:

 

F-111B Tip Back

 

I'll probably set myself up for some interesting rejoinders by saying this, but I think the short nose F-111B is the best looking of all F-111 models. There - I've said it!   :) 

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

 

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4 hours ago, Navy Bird said:

 

That's correct. The first five prototype aircraft (151970, 151971, 151972, 151973, and 151974) had the original "short" nose, and the two pre-production aircraft (152714 and 152715) had the "long nose." The latter was not as long as the nose on the F-111A and the other models however. Here is a comparison:

 

Original nose:

 

F-111B%20151972%20at%20Hughes.jpg

 

Long nose:

 

GD_F-111B_152714_USN_DM_22.04.71.jpg

 

You can also see the different intakes here also. The top photo of 151972 has the original F-111A style translating cowl intake with the non-kinked splitter plate, and the lower photo of 152714 has the Triple Plow II intake (I think).

 

The pre-production nose was two feet longer, and added to help prevent the problem of the aircraft tipping back, like seen in this photo:

 

F-111B%20Tip%20Back.jpg

 

I'll probably set myself up for some interesting rejoinders by saying this, but I think the short nose F-111B is the best looking of all F-111 models. There - I've said it!   :) 

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

 

 

Kewl, an F-111 doing a wheelie!

 

Was the different radome due to the AWG-9 radar not being ready in time for flight trials?

 

As for the short nose being the best looking, well I suppose even a broken watch is correct twice a day :P,

 

Looking forward to your build,

 

cheers

 

Pappy

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Welcome aboard Bill, I was starting to wonder where you had gotten to, I to have been looking forward to this build as well.

 

That Hasegawa model does look nice, I will they'd do a 1/48th version! Plus some AM stuff and an old Revell beast as well, this will be an interesting build.

 

Well good luck with the build Bill, I'm glad you've joined us with the missing piece in the F-111 family, looking forward to following this build for sure!  :popcorn:

 

I love the photo of the F-111 doing a wheelie, I remember the framie sergeants always warning us when refuelling to make sure we always put 6000lbs of fuel in the forward tank first when refuelling else she'd try to sit on her tail otherwise! I don't know how true this was but no one was willing to risk it, you wouldn't be able to explain that away to the WOE!!  That said the 6 Sqn "carports" where our aircraft were packed weren't quite level, so if you weren't paying attention when refuelling the wing tanks the "high wing wouldn't fill and you'd be left with an F-111 with a serious lean to it. The only way to fix it was to load the high wing with lots of warm bodies (all giving grief to the poor sod that stuffed it up) and carry out an over wing refuel, a guaranteed way to end up on the WOE's poo-poo list!  

 

Plus I see there is an Aurora TFX F-111B keeps showing up on evilBay from time to time, not sure of the accuracy but I suspect i'll stay there for quite a while, the seller wants $330 USD, or offers!!

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As Tommy shows here, it wasn't just the radome that changed- the clear parts were affected too.

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4 hours ago, gingerbob said:

As Tommy shows here, it wasn't just the radome that changed- the clear parts were affected too.

Note that the capsule (and therefore clear parts) change wasn't incorporated on 714 and 715. The different radome was simply the result of a nose extension to move the cg forward and to improve the visibility over the nose.

 

My 1/72 B from once upon a time using the Esci kit if I remember correctly (that's a Monogram F-14 in the background).

F-111BSizeComparison.jpg

Edited by Tailspin Turtle

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Oops, sorry, my mistake, and comparing that drawing to kit parts, it seems that the "original" glass remained in the "dry feet" aircraft, so problem avoided!

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1 hour ago, Tailspin Turtle said:

Note that the capsule (and therefore clear parts) change wasn't incorporated on 714 and 715. The different radome was simply the result of a nose extension to move the cg forward and to improve the visibility over the nose.

 

My 1/72 B from once upon a time using the Esci kit if I remember correctly (that's a Monogram F-14 in the background).

F-111BSizeComparison.jpg

 

Nice work, Tommy!   :)

 

Would you happen to have a drawing and dimensions for the F-111B Phoenix pylon?

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Oh yes, I rather think so!  :thumbsup:

 

I dunno, all these 1/72 triple-ones around here at the moment...is there a GB going on or summat? Oooh, right... 

 

*Edit* Do these swingy-things count as 'Century Series' aircraft?

Edited by AngstROM

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It looks like this one is in good hands bill ,look forward to seeing this come together,

Glynn

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Some thoughts on the nose job...

 

@Tailspin Turtle has provided some great drawings on his web site, and I decided to print out the forward fuselage drawing at the proper scale. This picture shows Tommy's drawing, the port fuselage half of the Hasegawa F-111C kit, and the resin nose from the Pete's Hangar conversion set:

 

IMG_1272

 

I have the Hasegawa part aligned to the drawing using the canopy edges, although that's hard to see on the photo. You can see a short pencil line that I've drawn on the side of the fuselage - this line is 6 mm from the front edge of the ejection capsule panel line, which I believe is where Pete's Hangar would have you cut the Hasegawa fuselage. Their instruction sheet simply says "6 mm from front of canopy." 

 

I measured the resin nose at its join line with the fuselage using a digital caliper - it's 21.5 mm wide by 18.5 mm tall. Next, I taped the Hasegawa forward fuselage together like so:

 

IMG_1270

 

I then measured the fuselage at a position represented by the line that is 6 mm from the front of the ejection capsule panel line - surprisingly, the dimensions are very close to those of the resin nose. At most, there is a tenth of a millimetre difference. 

 

But I'm not entirely happy. It looks like if I simply join the resin nose at that point, the slope along the top won't be right. If you look at Tommy's drawing (and at photos of the real thing) the slope along the canopy windscreen continuing onto the nose is almost a straight line. There is  tiny bit of a kink at the transition from windscreen to nose, but it's very small. This almost constant slope of the forward fuselage is so important to get right - it's part of what makes the F-111B look so unique. This is the "top slope" I'm referring to:

 

top slope

 

I think (but I have to study it some more) that I'll have to cut the fuselage at an angle in order to get this top slope correct. I also think that the top of the fuselage right in front of the windscreen will have to be modified as it doesn't follow this top slope. You can see the difference on the F-111C here:

 

f111c

 

As noted on Tommy's website, the actual transition line (where the real F-111B nose attached) is along the front edge of the crew capsule. Unfortunately, that is not how the resin conversion is designed - in order to have the proper overall length, the nose needs to be attached 6 mm in front of the front edge of the crew capsule. And that small 6 mm of top fuselage surface is at the wrong angle and won't match the "top slope." I hope I've explained this issue so you can understand. 

 

Measure thrice, cut twice, and then fill it with putty, that's my motto!   :) 

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Bill - You're on track. I'll send you some lines drawings directly that confirm it. However, note that the A and B noses forward of the capsule to fuselage station 180 are identical on them.

Edited by Tailspin Turtle

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23 minutes ago, Tailspin Turtle said:

Bill - You're on track. I'll send you some lines drawings directly that confirm it. However, note that the A and B noses forward of the capsule to fuselage station 180 are identical on them.

 

Thank you!   :)

 

Cheers,

Bill

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I've been spending some time on the cockpit, as I want to have the forward fuselage all buttoned up before I slice off the Aardvark's nose. Since my plan is to model 151972, I started with a photo of her cockpit.

 

BuNo 151972 cockpit 2

 

This has some significant differences from the USAF versions, notably in the missile control officer's instrument panel. The large radar targeting screen used with the Phoenix missile system is quite obvious. The pilot's instrument panel is more similar to that in the F-111A. The Hasegawa kit includes those wonderful flat surfaces for the instrument panel and consoles, upon which you are directed to apply stickers representing the dials and controls. I prefer these to be more three-dimensional, and the Eduard photoetch will help here. If you recall, my photoetch set is for the F-111D/F, so there is no way it will look like the B. Eduard provide two instrument panels, one for the D (left) and one for the F (right) - this is an earlier Eduard set, before they got all fancy with pre-painting:

 

IMG_1275

 

Eduard provide paper backing for these panels, instead of film, with the large screen displays printed in some really garish colours. Not sure what they were thinking on this one. Needless to say, there are bits and pieces (apologies to the Dave Clark Five) that I can use, but I'm going to have to cut up these photoetch panels. I don't use any fancy "photoetch shears" or other high price tool, just a nice pair of Fiskars scissors I picked up at Walgreens for $3.99. Here is the first slice:

 

IMG_1276

 

The left is from the D, and the right is from the F. Now here is where it will get a little tricky. To duplicate the instrument panel in 151972 (in a reasonable but not exact fashion) I'll have to cut these into smaller pieces, which will be re-arranged and glued to the Hasegawa instrument panel backing. The instrument panel stickers on the Hasegawa sheet will also be cut up and applied to the re-arranged photoetch.

 

What's missing from this jigsaw puzzle, of course, is that big honking display for the AWG-9 radar. My plan here is to purloin an Eduard pre-painted photoetch piece made for an F-14A model. It won't be exactly right, but it will sure be better than nothing! Stop back sometime in the next day or so and I should have the instrument panel ready - maybe even the entire cockpit.

 

The resin Escapac 1C ejection seats needed to have a bit of material removed from the bottom and back sides, in order to set properly in the cockpit. They've been painted and are being detailed. Based on colour photos of the 1C seat used in other aircraft, and on the grey-scale cockpit photo above as well as others in Tommy's monograph, I think it's safe to assume that the cushions were a grey-green colour, with grey harnesses. This will definitely look better than the typical F-111 with red cushions!     :) 

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Navy Bird said:

I don't use any fancy "photoetch shears" or other high price tool

 

Very wise. I have a pair, and they're useless.

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wow that is scary stuff cutting up a PE bits, I agree with you an nice pair of small scissors is all you need......plus good glasses in my case!!! :nerd:

 

I noticed that the B model didn't have the "ribbon" instruments on the pilots side that were fitted to the earlier F-111's.

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This really does look a very interesting build, especially as there was so much variation between the prototypes. I like the work that you are doing with the instrument panel, I did something similar on my build, but that was just the decals not PE. I wish you very much success with this build.

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Very interesting, the research you have done on this one is amazing, should be one hell of a model when everything is said and done. Look forward to it and lovely work so far. :popcorn:

 

David.

 

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Well, it ain't perfect but I think it's close enough. The instrument panel was built from the kit parts, kit decals, and Eduard photoetch for the F-111D/F and the F-14A. A little bit here, a little bit there...

 

IMG_1278

 

The AWG-9 radar display is a bit too large, and I probably should add some more buttons to the right of it. It certainly doesn't look like any other F-111 panel, though, that's for sure.

 

The F-111B has flight controls only for the pilot, and the Missile Systems Officer has a radar controller joystick either on the right console or on the right sidewall. There is a mock-up photo that shows it folding out of the sidewall in Tommy's monograph, but I don't know what was actually used in the prototypes.

 

I installed the two pair of photoetch rudder pedals in the cockpit before I realised that they should only be on the left side. Let's just assume those on the right are footrests! There is a raised channel that runs between the Missile Systems Officer's legs, in place of where the flight control joystick would normally have been. This will need to be added. 

 

I'm off to Maryland tomorrow to catch an Orioles game on Sunday. Oh, yeah, to see the grandkids too. Gotta remember not to forget about that. It's an easy drive through central Pennsylvania, and if I time it right I can stop at the Turkey Ranch for lunch and have a nice big turkey waffle. With gravy!   :)

 

Cheers,

Bill

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